"mentorship"

Fri 3 January 2020
Not all companies have a mentor program, but if your company does have one and you haven’t participated, you might be thinking to yourself, what is the point?

You may have achieved your professional goals or you may not think that anyone in your company could help you or you may believe that a mentor may not fully understand you or you may not know what to say or what to ask once you are in a mentor relationship.

These thoughts are normal, but you would be doing yourself a major disservice by not participating. Both being a mentor and getting mentored can do a lot for you and this article sheds light on 3 benefits of mentorship.

Mentorship gives you confidence

Regardless of your title, how much you have accomplished in your career, or your stage in life, everyone can benefit and gain confidence from having a mentor. 

Mentors see something in you that you can’t see in yourself.

Vice versa, being a mentor is an empowering opportunity to see something in somebody else that they didn’t realize was possible.

When you can participate in painting a picture that is so audacious, so ambitious, so impossible sounding to yourself or the person you are mentoring, magic happens. People open their mind to what could be possible and remove the preconceived notions they had about “reality” to try something new and give themselves permission to reach higher. 

Whether you are reaching higher for yourself or helping somebody else achieve this, you begin to own the success of the person you are in a mentoring relationship. By own, you are embodying the emotional highs and lows of trying, failing, learning, and retrying. 

Having somebody there to share these experiences with is extremely gratifying.

You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.

Spending time with a mentor who encourages your success and where you can encourage somebody else’s success increases confidence immensely.

Why do this at work?

You might think that your significant other or a close friend is doing this for you. And if so, that is amazing. But you shouldn’t just have one mentor and if your only mentor is too close to you, they may not feel comfortable challenging you in new ways because they have known you for so long.

A work mentor is close enough to you that they can understand and relate to you but removed enough that they aren’t conditioned by your past and the “reality” of what you think is possible. Essentially, it is easier for somebody slightly more removed from you to help you paint a picture of reality that you currently don’t realize is possible.

Mentorship makes you happier at work

People who participate in mentor relationships build deep bonds with their mentor. There is a chemical in the human brain called oxytocin. This chemical fires and makes us happier when we are around those that we feel connected to.

We spend the majority of our waking hours at work. Yet, only a small percentage of employees have this type of bond with a colleague.

By not participating in a mentor program at work, we are depriving ourselves of potentially enriching relationships that can make us excited to go to work and happier when we come home from work.

You might think “I like having separation of work and personal life.” Participating in a mentor program and having separation between work and life are NOT mutually exclusive. You aren’t sharing your whole life with the entire office and what you share in your mentor relationship is typically confined to topics that are work-relevant while a safe space to convey your personal feelings.

Mentor relationships help build your levels of oxytocin, making you happier at work.

Mentorship makes you more productive

Having a mentor and being a mentor helps you connect with another person at work that you may not have had as much of a deep relationship with before mentorship. This mentor relationship naturally breeds collaboration and innovation.

By learning what another person is doing on a deeper level, their feelings about this work, and where they view their path going in the future, you are able to build a stronger perspective about how your work can collaborate with their work and others in the company. 

Another outcome of mentorship is increased engagement. By understanding the company and the work on a higher level and how another person operates, you are able to expand your mind of what can be accomplished and what you are working towards outside of your personal silo. This increased understanding of your company and opportunities to collaborate from your role increases work engagement and productivity.

In essence, workplace mentorship can have a huge impact on your level of satisfaction with your work. Really good workplace mentor programs will match you with a mentor whose personality and Work Orientation align with yours and provide you with agendas and structure on what to ask and how to grow the relationship in a positive way. 

The best way to reap these benefits is to start. Take the leap and participate and you will begin to see some of these outcomes.

If you are interested in learning more about research on mentor relationships for companies, check out https://ambition-in-motion.com/companies.

Fri 17 January 2020
Building a company culture that is engaging for people to join and work with is not a simple task. Ping pong tables, meditation rooms, free lunches, open work spaces, and open budgets for professional development are nice and have varying degrees of effectiveness, but for this post, the focus is on corporate mentor programs.

Corporate mentor programs are created to connect people on teams together for deeper relationships. When implemented properly, the results can lead to greater employee engagement, productivity, retention, and sense of pride in working for your company.

When not implemented properly, this can lead to people feeling like the mentor relationships are forced, the mentor relationships are taking time away from their typical work, and/or the mentor relationships are giving too much power the more senior participant.

