January is national mentoring month. I am proud to be a mentor to a creative, exceptional marketing professional. She is a marketing manager with strong leadership skills that I know will serve her well in her future endeavors. I had been casually sharing my thoughts and tips to trainees and undergraduate students who would find me and reach out to me for various reasons. Maybe they were working on a paper and needed to interview someone or they were looking to launch their marketing careers. I tried to meet with most of them to answer their questions. I have also met entrepreneurs via the same route and I can think of one that left an impression that I keep in contact with to this day. One thing I realized is that I could easily answer their basic questions that could help guide them on their career paths.
I decided to more formally mentor through one of my professional organizations to which I belong, the American Marketing Association’s DC Chapter. They have a very well run mentoring program called Marketing Mentors Network. I was already very involved in the AMADC Chapter’s committees such as the DEI committee and I thought this mentoring program would be another way to stay engaged in my association while paying it forward so I applied to be a mentor and started serving in the fall of 2021.
Fortunately, I was paired appropriately and my mentee/protege was serious about maximizing the program and opportunity. So we met and discussed expectations and goals. Then, we set a plan to achieve those goals. It takes time to meet goals but I have to say that my protege is proactive so I’m always impressed when we meet every two weeks and she’s already accomplished or attempted the strategies we just discussed. It feels great to help someone else progress in their professional development. I feel the growth
symbiotically as she continues to progress. I learn more about myself as well from the questions she asks me about my professional journey. I have had to reflect on questions like:
What would you say are the qualities that contribute to your success as a leader?
How do you intend to continue growing?
What have you found to be the most effective methods of asserting authority?
What have you seen are the top attributes to successful company culture?
What drives you, keeps you motivated/ambitious?
What's your definition of success?
What do you think is the ideal work/life balance?
What are the top things you would look for if you were hiring a Marketing Manager to work with?
Some of the things I do that have significantly benefited our program and time together are:
Set high standards
Encourage sending agenda for review before each meeting
Discuss progress towards goals each week
Encourage keeping good notes of what we discussed during each meeting
Give my undivided attention for that hour
Be generous with compliments and encouragement
As you can imagine, there’s a lot that can be said around those questions. So our conversations are engaging and definitely could extend beyond our time together. I couldn’t have asked for a better protege who is professional, passionate, and personable. She is well worth the time and it is so rewarding to share my experiences with her. I may inspire her but she also inspires me vis a vis. If you have the opportunity to be a mentee or a mentor consider taking advantage of it because the progress made can be on both sides.