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Nick Woodman at CES 2016
GoPro CEO Nick Woodman at CES 2016

You are just starting out with a limited network of contacts, yet you really want find a mentor to advise on your startup. What is a young entrepreneur to do?

Speaking on an entrepreneurship panel at CES 2016, GoPro CEO and founder Nick Woodman had some unusual advise. Simply create an imaginary mentor relationship with someone you admire and pretend that you know them.

“I was in that boat and something that really helped me is to imagine having a relationship with somebody that you want to model yourself after,” said Woodman. “For me it was Dietrich Mateschitz, the founder of Red Bull, and he’s a pretty elusive dude, so it’s hard to get enough information about him to really learn what his approach and perspectives were. I became obsessed with Red Bull and with Dietrich, and there’s no kind of surprise as to why GoPro has kind of, the brand has evolved in a very similar way to Red Bull, but just a different product.”

Steve Case and Nick Wooman at CES 2016
Steve Case and Nick Wooman at CES 2016

Woodman obsessed about the Red Bull founder, researching his interviews, business decisions and leadership style, even though he didn’t know him.

“The more that you can find inspiration in other people and research and create interviews with them and learn about their thinking and imagine you have a relationship with them,” stated Woodman.

“It was so, so helpful because I could go to my imaginary friend and model myself after him and that imitation of other successful people is a very good way to be successful yourself, and so in lieu of knowing anybody, imagine you know them and then in your own way you can convince yourself you do and you can have your dream mentor. It worked for me.”

It seems that the GoPro founder may have gained many new imaginary friends himself in the CES audience. Rebecca Jarvis, the ABC News correspondent who hosted the session summed it up. “Just think about the number of people who will leave here today with Nick Woodman as their imaginary best friend.”

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