There are 3 types of corporate mentor programs that have great intentions but unfortunately, more often than not, end up with results that are consistent with improperly implemented mentor programs.

Open Door Policy Mentorship

Open Door Policy Mentorship starts with companies that enact an open door policy to encourage employees to meet with each other. The goal is that when an employee would like guidance from another employee, she can feel comfortable going into the office of that other employee and ask for advice.

The reality is that most people don’t take advantage of this Open Door Policy Mentorship. Does this mean that the team isn’t interested in mentoring relationships? Possibly, but probably not (Current research indicates that employees are interested in mentoring relationships. If you are interested in finding out for yourself, you should ask your employees in a survey if they are interested).

So why don’t employees take advantage of this? Because most people don’t feel comfortable opening the door. Whether that be not knowing exactly what to talk about, fearing that what you have to ask isn’t relevant to what that person is working on right now or that you might be interrupting her day, or not feeling like the person would have a good answer for you even if you asked the question.

Ultimately, this type of mentor program becomes lip service for HR to say to prospective candidates to try and lure them to their company through the guise of a culture that cares about your development.

Mentorship from the Executive Team via an employee application process

This type of mentorship starts with the goal of spreading the culture of the company when it was small and only the Executive Team to the employees as the team has grown.

There are 3 issues with this type of mentorship. 

First, the Executive Team doesn’t have the time to mentor every employee. This leads to:

Second, not everyone gets to participate. Trimming down the list of who gets selected to participate in this mentor program is typically accomplished through some form of application process. This leads to:

Third, the Executive Team member participant getting way too much control over the relationship. Mentorship should be mutual, where both participants come with insights to share and receive. When one participant has too much dominance over the relationship, they will typically come to mentor meetings unprepared expecting the other person to drive the agenda of the entire meeting. This leads to one-sided relationships where one person feels like they are only giving and not receiving anything (and can justify showing up unprepared because of their status in the company) and the other person doesn’t know what to ask because they don’t feel like they are contributing anything.

Informal Mentorship

Informal Mentorship is similar to Open Door Policy Mentorship but this is even less structured. At least in Open Door Policy Mentorship, there is a formal policy in place. Informal Mentorship is a term typically used by people in HR that have observed that some people in the office have more than the typical “How was your weekend?” or “How’s your day going?” conversations and assume that both people are having deep, connected conversations in which both people are learning and growing from the relationship.

None of the results from Informal Mentorship can be confirmed because there is no structure to establishing who is in these relationships and how these relationships have effected anyone’s engagement level in the company. 

In conclusion, mentorship can be an extremely effective tool for engaging employees, growing company culture, and increasing productivity if done properly. But, if done improperly, it can lead to the opposite result. 

If you are interested in learning more about research on mentor relationships for companies, check out ambition-in-motion.com/companies.

Wed 18 March 2020
“People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. This is how character is built.”
~ Eleanor Roosevelt


The best way to gain insight into what one’s future career aspirations hope to be is to have a true conversation with someone already established within that field of interest.  Mentees receive a huge benefit from partnering alongside a well-seasoned professional to pick their brains.  Asking a ton of questions around the “why’s” or “how’s” can really open a person’s eyes to where they want to go in life.  

Unfortunately, sometimes this task can be challenging because of the lack of direction there is readily available to young people or individuals looking to shift careers.  Although we would like to see everyone as having sound advice, this is not always the case.  Asking questions of dearly loved or trusted people in our life may seem like the correct step in making good choices around career moves; however, sometimes their advice may not be sufficient.  Though not intentional, friends and family may believe they are offering their real-world experience correctly, but they lack clear direction in the delivery of said experience.

This is why mentees seeking out career-driven individuals can greatly benefit from their streamline, world experience.  Here they are matched up with someone who can give clear direction on what they feel the right steps for that individual should be.  Oftentimes, for people who are well established, they reflect on their past and review areas in their professional journey where they wish they had shifted gears.  Although they do not cry over their spilt milk, experienced professionals sometimes long for that moment when they could have benefited greatly from someone telling them which direction they should have turned or which path they might have chosen against.  Though they are well-established, the experienced individual may look back and say “I have made it, but if only this or that would have happened sooner…” 

Once presented with someone new and fresh to the game, they may feel that this is their chance to shed light on the potential career path ahead.  People like to know their opinions are valued, and to be given the chance to submit their ideas to someone who truly cares about their experience, will enhance what is being communicated.  This will amplify the relationship between the mentor and the mentee and will ensure levels of success from both ends. 
Wed 25 March 2020
Let’s first define what is a mentor. “Mentors focus on providing you sage advice and wisdom gathered through experience and knowledge when you ask for their insight.  Mentors can be considered a library of human knowledge in the particular areas of life they have gained expertise.  Mentors normally focus on providing knowledge, understanding and direction, but have been known to help in your improvement as a person when you allow yourself to become the subject.”

