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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.
Mon 4 May 2020
Steph Curry has mentors that help him with his shot. Can you believe that? The best basketball shooter on the planet has mentors to help him shoot better!? You would think he should be mentoring other people, right? 


Steph has coaches too. And he plays on a team, meets with other players from around the NBA to discuss basketball and life. But he also has mentors.


If you are an executive reading this article, compare yourself, as a leader in your company, to Steph Curry leading his team.


You may have a coach. And you may have an executive team that advises you on company matters, and you may participate in an executive advisory group. But do you have mentors?


This is not meant to offend, but chances are that you aren’t as good of an executive as Steph Curry is a shooter. And even if you were, you should be taking every advantage you can if you want to be the best at your game. So if 2-time MVP, 3-time NBA champion, 6-time All-NBA team Steph Curry thinks he needs a mentor to achieve greatness, then you could probably use one too. 


So, what is a mentor?


A standard definition would say a mentor is simply an experienced and trusted advisor.


But there is clearly more to mentorship than that.


Does being experienced mean they must be older than you?


Does trusted mean that you have worked with them for many years?


Our research indicates that those assumptions about “experienced” and “trusted” are incorrect.


The best mentoring relationships are horizontal. Horizontal mentorships are mentoring relationships where two people are open to learning from each other and being constantly curious, giving their insight to the relationship, and approaching the personal/professional relationship as equals. In this mentorship paradigm, experience and trust are measured in more than just “years”. 


Great horizontal mentorship is built on a mutual perspective on the relationship between work and life. We call this work orientation. Some people view their work as a job (meaning their focus is on work/life balance), career (meaning their focus is on professional growth) or calling (meaning their focus is on personal/professional mission alignment). There is not a right or wrong work orientation and it is fluid, meaning it can change throughout your life.


Work orientation is an important factor in building great mentor relationships. When potential mentors are matched strictly on age, years of experience, status, or area of expertise, the likelihood that the relationship will last for 6 months and be considered productive and quality is 18%. These factors simply aren’t enough.


What if, instead of using superficial features, we matched people based on a deeper connection? When mentors are matched with aligning Work Orientations, the likelihood that the relationship will last for 6 months and be considered productive and quality jumps to 72%.


These relationships become even more successful when work orientation is combined with horizontal mentorship, particularly for company leaders and executives. Horizontal mentorship between executives is a powerful tool for improving yourself and your company. You can relate to similar decisions faced and strategies to consider – even if you are in completely different industries. You can emotionally relate to the stressors of the work and can take a smarter approach when challenging you to grow professionally. Their outside, yet equal perspective provides something that an individual executive’s team or coaches won’t (because that executive controls their pay and job status).


Why should executives have mentors?


1. Have somebody else to help balance the mental load of what an executive is normally carrying.


As an executive, you are faced with a lot of decisions and plans. Even if you are the most organized and well-planned person, your team is spending their full-time working with you in the office, and your only guidance is from your team. It’s difficult for someone to bring a new perspective to you when they are seeing the same things you see – even if they feel comfortable challenging you. Also, you have probably split your team into departments and you or a combination of you and your executives orchestrate the entire operation. Not everyone can relate and help you prioritize what is most important. Someone with a shared work orientation and has similar responsibilities in a different company/industry can help you ease the mental load of what you are facing.


2. Look at challenges from a different lens from somebody completely outside of your industry.


Success leaves clues. But it’s up to you to find them. What was successful in one industry might work in another. If you are an executive and your network is insulated and rarely expanding, you will only surround yourself with the same thinking. Finding new mentors and continuing to build relationships with current mentors will help you expand your problem-solving abilities.


3. Be able to emotionally attach and disengage.


A mentor is not a spouse. A mentor is close enough to you that they can understand and empathize but distant enough from you that you can make mistakes with what you say or how you phrase something without it backlashing. You can technically fire your spouse, but that’s a relationship that you probably don’t want to fire if you don’t have to. It is okay for you to have a mentor relationship with somebody for 6 months and then if you decide you don’t like their advice anymore begin to grow distant. You can always pick that relationship back up again if you would like. 


What are common objections from executives for why not to have mentors?


1. I don’t have the time for mentors.


Are you working in the business or on the business? Executive mentors can help you work on the business. As a leader, you need to be thinking ahead and willing to do the work now so that your job will be easier later. If your job is to cut down trees, going at it day after day with a dull axe isn’t working hard, it’s working poorly. Mentorship helps you sharpen your metaphorical axe; neglecting your toolkit means you are neglecting your work, even if you think you can’t make the time.


2. I already have mentors.


How did you find your mentors? From the circles you actively connect with and run in? If you all hear the same things, are given similar advice, and trying the same strategies, are your mentors giving you anything new? Or are they just confirming what you already know? Finding executive mentors outside of your circle will make you see your blind spots. 


