Will You Be My Mentor

Maybe you could really use a mentor—somebody older and wiser, with great advice—but you don’t know where to find one. Or maybe you don’t think you’re qualified to be a mentor, despite decades of valuable career experience.

This week I talked to mentoring expert, GirlQuake CEO, and fellow Forbes podcaster Denise Restauri about building strong mentoring relationships. Her biggest insight: it’s all about connection. To hear our full conversation, check out Hiding In The Bathroom. And keeping reading for some wisdom from my sister podcaster:

 

On how to let mentoring happen in the moment:

“Finding a mentor is like finding a partner—the person we’re looking for often shows up unexpectedly. We need to put ourselves in situations where we can engage with people and let relationships develop naturally. One of my favorite stories is about two women who were on a crowded NYC subway, too close for comfort, looking at each other with that «this is awkward» look.

 

The mentee said, “I have a really good view of your scarf — beautiful!» They laughed, started talking, got off on the same stop, exchanged cards, got together for coffee and now they have a mentoring relationship. Put yourself out there—think beyond business events. Take a knitting or Pilates class, go where you’ll meet people with the same interests as you because mentor relationships aren’t all about business.”

 

On how she got into mentoring:

“I heard young women talking, and older women talking, and I thought we’re not truly embracing each other in the ways that we should. You go to meetings, you go to summits and it’s like, oh, you have x millennials and x power women. But you’re not connecting. The magic happens when the power woman and the younger woman are connecting and talking.”

 

On how the definition of mentoring is broader than you think:

“Mentoring takes many different forms. We tend to think of mentoring as traditional, one-on-one relationships. But that definition isn’t working. There are more mentees than there are mentors in the world. Also, in the one-on-one model, you’re only getting one point of view (your mentor’s) and no matter how successful someone is, no one has all the answers to everything.

 

But what if we redefine mentoring and look at its core: how do we inspire, help others gain perspective and learn valuable life and business lessons? The answer is in the power of storytelling, because authentic and personal stories about triumphs and skids can change lives.”

 

On the pressures young women face in their twenties:

“You need to please yourself, because it’s your life. One of my first pieces of advice is get off Facebook, because that’s where everybody’s flaunting their accomplishments. You’re taking what the best parts of people are, and you’re seeing them and wanting to be all those best parts, but nobody’s that collection of best parts. So quit comparing yourself to other people. And to your parents—all we’ve done is put pressure on this generation for the last twenty years. So you, their child, has this mentality of, ‘If I don’t do this, it’s a failure.’

 

And in most cases, your parents will get over it if they see that you’re doing something that is constructive. There are so many pressures coming from so many people that when you look in the mirror when you’re in your twenties, you don’t even know who you’re looking at—who’s that reflection? Who are you seeing? You’ve got to define your success, and it’s okay if people don’t agree with it.»

 

 

By Morra Aarons-Mele
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