Find What’s Next
Sometimes you get to a point in your career where you need guidance from someone who’s been there before. Enter the mentor. The benefits of having a stellar business mentor can be long term, from shaping the way you think about work-life balance to helping you set realistic professional goals.
See what these 10 female business owners have to say about finding a mentor, being mentored, or — in some cases — going it alone.
Free Higher Education
"When you're an adult, you don't have the same school-teacher-assignment structure to advance you. But a good mentor will pick up where academia leaves off. The tough assignments, accountability, and measurable outcomes my mentor Karen Vander Linde put in front of me as a first-time COO led me to step up and become a next-level manager."
—Leslie Bradshaw, managing partner, Made by Many
There’s Always Something New to Learn
“Part of having a good mentor is being a good student. The second you think you have ‘made it’ or become ‘peers’ is the second you stop learning from your mentor. We can always learn, no matter how good or successful we get.
—Elizabeth Henson, Elizabeth Henson Photos
They Push You to Be Better
"Having a mentor in my life allows me to continuously strive to elevate and innovate. It's the vehicle to constant daily self-improvement and a reminder to myself that I always have room for growth."
—Nellie Akalp, CEO, CorpNet.com
And Give You a Shot of Courage
“Having a mentor has given me the courage to ask questions that were previously unasked and to challenge practices and ideas that were previously unchallenged. I have become more comfortable expressing my ideas, concerns, and feelings.”
—Brittany VanderBeek, sustainability consulting analyst, BrownFlynn; blogger, inspirNational
There’s No “Right Way” to Find a Mentor
“In May 2009, at the age of 28, I had just launched my new business and was doing a free workshop at the local public library to promote my work. It was a workshop on job-seeking techniques and the crowd was full of mostly 30- and 40-somethings. Halfway through the presentation, a woman in her 70s wandered in with a cane.
"Turns out she’d spent 30 years in Washington, D.C. as a management consultant and was a professional speaker with the National Speakers Association. I was a young consultant starting my speaking career and didn't realize how badly I was in need of a mentor. Now, five years later, we meet twice per month. Regardless of the age gap, we are energetically aligned and really, truly ‘get’ each other."
—Angela Lussier, speaker; career and business coach; author of The Anti-Resume Revolution
In Fact, Your Mentor Might Find You
“When I started my clinic for weight loss and food addiction, I did so without a clue of the sleepless nights, self-doubts, and uncharted territories that were on my horizon running a startup. While in Florida on business, I met Dr. Marty Lerner of Milestones in Recovery, who had great interest in my clinic, and we went to lunch. I think Marty understood that I needed a mentor, advice, another ear, and encouragement. I once thought mentorship was more of an extracurricular activity of entrepreneurship, but now I think of it as an absolute necessity.”
—Molly Carmel, director, The Beacon Programs
You Can Have More Than One
“I can't say that I had just one mentor who impacted my professional career. It was more of a handful of people in the lingerie industry who allowed me to bounce ideas off them, vent to them when things got challenging, and who ultimately gave me the motivation to start two businesses on my own. “
—Melissa Silvetti, founder, Flora Nuit
A Support Network Is a Good Alternative
“I have made it a point to surround myself (professionally and personally) with women I admire and who bring a lot to the table. Over the years I've learned much from my female bosses, but just as much from my colleagues and staff. One way or another, I've found it critical to my growth to ask for and get feedback from those around me.”
Even CEOs Need Mentors
“Through both of my companies, I’ve done a lot of interviewing and listening, and as CEO, I often feel that I have to be strong and put on a happy face for everyone else. So having a mentor whom I can be myself around and talk about my insecurities with has been insanely helpful.”
Especially When You’ve Always Been the Boss
“Because I went off on my own so young, I have not had as many bosses or more experienced colleagues to help guide and teach me. Finding mentors throughout my life and career has given me the resources I need to connect with someone who is more experienced, and learn from their wisdom.”
—Michelle Stansbury, CEO, Little Penguin PR