We talked about everything from rocking your career to saving massive amounts of money to side hustles.
One regret I have from the interview is that I neglected to give credit to the mentors who helped me both in my career and in my FI journey.
I’m picturing my old boss listening to the interview somewhere and shaking his head.
In reality, my old boss had no idea that I was pursuing early retirement. Those of us in the FIRE crew tend to be quiet about sharing that part of our lives with our coworkers.
I’m making amends for the oversight though by writing this post.
Why You Need a Mentor
Mentors do three things for you.
- They provide valuable life experience and advice.
- They push you to challenge yourself.
- They leverage their connections and influence to help you get ahead.
My former boss was a true mentor. He taught me everything I know about managing people. He showed me the benefits of dressing better at work. He was the first person to point out that I was a tad serious in the office and that maybe I need to unleash my inner woo girl and get better at networking.
He put me up for promotions and stretch opportunities, went to bat for me for raises, and he offered consistent support and guidance in both professional and personal matters.
As I’m writing this, I’m thinking “WHY did I ever leave that job?” ..Although, I know did it because FIRE calls and my current opportunity allows me to hit FIRE sooner and is a great opportunity.
Speaking of FIRE, I’ve been lucky enough to have FIRE mentors as well. I attended the Chautauqua in Ecuador and got a chance to have 1×1 time and develop relationships with a few awesome FIRE bloggers.
Their insights, motivation, and advice pushed us to achieve fantastic results in 2016 such as paying off our debt and hitting a $200k net worth.
Don’t Ask Someone to Be Your Mentor
Here’s the deal about mentors.
You probably shouldn’t ask for one.
The relationship is better when a mentor offers to help you and they want to take you under their wing on their own volition.
This post on cultivatedculture.com sums it up perfectly. The post is about how to start a conversation with an influencer, whom you know can help you get a job, without flat out asking them to help you get the job.
“In order to prepare, we have to know what we’re preparing for. The goal of your meeting is to position your influencer as an expert, make them feel special, and build a relationship. You will not and should not mention anything about the opening at their company. People innately enjoy helping others and if you follow the steps above, they will bring this up naturally.” – cultivatedculture.com
This advice applies to mentorships as well and is dead-on.
People want to help other people and feel like an expert, but they don’t like being asked to help someone they don’t feel a connection with yet because it’s forced and awkward.
Once a connection develops though, it’s a whole different ball game.
Let Them Offer Help First
Mentors will probably offer to help you on their own – if you don’t spoil it by asking first.
I’ve experienced this personally when younger alumni reach out to me for information about my career path and job. They never start out asking for a job, they just ask for advice.
What typically happens in these conversations however, is that half-way in, I find myself offering to help them get a job at my company. I’m not always intending to do that from the onset, but I always do.
This strategy actually works in interviews too when they’re going well.
I’ve been lucky enough to get some help from people interviewing me on a few occasions.
One time, my interviewer and I connected and she coached me on the higher salary I should ask for and said she would push for me to get the job.
I got the job and the money!
Make Your Mentor Interested In You
Figure out what would make your mentor interested in you.
Some people like to mentor other people like them (alumni, women, etc.).
Some look for shared interests (fishing, finance).
Others look for qualities or skills that they find desirable or could benefit them (financial skills, smarts, even beauty).
You may need to make a judgement call on this one and use your gut to guess what might work.
With my former boss, I knew that he liked people who could solve problems.
He was actually my boss’s boss at the time and one day in a bold move, I demonstrated in front of him that I had solved a problem that was causing a big fire drill at work. He was impressed. Later, he presented me with the opportunity to come work for him directly and became my mentor.
For me, I like helping recent graduates. I went through a hard time when I first graduated college and I want to help others who may be feeling like I did.
Sign Up For Mentoring When It’s Available
I had a second mentor at work that I actually signed up for through the women’s business network.
My mentor was super ambitious too and was a great sounding board when I was deciding whether to pursue the job I have now. She encouraged me to go for it and I’m grateful for that support.
Even though I signed up for a mentor, I still had to go through the process of building a connection with her first.
She mentioned she had another mentee who didn’t always respect her time which is a bummer for that person. They missed out.
I also signed up for FIRE mentoring in a way when I signed up for the Chautauqua. We were guaranteed one 1×1 session with a blogger (couples get two – yay!) but more importantly, we spent a week hanging out and getting to know everyone.
My husband and I ended up getting mentored from many people on the trip because we were the youngest and people wanted to help us.
We took their advice and kicked butt in 2016!
If you can’t make a mentoring relationship happen naturally, sign up for one.
Just don’t forget that you actually have to work to build the relationship too.
How did you get a mentor in the past? Have you seen someone go about asking for a mentor in the wrong way?
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