All Articles Tagged "mentor"

Mentorship Is As Important As Oxygen To A Career Reset

November 18th, 2014 - By Karen Taylor Bass
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As you pound the pavement and scour the Internet in search of a job, client or opportunity, an important task to add to your to-do list for career advancement is securing a mentor.

While the job landscape has changed with the advent of social media, what a mentor does has not. A mentor is still someone who has specific skills, knowledge and abilities to help groom you for success, provides strategic business advice and assists you with the tools to negotiate and conquer the corporate terrain. A mentor can be especially helpful for women who have the two-fold challenge of navigating the sexism of the business world while still maintaining a home and children. Choosing the right mentor will help maintain sanity as you climb the ladder.

“For African Americans mentoring is like oxygen; mentorship helps one uncover the opportunities and possibilities that are beyond the stratosphere,” says Kimberly Reed, human resource consultant and managing partner of The Reed Development Group. A successful mentor will be compatible to her mentee, accomplished, connected, and available, and someone who also uses an innovative approach to maneuver the politics and drama of the corporate world. With mentoring you can achieve the following: creating a blueprint for your long-term career goal; securing invitations for the “right” networking functions; mastering the art of negotiation; and winning tips to climbing the corporate ladder.

“Mentoring is coming from an authentic place of service and pouring into an individual the necessary tools [etiquette/protocol, networking, strategic alliances, wellness and career coaching] for winning in a male-dominated world and a near-to-invisible culture for women,” says Carol Harvey, mentor advocate for the Philadelphia chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority, and manager of admissions for Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.

A mentoring relationship is not just a one-way street. You, as the mentee, must play a strategic and proactive role in their professional development, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. The agency goes on to say that in order to take full advantage of a mentor/mentee relationship, a mentee must be open to feedback and coaching.

“Mentorship is a developmental relationship, says Ella L.J. Edmondson Bell, Ph.D., founder and president of ASCENT-Leading Multicultural Women to the Top, and author of Career GPS: Strategies for Women Navigating the New Corporate Landscape. It’s a dance. It’s like any other kind of relationship; you have to get to know someone. The mentor shares his or her wisdom and knowledge. You share your perception of what’s happening in your company from your level. Look for mentors around you. You need allies, colleagues, and peers. Mentors are supposed to support you. That support is circular, not linear.”

Reset Checklist for Seeking A Strategic Mentor:

-Strong interpersonal skills
-Organizational knowledge
-Technical competence
-Strong leadership skills
-Sense of personal power
-Ability to maintain confidentiality of mentoring relationship
-Willingness to be supportive and patient

Reset: As women we must openly celebrate each other, formulate healthy networks and relationships. It is critical to have a mentor, however, it is crucial to give back and become a mentor.

Karen Taylor Bass, The PR Expert and Brand Mom, provides entrepreneurs, corporations and mompreneurs with essential branding, marketing and public relations coaching. Follow Karen @thebrandnewmom.

Pay It Forward: Ways to Be a Great Mentor

January 24th, 2014 - By Tanvier Peart
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Many people who experience success in their career do so with some help from a wise mentor. Even if there are still goals to accomplish, one thing you might want to consider is being a mentor to someone who would benefit from your expertise. Mentors are amazing resources that can help lead a generation. Have you considered becoming one? Here is some advice on how to be a great mentor.

It’s Not Just For Sheryl Sandberg: 10 Ways To “Lean In” and Lead

April 5th, 2013 - By C. Cleveland
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AP Photo/Alfred A. Knopf

AP Photo/Alfred A. Knopf

Facebook COO and bestselling author Sheryl Sandberg’s memoir/feminist manifesto, Lean In, is causing quite a stir among working women. If you missed the hype, Sandberg uses her book to address the barriers in women’s minds that keep them from reaching the same levels of professional success as men. Sandberg acknowledges systematic hurdles like work and national policies, along with cultural expectations that inhibit the progress of women. But, she believes women can dismantle these hurdles by changing the way they think.

