Buddhists, boardrooms and bravery: a mentee’s tale

For the past two decades or so, I’ve been shaping my career by watching those around me. I have been blessed to observe many good (and some not-so-good) leaders and I’ve also played a hand in guiding fellow colleagues along the way.

When it comes to mentoring, I think the Buddhist proverb says it best, “If you light a lamp for someone it will also brighten your own path.”

This mutuality of mentorship is not lost on the women taking part in the inaugural Wagga Women in Business Mentoring Program. While the mentees gain from having the guidance and advice of their mentor, mentors often get exposure to fresh perspectives as well as the opportunity to reflect on their own goals and practices. It’s a shared learning experience that both parties can find exciting and rewarding.

But don’t be mistaken. Mentoring is not for the faint hearted. 

Here are a few truths my recent experience with mentoring brought home to me.

It’s all about the relationship

                          Peita with her mentor, Judy Galloway.

                          Peita with her mentor, Judy Galloway.

They say good relationships don’t just happen; they take work. This is true of mentoring. While the Women in Business Committee did their best to match mentors and mentees, it really is down to the pair themselves to put in the hard yards. 

For me this meant:

  • take the time to get to know one another – put your cards on the table as early as possible to define what it is you want from the relationship and agree to meeting times and discussion points 
  • keep to schedule – we’re all busy, so carving out the time for mentoring is sometimes a juggle. When you set up a meeting, keep it. Jealously guard that time
  • avoid small talk – pleasantries are fine, but that’s not where the magic happens
  • put in the work – whether it’s in the meeting or in between sessions, make sure you do all you can to get the most out of this relationship
  • establish and maintain trust – a key asset to any relationship.

I’m fortunate to have the esteemed Judy Galloway as my mentor and I’m grateful that she is also putting in the work to make this mentor relationship a good one.

The truth hurts

While I have been in marketing and communications for many years, I have never run my own business. The reason I wanted a mentor was to learn from someone who has. Enter Judy.

A successful entrepreneur and businesswoman, Judy is what I like to call a “straight shooter”. Sitting at the boardroom table, Judy pushes me to my limits as we rigorously interrogate the topic at hand. Part of that interrogation is to make me really assess my plans, goals and motivations.

While it may feel confronting at times, the thing is, I need that. Through questioning me, Judy is helping me confront my preconceived notions of career, finances, business relationships and success. I feel like my horizons are expanding every time I talk to her. After each mentoring meeting I have a fresh idea or a new perspective on an old one. It’s only through this rigour that clarity of purpose can come about, even if that process can be painful.

Seize the day

In my experience, mentoring presents many opportunities to learn and grow. It’s up to me as the mentee to recognise those opportunities and seize on them.

One of the goals I had embarking on this mentor relationship was to be in my business full-time by the end of 2015. Thanks to Judy’s encouragement, I took that leap in early October a few months ahead of schedule.

While that scares me, it also excites me. There’s so much I want to do in this business and Judy has not only helped me see what’s possible, she’s illuminated the path so I can see how to get there. I feel like I’m braver now for having her support.

If you’re considering putting your hand up for the 2016 round of mentoring my advice would be to do it – put in the work and you’ll reap the rewards.

Peita

 

Peita’s telling stories again…

Some kids play sport. Some like to sing or dance. Writing was my thing.

I have a childhood full of poems hurriedly scratched on scraps of paper, chapters of fantastical tales of good and evil, and songs written to vent about heartache or injustice.

First prize in a writing competition around age 10 sealed the deal for me: I would be a (capital W) Writer.

I have fond memories of work experience at my local newspaper in high school and the delight of having something published. There is still something about a byline that thrills me.

Studying journalism at university, I began honing my craft and soon discovered that when you scratch the surface, just about everyone has an interesting story to tell.

A career country newspapers followed. From politicians to the little kid winning the cake competition at the local show, I spent thousands of hours interviewing people and telling their stories.

There’s a knack to getting people to trust that you’ll do them justice. I’d like to think I hit the mark more times than not.

How we connect

You only need to see Humans of New York to realise that stories are conduits for amazing things to happen.

Stories are emotive and I’ve seen time and again the connection we make to others when they bare a little of themselves. I think it’s their humanness that we connect with and I’m not ashamed to admit I’ve fallen a little bit in love with the vast majority of the people I’ve interviewed.

So many stories to be told

You see, there are some incredible stories in this community. There are things happening right around the corner that you’d never know about unless someone shed light on them.

That’s one of my driving forces behind starting Frank & Earnest – coming back to my roots to help tell these stories.

It may sound cliché, but I want to make a difference by sharing the stories of those making a difference.

Our greatest desire at Frank & Earnest is to help people and organisations find their voice and tell their stories and we see online as the perfect amplifier. Blogs and social media make it incredibly easy to like, share and comment. It’s now easy to immerse yourself in these stories and find the people, businesses and causes you believe in and want to support.

It’s the strong narrative that ties all this together.

Peita

A first note

Welcome to our first blog post.

At Frank & Earnest we’re all about storytelling, and this blog is our way of sharing stories with you.

Notes in the margin is a loving nod to the many times a story has ignited emotion, curiosity or inspiration in us and prompted us to jot down our thoughts. Our intention is to share our Frank & Earnest take on the world here, and to hopefully inspire a little curiosity, emotion and inspiration of our own.

Our love of story and storytelling runs deep. 

We believe storytelling is innately human; we’re hard-wired for it.

Humans have always used story to help make sense of the world. That’s because stories help us understand who we are and where we came from. They define where we’re going and give us a way to shape how others see us. That’s as important in our personal lives as it is in a corporate sense.

You see, stories connect us. Whether it’s trial or triumph, love or loss, success or failure, we see ourselves in another’s story and we relate to them. It’s beautiful in its simplicity.

We believe everyone has a story to tell and we plan to unearth those stories, one character at a time. No doubt these stories will provoke thought, spark joy, unearth prejudices and ultimately move us, just as stories have always done.

We hope you enjoy our notes in the margins. Please feel free to make notes of your own if a story moves you.