Monday, November 30, 2009

Fresh Perspectives: How to Make the Most Out of Your Reverse Mentoring Experience by Christa Babcock

In today’s dynamic advertising landscape, it has become increasingly important for Senior Managers to stay up to date with the latest concepts within our industry. The constant learning of new technology, new methods of communication within an organization, new perspectives on where our industry is going, and what other ways exist to make us better managers, overall are elements that correlate highly to a successful growing firm today.

Started in the mid 1990s by Jack Welch, the original purpose of Reverse Mentoring was to educate several hundred senior level professionals within GE and on new technologies by using the top young talent that the firm had just acquired. Today Unilever, Pepsi, Disney, Yahoo!, and Mindshare are all examples of organizations that are reaping the incredible benefits of this exciting path of discovery.

So, how can you use it and make the most of this great opportunity today?

1) Plan and Manage: At the very first meeting, set your goals for the overall mentorship experience. What is it that both of you hope to gain? Determine the metrics for how you will measure your partnership’s growth. As it may be the first time both parties are trying out these new roles, it is crucial to have a game plan set out in advance to avoid confusion for sessions and meetings throughout the process.

2) Keep An Open Mind: This experience is all about fresh perspectives. As a mentor, your best assets are the experiences that you’ve had as a new member of the working world, and the thoughts on where things are going and how we can improve them for our industry. Likewise, as a mentee, you are bringing a great opportunity for a younger mentor to gain great perspective of how to communicate more effectively with senior managers and see what C-Suite executives find to be crucial to the future of our business world.

3) Leave Your Status and Title At The Door: Reverse Mentoring is about coming to the discussion table without the current reference of where you are today in your firm’s hierarchy. This requires an openness of the mentee, as the young mentor might not be experienced with leading discussion and also of the mentor as the mentee might not be used to receiving such candid thoughts from a less experienced professional. Remember however, you are both there to engage and learn in a wonderful environment.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Monthly Mentoring Discussion Topic: Transitional Review by Amy Lam

Unlike a student's life in school, where definitive stages are marked by the end of a grade or a semester, I became accustomed to a continuous flow of daily routines and lifetime objectives. I couldn't pinpoint the reason for my feelings of restlessness, but I realized I needed a way to better gauge my life. I decided a few years ago to use the end of the year as my own reminder to consciously take time in private and reflect on the past months. I would count the number of office projects I've completed, new people I've met, new programs I've learned, trips abroad I've taken, and personal dollars I've saved to ultimately answer the questions: Did I have a good year? Am I happy with how this year turned out?

This year I found myself frustrated by the pace of my professional growth so I took on my annual survey as a more frequent habit. My monthly meetings with my AWNY mentor reinforced the exercise and helped me see the flaw in my review: my measurements did not provide the true gauge that I wanted. My mentor encouraged me to redefine myself, own my abilities and explore different opportunities. As a result, I have refined my own personal review process that better serves my growth and my life as a whole.

For the month of December, I encourage you to work with your mentoring pair in reviewing this year together. Think about the following questions: How have you grown from the day you wrote your mentoring application last year to now? How has the mentoring relationship changed you? Here are my tips for starting the conversation and developing your own review process:
  1. Reflect on the past. Find your old mentor application(s) and reread what you wrote. How have you and your mentoring partner worked towards addressing your concerns? What did you like/dislike throughout your mentoring journey and why? What have you learned and how are you applying this knowledge? What are you most/least proud of and why? Talking with your partner or just talking aloud can clarify your thoughts and stimulate more ideas. Know you will not do all your reflecting in one sitting so spend time your own before and after discussing with your partner. Take notes--it may come in handy when you define your future goals.
  2. Acknowledge your present. Know where you are now in order to get to the next point. How do you feel about your current situation? What do you want and why? What is and isn't working for you? Use the AWNY mentoring application as a tool and start a list of your current personal/professional desires. Understand it can take time to reach your next point so in the meanwhile, celebrate how far you have come with your partner!
  3. Set your future. Visualize yourself and your life. How do you see yourself 3 years from now? How do you see yourself 10 years from now? How does your present align with your future? What do you find is holding you back? Define your goals and set your priorities. Breakdown the most important goals into baby steps to formulate a plan. Set a timeline for each step and determine your measurement of success. Work with a partner and commit to checking-in with each other often. Ask your partner for feedback. Know your goals can change as you learn more throughout the process.