Sandberg’s critics note that her racial, academic, and economic privilege make it easier for her to put the burden on women to simply try harder to succeed. Many women were “leaning in” long before Sandberg’s book only to bump into a glass ceiling. A study by the League of Black Women found that black women make up only one percent of U.S. corporate officers.

Sandberg’s privilege shouldn’t stop women from applying the principles that brought her success. There are external boundaries inhibiting the success of black women, but that’s even more reason for us to eliminate the ones we inflict on ourselves. Check out these 10 principles from Lean In. Does the way you view yourself hold you back?

Amanda Ebokosia’s Gem Project Offers Youth an Empowering Voice and a Mentor For Excellence

March 14th, 2013 - By Rhonda Campbell
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Photo: Nick Romanenko

MEET Amanda Ebokosia:  Amanda Ebokosia is the founder and chief executive officer of The Gem Project, an initiative designed to prepare youth to step into leadership roles. Ebokosia founded the project in March 2006 when she was only 19 years old, while she was a sophomore at Rutgers University.

Headquartered in Newark, New Jersey, The Gem Project uses educational enrichment programs to empower youth to hone their community and leadership organization skills. Since it was founded in 2006, the Gem Project has held over 30 programs, directly educating over 1200 people. For her work with The Gem Project, Amanda Ebokosia earned a spot on Forbes’ “30 Under 30” list. 

Ebokosia grew up in a single-parent household, with a mom who went to medical school, worked as a full-time nurse, and raised Ebokosia and her two brothers, one of whom is autistic. She was also a breast cancer survivor. “She made it work, doing all of this by herself. Seeing what my mother did was truly incredible for me,” Ebokosia told us.

“I learned firsthand from my mother that nothing can stop you if you don’t let it,” she continued. “My passion is to do what I can to make sure every child has a mentor, someone who inspires them. This keeps me going, the ability to impact a child’s life.”

Read on for more of our conversation with Ebokosia.

MadameNoire:     “Be the Picasso of your life,” is a quote highlighted on your website. What’s the significance of this message?
Amanda Ebokosia:    When I think of a Picasso, I think of someone who knows that they have the capabilities to change any situation in their life. It’s up to us to change our lives, despite obstacles we’ve experienced; it’s up to us to become who we want to be.

When I was a child, my mother read a book titled Amazing Grace to me. The book’s main character, a black girl, was passionate about acting. She wanted to play Peter Pan in a school play. However, she was told that she couldn’t play Peter Pan because she was a girl and because she was black. She disregarded naysayers, auditioned for Peter Pan and got the role. Regardless of what others say, we are the painters of our lives.  

MN:     What are the top three challenges young people face today?
AE:       Education. It’s unrealistic to think all children receive the same level of education. There are so many different challenges in education that impact young people’s ability to get better jobs and receive better outcomes in other areas of their lives.  A lot of youth in urban communities are struggling, because they don’t have the same resources youth in other communities have.

The second greatest challenge for young people is bullying. It’s more of an issue now than it has ever been. I was bullied growing up.  However, back then, social media wasn’t around. Today bullying is 24/7.  The issues are more unbearable for young people. That’s why I think more young people commit suicide from bullying today; it doesn’t stop.

With The Gem Project, we address bullying through the Interactive Literacy Program. We discuss different types of bullying (i.e. physical, verbal, emotional, cyber-bullying).  We have ice breakers with participants to discuss bullying freely, whether a young person has been bullied or saw someone else being bullied. During discussions, youth weigh in on their definition of bullying, then we discuss why youth think people bully. After that, we address the root of the why people bully, then we work to figure our solutions to bullying. We also do a hands-on activity, where we create a comic book that supports anti-bullying.

The third greatest challenge youth face today is self-image. At the root of everything is self-image. Having good self-esteem can combat a lot of other issues. The typical family in the communities we serve are single-parent households. We find that a lot of our young boys have identity issues. Many don’t have a positive male role model who’s active in their life. Young people need adults to model good behavior for them.

