Normally, I introduce you to one woman leaving her unique stain on the world without letting BS or burnout stop her. Well, surprise! Today, I’m bringing back seven previous Le vital corps Salon guests. We’re going to different perspectives on a topic that can help your 2019 more of a success. Join me in welcoming the women in this here virtual roundtable: Minda Harts, Erin Barra, Rachel Citron, Dara Kass, Kelly Lyndgaard, Kara Rota, and Patti Wilson. (You can find their cred, links, and news in the Resources section below). I want to acknowledge Minda Harts for inspiring and opening this episode with me. All of these amazing women span different industries and are at different stages of their careers. They’ve mentored, been mentored, and/or sponsored along the way. So, that, friends, is what we’re covering – mentorship and sponsorship.
While we’re in that mid-holiday season lull, you might be percolating on what you want to stop doing, keep doing, or start doing. Perhaps you want to launch a business, grow in your current role, find a new job, or begin a new passion project. Whatever it is you’re considering, it’s your relationships with others that can help you achieve any of these things.
Another surprise! There are not one, but two, episodes this week as part of this special, year-end Mentor Sponsor Mashup. It’s broken up into two parts because everyone had so much to share. When producer Craig and I sat down with the raw conversations, it clocked in at nearly 6 hours! We worked really hard to distill it down into something empowering, yet manageable.
Here’s what to expect from each episode:
Part 1 focuses on my guests’ own experiences around mentorship and sponsorship. We also discuss the differences between these two types of professional relationships.
Part 2 goes deeper into mentorship and gets more strategic about how to create a successful mentor or sponsor relationship. We get more practical. We hear how some of the guests have navigated around or bounced back from some awkward moments.
Whether you’re considering mentorship (as a mentor or mentee) or sponsorship in the immediate future or not, Minda, Erin, Rachel, Dara, Kelly, Kara, and Patti offer up a ton of collective insight and wisdom. All of which can be applied across other facets of business and life. After all, mentorship and sponsorship are about connection and support. Who couldn’t use a little more of that, right?
This quilt of a conversation was a blast to stitch together. I deeply hope you enjoy Part 1 and Part 2 of The Mentor Sponsor Mashup! Don’t forget to hop on the newsletter right here. You’ll always be a reply away, and I’d love to here what you learned and what you plan on applying this year.
Selected link love + contributors and resources from the episode:
Rachel Citron, Head of Accounts/New Business @ Powerhouse & Owner/Manager and @ Jet or Not: Website (Powerhouse) | Website (Jet or Not) | Facebook | Instagram |Instagram (Jet or Not) | Le vital corps Salon Episode #24
News and Highlights from Rachel: Powerhouse Animation Studios is an Austin-based creative agency specializing in traditional 2d animation production. Check out their work on Netflix’s Castlevania (which just released its second season in October!) and Nickelodeon’s The Adventures of Kid Danger.
Jet or Not Management has some upcoming events: Austin’s New Year at Auditorium Shores on 12/31/18 featuring Western Youth, and a Free Week showcase at Mohawk on Sunday 1/6/2019 featuring Harvest Thieves, Otis Wilkins, & Ben Ballinger.
Kara Rota, Senior Editor at St. Martin’s Press and Host of Clever Cookstr: Website | Twitter | Le vital corps Salon Episode #23
News and Highlights from Kara: Kara is proud to share that one of the books she edited, How to Date Men When You Hate Men by Blythe Roberson, comes out at the very beginning of January! Learn more about the book here and read an excerpt from the New Yorker here.
Patti Wilson, President of Professional Women Controllers, Inc.: Website | PWC on Facebook | Patti on Facebook | Le vital corps Salon Episode #31.
News and Highlights from Patti: The PWC Scholarship is open through Feb. 1st, 2019. Plus, at this year’s PWC conference, Patti will be leading a panel on sexual assault. This is a 1st for the FAA.
Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, Sheryl Sandberg (book)
Forget a Mentor, Find a Sponsor: The New Way to Fast-Track Your Career, Sylvia Ann Hewlett (book)
Tools of Titans, Tim Ferriss (book)
Give producer Craig Snyder (and his editing magic) a big shout-out on Twitter.
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Quotes + selected highlights from the episode
All of this wisdom from our contributors, Minda, Erin, Rachel, Dara, Kelly, Kara, and Patti (with some minor edits for readability) - Part 1 of The Mentor Sponsor Mashup
[00:06:34] Minda Harts: A mentor can be that person who gives you advice on how to build your career down to a good friend who might give you dating advice. We all have mentors or people that pour into us and give us advice. A sponsor is somebody who will put themself on the line for you - someone who will advocate for you when you're not in the room, who will help you move forward in your career.
[00:10:30] Minda Harts: As I was growing, building, and moving, I realized that in order to move forward in my career I actually needed somebody in a power-making position to take notice of me.
[00:19:22] Kelly Lyndgaard: [On choosing and reaching out to potential mentors/sponsors] There was something about them that I wanted in my life, or I wanted to be more like [them]. It always made those relationships a little bit easier because I was specific: I like the way that you engage with our clients. I like the way that you lead a team. I like the way that you think about problem solving in this piece of the business. Can you teach me to think act or speak in that way? I think that's easier for people to say Yes to that because the expectations are pretty clear.
[00:22:27] Kara Rota: For me, I think that the mentors that I've really valued throughout my career are the people that have continued to stay in touch even when I don't work for them anymore. Even when we're not working together directly anymore, they just kind of stay a part of my support network and remain someone that I can reach out to to go get coffee, ask questions, or get their perspective on things.