Everyone should have a mentor whether it is professional or personal reasons.  A mentor is someone you can trust and build rapport with because this person will be there for you through the good and bad times.  Encouraging and inspiring along the way, is why a mentor is often confused with a coach.  A coach is different from a mentor in a sense that coaches are not supposed to offer advice as to what a person should be doing.  Coaching concentrates on the person implementing the best strategies to achieve their desired goals.  

The majority of mentor’s volunteer their time and are unpaid when asked to render guidance.  Some benefits to having a mentor is listed below:

  1. Support and encouragement 
  2. Inspiration and guidance
  3. Improve social skills
  4. Career and professional advice
  5. Spiritual advice

My mentor is someone who I met a few years ago after signing up for the mentor/mentee program at our church.  My mentor is someone who has helped me to grow in my business and to expand my career. By having a mentor who is also a business owner like myself, she provides reliable advice to me when making challenging decisions.  I value her opinion and look forward to our daily conversations.  My mentor is someone that I can trust and share my concerns about anything, and I know the advice given to me will be in my best interest. My mentor has encouraged me to do things that I normally would not have had the courage to do if it wasn’t for her believing in me. The experiences and knowledge that she shares with me helps to shape me into a better business leader, mother, and wife. I have learned so much from her over the past 2 years. 

If interested in having a mentor, make sure you are honest with yourself as well as your mentor. The relationship only works if honesty and transparency is at the core.  It is difficult for someone to provide guidance and advice to anyone if the relationship is built on dishonesty.  Also, make a list of what you are looking for in a mentor so when an opportunity to work with a mentor arises, you will know what qualities to seek.  The benefits are unlimited when working with a mentor who understands you both professionally and personally.  Having a mentor to confide in and receiving valuable advice from them is priceless. The opportunity to have a mentor in my life was one of the best decisions I could have made. 
Wed 1 April 2020
Have you ever been in that unique situation? You know the one to which I am referring! You have made a secret decision to go back and further your education, even with your crazy schedule, never thinking you would get accepted! That day comes and you open your email to the words… “Congratulations on your Acceptance into Graduate School!” It is at that moment you wish to have a mentor. Someone who can encourage you, take you under their wing and help you learn new skills.

Mentors can help mentees in several different ways. First off, they can reach out and connect with them because they were on that same path only earlier (furthering their education). They may be in their classes at school and encourage them in a subject in which they are struggling. Secondly, they can reach out and connect with them on LinkedIn; helping them build and/or strengthen their resume and helping them build their network by introducing them to other professionals in the network or tagging them in various posts/events to bring the spotlight on the mentee. 

A major advantage to having a mentor is by helping the mentee in preparing for job interviews by giving mock interviews, helping them nail that interview, improving their interviewing skills, gaining confidence, and giving tips which might mean the difference between a job offer or not.  Mentors can also give emotional as well as professional support.  Many times, even with the best education, grades, and training, professional job offers are difficult to obtain.   For an individual to excel in graduate school and still not be able to acquire that coveted position can be devastating.  Too many “we have decided to move in a different direction…” type letters can cause the newly graduate student or current “almost graduated graduate student,” to rethink their career path and all those student loans.  Mentors have been there, done that, and many times have answers for those questions that are extremely difficult to answer.  

Lastly, a mentor can be a friend.  Someone to answer the tough questions, “am I in the right field,” “am I not dressing appropriately,” “am I too eager,”  all good questions, real feelings, and many times, only a friend can help give that necessary answer.  Mentorship is an important part of today’s professional and academic community – it takes time, commitment and a giving of oneself, but in the end, it is well worth the investment.

Always remember “What it is like on the other side of the desk.”
Wed 15 April 2020
People are an organization's greatest asset. Organizations strive to obtain top-performers and maintain quality performance. Organization mentorship is a critical aspect of recruiting top-performances and maintaining quality performance. A mentor can help an employee ascend great heights in their career and can be a conduit in networking channels. Networking is imperative for access to business opportunities. The best way to ensure you are in the best position in your career and gain opportunities for the future is to have a mentor.

