All Articles Tagged "mentorship"
One of the biggest buzzwords for young professionals looking to move forward in their career is “mentor.” You need one. Go get one. Well, I took that advice and reached out to an established professional that I met on several occasions informally. I first asked for an information interview so that I could learn more about what he did, the opportunities for my profession, and insight into what skill set I would need to secure longevity and success in my career.
We met at his office and spoke about some of the opportunities in my field in addition to the many of the things that executives struggle with. After our initial meeting, I was excited and grateful that I found someone that was interested, or at least it seemed interested, in my professional development.
For a year and a half, I would speak to my mentor and visit his office to update him on my career successes, my challenges, and to seek out his advice on the bigger picture. In the midst of this mentorship, I got married, landed a new job, stopped driving, and moved to another part of town. It became difficult for me to visit his office regularly, but I continued to reach out to him over the phone.
When I had the chance to visit him after all of these shifts in my life, he said things like, “Since you’ve been married, you don’t have time for anyone.” Huh?
My mentor was 20 years my senior and married. He implied in many ways that he was not happily married and was taking my marriage to my husband personally. He was taking my inability to visit his office as an affront. He directly related my “not having time for anyone” to my marriage and not the new career demands, my longer commute, or my lack of transportation.
In awkward situations like these, it is hard to know what to do. I did not feel sorry for having a personal life, but I somehow felt… guilty… for not visiting him… I guess?
Even writing that sentence is weird because my expectations for our relationship were based on my professional goals and, in hindsight, his weren’t. This sentiment became exceedingly clear when I was approached by a third party to apply for a position over which he held some influence.
Although the relationship was a bit awkward, I thought fundamentally he respected my credentials and felt I would be the best fit for the job. But when I shared with him that I had been approached to apply for this particular position, he said that I abandoned things too quickly; that the organization that I was interested in was one of his favorites and that he would prefer someone that was really interested in the work.
Irritated, I said, “Abandon what? I have been in my current position for four years. Is this conversation about the position or is this about what you think I should be doing for and with you.”
He did not respond and soon after, neither did the people that so enthusiastically reached out to me to apply for the position.
I can’t say that I was devastated about the end of this “mentor-mentee” relationship or being unfairly overlooked for the position. I learned a lot about human behavior, expectations, and the emotions that we pretend to have in check as professionals when many of us we really don’t.
I now know that mentorship is not the sole solution to career advancement. I believe that peer-coaching, networking, and volunteering in organizations that serve your ultimate career goals are viable options for seeking support and advice for professional advancement.
I also believe mentorship has overshadowed the great benefits of apprenticeship. Unlike mentorship, the focus of apprenticeship is about building a skill set, not a relationship, which in the case of mentees seeking mentors of the opposite sex, can minimize the possibility of someone catching feelings and inappropriately wielding their power against you in bitter response to unrequited love (or lust).
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For any business, foresight and planning are major components to ultimate success. Without a clear idea of what to do and where you are going, there is no way you’ll get there, much less anywhere. Let these three strategies get your business to the finish line:
Find mentors- Part of knowing where you want to end up is knowing what the “end” looks like. Have a vision of who you aspire to be. Whether your mentor is someone from the past or someone in a completely different industry, the goal is to imitate someone whose road to success is worthy of emulation. Identify their work ethic, habits, education, and any other pieces of their personality that inspire you.
Don’t be afraid to re-adjust- If you see things aren’t headed in the direction you planned, don’t hesitate to take a step back. Analyze why this may be happening and make a change as quickly as possible. When you test a new approach be sure to review the results, this way you can make necessary adjustments. Don’t let your business keep repeating an action that fails to deliver your desired outcome.
Avoid shortcuts- Every successful business is built on ethical business practices. Knowledge of your product or service, and a commitment to represent your company and serve your customers to the best of your ability are two other principles that allow your business to rest on a strong foundation. Taking shortcuts will cause your business to suffer. Always striving for improvement is just one way to ensure your business doesn’t get left behind.
Don’t expect success without hard work. On the upside, all the work will likely help you rise above the fray and meet your business goals more quickly.
