I recently was featured on an episode of the Mad Fientist podcast, along with Gwen from Fiery Millennials.
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 in my career.
I’m picturing my old boss listening to the interview somewhere and shaking his head.
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.
I’ve been lucky to have personal finance 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 bloggers. I also met them again at FinCon which helped build the relationship.
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. 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. She felt she was underpaid compared to her peers and didn’t want that to happen to me.
I got the job and the money thanks to her help.
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, technical skills).
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, so I sought opportunities to demonstrate problem-solving in his presence.
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.
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 personal finance mentoring in a way when I signed up for the Ecuador retreat. 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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Gwen @ FieryMillennials says
Mentors can come from the oddest of places as well. Not only am I getting mentored from an overall real estate perspective by some FIRE bloggers, I’m also getting mentored by a local landlord who owns dozens of properties in the area. They’ve spent years honing their craft, making mistakes, and learning from them – and they’re eager to share their knowledge to help you get ahead! Another excellent post for sure. Great job Julie!
The local landlord is a great connection to have when you want to get into real estate! I’m guessing you’ll be buying your first property in 2017!
Amanda @ centsiblyrich says
Great advice, Julie! I completely agree that you probably shouldn’t just go ask someone to be your mentor. If you work to build the relationship, they will be more likely to become your mentor, naturally.
I had a mentor in college (a prof) that sought me out because I asked questions and chatted with him, plus I helped others in the class. I ended up working for him as a grad assistant and we still keep in touch, 20 years later.
Thanks! I’m impressed you were able to figure that out in college. I didn’t have any professor connections because I didn’t know how to go about building the relationship. I remember asking for recommendations from a professor but they barely knew me! Good for college-aged you and glad you still keep in touch!
Great post! When my current boss was hired, therefore replacing my old boss, I was skeptical. I gave him a chance and approached the new setup with an open mind and thank goodness I did. He has become my number one mentor and he has given me pay raises etc. without even having to ask!
Thanks! Glad the new boss worked out so well for you! I can see how it can be a little jarring to have a management change but it seems like it worked out for the better. That’s awesome!
[email protected] says
Great post, thank you. I absolutely believe in mentors. Years ago when I wanted to learn about investing in commercial multifamily real estate, I found a mentor which made all of the difference in the world.
I’m super interested in multifamily real estate but afraid to enter the market. I can see how a mentor would give you the knowledge and the confidence to jump in!
DC @ Young Adult Money says
I have had a couple of mentors over the past few years but honestly haven’t really found one that stuck or that I wanted to invest a lot of time into. I would love to find one sometime this year. I just started mentoring a senior at the college I went to through the alumni-student mentor program. We’ve only met once but already I’m learning a lot about what sort of role a mentor should play when it comes to helping with career options and challenges.
Good for you for mentoring a Senior in College! I bet that is really rewarding and you can make a huge impact on their life & career – especially with your finance knowledge. Hope you find your mentor too!