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Ep 11 : Mentorship for success- Our Story

Updated: Jul 19, 2023


EPISODE SUMMARY


Hello, This is Sirisha, welcome to my podcast! Mentorship is a topic my Guest host Usha and I talk about often as we think about and discuss our careers. There are many people who have helped us with their advice and ideas to advance in our careers. We’ll look at different types of mentors, how to find them, get the most out of the relationship, and ideas to give back to a mentor in this episode. Each podcast has a few takeaways and resources at the end. Check them out and leave me your feedback!!


Come, let's #paintlifetogether!


Follow us on Instagram @womencareerandlife and don't forget to listen & subscribe to the podcast here!


Below is a transcript of the episode, slightly modified for reading.


PODCAST TRANSCRIPT OVERVIEW

[00:50] Formal mentors and programs [Jump to section]

[03:35] Informal mentors, organic conversations [Jump to section]

[07:53] Prepare, and set yourself up for success [Jump to section]

[09:30] Reciprocate, give back to a mentor [Jump to section]

[11:46] Food for thought. Episode takeaways [Jump to section]


PODCAST DETAILED TRANSCRIPT


Formal mentors and programs [00:50]


Sirisha: Hello everyone. Happy New Year! In Season one, we talked about returning to work leadership, career development, time management and productivity. I'm really looking forward to kicking off Season two today, let's get started.


I'm excited to have a guest host, Usha, join us in today's conversation. We're going to talk about mentorship, a topic of Usha. and I talk about often as we discuss our journey, the many people who have helped us and strategies to advance our careers. We look at different types of mentors, how to find them to get the most out of the relationship and ideas to give back to a mentor.


So, Usha as we talk about mentorship, can you tell us a mentor who has helped you?


Usha: I started thinking of mentors, only after I enrolled myself into a formal program in my first company. That experience actually made me understand how a good mentor can be a catalyst for your career. I was in a new country, I was in a new group, it was a completely new team and I did not know anybody. Sometimes in the corporate world, it's as good as going to a different company when you move groups and countries. My mentor taught me so many things, she gave me ideas on how to connect with senior leaders, and how to network within the team. I can still hear her voice telling me "You just have to go up to people and have a conversation on how you can actually help them in the next opportunity that the company has". The worst thing they're gonna say is no, but they will appreciate the initiative you're taking.


"A good mentor can be a catalyst for you career. "

" You just have to go up to people and have a conversation on how you can actually help them in the next opportunity that the company has. The worst thing they're gonna say is no, but they will appreciate the initiative you're taking."

Another cool thing that she taught me was to apply SWOT analysis to your own career. It's so cool, we do it all the time on the job, but we never think of applying it for ourselves. That gave me a lot of perspective on how to think about my goals, and how to utilize my experience, for the opportunities that are probably going to present themselves. Some of these things, I would have figured out by myself, but it would have taken me five years to do it. Having a mentor actually helped me figure it out in the first one or two years when I made the transition.


" Apply SWOT analysis for your own career."

" It would have taken me five years to do it. Having a mentor actually helped me figure it out in that first one or two years when I made the transition."

Sirisha: We should talk about what really is a SWOT Analysis.


It's talking about strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. I've used it in a different context. I've used it for my career a lot. Just to map out where do I want to take my next step? Maybe in the next year, the next five years? It kind of helped me lay down my thoughts very clearly. I've also used it for finances, as you think long term, what does it look like? Where are you set up? So, it's been a great tool, and definitely will have resources and more mapping in our blog on this.


Informal mentors, organic conversations [03:35]


Usha: What about informal mentors?


Sirisha: The first mentor, I met at women's meetings, and I had just got a new role with more responsibility. I asked her if she could meet with me and we managed to meet for lunch, every quarter, talking about our organization, how I was transitioning, how her organization was doing, and it helped really cement a stronger relationship. Now we meet every month, and I've pitched ideas to her and come up together with new ideas. Having somebody from an outside perspective, and having them look at it has helped crystallize my thoughts.


The second person I also met in a very similar way, was at a women's international conference that I went through work. She was a lady in the same company, but from a completely different organization, where we would have never crossed paths. At one of those formal dinners, we got chatting and the funny thing is, we didn't even talk about work. We spent the time talking about our family and our kids. The kids were, very close in age, we talked about balancing life, those sorts of conversations, and that's how that mentor relationship was built.


What I found is, you may not always click with your mentors, you have to find that right fit, but it's also about being trusting and being open and it has to be kept within those bounds so that you can build that strong relationship.


"You may not always click with your mentors, you have to find that right fit. It's also about being trusting and being open and it has to be kept within those bounds so that you can build that strong relationship."

So, can you talk about your informal mentors?


Usha: Yes! when I think of it, we've had them from the very first day of our careers. I started my job, but never thought of them that way. I like to call them accidental mentors, many of them are managers who have taken an interest to challenge and push me beyond what I was doing. They are what I call accidental mentors. It's hard to spot these folks because sometimes they may even seem tough. Sometimes you get this feeling that I'm doing such a good job, why I am being pushed to do more? But that's exactly the point. They do that because they see something in you. These are the folks who don't usually complain, but usually say "Hey, this is good but I think you can take this to the next level by doing ABC" and those people are the people I really consider as accidental mentors. Finding somebody like that in your career can be a blessing in disguise. We also assume a mentor like this has to be a woman. I've had so many managers who are men who have really mentored me so well and I'm so grateful for that.


