What My Mentors Taught Me
I was so excited when the idea to write these posts on Mentorship came to me. As you can see from what Marv, Bob, and Joe taught me – Mentorship has played a critical part in my growth as a professional and a person.
However, I don’t want to polish this story too perfectly. My Mentors guided me and helped me make my career what it is today. But it wasn’t easy. And there are more stories than can count where the advice that was being bestowed made me furrow my brow with apprehension.
Being mentored is a two-way street. It’s one thing to find someone to give you advice. It’s another thing to actually have the courage to accept it. Here are some of the hardest lessons that I ever had to learn.
I will never forget that when I first started out, we were still living in an age where cold calls were common. Marv gave me a list of the city’s most prominent CEOs and lawyers. I looked at him quizzically. “Why would they take a call from me? They’re so important and busy!” Marv barked at me: “What’s the big deal!? They put their pants on the same way you do!”
Forget the fact that I wear skirts almost exclusively, but the point was that everyone is just human. There is nothing to be afraid of if you know what you’re talking about. That sage advice from Marv was a huge confidence builder and a turning point in my career. I’m not shy to introduce myself to anyone – and even in this day and age of voice mail – I will always get in front of the person who I want to talk to. Where there is a will, there is a way.
If criticism is coming from someone who cares about you, it is extremely unlikely that they are trying to hurt you. More often, they have a key piece of advice that you need to hear. That is, if you can get out of your own way long enough to hear that advice over the hum of your own self-doubt.
I was many years Joe’s junior when I started working with him, and his clientele was mostly made up of men in their 50s and 60s. (For contrast, I was in my late 20s.)
I have always dressed fashionably but with a conservative bent. One day, I came back to the office and Joe told me that the gentleman that I had been meeting with had called him to comment on my outfit and its racy nature. I was incredulous. “What do you mean!?” I said. I energetically pointed to my neckline, featuring a button at my neck, and my skirt hem, which met up with my knees. I didn’t understand.
Joe was kind and didn’t profess to understand either. He did, however, recommend that I start meeting with a business coach. I am glad that I was open-minded enough to take him up on his advice. After doing so, I learned that it wasn’t that my outfit was too risqué that day – but instead just inappropriate for my audience. I was meeting with a gentleman from a different generation with a different expectation of how women were to present themselves. It would have been wise of me to dress differently for that meeting.
You Be You
It’s easy to mimic others. It takes real courage to be yourself. But that is what you’re best at.
You cannot win a marathon by spending all of your time focusing on the runners around you. Just put your head down and do the best you can at being your best. What I have found is that when I am my most authentic self, I differentiate myself from my competitors.
The people who hire me to work with them appreciate my style and my smarts. I don’t need to try to be anyone else. If they like someone else, they should work with that person anyway – and not me.
You Cannot Do It Alone
I am proud of my success in life, but I did not do any of it alone. It’s so important to remember that people who are succeeding have a rich network of support. How Does She Do It? is a myth. She does it with the help of others.
Yes, there are Mentors, but there are also networks of office personnel, family, and friends – all of whom rally behind me in different capacities to make it work.
And so, in closing, my advice to you is as follows:
Find your team. Be great at what you do. Be kind. Connect with your confidence. Work hard. Do what you say you’re going to do. And buy a nice pair of shoes every once in a while.
Success can really be that sweet.
Marv Rotter, Bob Greulich, Joe Galvin and their respective companies are separate from LPL and Stonebridge Wealth Advisors LLC