This weekend (if you follow me on any form of social media, you already know) I had another jam packed weekend of volunteer work, being trained and spending time with the women in my life who mean the world to me. I spent YET ANOTHER weekend at Kappa Delta Headquarters being trained this time on my volunteer work. Being there reminded me of all the helping hands I have received by my mentors and all of the young women I want to help out. Here is my best advice for those of you who are mentors and mentees:
- Finding a mentor: In the book Lean in, Sheryl Sandberg talks about the importance of mentoring but at the same time discusses how awkward it can be to straight up ask someone to be your mentor… that is not exactly how it works. When you select a mentor, find someone who is good at things you are not strong at. For example, I am not detail oriented (WHATSOEVER), so I saught out help from one of the most specific, detail focused and dialed in women I knew… Katie Treichel. This relationship was mutually beneficial because I had access to and influence over the population she wanted to work with so we naturally moved into the mentor mentship relationship. If you want someone to shape you… YOU HAVE TO GIVE THEM SOMETHING IN RETURN. This is a relationship, not charity. They also have to see something in you they know they can work with. This is why you need to know your strengths and weaknesses as a developing human.
- Maintaining the Partnership: You cannot only call them with problems – if you are the mentee and you cannot only call with advice if – you are the mentor. You have to be deeply invested in each other’s success, growth and life. I just said the scariest thing of all. This is not strictly professional. This relationship has to have a heart. Do not be afraid to be vulnerable and let them know what is really going on. Some of the best advice I have ever received is from my dear friend and mentor Samantha Armstrong. We only truly worked well together once I was honest and open with her about the entire picture. Sam helped me consider graduate school and pushes me every day in my work. She knows me well enough to call me out when I am not on top of my game and I do not break down when she gives me critical feedback. We talk about life, marriage, being a woman in the workplace, in-laws and all of it! Every time I tell her something REAL going on in my life, she sends me an article, book or quick video to watch.
- Use Your Clout: In the song “Humble and Kind,” Tim McGraw sings: When you get where you’re going, don’t forget turn back around, and help the next one in line, always stay humble and kind.” This is the most important thing we can do for each other in the professional world. My boss, and mentor, Jessica Gendron Williams always says…. we are not each other’s enemy. There is plenty of room at the top. When you get strength, recognition and clout… give it away quickly and freely. This could be a compliment, a thank you note, a thumbs up or an interview. The thing is, we are all afraid to give out advice because we are afraid that if someone knows our secrets they will capitalize on our success and become better than us. This is a deep rooted fear that we are imposters and somehow we do not deserve to be where we are. Stop thinking that you have tricked the world to get where you are today. You deserve it. So give it away, THROW it away. You will get it back 10 fold.
One of the most impactful decisions a woman in my life decided to make was to give me a thumbs up in an interview process. That woman was Patricia Beecham Nieman – Past national president of Kappa Delta sorority. We walked one block together in-between Kappa Delta and Delta Gamma at Washington State University and in that time, she got right down to business. She said to me, “Do you ever want to be a consultant for Kappa Delta?.” I said… Yes, absolutely. She said back a few lines I will never forget. She said to me, “Well good… I see a lot of potential in you. Let me know when you apply. I will write you a recommendation.” That mentorship gave me my life. It was everything to me and simple for her. Throw it away. It will make you far more memorable, impactful and powerful to give your power away in every second.
PS – If you ever ask to be my Mentee I will always say YES! So don’t be afraid to come to the table with your life and I will share with you mine!