I have several mentors, professionally and personally. Throughout the years, they have assisted me in navigating organizational obstacles, served as advisors for hard decisions, served as a sounding board for venting, and given me access to opportunities. A good mentor empowers mentees to make the best out of their situation, whether it is deciding to apply to another job or finding the best way to approach a workplace situation. The mentorship I have received over the years has been invaluable to me and I don't think I would be where I am today without my mentors' investment in my professional life.

Finding Your Place
Finding your place in a new organization or even an old workplace can be difficult. A mentor can assist you in navigating your way through organizational culture, office politics, and self-evaluation. Organizational culture plays a huge role in the way employees are viewed and valued. Mentors can help employees realize characteristics that are needed to adapt to the organizational culture. Mentors can also assist with self-reflection. Self-reflection can help employees self-regulate and understand other's behavior as well. Employee understanding of behavior can assist in finding their place within the organization. 

I have been in the Army for 17 years and I think I have been pretty successful in finding my place. The Army has a very distinct culture. I relied on my mentors to provide me feedback on how to fit in and adapt to the environment. If I didn't have mentors to lead me along the way, I probably would not have gotten far in my career.

Excelling to Great Heights
Most people want to be successful in the workplace. Excelling to great heights in your career is not only satisfying but helps the organization overall performance. Mentors can be the stairway to achieving great heights. Good mentors have value in their experience and past decisions. Mentees can glean from the guidance mentors provide and use that information to excel professionally and personally. 

I have achieved some great feats. I transitioned from being an enlisted soldier to a commissioned officer (warrant officer). I have completed a myriad of military training and I am currently pursuing my doctorate in business administration. These accomplishments would not have been possible without the input and guidance of my mentors. The valuable insight and experience are what have allowed me to make sound decisions and work through obstacles. 

Network Circles 
Networking is one of the most important things that a professional can do. People rely on relationships to excel in professional and personal aspects. Networking provides employees opportunities to excel in ways that they wouldn't otherwise have a chance to. Mentors can be conduits in different networking circles to facilitate those opportunities. The more networking circles an individual has the better for the chances for the opportunities. 

My mentors have introduced me to a variety of networking circles. These networking circles are not just important now, but for future use as well. As I progress and transition to another career, they serve as stepping stones. Nourishing the network circles is as important as having access to them. If you are fortunate to have access to network circles, make sure you foster the relationships.

Workplace Blueprint Template
Lastly, mentorship provides mentees with workplace blueprint. The workplace blueprint is the type of information that will allow you to understand how your organization works and possibly other organizations. If you change workplaces, the feedback you have received should translate to your new organization. This information can allow you to excel anywhere. Possessing the workplace blueprint will also make you a great mentor for someone else that make need guidance and mentorship. 

I pay it forward by making myself accessible to others for mentorship. I have people that have selected me to be their mentor and people that I have reached out to ask to become their mentor. I have decided to make sure that I pass along the knowledge and feedback that I have received over the years. Hopefully, by now, I have convinced you to seek out a professional mentor and how important it is to have a professional mentor. I have highlighted the importance that mentorship serves in the workplace and in personal growth. Capitalizing on opportunities for mentorship can pay dividends in your future. It did in mine. 
Wed 22 April 2020
A CEO is presented with a problem. The CEO, already too busy with a full schedule, re-assigns this problem to a subordinate under them. That person then passes along to their subordinate. That person, usually supervisor or manager, then re-assigns it to the final individual who is expected to tackle the problem…and unfortunately, that employee doesn’t get the full picture, because they have been kept out of the ALL the prior conversations, from the CEO to their manager. Those conversations are the “meat and potatoes” of the project: the CEO’s expectations…the realizations of what might work and what won’t…Or even how the problem incurred in the 1st place.  They were just instructed to take care of the issue and now have the weight of figuring out the “how” on their own.
 