3. I don’t need mentors.


This sort of response typically comes from a place of ego. Anyone who says this is conveying that they have learned everything and there is no room for them to grow. Which, paradoxically, is proof that they in fact still have plenty more to learn. The knowledge and experience gained from an executive mentor is simply irreplaceable. As I stated at the opening of this blog: chances are, you are no Steph Curry (in your field). The best of the best are that way for a reason. Success leaves clues and this one isn’t buried that deep.      


Every executive will benefit by cultivating a group of strong, diverse mentor relationships, especially ones outside of their industry and normal sphere of influence. The diversity of thought that comes from these types of relationships lead executives to make massive breakthroughs in their businesses, and within themselves mentally and emotionally. What’s your excuse?
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
Mon 27 April 2020
When a company implements a new employee-to-employee horizontal mentorship program, this can feel like a big first step towards progress! However, impactful mentorship is not Field of Dreams; just because you built it, it doesn’t mean that employees will see ‘magical’ changes overnight. It takes more than a basic mentorship program to develop engaged employees and achieve the desired goals you have for the mentor program and the company as a whole. 


This article offers my perspective on the importance of semi-structured meeting agendas as a driving force for effective, impactful mentorship, regardless of the personalities of the people participating.


Our conventional wisdom tells us that “if two people are extroverted, they are naturally going to hit it off. Structured meetings will just get in the way of natural conversation!”


This conventional wisdom is wrong.


Extroverts get their energy from being around other people. We expect two extroverted people to have an easy path to conversation, but this doesn’t account for a key issue: how productive is what they are discussing? Is their discussion casual, like sports, weather, or family? Or, is their discussion about the obstacles they are facing at work and having a dialogue about how to make their work more productive and personally fulfilling?


People may be able to gain value from any conversation, true. But, more likely than not, these casual conversations are superficial and not particularly substantive. The reason for this is because people feel comfortable discussing things that they either see on a daily basis or that they don’t have control over but are generally interested in. We are used to these conversation topics. When anyone ever asks, “how are you doing?” it is typically followed by these superficial talking points. 


Casual conversations are low risk, low reward. Few people have revelations when discussing whether the Lakers will make the playoffs. These conversations are comforting and valuable, but they are simply no substitute for challenging discussions and self-reflection. 


On the flip side, deep conversations are rarer for a reason. Talking about work obstacles and challenging your fears about what’s possible in your professional career is uncomfortable! We are forced to be vulnerable. These conversations do drive profound outcomes, but without an agenda keeping people on track, we can unintentionally deviate back to those comfortable, superficial topics.  


Falling back to comfortable conversation isn’t just a risk for extroverted people; introverts can face their own challenges during a mentorship program. One might assume “if two people are introverted, they can figure out a mentor meeting without an agenda. They are professionals and their introversion will make them more comfortable.”


Again, this conventional wisdom falls flat. Ask introverts if they would feel comfortable with this and most will say no. This is typically the assumption extroverted people have about introverted people.


The issue is that the people that are most interested in starting company-wide mentor programs are typically extroverts. Introverts just typically don’t share that same type of self-sustaining drive for more social interaction; they recharge their ‘mental energy’ in different ways. 


But, this doesn’t mean that introverts are disinterested in mentorship!


Instead, when an introvert participates in a mentor program, they might be more likely to have some anxiety or skepticism about meeting somebody they (typically) have minimal interaction with. They need to feel confident and come to the meeting with a plan: How long is the meeting? What are the topics for discussion? How can they be sure that this meeting will be impactful to them? 


Meeting agendas accomplish this goal. Meeting agendas give introverted people the safety net of a plan of action. They know that the discussion will be meaningful, that the conversation won’t be open-ended without a set end time, and that the other person (their mentor) shares this plan.


Implementing a mentor program is a huge first step towards building a stronger, more positive company culture and breaking through communication barriers.


But just having a mentor program doesn’t mean that the company is accomplishing their goals. Improvement takes active effort; the communication barriers and dysfunctional turnover are not going to magically disappear overnight. Employee engagement and positive company culture doesn’t appear by flipping a switch.


Unfortunately, many companies start (and end) these efforts with the idea of “let’s start a mentor program!” and simply call it a day. They might ‘match’ employees, but randomly. They might give suggested topics, but not meeting agendas. Instead of creating an impactful mentorship program for their company, they simply checked another box for their year-end review and assumed the benefits had already materialized. 


Providing mentor meeting agendas is one very important piece of building a strong, thriving employee horizontal mentorship program that connects with every employee, regardless of personality. 



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
Thu 16 April 2020
'
During this video, we introduce the Ambition In Motion mentor program and then interview Yvonne Heath to discuss how college students and professionals can prepare for their first internship, as well as discuss Yvonne's professional experiences and mentor relationships. The host of this video is Ambition In Motion's founder, Garrett Mintz.