In some cases, even peers have helped mentor. When you're running into a tough situation, and they may be engaging with you either on a project or in a meeting. You can either bounce ideas with them, or they may come back offline and say, "Hey, this is what you could have done differently or should have done differently".


"Many of the managers who have taken interest to challenge and pushed me beyond what I was doing. I really consider as accidental mentors. Finding somebody like that in your career can be a blessing in disguise."

"I've had so many mangers who are men who have really mentored me so well and I'm grateful for that."

Sirisha: This is absolutely right. It's very hard. In some ways, it's like feedback. It's hard to listen to it, but you have to listen because they really are looking at it as if you have the potential to do something more and take it with that spirit. So certainly, we can find mentors in many ways.


Prepare, and set yourself up for success [07:53]


Usha: How we can make the mentor relationship successful?


Sirisha: That's a good question. You have to value your mentor's time, if they're giving you either 30 minutes or an hour, be cognizant of that. It may be preparing questions or distilling your thoughts, if you need some help. be a little bit more crystal clear. Sometimes it might be even a presentation that you request feedback on. I have to tell you, I have not always done that, it has become something I've learned over time. So definitely invest in that, to make the most of your relationship.


"You have to value your mentors time. It may be preparing questions or distilling your thoughts, if you need some help be a little bit more crystal clear."

Usha: The other thing I've noticed about these relationships, is that the more context you give your mentor on your near-term, long-term goals, the better they're able to help you. If you don't have all that crystallized, even if you ask more specific questions, you actually get better answers.


We had a formal program in school, and I was a mentor. One of the mentees would ask me very general questions like, how do you deal with change? What does balance mean to you? These are great questions. But I would struggle to answer them in a very specific way to help her because I had no context of why she was asking me that.


So, we would have this great conversation about change management, and work-life balance, but I wasn't really sure if it was helping her move in a certain direction. So, I feel like in times like that, if you have a little more specific questions, and prepare ahead, it helps the mentor help you.


"The more context you give your mentor on your near term, long term goals the better they're able to help you. If you don't have all that crystallized, even if you as more specific questions, you actually get better answers."


Reciprocate, give back to a mentor [09:30]


Usha: How do you give back to a mentor? It doesn't have to be a one-sided relationship.


Sirisha: So, two examples come to mind in the recent past. In one case, I saw a board position come across my email and I forwarded it to my mentor and basically had a discussion with her to see if she was interested in the positions. It lends itself to a very different conversation. I don't know if she has applied for it or she's venturing out, but it helps you feel like, you're also giving something back in the relationship.


In another case, with the other mentor, she was having a problem, that she was trying to solve in her group. She asked if there were any solutions or ideas we were working on and we bounced around some ideas. Later, in about six to nine months, she acknowledged that the discussion helped her create a framework in her organization that they were just able to roll out.


So, there are so many ways you can give back to your mentors. There are various avenues that you will be able to do, and sometimes it might just be asking them if they need any help.


"There are so many ways you can give back to your mentors. There are various avenues that you will be able to do, and sometimes it might just be asking them if they need any help."

Usha: I think sometimes you can just give back by becoming a mentor too. I did it after my first formal program and continue to do it in some form or other. I think all of us pass it on every day at work. We all give back in some way. Another thing that I think works is going back after many years, and thanking your mentors because sometimes their advice takes years for you to apply and reach your goals. In all honesty, I feel like I don't do this enough. I help people all the time on a day-to-day basis but I don't necessarily go back and say thank you enough. I think I should do that more because they all have a significant impact on our careers and just in life in general.


Sirisha: Today on our episode, we talked in depth about mentorship. Usha, can you leave our listeners with some food for thought as we wrap up this episode?


" You can just give back by becoming a mentor too."

"Going back after many years, and thanking your mentors, sometimes their advice takes years for you to apply and reach your goals."

Food for thought. Episode takeaways [11:46]


So three things come to mind as I think of today's conversation. Here is today's food for thought,


  • Mentors come in all forms and shapes. We can choose formal programs and formal relationships or even colleagues or managers at work.

  • It helps to set yourself up for success by preparing well and also providing context for your discussions with a mentor. I really think the SWOT analysis or any other tool that helps to set a context for yourself, will be very helpful.

  • We can all give back by becoming mentors at actually any stage in our careers. Going back in time and saying thank you to the mentors or finding some opportunities we can help them with is a great way to give back too.

So, go ahead, try the SWOT analysis or find a mentor if you don't have one, or even volunteer to be a mentor. Just don't swim alone, especially if you're going through a big change in life or at work.


Resources Mentioned:

  • SWOT Analysis | Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities & Threats Analysis

Guest Host: Usha

Host: Sirisha

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Follow me on Instagram @womencareerandlife and don't forget to listen & subscribe to the podcast here!



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