Effective Leadership is Hampered by Ignorance. TV’s “Undercover Boss” demonstrates this problem very well. Executives go undercover in their own organizations and see first hand how their decisions (which many believed would be beneficial to their organizations) have impacted the workers at the bottom. To put the saying kindly: The garbage always rolls downhill. You can’t accurately assess the performance of a task from the top if you don’t know the process at the bottom. There are people who KNOW things, and there are people that KNOW HOW to do things. Top-Level Executives need to be able to function as both. It is, after all, why they were given the top-level positions they have. But how can they do both? It’s impossible for a top-level leader to KNOW HOW all lower-level employees do their job…and the problem is only magnified in larger companies. So, how can you effectively manage your team if you don’t know the work? 
 
We should forget the days of a Manager / Supervisor / Dire you should have an inside track to your lower-level employees and understand how your decisions impact them. Don’t be afraid to ask the right questions! Run your own progress reports, understanding information is often sanitized by the time it reaches your desk. Ask questions you would not be expected to ask. Expect to hear the good and the bad, and welcome that information. Your company's health is your responsibility. When you purposely ignore these responsibilities, the result can be worse than the individual who created the problem at the lower level. This is how a disaster explodes to take out an entire company. Little communication from the top causes fear amongst the lower level. Fear grows and eats at company morale. Silence from the top affects everyone because we’re all connected.  
 
Inspect what you expect
Wed 29 April 2020
Mentors Help Mentees!
The Scottish author and government reformer, Samuel Smiles, said in 1855, that Alexander the Great valued learning so highly, that he said that he was more indebted to Aristotle for giving him knowledge than to his father Philip for life.

Mentors Are Versatile
Mentors are trusted advisers who train and counsel new employees, or students, in a company, college, or school (Capellini, 2018). Alternatively, they are called a mentor, coach, guide, counselor, teacher, instructor, sponsor, or wise adviser. The descriptions signify many different connotations so that it might be necessary to consult a dictionary for specific clarity. Mentors embrace all aspects of a mentee's life. Whether in college on an educational journey, in search of a career, or merely negotiating life's path, individuals need mentors to provide guidance and leadership. As a substitute, coaches, counselors, or immediate supervisors provide wisdom as needed. Also, college students seeking graduate degrees have advice-givers like a Supervisory Committee, headed by a Chairperson. In all, trained advisers offer support when and where required to help mentees attain professional goals. 

Mentors Are Dynamic
Mentors are specific and straightforward toward mentees. They carefully explore and help develop a mentee's professional leadership qualities, inspire them to assume progressively higher responsibilities for themselves and others they might be associated with, and encourage career pursuits. The mentors' vision and efforts generate mentee improvement and growth. They learn to act on a personal and professional level with their peers, set enhancing performance goals, boost the ability to be candid and honest with themselves and others, and learn how their feelings impact their actions. Mentors also seek positive feedback, a talent essential to strengthening desired behaviors, by controlling or redirecting disruptive impulses and moods, displaying poise and composure, and creating an environment of trust and fairness. 
Mentors use guidance feedback, to help eliminate undesired behavior–aptitudes and reinforce mentor–positive impulses. They listen for whole meanings of statements, look for generalizations or threads of meaning derived from facts, and carefully listen to events to distinguish truth from opinion. Mentors show empathy for the mentee's perspective, emotions, wisdom, concerns, put themselves in the mentees' shoes applying similar experience, never confuse tolerance with sympathy, or feel sorry without understanding the full context. Mentors recognize when a mentee changes the tone of voice, rate, or volume of speech, that it may indicate a lack of assurance about something, or they wish not to be forthright about certain information. Mentors observe issue indicators, the mentees' nonverbal clues, eye contact avoidance, slumping or clenching fists.

Mentee Accountability
Mentees should cultivate resourcefulness, accountability, and the responsibility to be active and productive learners. They should show a desire to learn, objectively access and develop needs, establish clear growth-related goals, openly speak about them, and be responsible for their progress and personal growth. Mentees should take the initiative to schedule advising meetings with their mentor, be receptive to coaching and feedback, maintain a positive and constructive attitude, take advantage of training and growth activities, the assistance offered, and retain confidentiality. Mentees should seek a mentor with similar experience, personality, and availability, and prepare questions to ask their mentor.

Five Mentor Goal Values a SMART Acronym 
  • Specific: Goals should be accurate, straightforward, and begin with action words like coordinate, direct, develop, plan, etc.
  • Measured: Goals should show sizeable criteria for determining progress toward attaining set purposes and measuring results that answer the question, how will I know when the mission is complete?
  • Achievable: Goals should be attainable and challenging but possible and programmed to reach commitment in a reasonable time to prevent disinterest. 
  • Realistic: Goals should be essential and true-to-life but represent an objective toward which both mentor and mentee are willing and able to meet.
  • Timed: Goals should be scheduled, set within a specific timeframe with an endpoint that allows practical work towards a distinct, attainable target. 


