Read an excerpt from her interview below, and head over to the LifeChats Collection for the full interview:
In your book, you talk about the different relationships necessary for women in business to succeed. Can you expand on these roles? And, in particular, what advice would you give to women looking for mentors?
In my book “Expect to Win: Proven Strategies for Success from a Wall Street Vet”, I talk about three different relationships: the mentor, the advisor, and the sponsor. I define the mentor as someone you can talk with about your strategy, goals, fears, and triumphs. The mentor is the good, the bad, and the ugly. It is someone who knows you very well, and who is willing to invest time into your success. The advisor is the person you can ask discrete questions from, such as how to succeed or make introductions. The sponsor is someone you tell the good. This person must be in your organization, unlike your mentor, because he/she must have the power and the juice to get what you need done, whether it’s a promotion or a new opportunity. You cannot ascend in any organization without a sponsor.
Your mentor does not need to look like you or be in your business industry. But, he/she does need to understand your context, which means it is likely that your mentors will change or you will have more mentors over time. A mentor can only be helpful if you are willing to be honest with him/her and with yourself.
I think the way that you identify a mentor is through the natural course of how you build relationships. Many of my mentors happen to be my peers. They were friends of mine who always cheered me on, who always wanted me to do well, but who would also always tell me when I was doing something wrong. You should use the same tools when trying to find a mentor as you use when identifying a really good friend whom you trust. However, the difference between the two is the mentor needs to understand the context in which you’re working. He/she has to be cognizant of what you’re dealing with in your environment. So you might have one person who knows your content well and can help you with what exactly you’re doing; and there might be another person who is sort of your kick-in-the-butt person, who keeps you motivated and working hard.
Sometimes, some of the women I work with ask me, “what if I can’t do anything for my sponsor or mentor right now?” I tell them that a relationship does not always have to be reciprocal and a win-win for both parties at all times. Right now, maybe you are just on the taking end, but there will come a time when you’ll be able to give back to that person, or you’ll be able to give back to someone else. Either way, the balance is created in that relationship. Even if you’re not giving back directly to your mentor, that’s Ok! What I say to some of my mentees is, “you don’t have to help me or give back to me, but be there to help someone else when they need you, just as I was there for you when you needed me.”