Magic Johnson Loves the Kids: Basketball Star Campaigns for Mentor Program

February 8th, 2013 - By CAP
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AP Photo/Reed Saxon

AP Photo/Reed Saxon

Former basketball star Earvin “Magic” Johnson has joined forces with Coca Cola, rapper/actor Common, and BET boss lady Debra Lee for a program that will allow youth between 16 and 21 to shadow them and their teams for a week in the summer.

Part owner of the LA Dodgers and Magic Johnson Theaters, Johnson told that he wants to teach teens that “focus, discipline and sacrifice are all necessary attributes to become successful.”

Common has always had a presence in the community, including in his hometown (and mine) of Chicago. Here’s what he had to say about his mission in the program: “I want them to experience the ups and downs, the hard work and discipline that it takes.”

He also said he will personally be involved with the mentees. “Beyond music, it’s important for me to reach back and create a legacy bigger than my career,” Common said.

These celebrity leaders are on the right track. According to, a Pew Study shows that minority and low income youth who have mentorship are 46 percent less likely to use illegal drugs, 53 percent less likely to skip school, and 33 percent less likely to hit someone.

So hopefully by these familiar faces taking a stance on mentorship, others will be encouraged to get involved with organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters or similar programs as well.

Anyone can nominate a young person for the “Pay It Forward” apprenticeship program via the My Coke Rewards site through March 2.

9 Steps To Get Focused For 2013

December 28th, 2012 - By C. Cleveland
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Don’t you love that quiet lull the office falls into between Christmas and New Year’s Day? With clients and coworkers traveling for the holidays, the workplace can feel like an adult version of Home Alone. But, there are better things to do with your downtime than playing Facebook games or building towers out of office supplies with your cubicle mates. This is the perfect time of year to gain perspective on 2012, and get focused for the New Year. Follow these steps to make sure your mind is right for 2013.

Your Married Boyfriend Isn’t Your Mentor: The Right and Wrong Way to Take Someone Under Your Wing

November 27th, 2012 - By Tonya Garcia
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In the latest news out of the Gen. David Petraeus adultery scandal, the woman who started this whole mess, Jill Kelley, the “Florida socialite,” is being stripped of an honorary consul position that she was given in South Korea for no apparent reason.

“Kelley will lose that designation after a New York businessman accused her of trying to use the honorary title to solicit business, Deputy Foreign Minister Kim Kyou-hyun told the semi-official South Korean news agency Yonhap,” CNN reports. (Here’s a chart of who’s who and what’s what, in case you need it for reference.) It was a title that gave Kelley no power. Still, apparently tried to milk it for all it was worth.

Obviously, this is a woman who needs an ethics class. Or maybe she needs a mentor; someone to guide her in the ways of right and wrong when trying to climb the ladder to success. (She probably just needs the class.) Interestingly — or even more tawdry, depending on your perspective — Paula Broadwell was not just Petraeus’ mistress and biographer. He was also her mentor. What a tangled web we weave…

The Daily Beast’s Michael Moynihan asks why a woman like Paula Broadwell would even need a mentor. She’s an athlete, has a Master’s degree (she was kicked out of Harvard while trying to get a second one), a graduate of West Point, and a published author who thought of making a political run in North Carolina.

“Despite this rather impressive résumé, Broadwell decided she needed career guidance from the man tasked with executing the troop surge in Iraq and commanding American forces in Afghanistan,” the article says. After calling out a few weird mentoring pairings (Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow) and some examples of mentoring gone bad, he highlights the number of books on the shelves these days, talking up the benefits of mentoring.

“Apparently, everyone has a mentor these days,” the author writes.

Mentoring is a topic we’ve tackled on the pages of Madame Noire Business, with sources talking about the positive experiences they’ve had on both sides of the mentoring equation. “I decided to be a mentor because I saw early on the benefits of my peers and the deficit I suffered by not having a mentor in my field. I saw that it provided many opportunities for networking and introductions to others in their chosen field,” Dr. Teresa Taylor Williams told us at the time.

Among the many things we glean from the Petraeus situation are lessons in how to be a proper mentor. A mentor is a person that someone respects, usually an older person who has moved along in their career, or achieved something that the mentee would someday like to accomplish. In that sense, Petraeus fits the bill.

