Hey ladies! I hope this post finds you well! I was thinking about what my next post to you should be about, and it came to me. One of the most important factors in my steady growth and development, in both my personal and professional life, has been in having great mentors. A few weeks ago as I browsed through my Twitter timeline, Dr. Michelle (who’s a “mentor from afar” since we haven’t met in person yet) was posting tweets about mentors, what they mean to us, and how we can contribute to another’s life by becoming one. As I read her words, I thought about the great mentors I’ve been blessed with, and more importantly, the value they have added to my life. It was a mushy moment, because thinking about the selflessness of these individuals made me appreciate them even more. By definition, a mentor is an advisor; or a wise and trusted counselor and teacher. Sounds like someone you know? You’re probably right. Usually people consider outsiders as mentors (by outsiders, I mean people outside of the family), and it seems, at least to me, that mentors always come about unexpectedly but right on time. My first mentor was my 5th grade teacher, Ms. Gordon. She was such a light to my life, always encouraging and teaching me what would make me better. Not to mention, her class was the most fun because she understood us kids! (…and that’s rare for a teacher). I loved hanging out in her class after school, washing the boards (that’s the golden job for a 5th grader), and the awesome Rita’s trips when summer started to break. Even after I left her class, Ms.Gordon always made sure to check in on me to make sure I was okay and on the right track, and to this day she still does.
Since then, I’ve had (and still have) some GREAT mentors, near and far. Some of them mentor me in all aspects of my life, some just personal, and some just professional, but they all add such a value that I could not have created on my own. I look to them for advice, a new perspective, encouragement–and I often get tough love–but they always keep it real and that’s what I love. Many of you see me talk to most of them on social media, but do believe that they are my mentors in real life. If I talked about them each individually, this post would be days long, so here’s a little collage of me and some of my mentors. The list is longer, but I spared you *wink*
Top left: SanTara (she speaks into my life constantly) and I, right: me and my former fashion merchandising professor, Renae Stafford, middle: Denise (former fashion design, after-school program instructor) and I, bottom left: Tisa Silver (the finance diva who helped me “get” it), and far right: Janice & Denise Tunnell (who also constantly speak into my life). They all add value to ME!
A mentor advises from their knowledge and experiences, by way of what they feel will help you bring out your full potential, and definitely wants to see you grow in whatever it is that you are doing. I wrote this because I want those that may have never experienced the greatness of a real mentor, to know that it is something that not only I value, but so many others do as well and attribute it to their success. At almost every conference I attend, someone on some panel says , “If you don’t have a mentor, get one!”. As we all try to progress, it always helps to have someone to say “How about trying it this way, ever thought about that?”, or, “Yup, I’ve been there, done that… here’s what I have to say about it”. They sort of give the reviews of life so you don’t go investing in things that will turn you back the other way. They are not there to tell you what to do and how you should do it, but to advise you, and the great ones will do just that.
I encourage you all to find a mentor in your respective field (doesn’t have to be, but it helps even more because they understand your career goal objectives more with respect to the chosen industry). Many of you may be saying, “Well where do I look for a mentor?”…well, there are plenty of places. Sometimes it happens naturally, where a person just “falls” into your life (this happens to me all the time haha), but if no one is falling, here are some ways to find and value a great mentor. 1. Determine who the people are that inspire you in your personal and/or professional life and make a list, along with the attributes you like most about them. 2. If you don’t already know the person you’d like to mentor you, work on building a relationship with them first. They will be able to make a better assessment as to whether or not they would like to mentor you if they have a relationship with you. 3. *MOST IMPORTANT* Do NOT assume that just because you call someone your mentor, they are. If it was not a mutual agreement, it is not fair to label them as your mentor. Remember, mentor-mentee is 50/50, so ask them if they would be willing to mentor you (in your own way of course). 4. Simply ask when you feel the time is right. I would suggest having a phone conversation to do this (or in person is even better), simply because it’s more personal, but you can also send a well written email, detailing exactly what you are seeking and why. More than likely, the prospective mentor will be honored to take on the task, but in some cases they just aren’t able to commit to it, so it’s a good idea to ask and be clear. 5. Keep in mind that the mentor-mentee relationship is 50/50. Don’t assume that they will be available for your every beck and call; value their time as they will yours. I became a mentor in my sophomore year of college as a part of the Women of Destiny mentorship program at Morgan State University, and it was the best experience. Here’s my two mentees and I at a Women of Destiny closing ceremony, I couldn’t be more proud of all they have accomplished!
How many of you can name at least one person who has been a mentor to you? More than one? I’d love to hear about them, give them a shout in the comments section; they deserve some recognition! If you’d like any more tips or would like to chat, shoot me an email at herBrandDNA@gmail.com.
Sharontina & her Brand DNA