Building the Right Mentor Relationship with Lauren Stefaniak

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Summary

Key Takeaways

  • Last time we talked, I had opened up the possibility of talking mentorship with you and we didn’t get a chance to touch on it. In your experience, how important is it to find a mentor?
    • The importance of a mentor is directly proportional to the importance you’ve set on your goals and your development
    • If you’re one of those “i’m just happy to be here” kind of people, a mentor will probably feel unnecessary to you
    • If you’re someone who has a target in mind (ie. I’m a manager and I want to be CMO someday, or I started a side hustle and I want to turn it into a full-time gig), it’s a critical component on your journey to your goal to find a mentor (or a few!)
  • What should a person look for in a mentor?
    • Someone who has already achieved the goal you’ve set for yourself (NOT someone whose overall achievements are inspirational to you)
      • Meaning – if you have a goal to be a CMO, find someone who currently is or has been a CMO
      • This is NOT – I want to pursue X as a mentor because I think they live a really cool life and I want to be them
        • “Never meet your heroes”
        • Someone’s life & success often is not as it seems
        • It is incredibly difficult & unlikely to mirror your entire life after someone else’s
        • You’ll fall flat in conversations if you’re not clear on what you’re looking to learn
    • Someone who is/was in your industry or one that’s adjacent to yours
      • This leads to a natural progression of networking opportunities
      • Also cuts through the “language barrier” of having to over-explain your role/industry to glean meaningful recommendations toward your goal
    • Someone who is fairly accessible and open to continued communication
      • Goes without saying, but cold-calling a CEO of a Fortune 500 company probably won’t get you anywhere
      • Someone with limited time can be great for a one-time conversation (you can learn a hell of a lot in one phone call), but would not work as a long-term mentor
    • Someone with a communication style that matches your own
      • By this I mean – you both prefer meeting in person, scheduling phone calls, sending emails, etc.
      • If you don’t like talking on the phone and your prospective mentor keeps scheduling calls, it’s probably not going to work over time
  • Have you been a part of any orgs that formalize the process of finding and having a mentor?
    • Once, professionally, and it was the worst thing in the world!
      • In one of my previous roles, it was a requirement for new hires as part of the onboarding process to attend quarterly “coffee chats” with a randomly-assigned mentor who may or may not be in your department
    • Mentorship has to be something both parties want to do & are ready for
    • And some of the best mentors operate outside the confines of a defined mentorship relationship
  • Does/should you mentor change over the course of your career?
    • They can, but they don’t have to
    • Instances where they do change:
      • Your goal changes
      • Your mentor falls out of sync with your goals
      • Your mentor can no longer dedicate the time to you
    • Recommend having more than one mentor at all times:
      • Ensures you’re hearing a diverse perspective of experiences & insights
      • Ensures you’re not leaning too heavily on one particular person
        • Mentorship burnout can be real
  • What are your best tips for early career professionals in this biz on being a good mentee?
    • Be thoughtful in your approach to learning from your mentor
      • Ask detailed questions, not a general “how did you do X”
      • Don’t ask something you can readily find on Google, but do use information you find as a launchpad to ask something else; ie. “I saw on LinkedIn you were at X company as CMO, what about that company made you want to accept that position there?”
    • Be respectful of your mentor’s time
      • Show the hell up if you schedule something
    • Remember it’s a two-way street
      • A good mentor is invested in your success
      • If they don’t show up to something you’ve agreed on & scheduled, consider walking away
    • You can walk away from a mentor if it’s not working out for you
      • We often have such high expectations walking into conversations with strangers, and occasionally it can turn out nothing like what you expected
  • Do you want to shout out to any of your mentors?
    • My current manager, Pamela!
    • I legitimately think she would shy away from officially being called a “mentor,” but has been my guiding light in my career
    • She helped shape my approach to mentorship, personal development & how I operate in my role:
      • “Your value is not in what you know, but how you think.”

Credits
Produced by: Creative Force - creativeforce.io
Edited by: Calvin Lanz Sound - clsound.net
Hosted by: Daniel Jester - danieltjester.com

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