The 3 Types of Mentors I Seek Out
As a digital strategist who runs social media programs for many brands and executives, I’ve become well versed in social media holidays. October alone boasts two of my favorites: Mean Girls Day (“It’s October 3rd”) and National Eat a Red Apple Day (before you ask, the superior red apple is, of course, the McIntosh).
Last October, I discovered National Mentoring Day (October 27) when I saw it trending on LinkedIn. Usually I’m a social media lurker, and don’t post much, but I was excited to highlight some of the most memorable and applicable advice I’ve gathered throughout the years from my own female mentors.
This advice continues to get me through tough times and motivate me in mundane moments, and more importantly, the people who gave it are the first responders I turn to when I face a problem or want to celebrate an accomplishment.
It’s always a personal goal of mine to continue to find and foster a diverse squad of mentors. To celebrate National Mentoring Day this year, I want to humbly acknowledge not the advice I’ve received, but the types of mentors who have given it.
There are three types of mentors that I try to consistently have in my circle – and lucky for me, in my past two years at Prosek, I’ve met many. Jen Prosek often calls the firm a “friendship factory,” but I’d also add that it’s a “mentorship manufacturer.” In no particular order – and by no means is this an exhaustive list – I look for:
- The Mentor from Whom You Differ. I have plenty of colleagues and mentors who can essentially finish my train of thought. While few skills are more efficient in our line of work, an even more effective skill is pushing me to think differently. Surrounding myself with people with whom I differ – be it in perspectives, upbringings, approaches, specialties, even senses of humor – often brings out my better ideas and personal growth. For me – a self-proclaimed “efficiency is everything” type A personality – it’s often my designer friends who remind me of things like deadlines can be flexible (*takes a deep breath*) if the end product will benefit.
- The Mentor You Manage, but Who Really Manages You. The people I manage teach me about more than the newest apps (I’m not on BeReal… yet) or slang (try using “no cap” unironically in a sentence). They share a newer perspective that can be more valuable than the experience or historical context I may have, and hearing the issues they’re working through is often a good refresher for ones I still face. While my direct reports may think I’m helping them through their problems during the 30 minutes we spend together each week, more often than not, I’m selfishly taking my own notes, too.
- The Mentor You’ve Never Personally Met. Some of my mentorships are one-sided, and I’m ok with that! I’m a fangirl from afar, taking in the public personas of leaders like Mellody Hobson, Brené Brown and Whitney Wolfe Herd. Following people in different industries with vastly different types of responsibilities and at different levels of seniority, celebrity and responsibility allows me to parse out what qualities are important for me in my job, and which others are most important for strong leadership – like empathy, pushing boundaries and being firsts.