Some of the mentors we interviewed also provide an apprentice-like opportunity for the people they work with, giving someone who’s just starting out the chance to get hands-on experience and personalized attention. A mentor should also be a conduit to the VIPs that a newbie should know. There’s a bit of elbow-rubbing involved, but it also offers the truly talented a chance to get to know the pros who open doors so talent can be realized.

A mentor isn’t your boyfriend or the person you’re sleeping with. He or she isn’t someone that exchanges information and opportunity for favors of any kind. And it isn’t someone who gives themselves the title so their conscious feels a little better about all the crooked crap they’re doing. A mentor is a person that you can trust; who’s helping because they see the spark in you and wants it to grow. And in so doing is actually doing a service for the industry they work in or the wider world that will be influenced by their mentee. So Paula Broadwell didn’t have a mentor with Gen. Petraeus. She had a roll in the hay and heap of trouble.

Professional Guidance: Finding and Being a Success Mentor

September 27th, 2012 - By Ann Brown
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Image: Thinkstock

I got my start through a mentor. I was studying journalism in college and when I took my first internship at a small community newspaper, I met my success mentor. Dr. Teresa Taylor Williams, the editor of The Voice, took me under her wing not only for the internship but throughout my career, hiring  me after college to help develop her startup, a media company that included a newspaper, The New York Trend, and community TV show, Trend on TV.  When I moved on, Dr. Williams was there. Today, she is still mentoring others.

“For almost 30 years I have provided an internship/mentoring program for aspiring journalists and communications students from colleges and universities throughout the New York tri-state area . I have offered these opportunities for deserving young people to provide them with immediate experience in the area of their choice and NOT requiring them to get coffee,” says Dr. Williams, CEO and Founder at TTW Associates Inc., in an interview. “I decided to be a mentor because I saw early on the benefits of my peers and the deficit I suffered by not having a mentor in my field. I saw that it provided many opportunities for networking and introductions to others in their chosen field.”

Dr. Williams has found her role as mentor continues over the years — even after those she’s mentored have earned their college degrees. “Mentoring is necessary because it provides a base for individuals to align themselves with,” she continues. “A mentor can provide that professional hug, word of encouragement and help them through,” she says.  “I have watched young people rise in the journalism field. And hearing them tell me I gave them valuable training or I kept my word about the knowledge they would gain and that I provided…makes it will worthwhile.”

Veteran entertainment journalist Tonya Pendleton believes even if your mentee is still in grade school, having a mentoring relationship with her early on can help guide her through her career and her life.  “I mentored because I don’t have kids and thought I could be helpful to someone who does and contribute to a child’s life. In fact, my mentee Natisha Romain contributed much more to mine. I absolutely recommend it formally or informally,” Pendleton, CEO of Amazon Ink, tells us.  She helped through The Mentoring Partnership of New York.
Dr. Willise Riche discovered mentoring after she was approached by hospital staffers. The university students she worked with kept coming back. “Although I was mentoring, I really didn’t consider it officially until I realized that they were repeatedly returning for more advice and referring others,” Riche explains in an email.

Once she started mentoring, Riche realized how important a role she was playing in the lives of young people. “Having a mentor is necessary in any field. Mentorship is how trades have been passed down from the beginning of civilization. I think that mentorship is… a seamless merging of formal and traditional learning. One cannot learn experience from a book,” says Riche, who also produces a radio program targeted at women called “Maslow Woman.”

Vh1’s Jackie Christie and Stylist Rochelle Mosley Encourage Next Generation of Entrepreneurs

September 11th, 2012 - By C. Cleveland
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Rochelle Mosley and Jackie Christie

It’s Fashion Week in New York City and the cast and crew of Basketball Wives LA are in town filming. But there isn’t a camera crew in sight in the space behind Salon 804 in Harlem. There, under the city’s iconic fire escapes, a makeshift classroom has been fashioned and Jackie Christie is teacher for the day. A dozen girls grill the reality star on her rise to fame.

