8.24.2012

On Paying It Forward...




(Images of Tavi Gevinson and Ira Glass via WSJ. Magazine.)

That I have the job I have today -- my dream job, a job I would have never imagined having a year ago -- is partially due to a couple of really amazing women investing (and believing) in me. Both women are slightly older than me, more influential, more powerful, more experienced, smarter, busier, oh and infinitely wiser. They didn't have to spend time with me guiding, advising, listening to me yammer endlessly, guiding gently.

But they did. And I am beyond thankful, as the fact that they did was instrumental in literally changing the course of my life, how I spend my working hours, how I feel about work, how my girls view what I do everyday. I don't exaggerate when I say it was monumental.

I think when someone gives you that gift of their time and energy, their knowledge and advice, you are bound to pay it forward. When you are blessed enough to have a mentor (no matter how informal the set-up), I think it's only right that you mentor someone else in return (again, even if it's a totally informal enterprise). There's just something necessary and essential about this idea of helping someone become the best version of herself, don't you think?

I loved reading about Tavi Gevinson and Ira Glass' mentor/mentee relationship in the WSJ. Magazine... especially this:

"He's been the ideal mentor for Rookie, offering advice, support and an understanding of what I want the site to be, but editorially, he doesn't claim to understand the mind of the teenage girl. After we published a post about stickers, he was like, "Is that the name of a drug? Are you speaking in code?" So I covered a piece of paper completely with stickers and gave it to him. I made sure there wasn't any white space."

Besides making me laugh out loud, it underscored the idea that sometimes the best mentor totally understands you, yet doesn't get your immediate world at all. It allows for objectivity, clarity. A good thing for sure.

I've started trying to pay it forward with a few younger women that I think are amazing, and it's been such a cool and rewarding experience...

Do you guys do this? Do you have a mentor or a mentee? I'd love to know about your experiences.

13 comments:

autumnempire said...

I am reminded of the adage, "Lift As We Climb" and I couldn't agree with your beautiful words more. I thank the universe for my mentor angels and to pay it forward certainly shows proper gratitude. (Oh, and what a great Tavi/Ira pair!)

Faye said...

Great topic. I would love a mentor, more specifically I would love you as a mentor! :) The idea of paying it forward is a beautiful one. I feel I've not yet figured myself out / reached my full potential enough to be in a position to offer guidance to anyone else just yet but i'd certainly love to one day.

Desi McKinnon said...

I have been looking for a mentor for sometime now. I would like to think the I have mentored some of my younger colleagues. They have said as much, but it didn't feel like mentoring, it just felt like listening and searching my heart for advice.

This is such a timely post. I was just speaking to a friend about how important it is to have older women you admire in your life. Watching and listening to them is invaluable.

Livyb said...

Love this post! I don't have a mentor. I would love one, but feel if has to happen naturally(could be totally off base!) I would love to hear more about yours! Thanks for sharing this today.

Cynthia Smoot said...

Mentorship is very important and I am fortunate to have several people in my life who have been generous with their time, talents and energy. In turn, I make myself available to younger people (my "little sisters" as I call them) that I feel can benefit from the same services. Pay it forward!

Joslyn said...

Cynthia -- i like that idea of mentees being "little sisters" v. cool!

Callie Grayson said...

I agree!
I have a circle of individuals that I like to call my "Influential circle" with 3 mentors, various advocates (you don't pick these), and a person I mentor, along with a group of 3 girlfriends that I hold me accountable. I feel women should support other women but also have a male mentor in the circle to have another perspective.

I have been focusing on this circle in my career over the past 4 years and it has really pushed me in directions that I am thankful for and look to continue these valuable relationships.

Thank you for sharing, and reminding us all to pay it forward.
:)
xx
callie

sittingprettytoday said...

What a great post and so wonderful about the experience. Having such a guiding influence is remarkable. It's timely because Alt Summit Blog just did a post on mentoring as well. Cheers! Good luck with your mentees.

G said...

I was lucky enough to meet my mentor in my 20's- she owned her own business, exuded a confident and intelligent manner, and in my eyes was where I wanted to be. Because of her, I pursued what I really wanted- a design and business career in fashion. Now 20 years later, we are friends and we both have experienced many ups and downs professionally and personally. She still mentors me, but now it's about life. Pursue what makes you happy not a big salary, travel, and most of all enjoy life and family. As the commercial says- "Priceless". I, in turn, hope I have been that mentor for the many young women that I have worked with.....Pass it on.

Albertina M. Cisneros said...

This is so inspiring. Not everyone has the same sensibilities as you. Those are some lucky girls you are mentoring. Your life becomes infinitely more rewarding as you help others as you have been helped.

Kim said...

Thank you for sharing this! It's such an important discussion.

My professional success began with my own big dreams -- which is important and yet not enough. Those dreams were gently guided into something tangible and attainable first by an endlessly patient manager named Anna who gave me opportunities and forgave big mistakes. Later, another amazing leader named Paola gave me my own dream job and then helped me evolve my career to accomodate work, two small children, and a husband whose health and future hang in an unknown balance.

I have had two good fairies in my life and have played that role for a couple of young women myself. I think this chain of guidance is an essential component to a stable, healthy society and a responsibility for each of us.

Shayna said...

Love this idea. Shouldn't it be a requirement for graduating high school or college?! I've never been sure how to go about finding a mentor...what to look/ask for, etc. How'd you get hooked up with your ladies (mentors and "mentees")?

Hilary Inspired said...

Oh boy... looks like you've been reading my mind! Sometimes, with all the options and questions and uncertainty out there, I feel pretty lost. And lately, I've been searching for just what you describe, a "slightly older than me, more influential, more powerful, more experienced, smarter, busier, oh and infinitely wiser" mentor. Right now, I'm incredibly fortunate to have a husband who takes genuine and serious interest in what I do and the dreams I have. I guess you could say he's my mentor outside my industry although probably not the most objective party. ;-) I also have two dear girl friends from high school that have been by my side for advice and general life pondering for years! They're wonderful when it comes to guidance and support. But I'm still searching. I know I'll come across the right path for me in time but, along the way, I hope I'll also find someone special who will take me under their wing. For now, I do all that I can to glean every bit of helpful advice and insight, whether intentionally given or not, from the people I work with and the women I enjoy spending time with. It's been wonderful to discover that I have a few things to share too!