Monday, June 30, 2008

What the heck is mentoring?

I’m hoping this topic will raise a few questions/objections/cheers. As well, it will be a multiple-part post because it’s a big question.

Assertions on mentoring:

#1 - Mentoring is the other side of networking.
#2 - You can possibly network without being deliberately involved in mentoring (giving or receiving) BUT you can’t be involved in mentoring without being committed to networking.
#3 - Mentoring is not:
· having someone find you a job.
· the same as workplace coaching.
· a casual relationship
#4 - Mentoring is a key component of your personal ‘brand’
#5 - Mentoring and networking are vital to any person doing anything at which they want to excel.

(Wait till we get to the networking assertions! Send me yours now?)

For any industry or company, mentoring can:
· attract the brightest individuals with more than the lure (or lack) of salary
· ensure people are able to find their areas of strength, building personal satisfaction
· potentially bring people together as a dynamic group within that industry or event
· open doors to people and knowledge and opportunities

At the individual level, mentoring is:

  • A one/one relationship to help expand knowledge or experience or understanding of a particular issue or area or industry

That is a formal, well-known approach we all value.

The first question to ask yourself is: what am I really asking for when I want help or advice?

Basically start by asking yourself if you are looking for the old-style ‘apprentice’ or for the newer approach of mentoring. Some folks don’t differentiate.

Apprenticing - and Trump has made this famous - you find a successful sponsor who will teach you everything they know. You follow in their footsteps till you either have their job or have enough whatever to build your own path.

When folks used to look for a mentor, that’s what was in mind. It’s a method that has been around for hundreds of years and has produced some great artists, leaders and contributors. Apprenticing today can have many names: protégée, intern, or placement. It focuses on the successes of the mentor who brings the protégée along.

Mentoring the way I see it puts the work back on you - the mentoree. You own your actions and decisions at all times. You choose -or don’t - to take the advice or challenges given to you by your mentor. You’re answerable to no one but yourself on your progress. (like an independent study)

You might have several mentors across different areas of your life at one time. You might have more than one mentor simultaneously. You may be in a formal program. You might do it through an organization or association. You might do it just by asking someone to mentor you.

Either way you control the process and you decide the type of information and advice you seek. This pulls mentoring beyond the realm of your particular industry and allows you to seek best-practice folks wherever they are to be found.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Finding a mentor

Yes, there is currently no order to the subject approach but neither is there such to the questions coming in! LOL

It seems daunting to have to find a mentor. 

The first problem is that many folks don't consider themselves mentors and, as such, don't make themselves easily available. Do you consider yourself able to mentor? (I will write about 'what is mentoring' in a the next post)

The second issue is that we often don't tell our community we are looking for a mentor. 

So no one is putting up their hand on either side; it's a silent game of Marco/Polo!

As usual, the first step is a bit of research. Ask yourself:
1 - What kind of mentoring am I seeking? (skills, industry knowledge, philosophical approach, etc,)
2 - Who do I already know who has it?
3 - Am I comfortable approaching them? (yet another entry to come)
4 - Am I open to someone outside my own company/industry?

You might be surprised that a potential mentor exists within your current circle already. Or, if not your mentor, then someone who holds a possible introduction to someone who helped them in the selected area. 

The issue, as ever, is not that you should think - in silence and alone - about how to reach out.  Use your network; have conversations. Let folks know what you need and allow your circle to help you find it.

à demain

Monday, June 23, 2008

Ask questions

The questions have started flowing.... comments on this blog, emails, a few phone calls, a coffee or two...
There are No Dumb Questions. Our careers are a big part of our lives and there is never a point at which you can't discuss: "what should I do?" "how can I do this?" with your community.
I'll do my best to answer the questions as they come in.

Today's was a real poser. It is something on which I would love to hear your opinion:

What comes first - your child/children or your career?

Here's my initial thoughts:
You are the best example of what a woman can do in this world that your child/children will have. And sometimes that will mean showing her/him that you value yourself. That could mean taking time for yourself, that could mean allowing yourself to pursue a career, that could just mean a bubble bath with no interruptions.
And each day you will make and remake the decision.
If the art of being a parent is flexibility, then allow the same ebb and flow for yourself.
My kid is always in my top 2 priorities...but sometimes to bring him a stronger mom... he's number 2 for a few hours.
He's never been excluded from my career or my friends or my life - he's part of my every breath - but we're in this together vs. the tradition sacrificial role of motherhood.
My child is part of my community and I honour him as a light and centre of my life. However, I must also honour myself and part of who I am is ambitious and hungry to learn and sometimes we must be apart for me to pursue this.

Your thoughts?

Monday, June 16, 2008

What to expect from this blog

Well - the blog will evolve with your comments and my writing.
I will post twice a week - most likely Sundays and Wednesdays.
I will do my best to answer questions - either directly or within a blog entry.

This blog will explore the issues around mentoring and networking as I struggle to move my thoughts throughout the summer into a book. I might post some excerpts; I might ask some questions; I might just rant.

Tell me what you're hoping to find in these posts for you?

Friday, June 13, 2008


I believe that success is not measured by how many hours we put in or how many projects go in under our watch.

Success is measured by the legacy we leave and the value we provide along the way through both our influence and achievements.

I need to write this book for me as much as I hope to share it with you. I need to write it as tribute to the people who have contributed to the philosophy that guides my life in all its multi-faceted chaos.

I want to write it because because words are my medium for change. And change is where we find choice. And choice is really the core of ... well... everything.