Entrepreneurs are typically after two things: funding and advice. Many early stage entrepreneurs turn to incubators, and accelerators to gain access to both. Entrance into these elite training groups can offer resources like legal advice, office space, access to investors and in some cases, seed money. The accelerators typically take a piece of equity in exchange for this. But getting into these elite institutions can prove more difficult than getting into an Ivy League university. Angela Benton’s NewMe Accelerator has joined the ranks of incubators like Y Combinator, and Techstars, with some of its participants already on the fast track to success and national awareness after being featured in CNN’s 2011 edition of “Black In America.”
Entrance for any these programs is typically through an application process, where many experts and industry insiders explain that the make-up of the team is more important than the idea or the product. Spots fill quickly, but getting one has often proved especially difficult for entrepreneurs of color and women to gain admittance. That’s where NewMe comes in. (Another, DreamIt Ventures, has also taken on an initiative to recruit minority entrepreneurs.) Recently, NewMe made a major change. Instead of applications, the incubator has now switched to an invitation-only model.
“At the time our application process we had was not dissimilar to what other accelerator and incubator programs offer,” explained Benton. “We got a range of applicants including personality types and wanted to make sure that we weren’t just looking for the best companies but that we were also looking for people that we really wanted to work with.”
“We launched a national tour earlier this year (we are halfway done) where we provide one-on-one coaching, a two-part workshop, and a demo day for entrepreneurs,” Benton shared in her blog. “It allows us to dig deeper and learn more about the individual, the business, and if our values align.
This change might lead one to wonder how will NewMe bring in promising minority entrepreneurs, who are outside their network or their reach. They say they look to find “diamonds in the rough” — and work to make those “diamonds in the rough” the best.
“We have a pretty extensive network (directly and in-directly) and we do a lot of outreach to groups and organizations that aren’t in our network. Also I’m a believer that things fall in line when they should and we are doing the ground work so I believe that our paths will cross with the people we are supposed to be working with if we continue doing the outreach.”
Currently, NewME’s fifth cycle is up and running, it has two women on board, which, Benton says, is due to the invite-only process.
“The previous cycle was all men,” Benton explained. “That was the last cycle that was by application and while I love all of those guys we desperately needed some estrogen in the mix. Making the accelerator invite only also allows us to have more control over who we want to work with.”
Benton says in most cities the pop-up accelerators visit, the gender ratio is 50/50. A lot of the people she sees are working 9-to-5s in corporate America and looking to turn their passions and side hustles into real businesses.
“For me personally, I realize that most women, particularly in African-American households are the breadwinner or the head of the household so it makes sense that we see more Black women looking to have their ideas validated and get the mentoring they need from the popups in order to take their ideas to the next level.”
There are just three cities left in the tour. Register here for a PopUp Accelerator near you.
Tried A Digital Mentorship? 3 Tips To Build A Relationship With Your Dream Mentor Outside Of Twitter
It’s almost like the golden ticket. Every career minded millennial woman nowadays is in the market for a mentor.
In the age of girl power so to speak, when we have woman, Janet Yellen, who was just nominated as the Fed Chair, and an awards program declaring that “Black Girls Rock,” you’d think a mentor would be easy to find. And yet research shows only 1 in 5 women in the US, just 19 percent, has ever had a mentor. And some of what women crave out of mentorship can now be replicated in digital form without even needing to know the woman in real life. I like to call it, digital mentorship. Following influential women on social media can serve as a form of mentorship. Many of these high profile women are aware that a lot of their followers are made up of women who look up to them.
“Anyone who has worthwhile insight or advice must share it where people are! In this day and age, that means you have to do so via social media, especially where millennials are concerned,” explained style expert and on air personality Tai Beachamp. “That’s where the audience is.”
Powerful black women are on Twitter and they’re engaging and interacting with their followers and sharing things almost like a mentor would share with their mentee. Tai Beauchamp recently announced in a tweet that she’s doing “#TaiTalks Wednesdays.” And Bevy Smith, who boasts 65,000 followers on Twitter, is another of the many influential women sharing her wisdom via social media.
“[M]entoring has evolved,” explained Beauchamp. “It’s no longer about having monthly or bi-monthly meetings–very few people have time for this traditional model. So I believe in speed mentoring both via phone and social media.”
