Right off the bat, let’s be clear about one thing: seeking a mentor in anything you are passionate about is not just recommended—it’s necessary.
I have had many mentors travel with me during my 15 years of gainful employment and entrepreneurship.
My road to mentorship started out in high school. I was blessed to have two very special business-minded teachers who taught me how to prepare my own income tax return and the basics of bookkeeping. Secretly, I think they knew there was no way they could convince me to enter the church as a nun, so they thought I could serve in other ways, by helping individuals in business. If so, Ms. Bailey and Mrs. Waters, you nailed it!
Then there was Gary Earl, a CMA and former employee of GE Electric. Gary was not only a Mr. Bean fan but also my college professor. It was damn hard working my way through college. He identified with that and went above and beyond to make sure I got the advanced knowledge I needed, as university tuition was not in the cards. I paid attention and learned. Took his advice and implemented it.
That was when I got my first mentor role. Gary had recommended me as a tutor for students experiencing difficulties with reconciling their debits and credits. It was a blast being a tutor to second-career and foreign exchange students. When graduation was around the corner and the fear of not having a job was real, Gary was first to recommend me to a major pharmaceutical company. Was it my GPA and Miss Congeniality personality that got me the job? Nope! It was the knowledge I had acquired from Mr. Gary Earle, CMA, and implemented into my passion plan that got me the job. Even though they weren’t sure they had a job for me. They hired me knowing that I was a good employee in the making. I was, and that’s when Mr. John Howes, CMA, my boss, also became a mentor.
There is power in knowledge through other people. If you are weak in anything, seek out individuals who are willing to show you the ropes. Their guidence is invaluable and should be free.
But what happens if someone wants to be your mentor and you know they’re not a good fit? Say their advice often comes across as criticism, and you feel you have to work too hard to earn their respect—or vice versa. That’s not a mentoring relationship. Just be polite, don’t dig into a battle of wits, move on, and follow what’s really important—your passion.
The most important rule in a mentorship relationship is respect. Respect is given, not earned. Mentorship is about empowerment, about helping each party grow. It’s downright fantastic!
4 ways to find a mentor:
- network at a conference and make it a goal to find one mentor. Bring your business cards!
- connect on LinkedIn & Twitter and engage
- follow blogs of people who inspire you
- join a business group (like Tammatha Denyes ), Ladies Who Lunch Group (Ottawa like Elaine Orr), Sales Ad group, etc…
What you should look for in a mentor
- mutual respect
- experience in the field you’re passionate about
- innovation for change
- social media channels (and follow them!)
- personality match
- someone who is willing to spend a preset mutual amount of time with you—virtually is the new norm.
I ‘ve been blessed to have a full-cycle mentorship. I’m still a mentee to many and a mentor. It’s a continuous eco-system. You can never stop learning. So my advice is to have an everlasting search for mentorship. That is done through networking. Honour your connections and nurture them.
So get your social media on, break that shell on your back, and find yourself someone who can empower you to the next level of your passion plan!