Joe Stump on Management Career Advice on Finding a Mentor

In Chapter 9 of 14 in his 2012 interview, Internet entrepreneur Joe Stump answers "At This Point in Your Life, Where Are You Seeking Advice and Coaching?"  Stump references his goals to be a good businessman, programmer, partner, son, and brother.  He recognizes the domain specific nature of each and highlights the importance of cycling in new opinions regularly.  As his career responsibilities progressively become management focused, he turns to new mentors, including his father, who provide outside perspectives from different industries.  Joe Stump is a serial entrepreneur based in Portland, OR. He is CEO and co-founder of, a product management software company.  Previously he founded SimpleGeo, which was sold to Urban Airship in October 2011.  He advises several startups - including and ngmoco:) - as well as VC firm Freestyle Capital.  He earned a BBA in Computer Information Systems (CIS) from Eastern Michigan University. 


Erik Michielsen: At this point in your life, where are you seeking advice and coaching?

Joe Stump: A number of areas. I continue to leverage my Jedi Council. I have a number of mentors. I find that you can’t – I mean look, long term, I have to be a good businessman, I have to be a good programmer, I have to be a good boyfriend, partner, husband to my lady, and I have to be a good son and brother. And those each take different skill sets. And so, the mentoring that I seek out tends to be a little bit more domain-specific.

I also try to cycle new opinions into the Jedi Council. So, what I seek out now, like it's changed a lot. I used to lean heavily on a lot of programming mentors. I'm not programming as much anymore so I don’t really lean on them so much. I've actually been leaning a lot more on my dad when it comes to management. My dad’s a great manager. He’s done great things where he’s at and I like talking to him about that because he gives me an outside perspective from a completely different industry on how to interact and build employees up.

I have a friend of mine who is also kind of an engineering manager similar to me and he has this saying about employees. He treats employees, he thinks of employees like campsites and that you should leave them better than you found them. So, getting that outside perspective, I think is really important. I think it's been a really great bonding experience. My dad now calls me and will ask me questions about management, which I think is kind of funny.

So yeah, so what I look for in a mentor has definitely evolved over time because my career has evolved. Like, I'm no longer – I’m not sitting and banging out 10,000 lines of code a day. I'm managing, I got to do accounting now, I got to do – like I’m management benefits, I got to talk to lawyers, I have to read contracts. So yes, seeking out different advice now from different people has been pretty important.