What is the purpose of an internship?
What is the purpose of a first job out of college?
How can somebody properly set their expectations so then they can anticipate what is to come from an internship or job? E.g. how can somebody minimize negative surprises from work?
How do you prepare for potentially stressful situations at work?
Does your work or your professional interests ever pull you in different directions? How do you stay on task and focused?
Who should I really make an effort to impress in the job?
Is it worth my time or effort to take on additional responsibilities even though they aren’t required of me?
Does it make sense for me to meet people outside of my cohort while in an internship or in my first job?
Do you have any stories of times in which somebody you met (can be in the workplace or outside of it), where you weren’t expecting anything, turned out to have amazing insight for you and/or really helped you out?
Is it important that you treat everyone you meet, especially in the workplace, with respect and kindness? E.g. have you ever known a situation where somebody who was lower than you, or somebody you knew, on the totem pole at one company, ended up rising up the ladder at another company really quickly and then you, or the person you knew, ended up working for them?
Is it important that your supervisor sees you being productive? If so, why is that important?
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 15 April 2020
'
During this video, we introduce the Ambition In Motion mentor program and then interview Hallie Crawford to discuss how professionals can handle conflict at work, as well as discuss Ashley's professional experiences and mentor relationships. The host of this video is Ambition In Motion's founder, Garrett Mintz.

Did you or have you ever struggled with communicating about conflict?
Have you ever worked with someone that you didn’t see eye to eye with?
Is it possible to continue working with those people?
Who do you talk to about the conflict to sort your thoughts out?
What are some of the most common conflicts in the workplace?
What is a leadership conflict? E.g. when there are multiple bosses who hold the same rank diving differing instructions. How do you handle that?
How do you handle a situation in which you are relying on somebody else’s work to get your tasks complete? Can you set expectations early? If so, how do you properly do that? What if you drop the ball on the expectations you set for the other person?
If somebody has a different work style as you, how do you handle ensuring there is productivity, even if you both go about accomplishing the same task in different ways? 
How would you suggest people handle cultural-based differences in the workplace? E.g. people with different backgrounds, cultures, or social norms as you, how do you handle that? Especially for international business.
How do you handle personality clashes? How would you suggest people handle that?
Tue 14 April 2020
'
During this video, we introduce the Ambition In Motion mentor program and then interview JT McCormick to discuss how college students and professionals can prepare for their first internship, as well as discuss JT's professional experiences and mentor relationships. The host of this video is Ambition In Motion's founder, Garrett Mintz.

What is the purpose of an internship?
What is the purpose of a first job out of college?
How can somebody properly set their expectations so then they can anticipate what is to come from an internship or job? E.g. how can somebody minimize negative surprises from work?
How do you prepare for potentially stressful situations at work?
Does your work or your professional interests ever pull you in different directions? How do you stay on task and focused?
Who should I really make an effort to impress in the job?
Is it worth my time or effort to take on additional responsibilities even though they aren’t required of me?
Does it make sense for me to meet people outside of my cohort while in an internship or in my first job?
Do you have any stories of times in which somebody you met (can be in the workplace or outside of it), where you weren’t expecting anything, turned out to have amazing insight for you and/or really helped you out?
Is it important that you treat everyone you meet, especially in the workplace, with respect and kindness? E.g. have you ever known a situation where somebody who was lower than you, or somebody you knew, on the totem pole at one company, ended up rising up the ladder at another company really quickly and then you, or the person you knew, ended up working for them?
Is it important that your supervisor sees you being productive? If so, why is that important?
Mon 13 April 2020
'
During this video, we introduce the Ambition In Motion mentor program and then interview Ashley Fontaine to discuss how college students and professionals can prepare for their first internship, as well as discuss Ashley's professional experiences and mentor relationships. The host of this video is Ambition In Motion's founder, Garrett Mintz.

What is the purpose of an internship?
What is the purpose of a first job out of college?
How can somebody properly set their expectations so then they can anticipate what is to come from an internship or job? E.g. how can somebody minimize negative surprises from work?
How do you prepare for potentially stressful situations at work?
Does your work or your professional interests ever pull you in different directions? How do you stay on task and focused?
Who should I really make an effort to impress in the job?
Is it worth my time or effort to take on additional responsibilities even though they aren’t required of me?
Does it make sense for me to meet people outside of my cohort while in an internship or in my first job?
Do you have any stories of times in which somebody you met (can be in the workplace or outside of it), where you weren’t expecting anything, turned out to have amazing insight for you and/or really helped you out?
Is it important that you treat everyone you meet, especially in the workplace, with respect and kindness? E.g. have you ever known a situation where somebody who was lower than you, or somebody you knew, on the totem pole at one company, ended up rising up the ladder at another company really quickly and then you, or the person you knew, ended up working for them?
Is it important that your supervisor sees you being productive? If so, why is that important?

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