The beautiful Naomi Campbell graced the cover of a recent issue of Net-a-Porter. Inside, the 43-year-old knockout discusses racism in the fashion world, why she mentors models and Nelson Mandela. Catch a few of her interview highlights below.
On mentoring models:
“I want people to really understand what the world of modeling is about, and how hard we work. I like the mentoring aspect, as opposed to sitting in my chair and judging someone. It’s really rewarding to see the models transformed and it makes me feel like I’m doing something right.”
On racism in fashion:
“I do think there is still racism. Joan Smalls and Jourdan Dunn and I speak with each other and, sometimes, I’m a little horrified with the things they tell me.”
On how she stays in fit:
“Since I had my operation on my knee [in 2012, after being reportedly mugged], Pilates has become very important. I don’t want to build muscle, just to tone. I’m not extreme about what I eat – I let chocolate and crisps come in at times. You have to allow the little things that make you happy. For ten days prior to the Versace show, I just drank juice – carrot, ginger, pineapple – to cleanse.”
On Nelson Mandela:
“There will never be anyone like him again. When you meet him, you just get such a positive aura. It’s incredible.”
On building industry relationships:
“I LEARNED something from each photographer I WORKED with, their different styles and how they WANTED me to be.”
Watch footage from Naomi’s shoot below. Click to the next page for photos.
Former Southland actress Regina King stays on the move and we love it! The Jasmine Brand recently caught up with the 42-year-old beauty and she opened up about her new movie project, mentoring young actresses and staying in shape.
On directing her first film, Let the Church Say Amen:
“Just most recently, I directed my fist film, starring Naturi Naughton.”
“The movie is called ‘Let The Church Say Amen.’ It’s a movie about a pastor who’s dedicated his life to his church and neglected his family. And when we meet this family, it’s when the kids are growing up and kind-of adds to the height of the dysfunction – the result of the father not being there. And it makes you laugh, it makes you cry. Amazing performances by Steve Harris, Lela Rochon, Hosea Chanchez – so I’m really excited about that.”
On Naturi considering her a mentor:
“You know I don’t feel like it’s a conscious effort, most times. I mean, like when I was a cheerleading coach, I think that was more of conscious effort because I never was a cheerleader.”
“Let me take that back. I was a cheerleader for 2 weeks because I wanted to take a picture in the uniform. So after I took the picture in the uniform, I quit. But that’s the only thing I’ve quit. So most times I don’t feel like it’s a conscious thing. I think that’s when you really are giving and receiving, when you’re doing it – because you want to or – that’s just a passion transferring that energy with someone else.”
On what she does to stay in shape:
“You know, just – I get it in where I can fit it in. I do work out but you know what? I’m blessed with great arms from my father. So I will have to say that I’m kind of lucky that way. But I do work out – I work my lower body out, often. I eat what I want, but I don’t eat what I want all the time. So I give myself like a day or two, depending on what’s going on in the week to get all of that comfort food in me, but for the most part I try to eat healthy. You know, proteins, vegetables – not mixing my proteins and carbs – there are so many rules. We’re in L.A – juicing – all of that.”
Turn the page two watch Regina’s interview.
Mentoring is key to helping young men and women, especially young African-American boys, become successful adults, according to Vaughn L. McKoy, author of Playing Up: One Man’s Rise From Public Housing To Public Service Through Mentorship.
If you are a single mother it can be tough raising a young boy. Mentors can help ease the road, though it is not a miracle fix for a missing father. “Although having an involved father or ‘father figure’ may increase the likelihood of positive outcomes for boys, it does not guarantee it. I have seen boys with engaged and supportive dads end up in prison while those raised by single moms become successful professionals. There are too many variables to make sweeping generalizations about who benefits from mentorship the most,” explains McKoy. There are several organizations that single moms can connect their sons with mentors schools, colleges and universities, fraternities, faith-based organizations, The Boys and Girls Club, Big Brother, and local corporations or businesses to name a few. Also consider other family members, neighbors, coaches and clergy, says McKoy.