[00:22:58] Kara Rota: For a mentor relationship to really work, it has to be personal, and it has to be lasting outside of the context of a particular job.
[00:28:24] Rachel Citron: What's always worked well for me is someone acknowledging something good that's happening and saying, “Hey, this is really great.”
[00:29:41] Rachel Citron: [On assertiveness] A lot of what holds us back is anxiety and the insecurity of Do I belong in this space? Am I allowed to be in this space? Do I have tiptoe through it, so I am not disrupting anything so that I get discounted? I’ve always had women around me or, in some instances, been the woman to say, “It’s okay to disrupt this a little bit. Maybe what we need is a some disruption.” Don’t be afraid to be that person.
[00:35:36] Dara Kass: Peer mentorship was probably the most important, formative experience I had growing up as a young entrepreneur and as a young female attending who was figuring out this new space. My most important peer mentor had a very different talent set than I did. She was somebody who was a really big researcher, and I was a much better connector. Now, together, we've become this tornado of gender equity research and connection.
[00:40:09] Patti Wilson: My relationship with my mentor - and she is still my mentor - is an invaluable relationship that you cherish because you're also getting honest feedback from somebody. You're getting some guidance and some feedback that you may not be getting in your other relationship with a supervisor or a manager. That was very powerful for me, and it still is.
[00:43:07] Erin Barra: [On mentorship in the music industry] This industry is extremely cutthroat. I'm in a position to mentor or sponsor anybody I'd like, and I get asked to do that all the time. I have a strong reaction to it sometimes because part of me - that I can't let go of and that I'm desperately trying to as a successful, professional woman - is to [question if] I let this person in and boost this person up, I'm not lowering my own status. It's the next part of what my next definition of success is: To let those feelings go and to understand being in a place where you can mentor and sponsor another person actually makes you very powerful. It doesn’t detract from your power in any way.
[45:44] Erin Barra: Just the fact that I'm a woman in a field where there are very, very few women. It makes me a mentor to so many people because I'm one of the only visible women that they can look up to.
[00:49:16] Patti Wilson: [On conversations with willing sponsors who ask you to step up and consider another direction] I appreciate that because that kind of push is what you need sometimes to recognize that it's time to move on to something else.
[00:53:34] Kara Rota: Sponsorship can be really about that willingness to go a step further and even sometimes step aside.
[00:55:46] Rachel Citron: I've gotten together with some other female friends and colleagues that work in a similar or related field. We started gathering and asking how we can support each other. That’s been my closest, real world experience of having a sponsor - that we're all getting together and saying: How can we as a group sponsor each other? Are there opportunities that we can share? Are there ways that we can lift each other up or ways that we can collaborate together that's going to benefit everyone in this community?
[00:59:36] Kelly Lyndgaard: You need your sponsor to really be invested in your success emotionally. I don't think you can ask somebody to feel that way about you. You can create opportunities for them to feel passionate about the work that you're doing. But for them to take on the mantle of your success, I don’t know if it’s effective to request it.
All of this wisdom from our contributors, Minda, Erin, Rachel, Dara, Kelly, Kara, and Patti (with some minor edits for readability) - Part 2 of The Mentor Sponsor Mashup
[00:11:05] Minda Harts: Practice your networking. Think about the people in your life, in your company, your clients and how you can build more authentic relationships with them. Practicing the mindset because this is important and not what I can gain from it. Operate in a spirit of gratitude and authenticity and manage your expectations. Then, if the sponsor comes or the mentor comes, it's great.
[00:14:50] Rachel Citron: [On the knowing the difference between when a mentor is pushing you to do something uncomfortable/unnatural in a healthy way versus misaligned for you in an unhealthy way] You still have to be true to yourself. I think it really just leads to that mentee to be questioning themselves even more.
[00:16:11] Patti Wilson: Honestly, there's nothing worse than a mentor who doesn't know what they're doing and who doesn't understand what their role is with somebody. It's a professional role. It's a friendship. If you're not being 100% honest with that person and your mentoring of them, you are failing them.
[00:20:30] Kara Rota: It's really important to interrogate yourself as a manager about what you're asking someone to do is really valuable for them, in what ways, and talk about it.
[00:24:05] Kelly Lyndgaard: [Recalibrating after losing a sponsor] The ones I have seen succeed have been the ones that were humble, that can back up a little bit, do the hard work to get back on their feet, and continue to build their reputation.
[00:24:49] Kelly Lyndgaard: Don't be too dependent on one person. Make sure that you hedge your bets a little bit and that you have people in multiple organizations or multiple chains of command that can help you navigate left and right when you need to and not just straight up. While that might be a fast track straight up, it's not a guaranteed one. I've watched many people miss the next level because they only had one path, and it didn't work out.
[00:26:56] Erin Barra: I encourage people to help other people. Through that action, you actually become a very powerful person in whatever industry you're in.
[00:27:27] Dara Kass: You don't have to sponsor everyone you mentor, and you don't have to mentor everyone you sponsor. That is where women, in general, fall flat. I think that we are really invested in the relationships. We want to give our mentees every opportunity that comes across the board, but they may not always be right for every opportunity.
[00:34:20] Kara Rota: One thing that's really helpful to remember is that mentorship and sponsorship can come from outside your industry. The best mentor for you is not necessarily going to be a person who has the job that you think you want. It might be a person who does a different job, but does it in a way that you aspire to.
[00:42:42] Dara Kass: In order to find a good mentor, a sponsor, and certainly to be a good mentor, you must identify who you are. It is not your mentor’s job to tell you what’s important to you.
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