Heather Elitou
Sep 29 · 8 min read

A mentor can help you see the value in your ideas, and they can tell the voices in your head to “quiet down.”

Photo by mentatdgt from Pexels

Throughout my life, I have encountered many mentors but there are two that made the greatest impact in my life.

In high school, I was introduced to my mentor, Ms. Rodriquez, who was the office manager and principal assistant. As part of a mentorship program, I was required to work in the school office for a few hours a week so I could learn the ropes of operating an office.

I had my hopes on working in a law office, but luckily for me, there was no availability. It was my pleasure to be Ms. Rodriquez protege because she was not only a mentor but also a bonus mom. She took every available moment of her day to teach me office etiquette. From answering the phone to ordering supplies from the vendor, I learned from the best.

When we ate lunch together, she helped me map out my plans that included going to the prom, what college to attend, and where I planned to work for the summer.

Unfortunately, I lost contact with Ms. Rodriquez, but I will never forget her message of encouragement and showing me that respect and courtesy towards others would always work in my favor.

One of my greatest mentors is my husband who has been an entrepreneur for more than 40 years and his expertise have always shaped my learning experiences. He has always listened to my ideas and given me sound advice that helped me make decisions that not only helped my career but also supported me as a mother. For that, I am forever grateful.

Knowing how it important it was for me to have mentors, I wanted to speak with other women who also experienced the value of mentorship. Here are their stories.

My mentor helped me completely shift into a new career. I walked away from a $25,000 teaching bonus to become an entrepreneur, and although it was scary at the time, I’ve made so much more in return for that brave decision. I exceeded my teaching income within one year, and finally felt I was living my mission to help women cultivate their dreams.

We often can’t see ourselves the way other people see us, so it helps to have a mentor who can listen, reflect, and hold you accountable as you grow. It’s important to have an open space to hash out business ideas and concerns with someone who’s been there before.

-Liv Chapman, Professional Certified Coach and co-founder of Inner Glow Circle

Photo Courtesy of Soo-Jin.com

Starting your own business is a learning process. While you celebrate many great decisions you make for your company, you also learn from your mistakes. If you’re fortunate enough to have mentors advising and supporting you, they can validate your decisions or guide you to make better ones.

I found mentorship to be a key factor in building my career and growing my business. When I started my first company, I worked with a wonderful mentor and I can confidently say I don’t know how I would have accomplished what I have without him. He acted as my sounding board, listened to my ideas, and asked questions to help me think things through ideas before making important decisions.

Additionally, my mentor helped me out with social networking. He was an experienced businessman with an extensive network, and he offered me access to senior decision-makers that helped me along the way.

Having someone who has no self-interest in your company and is willing to lend their guidance, experience, and support is invaluable to every woman and her business.

-Soo-Jin Behrstock, CEO of Soojin.com

I have been very lucky to have several mentors throughout the years, all of whom were women. They contributed to my success because they helped me develop my strengths and improve my weaknesses. Most importantly, they didn’t micromanage and fostered an environment where you can speak your mind and bring new ideas to the table. Their guidance and support helped me become a better worker and a better boss, which contributed to where I am today.

I now mentor because I can help guide or ground someone in today’s chaotic world. I also benefit from mentoring because you must always be willing to learn.

-Beatrice Purdy, President of Measure and Made

I started a global branding and marketing firm 18 years ago with the help of great mentors throughout my career. In my corporate life, I had bosses, senior women or alums from my alma mater who took me under their wings to help me advance and show me the ropes.

As a small business owner, mentors can also be an invaluable source of inspiration, advice, and can help you avoid rookie mistakes (with hiring, fundraising, etc.). They can also make key introductions so that you avoid getting burned by service providers or potential investors who have mixed reputations.

As a mentor, I learned that it is important to keep an open mind. Don’t make conclusions too early because it takes time to get to know each other and for interests and preferences to materialize.

-Paige Arnof-Fenn, founder & CEO of Mavens & Mogul

Every person needs someone that fuels their drive and passions. My mentors, who range from high school instructors to fellow business owners, helped me navigate my business and expand it further.

When I look deeply at my journey, I find it humbling that there have certainly been a substantial amount of people who have a major effect on where I am today. I learned to be patient from my mother and a boss from my father. I learned to be articulate from my brother and well-read from my sister. I’m good with my hands because of my ceramic’s instructor and a good business owner because of my first employer. Individually, these people lit a flame of motivation that grew to become courage and discipline.

As a businesswoman we are met with many difficulties, so you must surround yourself with the right people. A good mentor will instill confidence so that you can achieve your goals, and lend you a sheath of positivity. If you view your world through their lens, you’ll achieve great things.

-Dr. Rhonda Kalasho, DDS, Glo Modern Dental

Photo Courtesy of SWPR- Photographer Matt Korahais

Mentors are an essential part of career success and happiness, especially in today’s rapidly shifting workplace and the gig economy where so much of what you make of your career is totally up to you.

My dad is my superhero mentor who has 100% influenced the course of my career. We share a background in creative agencies. Owning and managing a business can be a lonely endeavor. You have big wins and big losses, and if you’re lucky enough to do it for a long time, you’ll inevitably lack confidence at points along the way. My dad has been there to help me navigate the speed bumps and highs and lows of my career, whether dealing with a challenging client, determining the direction I want to take my business or in a creative funk, talking with my father has always helped me get unstuck.

-Stephanie Wolf, Founder & Principal of SWPR

My mentor, Liz Tumulty, former President of the CBS television network, has been valuable as I grow and lead my business.

When Liz approached me about being my mentor, the one requirement she had was that one day, I pass it on and offer mentorship to another woman. I became a mentor to Julie Burton, founder of ModernWell, after seeing her wrestle with decisions I also had to make when starting my business. We talk about everything from how a growing business impacts family to her next big move.

There are conflicting messages about where women should spend their time, at home or work, and things like social media are not helping make it easier. Mentorship can help businesswoman see past the social norms society has placed on us. A mentor can help you see the value in your ideas, and they can tell the voices in your head to “quiet down.”

-Kristi Piehl, Founder Media Minefield

Entrepreneurship is tough and my mentors have become my confidential sounding board, thinking room, and support through complex decisions.

My mentors gave me the insight to look beyond temporary issues faced by a startup and helped me focus on building a grander vision for it. With my mentors, I have the opportunity to openly discuss differing viewpoints and merge on common grounds quickly.

-Charlene Consolacion, Founder, and CEO of Biig

Every person willing to start a business venture can benefit from having a mentor or someone who has experience and is willing to share their thoughts on the journey of entrepreneurship.

When I started my business, I looked to female entrepreneur, Tracy Clark, who runs a chain of successful fair-trade coffee shops. When she started, she quickly expanded her chain to 22 locations and earned about $50M in revenue. She has always been honest and open about her successes and failures, her profitability, and her tactics to becoming successful. She was a true inspiration.

-Tonya Bruin, CEO of To Do-Done

Are you a mentor or have you worked with a mentor? We want to hear about your experience.

Black Ruby Magazine

A conversation for Women 40+

Heather Elitou

Written by

As a ghost writer, she helps many authors tell their story to the world. As a writer, she shares her stories to help others think deeper than the internet.

Black Ruby Magazine

A conversation for Women 40+

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