Dr. Colonel J. Solis, USMC, Retired
BSBA, BSBA, MBA, Mphil, DBA, Ph.D.(c)
SVA, Executive Director, U. S. Marine Corps

References
Capellini, J. (2018). Final Report, 2018 Marine Corps Community Services Education Center Program Assessment.

Samuel Smiles, December 1812 to April 1904
Fri 1 November 2019
Initial publishing in Forbes.

One of the most important ingredients to career success today is building powerful support relationships with helpful mentors and sponsors. These are individuals with whom you develop mutually-beneficial relationships that can open critical doors for you, offer helpful guidance, and share strategies that will catapult you forward in your life and career.


But just how do we find these mentors and sponsors? I’m asked this question virtually every week by young professionals and seasoned ones as well. I’ve found that there are productive ways to build mentoring relationships, and unsuccessful approaches that fail to generate the results you hope for.


To explore more about this topic, I connected recently with Garrett Mintz who knows a great deal about the life-changing power of mentors. Mintz is the founder of Ambition In Motion which focuses on kickstarting mentorships that help build fulfilling careers. Mintz’s vision is a world where the vast majority of people are excited to go to work and feel that their expectations meet reality when they are at work. His focus is on helping companies build intentional mentor programs within their organizations. Mintz and I recently co-delivered a one-hour training program on How To Network In An Authentic, Genuine Way To Find Great Mentors


Mintz shares below about his own life transformation from teen drug dealer to business founder, and how to build successful mentorship relationships:


Kathy Caprino:
What is Ambition In Motion and why did you found this organization?

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Garrett Mintz:
At Ambition In Motion, we believe that there are two key stakeholders in achieving a mission of fulfilling work for professionals: employers and employees. If we can help employers gain a better understanding of their people and culture and provide them with simple steps on how to manage their people in a way that works with that culture, we can help them increase engagement and retention.


And if we can help employees increase their professional drives and goals throughout their lives, we can put them in the best position to be engaged and fulfilled at work.


Caprino:
How did you get involved in this work? What was your path to this?


Mintz:
I got involved with Ambition In Motion because I recognized that there was a huge problem with the way people view their work that prevents them from experiencing success. When I was a sophomore at the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University, I kept noticing so many of my older friends were in prestigious-sounding jobs and were paid really well, but they hated their work. They kept referring to work as “going back to the grind” or that they were “dreading Monday” and I thought to myself, is all of this “success” a façade? Is it impossible for people to be excited about their work?


In addition, I got involved in this direction because I’ve lived personally and witnessed how having mentors in our lives can transform us.


As a bit of backstory, from age 15-19, I engaged in dealing drugs. At the end of my freshman year, I was arrested in an undercover operation by the Indiana University Police Department. I received 5 felony distribution charges and was expelled from school. I had no idea what I was going to do with my life.


Before that experience, I believed that success would come through my attending college, getting good grades, and landing a great job, and somewhere along those lines I would “find myself”. Well, nobody that I had ever known (whom I considered successful) was a drug dealer, so I either had to accept being a failure or redefine my definition of success.


I chose the latter and have never looked back. After getting in trouble, I enrolled in a program called At The Crossroads which exposed me to the power of mentorship, both personally and professionally. I then landed my first internship after sitting next to a man on an airplane who wanted to take a chance on me and hire me (even after hearing about my past) because of the strong impression I made on him.


After completing At The Crossroads, I got extremely lucky. My felonies were dropped to a misdemeanor conviction, I was re-enrolled at Indiana University, and I was accepted to the Kelley School of Business.


I had lost everything but found a way to get back on track, and on the way back I learned that it is all about the journey, not the destination.


My first step on this path to launching Ambition in Motion was facilitating mentorship between students and alumni so then I could help students gain the confidence to challenge their preconceived notions about how they viewed work. I focused on helping them identify, through educating themselves, a new path in which their expectations for fulfilling work could meet reality.


Caprino:
What have you learned from facilitating all of the mentorships that you have? 


Mintz:
First, and probably most surprising, is that there is very little correlation between successful mentorship and career interest alone.