Christie talks about her life story, taking care to smooth over any negative behavior they might have seen on her show. “I don’t take mess from nobody. That’s what you see on the show [with the other girls]” she told her attentive audience. “I always feel bad after. But, I’m a fighter and I have passion.”

It was a passionate, fighting spirit that led Rochelle Mosley, a celebrity stylist from Richmond, VA now based in Harlem, to start Project Girl. The program is meant to take the stigma off of living in public housing and channel the hustle it takes to survive that environment into something positive and entrepreneurial. Friday’s event with Christie is one of a series of workshops that covers an array of topics impacting girls’ lives.

Mosley started the program when she realized that many of the girls interning in her salon did not have the information they needed to prepare for the future. “This summer I took notice of how much they didn’t know,” she said. “My 17-year-old intern didn’t know how to address an envelope… I want to help them get where they need to be so they can live like Jackie, like the people they see on TV. She’s not living a lie, it’s real for her, and she can show the girls how to make it real for them.”

Project Girl workshops feature women from all walks of life. Last month a dentist came in to discuss hygiene and a life coach visited to assist the girls in working through their problems. At the request of parents in the community, Mosley opened up the sessions to girls age between the ages of 12 and 18.

The workshops are not only an opportunity for the girls to hear women share their experiences, but to support each other’s growth. The girls don’t leave Mosley’s influence once the sessions end. She uses her network to help the girls with any problem they bring to her. “I get emails all the time,” she said. “I got an email last night from a young lady who is in 11th grade and she’s in a school where there is one college counselor to 200 kids. She said she feels like time is running out and she doesn’t have the support for college.” Mosley connected her with scholarship and test prep experts.

Empowerment is the goal here. Mosley believes that fear is what holds many women back from pursuing their dreams. For her, fear was a motivator. “I’m just thinking about not being like my mother,” she said. “That’s not derogatory. I grew up a certain way. My mother never owned anything or went on vacations. I grew up like these kids. I want to tell them just because your mother isn’t talking about it, doesn’t mean it’s not possible. I’m the first entrepreneur in my family.”

Christie was brought in to impart wisdom on juggling a busy life in the entertainment industry. Although mostly known as a polarizing character on Vh1’s raucous reality show circuit, Christie has a myriad of projects going on at any given moment, including self-help books (she just released her latest, Proud to Be a Colored Girl) and a fashion line. Her advice to girls and women is to follow their dreams. “Google, Google, Google. You can never get enough education and information,” said Christie. “That’s how I learned to be a self-published author. And now I’m five books in, with three best sellers.”

If the girls are starstruck by Christie, they don’t show it. They ask everything from updates on her co-stars’ whereabouts to advice on launching entertainment careers of their own. That fearlessness makes it apparent that this small circle of girls in Harlem is the perfect foundation to forge a new crop of first-generation entrepreneurs.

Cortney Cleveland is a freelance writer and content strategist in New York City. You can follow her on Twitter @CleveInTheCity and visit her personal column The Red Read.

And…Action! Tyrese to Mentor Aspiring Filmmakers

September 1st, 2012 - By Drenna Armstrong
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Oh Tyrese, we didn’t know you cared so much!

According to EURweb, Tyrese has teamed up with Sprite Films, a Coca-Cola product, to coach eight finalists in their quest to become the next “it” director in Hollywood.  Tyrese said he was excited to do anything the company asked because they were the first people to give him the opportunity  in front of the camera – we all remember Ty singing on the bus in the Coke commercial, yes?  When they presented him the idea of being a mentor, it was just something he couldn’t pass up.  For his part, he says:

“The gist of the stuff that I was telling them was, we are as dreamers, perception creators and the world is an empty canvas waiting on new thoughts to think. And however way you get them out, whether it’s through clothes, whether it’s through technology, music, filmmaking, the world is waiting for us to create those new perceptions and concepts.”

But Tyrese was likely believing the words he was telling the finalists because the singer/actor/”rappper” would also like to direct films.  He said he just needs a four or five month course so he can understand specific questions because he already pretty much knows what to do and how to do it.  Well, nothing wrong with that.

If you want to check out the filmmakers’ short films, head over to