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Wed 20 May 2020
In the business world there is a difference between what outsiders or customers believe about the internal operations of a company and how employees view the reality of how things actually operate. I believe knowing who actually makes the decisions, upper management expectations, and what characteristics promote upward mobility in a particular company, are the things that make a mentor invaluable. Mentors can see where you fit in best and where you need improvement. They are able see attributes as well as faults that we may not see or be willing to admit. Mentors are those who are there to provide the truth and not worry about padding your ego; this is all to make mentees better. 

I believe my career would have progressed much differently and faster if I had the benefit of a mentor. I learned the unsaid protocols and the importance of making contacts, and how you deal with individuals the hard way. I later learned that sometimes who you know is just as, or more important, than what you know in some industries. I also learned over time that the way you communicate with people varies by the individual. Personalities vary; therefore, your approach toward each person may also need to vary. This is true for peers as well as for supervisors. These are known as soft-skills, which also include decision-making and networking. I wish I had someone to fill those gaps during the beginning of my career. I later met others who had mentors, or influential individuals, during their career and every response seemed to be similar. They all believed their mentors, or influencers, had a major impact on the success of their careers. 

Here is an example of when I wished I had a mentor. I was working at my agency headquarters and I knew I wanted to get promoted to a position outside of headquarters. I thought all I needed to do was work hard and create quality programs. I eventually found out that I needed to go beyond this by improving my networking skills within the building and within the outer offices. I needed to be known by the “right” people and have a good reputation among those same individuals. I learned you have to have  allies among the decision-makers to get anywhere within my organization. If I had known this earlier, my approach to navigating my career path would have definitely been different.

In order to get and keep mentees on the path to their self-defined success, mentors are there to be encouraging, a sounding board, a trusted advisor, and to nurture the mentee’s personal growth and leadership qualities. Mentors should help mentees realize their potential through candor and tough love to promote self-motivation, self-realization, confidence, and self-discipline. Most of all, mentors are there to share their experiences and keep the mentee from making the same mistakes the mentor made along the way, which become learning lessons without the pain. Mentors are there to help mentees succeed and in return the mentors also benefit because their own skills may improve as a result of the interaction with their mentee. I believe one of the most important aspects of a mentor/mentee relationship is the long-lasting connection that may result from the interactions. A bond that fosters consistent guidance and trust. 
Wed 13 May 2020
I have been a mentor for the last two semesters and have had a total of 3 mentees. Each mentee approached the relationship a little differently but always from a positive standpoint. Each had their own interests and their own perspectives. I found it very rewarding to be able to provide my perspective on many, if not most, of their interests. I think I was able to provide some guidance on going forward with both school and career. One thing I stressed was balancing school and personal interests. Both are needed in my opinion. Too much emphasis in either direction is not the best way to proceed. While in school, schoolwork needs to be the primary interest but it also needs balance with personal activities.

One area that seems universal with all 3 mentees was where to go after graduation. We would discuss their interests and why. Some would have a very good idea of what interested them and what they wanted to pursue while some did not. One thing I stressed to them was that whatever direction they decided to go they had to be able to make a living and pay the bills. It is great to pursue your passion as long as it will result in getting a job that will pay the bills. If your passion will not result in a job that will pay the bills, pick another area of interest that will result in a good paying job.

All 3 mentees were interested in how I decided to become a chemical engineer. In my case it was very logical – I was good at math and science and I was told that being an engineer could utilize my talents. I decided on chemical engineering after entering college when I again looked at what I was good at – math and chemistry. All 3 asked about my co-op experience and my view of co-op. I am very positive on the co-op experience and would definitely recommend it to anyone in engineering school.

Two of the mentees asked about my finances. I do have a limited amount of experience in that area as I studied and took the exam to get a limited broker’s license (Series 6). I did pursue that for a short time but decided it wasn’t for me in the long run. I was able to recommend what I would do if I were them going forward after getting a job from a financial standpoint – first order of business is to put 6 months of living expenses in savings for a rainy day. Second order is participating in a 401(k) savings program thru their employer (if available) and maximizing the company match.

I was able to provide resume review (thru a friend of mine that has a lot of experience in that area) for two of the mentees which both thought was helpful. Other topics were discussed as well depending on the interest of the mentee but the most important ones from my standpoint are listed above. All calls for all the mentees lasted a minimum of 45 minutes with most over an hour. A positive attitude on the part of the mentee and the mentor makes this program very worthwhile for both – it certainly did for me and I would venture to say you would get the same response from the mentees. None of the calls were limited by time – on either end.
Wed 6 May 2020
An encouraging message from Brandon Gaydorus, giving an illustration on how mentors can guard you from making the same old mistakes and learn from others.
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
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 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 8 April 2020
Seeking a mentor in your job, whether it is your first job out of college or the last stop on your career path, choosing the right person can be critical to enjoying a successful time with that company, but also achieving your personal and professional goals. A mentor can be someone who you work directly for, someone you work alongside or even someone who has little bearing on your path but is someone you view with a level of respect for their thoughts and views. A mentor does not have to write your reviews and control your future with the company but should be someone who helps you take control of your own future.

When searching for a mentor, many people look for someone who can and will be able to directly lead them to a higher salary, a desired job title, or the opportunity to lead a project or team. But these are not the things that truly drive a mentor-mentee relationship. Look for someone who will challenge your ideas, always ask to you produce effective solutions to problems and will not let you do anything less than your best. The right mentor will also help you recognize areas you can improve in way that allows you to learn from mistakes or less than ideal turnouts without making you feel as if you failed. A true mentor bases the success of the relationship on you hitting your end goals, goals you have chose for yourself, not ones they have set for you. Don’t grab onto the first person in your new job when you start and ask them to be your mentor; instead, probe around the people near you to find someone that is going to be your biggest advocate for your success.

Last, do not be afraid to move on from a mentor as you transition through your career because each will have their own expiration date as you grow. They do not have to leave your life entirely but may just fold to the background. Eventually you will become the mentor for someone else further down your career path and remember these lessons as crucial to success because they will be the same drivers that guide that relationship, just in reverse.

Mentorship can be one of the most rewarding experiences in a career path, both as a mentor and a mentee, and choosing correctly is a hard, but worthwhile decision to make.
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 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 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.