Career Q&A with Luke Mocke, Co-Founder and CEO at Mentorli (#12)

The next Career Q&A is with Luke Mocke. Luke offers great insight into overcoming setbacks, why your job search is NOT a numbers game, the downside of the LinkedIn cafe (!!), and why he decided to start Mentorli.

Luke Mocke is a South African born entrepreneur. After years in the Bay Area at LinkedIn, he cofounded the #GetHired Summit to combat unemployment during the pandemic, and Mentorli to equal the playing field for underrepresented talent. Prior to his career in talent, Luke was a rugby player, winning 3 national championships with BYU and representing the United States as an All-American. He now lives with his family in Lehi and plays an integral part in the Silicon Slopes startup ecosystem. 

Was there an experience you had before age 21 that shaped who you are? What was it? 

After growing up in South Africa, I played a season of rugby in the US. I was 19 and up until that point hadn’t thought much about my future – certainly didn’t have big dreams or ambitions. Seeing how people lived here and how people from my community had come over and done incredible things opened my eyes to life’s possibilities and my potential. Also happened to meet my wife on that trip – fortunately punched way above my weight category with a strong foreign accent 😉 

How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success? Do you have a “favorite failure” of yours? 

I was lucky to play on a fantastic rugby team in college – we won the national championship for my first three seasons only losing one game. We were on track to do the same in my senior season and ended up losing in a gut wrenching final where Berkeley came from behind to snatch it. I was wrecked for weeks. Although I would still choose to win that game, I’m grateful for the humble pie I was dished. It helped me roll with the punches and step into my role at LinkedIn post-graduation with more meekness. I had a growth mindset that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. 

What’s a book that has influenced your career or life, and why? 

David & Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell. I was fascinated by his perspective of weakness and success.

What advice would you give to a smart, driven college student about to enter the “real world”? What advice should they ignore? 

Anyone telling you your job search is a numbers game doesn’t know what they’re talking about. Run for the hills when you hear this – then decide what’s most important to you and look at opportunities with that lens. Go deep. 

If you could go back in time to when you were entering the workforce and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be? 

Don’t eat so much at the LinkedIn lunch buffet. 

Since entering the workforce, how have you changed or transformed? 

It was all about me at the beginning. I’ve realized that I’m most happy serving others so I’ve shifted my efforts to helping as many people as I can. It’s far more fulfilling and I believe this mindset breeds success too. If I’m not financially successful in the end, well hey – I’ve been able to help tons of people and that feels great! 

So what is Mentorli?

If you want to land a job at Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, or at a fast growing startup like Podium, Lucid, or Doordash, you NEED someone on the inside to refer you to open positions and champion you to hiring managers. Mentorli connects top diverse talent to employees that mentor, refer, and champion throughout the process. Backed by RevRoad and BUILD Impact Fund, Mentorli is pioneering the most effective methods to create an equal playing field in recruiting. 

Why did you decide to start a company?

From my great grandfather building a farm literally from nothing, to both my parents owning their own small businesses at various times while I was growing up – creating is just a part of me. It’s in my blood. A better question is why did I start THIS company. I started Mentorli because I care deeply about helping others improve their career. New worlds have been opened to me by way of my mentors so, knowing what I know now, I want to use my experience to level the playing field for folks looking for their next play. 

What habit or practice helps you manage stress? 

Stress never affected me negatively until I started a company. Then it came like a wave could never have expected. Planning nightly for the following day has helped me feel less overwhelmed about the day and being outside every day has been a game-changer. That seems crazy to say but I went through stages where I wouldn’t leave the house because I was working so much. Now, as a rule, I exercise every morning or take a walk outside every day – helps a ton! 

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How to Neutralize Anger in Others (Episode 13)

Back in Episode 8, I shared a simple tool to control your own anger. But what do you do if others are mad at you? How can you neutralize that anger and get them to a more rational state of mind so that you can solve the problem?

In this episode, I share how you can do just that. 

A few years back I had a meeting with an employee that I was dreading. I’ll spare the details, but he was frustrated about his compensation and felt like he had been wronged. He had spoken about this with his manager and HR business partner on multiple occasions. Still not satisfied, he reached out to me over Slack. 

I walked him through the situation, the various factors at play, and why we made the decision we did. And I told him that we would not be revisiting that decision. I thought that would be sufficient, but, undeterred, he asked if we could meet in person.

Given that I had little to lose in this meeting (he was likely going to be angry at me regardless of what I said), I tried an approach I learned while reading Chris Voss’ book, Never Split the Difference. Voss taught that you can neutralize angry people by identifying the worst things the other party could say about you and say those things before the other person can. These accusations often sound exaggerated when said aloud, so speaking them will encourage the other person to claim that quite the opposite is true.

So, back to this employee meeting… I walk into the conference room and he’s already there, waiting for me. I can tell that he’s heated. Before he could say anything I blurted out, “Listen, I know you’re pissed off about this situation and how you’ve been treated. You must think I’m a total jerk.” His whole demeanor shifted. He responded by saying Oh no, I’m not mad, I just want to understand why you made the compensation decision. His anger was diffused and we were both now ready to discuss the problem. I walked through the rationale for the decision and after a few minutes the conversation came to an amicable close. 

I think one of the reasons this approach is effective is that it shows the other person that you know what they’re experiencing. Acknowledging how they may be feeling shows empathy. It makes them feel listened to. It makes them feel heard. 

But be careful. I’ve seen this approach used ineffectively. I’ve seen it blow up. It’s critical that you do this authentically and that you actually show empathy. If this approach is done flippantly or used excessively, it will lack authenticity and may make the other person even angrier.

Thank you so much for listening! If you like this episode, please subscribe to “The Not Your Parents’ Workplace Show” and rate and review wherever you get your podcasts.