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October 25, 2011


I think this is fabulous, Whitney, and if I were a prospective mentee, I'd be thrilled to find someone who took mentoring this seriously. I also like your list of 3 reasons you're not "big-timing" someone by saying this--very similar to what I told a friend who was struggling with charging for photography (though, of course, money was changing hands). Great as always.

You are totally worth it!

Whitney, this post reminds me of this article I just read about women mentors. Check it out!

and this one!

Hope your talk goes well at the conference!

Great post (as always). This line struck a chord with me for a number of reasons:

"Mentoring is a big and timely topic, one that I'm wrestling with because I feel like I'm not mentoring as well as I used to -- or would like to."

Mentoring comes in all shapes and sizes. Mentoring happens between:

young people to older people
older people to young people
men to women
women to men
men to men
women to women
within the same office
outside of the same office

It comes in large, structured packages just like Bob describes. It also comes in noncommittal, short and sweet nuggets of information. You share excellent and thought provoking content on this blog and on Twitter. While it may not be the formal mentoring with structure and 'rules', one must remember that these thoughts, facts, and opinions can have incredible impact on the person thirsty for information and guidance.

As an artist i think so much more organically, its interesting to think in terms of defining it more concretely and ascribing a structured process. Some really interesting ideas in there-- I am a big believer in shifts and seasons as a way of handling many demands-- interesting to contemplate that in a "people building" short focus mentoring burst.

I did find myself squirming at first, as I read this, but then I started feeling a little exhilerated at the possibilities that an agreement like this could open up.

As a prospective mentee, I (like Teresa) would be delighted to receive this letter from a mentor, because I can already see the tremendous potential for growth that would emerge from such a relationship. And as a mentor, I would be thrilled to find the mentee that this agreement could excite, because I know we both would be richly rewarded.

I also love the line about being "terrified and confident all the time." Yep, that pretty much sums it up, and it's a nice reminder that even important, intimidating and mentor-worthy people are still just as human as the rest of us.

Oh - I SO love all of your comments -- and additional reading material - and words of encouragement.

I like to think we mentor each other here -- well, I don't like to think. I know we do.

Thank you.

Bob's approach doesn't seem to be "mentoring," but rather consulting or professional couching. He's created a side business.

For me, an inherent component of mentoring is "giving back." The mentor says to herself, "I have been successful, and as such, I am giving back to the next generation," even if that "next generation" is a generation of peers launching into new pursuits. I don't consider mentoring a give and take - a token system. It's a process of giving because the mentor knows more and wants to guide and share.

That said, I appreciate Bob's concrete approach, and think that adding some element of structure to mentoring is effective.

When I first began my business, Whitney mentored me for a period of time. We had set times to talk on the phone. She was clear to set a time limit, the implication of which implied her time was limited. She asked me to write for Dare to Dream a few times, but I did not perceive her request as an "exchange." Rather, I saw it as an opportunity to share - to "give back" as well, to Whitney and the larger whole.

Yikes - personal "coaching," I mean! Also correct, "He has created a side business."

Looks like I need some grammar mentoring!

Hm. I think there are some really great ideas here. I could probably use a little more structure in my efforts to mentor, but I also find great satisfaction in the bursts of help that I'm able to give along the way to a variety of different people.

Also, I think there is a question of depth and breadth that can come into play. I like to take more of a breadth approach, where I'm one of many in a person's life as they are sorting through questions they may have (I tend to mentor college-age students). I also don't see what I have to offer as necessarily something that I could or would want to structure so definitely as Bob has done. I think it's great, though, that he knows what he has to offer and has defined it that clearly that he can package it.

So I still end up saying hm. It's worth considering.

p.s. I'm sad I didn't have a chance to see you at the conference. I've been recovering from surgery (+ my chronic fatigue) so had to spend the first part of the day in bed. Thanks for making the trip to contribute to the conference!

And now I'm off to read your outline....

As I think about it more, I think in my mind there is a bit of a blurry line between where networking and relationship-building ends and mentoring begins. As someone who is not currently in the workforce, I think I tend to see mentoring as something a little less intense and formal, simply because that is how it works in my life. But maybe that's because what I'm doing isn't really mentoring as much as simply just connecting and sharing a few thoughts and some advice.

Janna --

What I love about this equation is that it does provide a starting point for thinking through what will allow for a mentoring relationship to work. I certainly felt as you and I spoke that you were eager to learn, you always knew what you wanted to know. It was a pleasure.

Michelle -

It is a shame you weren't at the conference. It really was, in my opinion, terrific all-around.

As for your thoughts on mentoring -- oh yes, the lines are very blurry. But I think that even with your very short bursts as you describe them (which are probably ideal), you'll find that if you examine your interactions with the people you've helped, the ones that you've come away feeling really good about are likely those where the equation holds.

Oh -- and not necessarily to structure this quite as Bob has done. This equation isn't like classical music, made to be followed to a note. More like a lead sheet for jazz. It provides the basic structure, and then you're off.

My best to you both,

Whitney, I actually was there...just not as long as I would have liked to have been...and not in the right place to see you!

We'll be sharing a link to your outline on the Women in Business blog in the next day or so.

And thanks for your thoughts in response. You're giving me good things to think about. Thanks!

The prospective letter from Bob is really making me think. Clearly, your time is valuable (both in the sense that you can use it to make money and use it to spend time on important relationships). Putting in the dollar values, whether you'd actually "go there" or not, really helps the potential mentee understand what they are asking of you. It also likely scares them - defintely asessing the "drive" part of the equation. I'm interested to see where you go with this (assuming you decide to share with us). I love that you are in a position to even think about this; it is a great validation of the all you have done.

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  • When I took a sabbatical from Wall Street to pursue a different dream and help others live theirs, I learned that women in the U.S. may be placated, even pampered, but because we aren't dreaming, we are also desperate and depressed. Drawing on a variety of sources, ranging from academic studies to pop culture, dare to dream encourages us to dream. And then to act on our dreams.


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