Still mentor is a great opportunity for fatherless children to interact in a positive way with older males. “All boys need mentoring. Having said that, there may be a greater need for boys from single mom households to have mentors that provide another voice and perspective other than a boy’s mom, which is often discounted or diminished over time,” offers McKoy. “Even the most loving and supportive parents rely on a network of resources to empower their children to maximize their potential. The presence of a mentor in a boy’s life should in no way suggest they are deficient or lacking in a negative way.”
African-American tween males are most at risk thus guidance is vital. “When boys are in the tween years, their peers have a major influence on the way they think and behave. Because they are similar in age and developmental stage, they are often immature and short-sighted in their thinking and analysis. As a result, peers for tween boys often have undue influence over their thought processes and decision making,” McKoy explains to us. “For this reason, mentors during the tween years are crucial. A mentor can balance the seemingly overwhelming influence of peers and help tween boys understand the short, medium and long-term consequences of their decisions.”
Mentors can provide various types of assistance. “Mentors have the ability to share life experiences that peers simply do not have. Through modeling, sharing successes and failures, and providing practical steps to achieve success through good decision making, mentors can fill a role that peers cannot,” says McKoy.
Mentoring can also help keep young boys in school and even get them interested in higher education. “Many young boys do not strive to move beyond their current circumstances because they have not been exposed to varied career choices or have access to high achieving professionals within those careers,” McKoy points out. “Among its many benefits, mentoring provides young boys with a visual of success and exposes them to career choices and possibilities that were not previously considered. In addition, strong mentoring relationships provide mentees with the guidance and support necessary for them to complete higher education studies before entering the workforce full-time.”
All in all, there are so many uplifting aspects for young African-American boys to have mentor. “The purpose of mentorship is for the mentor to help the mentee to discover his purpose and grow to his maximum potential. Sometimes no parent has the expertise, experience or resources to meet the specific need of a mentee — present or anticipated. Therefore, mentors can supplement different household types to support the development of boys through their well-rounded experiences,” says McKoy.
(Chicago Tribune) — Stevie Powell pulled his maroon minivan to the curb next to a weedy empty lot in Englewood. “Five minutes,” he warned, as Dimonte Pryor, 19, slid open the door and sauntered to his house. Powell, a big man with a quiet voice and the shambling gait of an overgrown kid, didn’t want any delays. He was driving Pryor and Davonte Flennoy, 19, to a formalwear store to be fitted for prom tuxedos. Powell is not their father. He is their advocate, a key role in the intensive mentoring program that has been a linchpin in the Chicago Public Schools’ vaunted anti-violence initiative. He waited for Pryor. In the back seat, Flennoy idly twisted a lock of hair. Pop. Pop. Powell scanned the street. “Did that sound like shots?” he asked. “I don’t know,” said Flennoy, unruffled. “Could be someone putting nails on their roof.” Pryor came out, smoking a cigarette. He had changed clothes. Instead of his school uniform polo shirt, he was wearing a white T-shirt bearing the image of a young man with a cocky grin in front of a glowing white gate. Spray-painted letters on the back read, “RIP D-LO.”
(Entrepreneur) — Looking for a business mentor? Leslie Rapp feels your pain–and she’s in the business of solving it. She’s director of training and development at Menttium, a Minneapolis, Minn.-based provider of corporate mentoring services and research metrics on businessmentoring. That’s right. People pay her to mentor them … on being mentors. We asked for a crash course.
- First, think about you, Rapp says. Exactly why do you need a mentor? What do you hope to learn? Then figure out the kind of person who can best inspire you. For example, if you’re starting from scratch, look for a mentor who did, too.
(New York Times) — For children in blighted neighborhoods, going to college can seem an impossible goal, especially when just making it through grade school is a challenge. Rodzae James, 11, knows his neighborhood is rough, but he feels lucky to have a couple of good role models. “I look up to my brother because he was the first boy on my block to go to college,” he said. Rodzae also admires his mentor, Justen Boyd, a family advocate at Family Focus Lawndale, who specializes in education and restorative justice, an approach to discipline emphasizing collective ways of solving behavioral problems. Instead of bolting out of Goldblatt Elementary School in the North Lawndale neighborhood when the bell rings at 1:45 p.m. on Fridays, Rodzae and four other fifth-grade boys head to the library to see Mr. Boyd. For some of the boys, he is the primary male figure in their lives.