Find a Mentor, Be a Mentor
“Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction.”
—John C. Crosby (1859-1943), American politician
When armed with eagerness, and an open mind and heart, there’s likely something new to learn each day in our personal lives and professional careers. On big and small issues that arise where you have little or no experience navigating, one of the best ways to accelerate learning is to reach out to others who have already charted that course. A “been there, done that, here’s the pitfalls, try this” type of advisor can spare you tremendous expense in time and financial resources, and build rewarding relationships for all involved. These gracious mentors walk among us daily, offering their precious time to serve as beacons of sage wisdom, whether chatting over lunch with an acquaintance that needs advice on a personal issue, or as professionals that can offer their expertise on a facet of your business that is beyond your skill set.
You must seek mentors out by first aligning your challenges with their experience—although it doesn’t need to be a perfect fit. Diversity in experience is where the knowledge gains are made for both the mentor and the mentee. Be your biggest advocate and boldly ask for help or look at organizations that host mentor programs and compete for an opportunity to participate.
Anne and I will be forever grateful for our yearlong business mentorship with an outstanding team, headed by Oghogho Eka, from Blue Cross Blue Shield Massachusetts. Through this Center for Women & Enterprise-sponsored program, our BCBS mentors have consistently guided and advised us on some very complex issues. On our behalf, they dug in, read hundreds of pages of documents, gathered in monthly meetings and provided solid suggestions on a myriad of challenges—including legal, HR, marketing, customer service and more. The certificate of achievement and array of documents (pictured) represents the tremendous volume of work our mentors tackled in collaboration with us. They chose to do this work simply because they wished to be kind, desired to learn and impart knowledge, and cared to help. Our mentors have accelerated our learning curve and given us confidence to persevere.
One of Twirling Tiger Media’s corporate goals is to mentor a “newprenuer” by 2018. Impressed by Anne’s professional acumen in publishing, a businesswoman recently reached out to her requesting a mentorship. It’s time for us to meet another goal and repay the mentoring gift we’ve been given.