I'll admit it: Women can be hard on one other. We can be critical and judgmental. We sometimes, in this back-biting competitive world, live up to the negative stereotypes. You know what I'm talking about.
But there's a flip side: Women can also be incredibly supportive of each other. We can be loving and generous. And sometimes, when we work together, magic happens.
That's what I absolutely love about mentorship and why I've launched my own program -- and am encouraging others to jump in. I know that because I was lucky enough to experience profound mentorship at a very young age.
In my case, my first mentor was my mother.
I know what you're thinking; That's what moms do: they teach their children. My mom took it a step further. My mom, Carol Ann Arieff, who unfortunately passed away at only 60 in 2004, was an art appraiser who ran her own business with the most magnetic energy and spirit.
I worked for her. And let me tell you she taught me my first and probably most important lessons. They still guide me today.
For instance, she made me accountable for all my work--and my word. If I had a report due, I had to do it, even if it meant staying up all night.
If I made a mistake, I was responsible. In other words, she taught me integrity.
She was constantly feeding my young mind with wisdom, such as:
• It doesn't matter what anyone thinks of you.
• Believe in who you are.
• Don't look back.
• Be honest.
• Jealousy is stupid.
I take those messages to heart. But those messages wouldn't have meant much if she hadn't lived them, herself. That's what really mattes in a mentor relationship. What you say matters. What you do matters more.
I learned by being with her and watching her.
My mother also taught me about equality and fairness. She didn't just tell me that it was important. She showed me by always treating everyone -- be it the grocery check-out clerk or a wealthy art collector -- the same. She asked everyone how they were doing and genuinely cared about their answers. She liked people regardless if she deemed their work disruptive or creative.
Today, I try to emulate her every day.
Whether I'm mentoring a young public relations professional just learning her trade; employees at startups who are trying to build a brand; or a teen with big dreams about launching her own business, I follow these rules:
• Make yourself available.
• Make it easy for your mentee to reach out to you.
• Respect time.
• Listen before you speak.
In other words, I teach by showing. Of course, I also give advice when asked. It's all important.
We all need role models in our life. And believe it or not, the missing link between a promising career and a successful one, is often, mentoring.
That's also why I try to take people or brands under my wing who are sometimes locked out of informal networks -- often women and minorities. Mentors are especially important for women who work in fields dominated by men.
I want to encourage people to both seek mentors and for potential mentors to step up -- but not because you have to. Yes, it's the right thing to do, but honestly, I also do it because I love it.
I think I've gotten more out of mentoring than I've given.
My most rewarding mentor experiences have been with my employees. I've stayed in touch with most of them and watched them grow in their careers. Many of them still reach out to me.
That just feels good.
Mentoring stretches you. It exposes you to new people, new minds and new experiences. Nurturing someone else also nurtures your own soul. It takes you outside yourself and makes you remember why you chose your career in the first place.
Currently, I am mentoring a young woman named, Mireille Gutierrez. I am helping her grow her blog in terms of content and followers. We recently partnered with The Project for Women to put the spotlight on the importance of mentoring.
Try it. Let me know how it goes!