…and you won’t get where you’re going on your own either! Last week we discussed a mentoring non-profit organization that was in partnership with one of our clients, and naturally since this is National Mentoring Month, I’m reminded of the many great mentors, friendtors, and just plain inspiring people that I’ve been blessed to cross paths with in my life. Thinking of “mentoring” ~ whether it’s in its most professional or loosest sense ~ provides me with an easy (and instant) way to feel grateful.
My first official business mentor was the late Deanne Roberts (who founded ChappellRoberts), whom I was ever so luckily matched with through a formal Tampa Chamber of Commerce mentorship program that Deanne helped to launch. I’m so grateful for the guidance I gained from her while in the process of launching my business. Without a doubt, some of the most valuable lessons I learned from her went beyond business though. How she handled life through all of its ups and downs, and the beauty and grace she exhibited through it all. Deanne is the person who introduced me to Diane Egner, another person I consider a mentor (as well as a friendtor). Diane and I have shared how we feel like Deanne strategically and purposely matched us up before she passed away. Deanne was always thinking and giving, and she provided me with a gift that keeps giving through my relationship with Diane. (You may have seen Diane’s name here on this blog before as she is the publisher and editor-in-chief of the new economy publication, 83 Degrees Media, which celebrates Tampa Bay’s T.I.D.E. ~ talent, innovation, diversity and environment.)
I’m also reminded of great teachers I had in high school and college. There was an English teacher who believed in my work so much that she insisted I would receive certain accolades and scholarships ~ and I did. The fact that she believed in me – almost immediately – made a difference in not just how I performed, but the way I wanted to perform.
Two of the best mentors I’ve ever had are my parents. They are always available to serve as my personal (and professional) counselors and guides on planet earth. And my husband, who is steady, consistent, and has excellent (and award-winning <–not so humble brag) leadership skills, has provided wonderful insight as long as I’ve known him. When you really stop to think about all of the people who have provided words of wisdom, asked the right questions, or made you think and pull the answers that were inside of you out ~ there’s a lot to be grateful for and mentorship definitely deserves its own month to celebrate that goodness!
And naturally, if you’re fortunate enough to have your well (of life: business and personal) filled ~ even if it’s only a little bit or over time, my most brilliant mentors have reminded me to pour out what I’ve learned and share with others. I have had the privilege to have really fantastic mentees over the years, and as many of them have thanked me for guidance and direction, I have had an opportunity to learn from them as well.
I encourage you to jot down your list of professional and personal mentors and mentees ~ not just this month (although this is a great month to start!), but periodically.
For your mentors, check in with them and see how they are ~ not because you need anything, but because it’s always good to connect/re-connect. Send a thank you card (yes, a handwritten one!) for their contributions to your business or life. Offer to buy coffee or lunch. Show your gratitude and appreciation.
For your mentees, check in with them and see how they are doing and growing. Send an encouraging note. Write a letter of recommendation. Find a formal mentorship program and sign up to be a mentor. Be light and share your brilliance!
Perhaps you haven’t had a professional mentor who is helping you to navigate your entrepreneurial or career journey, look beyond your profession and think of those who have provided personal guidance and how that may translate to the business world. Don’t think you’ve ever had a mentor before? I’d have to say that I don’t think you’re thinking hard or creatively enough. Think of people you know whom have inspired you in some way ~ even famous people or public figures. You may not personally know the person but perhaps they’ve said something that has stayed with you over the years. Add them to your inspiration book! Look at family members, friends, co-workers, etc. you’re sure to find someone’s wise counsel that is (or may have been) valuable. Also, this is partly an exercise in observation and gratitude ~ don’t get caught up in what a formal mentorship/mentee relationship is supposed to look like. Perhaps you don’t have a set meeting schedule or maybe it doesn’t happen in an office but instead during walks in the park or drinks at the bar.
And since this is a business blog ~ I’d like to say “thank you” to our fantastic clients, colleagues, and vendors who have served as an inspiration for us in this ever-changing, fast-paced communications and media industry. We have the communications and media skillset down, and it’s so wonderful to learn more about your businesses and an honor to watch you stretch yourselves (yes, we push sometimes!) and grow! We appreciate your business friendtorship!
Tell us about your professional and personal mentor(s) in the comments below. What’s the best thing you learned? What ways have you gained value from serving as a mentor?