4 Min ReadCareer 03 May 2020
If there is one thing I have learned in my short period of being a career-driven woman, it is that mentorship is highly valuable. If there is anything else I have learned, it is that actually finding a mentor is not always an easy task. Furthrmore, it's important that you don't limit yourself to just one. Making genuine, authentic connections should be an ongoing effort you make at all times. Don't just settle for one and call it a day, keep this up and expand your roster of mentors to keep learning, connecting, and building your network.
According to Forbes, 75% of executives say mentoring has been critical to their career development. Additionally, the American Society for Training and Development has found that the time and insight that mentors offer their mentees can not only help them bypass mistakes but also can contribute to building future leaders of their industry.
According to Forbes, 75% of executives say mentoring has been critical to their career development.
Although finding a mentor is a highly coveted activity — I have noticed that what has worked for myself, isn't common knowledge among Millennial and Generation Z professionals. So here are some tips I've learned as I've grown as both a professional and a mentee.
1. Be eager to be a STUDENT
Mentors want rising professionals to be genuine about achieving their career goals. They'll almost never want to hear about your goal to make six-figures in five years, but rather want to know about what position you see yourself in. This could mean setting goals like achieving greater seniority in your current company or gaining new experience in a new department. If you are unsure of your exact goals, that's okay! Mentors highly appreciate those who are eager to be a student and just learn. You will discover that most mentors in leadership roles never obtained their position with a "typical" route.
Mentors highly appreciate those who are eager to be a student and just learn.
That's why true mentors want to teach someone who is adaptable and open-minded. Remember, this is an investment of their time and effort, with the intention of contributing to a future industry leader.
2. Connect, connect, connect!
Finding a specific mentor is like a sales job. If you are adamant about learning from a certain person, stay connected with their social platforms, keeping up to date on their current work is crucial. If you don't know your mentor and what they do, why should they want to know you? I have found great success with an old-fashioned "cold call," but through the less old-fashioned email. Begin your message to them with something that actually resonates with you (and no, not the first search link that shows up on Google). It is vital to be the person that stands out among all the emails they're getting to show you are committed to achieving your career goals. If they don't answer within a week or two, follow up. People are busy and emails get lost among the different priorities and updates they're constantly juggling. Besides, industry leaders admire persistence.
3. Work For Free
Anyone you meet will rarely ever want to give you something without something else in return. With that being said, if you are trying to obtain a mentor who has a busy schedule or is a high-profile professional, you might be able to get the teaching you need by working for free. If you are a good writer, offer blog writing services or drafts of press releases. Have a passion for social media branding? Be a social media manager if their company or personal brand needs help. Do you think you have someone else in your network that they could benefit from? Introduce them. Gary Vee is notorious for emphasizing the importance of working for free as a side hustle in obtaining your long-term career goals.
4. Be Fearless
Attending networking events and conferences are great ways to connect with other people in your industry, especially mentors. But, sometimes, you can find a mentor on a subway ride or at a grocery store line. Being fearless and simply not giving an F* about if a person likes you or not, is the right attitude for gaining the respect of a mentor. Again, for mentors, this is an investment of their time with the intention of molding industry leaders — acting bold is vital.
Being fearless and simply not giving an F* about if a person likes you or not, is the right attitude for gaining the respect of a mentor.
Besides, if they don't like you, it wasn't meant to be anyways.
5. Be Human
Once you have a mentor, or even just someone in your network, it is highly important to foster that relationship. Like any relationship, this is work. If you met them for thirty seconds at a conference, send them emails throughout the year. If you have known them for five years, send them emails throughout the year. They do not even need to be grand news, a request for advice, or even career-related — just a check-in is enough — being genuine builds trust in your credibility and reputation. During this time, I have reached out to multiple people I haven't talked to in over a year just to see if they are healthy and doing well because at the end of the day, I care about them, and caring can go a long way for your personal and professional goals.
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Sometimes it takes falling to rock bottom in order to be built back up again. I learned this many years ago when the life I'd carefully built for myself and my family suddenly changed. But in those times, you learn to lean on those who love you – a friend, family member or someone who can relate to what you've been through. I was lucky enough to have two incredible women help me through one of my lowest moments. They taught me to love myself and inspired me to pass on their lessons each da
If it weren't for the empowering women who stepped up and brought fitness back into my life, I wouldn't be standing – in the door of my own business – today.