Just to be clear, successful mentorship in my view is where the student and mentor find the relationship productive and successful. The mentorships I connect young people with involve at least three conversations over a three-month period and the individuals often stay in touch after the formal program is over. The student or young professional achieves his/her goal by the end of the period, and overall they find the relationship engaging and mutually beneficial.


So many mentor programs are setup where there is a big list of professionals from which the student is required to choose a mentor. Most students choose people who are in jobs they desire or certainly fields they aspire to enter. The challenge with this approach is that even if your dream job is to be a financial analyst at JP Morgan Chase, and you connect with a financial analyst at JP Morgan Chase to be your mentor, this isn’t a guarantee for successful mentorship.


What I’ve learned is that when you can find a mentor who is aligned with your desired work orientation, the likelihood of a successful mentorship relationship is greater, even when the fields of the mentor and mentee are very different because you both have shared motivations as it pertains to work. 


From our team’s research, work orientation is about how you view work and what you wish to get from it. The three dimensions of work orientation that we’ve uncovered are:


Viewing work as a job:
High focus on how your work can afford you the life you want to live outside of work


Viewing work as a career:
High focus on professional growth


Viewing work as a calling:
High focus on personal/professional mission alignment


Few people are firmly in just one dimension of this spectrum and few people have the same work orientation throughout their lives (because your work orientation can change based on the task you are working on and your stage in life).


We hypothesize that a big reason for less than satisfying results in a mentorship relationship is that mentors are going to mentor based onwhat they would have wanted to know when they were a student. If work orientation is not in alignment between mentor and mentee, it doesn’t really matter if the mentor works at a student’s dream company. The relationship likely isn’t going to work out or deliver successful outcomes for the mentee.


Caprino:
How can we find great mentors, and then become great mentees?


Mintz:
The first step to finding a great mentor is being open to the idea of having a mentor. Getting a mentor doesn’t mean that you are weak or that you are incapable. In fact, it says the opposite. It shows that you have more to learn and that you are open to learning.


Unfortunately, vulnerability gets a bad reputation (I believe the direct translation of vulnerability in sign language means “weak in the knees”), but I would argue that vulnerability is the component that is most likely to attract mentors. People want to see those who have or are facing tough times succeed. It helps others relate and it also goes counter-culture to the notion that “everything has to be going fantastically well when speaking with others.”


This is part of the reason why I share my story of my drug dealing past with people. It makes it easier for others to relate to me. When an individual can see someone who’s dealt with very hard times and found a way to overcome those challenges, that is when the drive for mentorship thrives.


We become great mentees when we nourish these relationships by having regular conversations and continuously sharing our vulnerable spots and our commitment to growing.


Caprino:
Can this information apply beyond mentorship?


Mintz:
Absolutely! In fact, after we started noticing the trend of successful mentorship being tied to aligning work orientation, we thought to ourselves “could this lead to increased retention and engagement at work?” and this is what we are working on now.


If we can help employers gain a better understanding of their people and culture through helping employees identify their desired work orientation, then provide employees with simple steps to manage their people in a way that aligns with their orientation, we can help them increase engagement and retention. And by helping employees gain a deeper understanding of their own professional drives and goals throughout their lives, we can help put them in the best position to be engaged and fulfilled at work.


Caprino:
How have you seen company culture fit in with doing work we love and will thrive in?


Mintz:
Company culture is not ping pong tables and meditation rooms. Company culture is how you experience the work you are doing and the people you are doing it with. When it comes to work orientation, there is not one right or wrong orientation. Some people I have spoken with mention that they only want people on their team who view their work as a “calling.” But I would argue that having a diverse workforce is essential to a thriving company culture.


For example, people who view their work as a calling are typically most resistant to corporate change and people who view their work as a job are most receptive to corporate change. If you understand what motivates your people, you can manage them in ways that make them feel valued.


On the flip side, as employees, if we can feel like our company cares about the things we care about, we are much more likely to be engaged. If you don’t like the way your coworkers, managers and leaders view work, that is probably a sign that it’s time to look for a different employer.


In short, whether it’s in landing great mentors who can support your growth, or pursuing great jobs at organizations you would be excited to join, understand what matters to you most and what you value in terms of fulfilling work, and keep those values a top priority in all you do.


For more information, visit ambition-in-motion.com.

Building Mentor Connections Through Work Orientation

Kickstarting Mentorships For Fulfilling Careers