Amy Lam is an online marketing manager at Direct Brands, Inc., responsible for enhancing brand experiences and generating conversions through all Bookspan digital platforms.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Share: Nadine McHugh at the Leadership Breakfast Series by Amy Lam and Sue McCauley

Our second exclusive Leadership Breakfast Series featured Nadine McHugh, Managing Director, MindShare, as the guest speaker at Yahoo! on October 15th. Interviewed by Terry Yoffe, Personal & Professional Development Coach and chair of the AWNY Mentoring committee, Nadine talked about key themes in mentoring, leadership and work/life balance. She is proud to be part of the AWNY Mentoring program, as it gives her an opportunity to give back to the community and to reflect on her roots.

She started in the advertising industry with the dream of being a copywriter. Her initial plan was to land a job in account management and transition into copy writing, but she ended up in the world of media planning. She attributes her career success to her family upbringing and motto: "I never thought I couldn't do anything" and advises women to tune into their natural skills to be successful by "listening to your gut." She also noted that people should not be hung up at having a precise career path because choices are now changing faster than ever and may result in a "zig-zag" route.

Throughout her career, her leadership success came from observing other people and deciding which behaviors she wanted to own (and not to own). She has very fond memories of one of her mentors, her first boss. He had a special way of connecting with people. He:

  • Knew how to rally the group
  • Had an attitude that was not above anyone
  • Taught others to not be afraid to use common sense
  • Had a great sense of humor
  • Did little things that meant so much (i.e. bring people flowers spontaneously) - Knew when people had enough
  • Was passionate about his work
  • Had perspective on life
  • Knew how to get from point A to B quickly
  • Was a great storyteller
  • Took risks

One of the most important lessons she learned was to maintain a level of integrity and focus. "As you move up, you need to be aware of what you put out there for people below." Nadine warned about those who "drink their own kool-aid" when they get to a certain level. "It is so important to be able to see yourself in the mirror." She continues to find pockets of inspiration and be a good role model to her children.

During the Q&As portion of the breakfast, Nadine addressed several different topics:

  1. Work/Life Balance
    - She does not work towards balancing her life. "I strive to be and do the best that I can. Be true to yourself and who you are."
    - Understand what feeds your soul
    - Take pause to figure out what you want to do
    - Explore
    and ask constantly
    - Be good to yourself
    - Exercise
    - Eat better
    - Do what's right for you
  2. Motivation
    - Keep looking for pockets of inspiration
    - You just have to pull yourself up; rise to the occasion
    - Be innovative, be resourceful
    - Talk about it--have conversations and reassess the situation
    - Don't beat yourself up for 6 months when you start a new job - get your feet on the ground and get comfortable
    - You learn from failures in life
    - When you freak out, you paralyze yourself
    - Listen to intuition aka: your "gut"
    - Give yourself credit and be kinder to yourself
    - As women, it is natural for us to reflect inward; whereas men forge forward
  3. Mentoring
    - Be open to learning
    - Don't be afraid to be creative
    - Follow your intuition: Use & Trust; Go with your gut!
    - Keep charging
    - You can be anything you want to be, as long as you are happy
    - Believe you can do it
    - Allow ourselves to use your natural gifts
    - Discover formal and informal mentors in life and decide which behaviors you want to emulate and others that you just observe
    - Take risks, be bold & think outside the box
    - Be mindful of your behavior
    - Be creative
    - Maintain level of integrity
  4. Inspirational Life Mantras
    - Grass isn't always greener
    - Strive to do the best you can everyday
    - Be true to yourself
    - Define your own parameters
    - Embody a desire to learn
    - Have a path/idea of where you want to go
    - Sit & figure out what makes you special - what are you bringing to the table? What's your brand? Who am I? What do I want to be? What feeds your soul?
    - Take pause to figure out what you want to do
    - Ask questions & explore
    - Stay focused on who you want to be and be proud of who you are
On Nadine's reading list is Cathie Black's (President of Hearst Magazines) 2007 book: "Basic Black: The Essential Guide for Getting Ahead at Work (and in Life)."