In 2010, I was a wife, a mother of three, and had filtered in and out of jobs depending on what my family needed from me. At different points in my career, I've worked in the corporate world, been a stay-at-home mom, and even started my own daycare center. Fitness has always been a part of my life, but at that point being a mom was my main priority. Then, life threw a curveball. My husband and I separated, leading to a very difficult divorce.
These were difficult times. I lost myself in the uncertainty of my future and the stress that comes with a divorce and found myself battling anorexia. Over a matter of months, I lost 40 lbs. and felt surrounded by darkness. I was no longer participating in my health and all efforts to stay active came to a halt. I didn't want to leave my home, I didn't' want to talk to people, and I really did not want to see men. Seeing my struggles, first my sister and then a friend, approached me and invited me to visit the gym.
After months of avoiding it, my sister started taking me to the gym right before closing when it wasn't too busy. We started slow, on the elliptical or the treadmill. This routine got me out of the house and slowly we worked to regain my strength and my self-esteem. When my sister moved away, my good friend and personal trainer started working out with me one-on-one early in the morning, taking time out of her busy schedule to keep me on track toward living a healthy life once again. Even when I didn't want to leave the house, she would encourage me to push myself and I knew I didn't want to let her down. She helped me every step of the way. My sister and my friend brought fitness back into my everyday routine. They saved my life.
I began to rely on fitness, as well as faith, to help me feel like myself again. My friend has since moved away, but, these two women made me feel loved, confident and strong with their empowerment and commitment to me. They made such an incredible impact on me; I knew I needed to pay it forward. I wanted to have the same impact on women in my community. I started by doing little things, like running with a woman who just had a baby to keep her inspired and let her know she's not alone. I made sure not to skip my regular runs, just in case there was a woman watching who needed the inspiration to keep going. These small steps of paying it forward helped me find purpose and belonging. This gave me a new mentality that put me on a path to the opportunity of a lifetime – opening a women's only kickboxing gym, 30 Minute Hit.
About four years ago, I was officially an empty nester. It was time to get myself out of the house too and find what I was truly passionate about, which is easier said than done. Sitting behind a desk, in a cubicle, simply didn't cut it. It was hard to go from an active and chaotic schedule to a very slow paced, uneventful work week. I felt sluggish. Even when I moved to another company where I got to plan events and travel, it was enjoyable, but not fulfilling. I wanted to be a source of comfort to those struggling, as my sister and dear friend had been to me. I wanted to impact others in a way that couldn't be done from behind a desk.
I began to rely on fitness, as well as faith, to help me feel like myself again.
When I heard about 30 Minute Hit, I was nervous to take the leap. But the more I learned about the concept, the more I knew it was the perfect fit for me. Opening my own gym where women can come to let go of their struggles, rely on one another and meet new people is the best way for me to pass on the lessons I learned during my darkest times.
Kickboxing is empowering in itself. Add to it a high energy, female-only environment, and you have yourself a powerhouse! The 30 Minute Hit concept is franchised all over North America, acting as a source of release for women who are just trying to get through their day. I see women of all ages come into my gym, kick the heck out of a punching bag and leave with a smile on their face, often times alongside a new friend. 30 Minute Hit offers a convenient schedule for all women, from busy moms to working women, to students and senior citizens. A schedule-free model allows members to come in whenever they have a free half hour to dedicate to themselves. Offering certified training in kickboxing and a safe environment to let go, 30 Minute Hit is the place for women empowerment and personal growth.
Through my journey, I have learned that everyone is going through something – everyone is on their own path. My motivating factor is knowing that I can touch people's lives everyday just by creating the space for encouragement and community. It's so easy to show people you care. That's the type of environment my team, clients and myself have worked hard to create at our 30 Minute Hit location.
Fitness saved my life. If it weren't for the empowering women who stepped up and brought fitness back into my life, I wouldn't be standing – in the door of my own business – today. The perfect example of women empowering women – the foundation to invincibility.
This article was originally published September 12, 2019.