It Starts with One

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about mentors and how they’ve affected my life. More than a year ago Silvia de Sousa delivered an excellent presentation at one of our Business Breakfasts. Her words of wisdom continue to inspire me. These 10 points from that event clicked for me:

  1. Mentors are important, find them wherever you can.
  2. We need to “brag” about ourselves and take credit for the good work we’ve done. Don’t add “but…” when someone gives you a compliment.
  3. Practice networking and have real conversations. There isn’t one way to network, your personality will determine the style that works best for you. Concentrate on building trust and relationships with others and find the most fruitful events to attend where you can really leverage the opportunity to get to know someone.
  4. Don’t just join a board for an organization you are passionate about; volunteer on a committee to do hands-on work and form real connections. This will provide you with an opportunity to demonstrate your skills.
  5. Use resources to learn how to speak up (such as Toastmasters and WECM) and keep doing it – you will get better!
  6. We are our own worst enemies. You need to have confidence and exude it to excel. Ignore the tendency to think otherwise. Do your best to push through the anxiety of not knowing everything, recognize the ‘Fraud’ or ‘Imposter’ syndrome when it surfaces and know that you are good enough. “The natural result of low confidence is inaction.”
  7. Learn how to negotiate effectively.
  8. Push through the desire of working to perfection and learn when to recognize when you’ve done enough.
  9. Develop a plan to get where you want to go and share this plan with others.  You have to let people know what you want otherwise they won’t know where you’re headed.
  10. Work hard.

These points made me think about the amazing mentors I have had in my life so far. In every job, I have learned new things from great women who were willing to share their expertise with me. In my very first job, Myrtle made the biggest impression by teaching me how to be a good office administrator. She taught me what to wear, how to address people and important admin tips to effectively run an office. At this point, the business world was new to me and I really appreciated having someone to look up to and discuss issues with.

Since then, Cathy taught me about teamwork and the importance of supporting the people you are working with while Aileen taught me how to speak out and stand up for myself. In my volunteer work, mentors have taught me the importance of patience and confidence.

I have learned so much from other women entrepreneurs. Every woman has the potential to be a good mentor. I was reminded today that we can share our knowledge and experiences with other women through It Starts With One Be Her Champion.

– Cathie Clement