Mentor Me: How Mentorships Make Us Better and Happy
Slide 1: My first mentor was a retired Military
Officer by the name of Mike Holder. One day,
he came to give a talk to my school to recruit
kids to learn to do this:
Slide 3: but that I’d have to attend leadership
classes every semester as part of the
curriculum. He promised that what I would
gain from those courses would have a positive
impact, no matter what I decided to do in life.
Slide 4: Four years later, I ended up as a cadet
company commander, leading a group of 250
talented individuals. It was an amazing
experience, and I later received a nomination
to the US Military Academy at West Point.
That was a direct result from my very first
mentorship that taught me discipline and
leadership skills. It also gave me a fantastic
opportunity to mentor other students coming
into the program.
Learning to become a leader and to then
mentor others brought me happiness early on
in life. Had it not been for mentors like Mike
Holder, I would not be here today.
Slides 5‐8: There’s a point to this short story.
And that is, mentoring can also bring about
the opportunity to learn key skills and achieve
something, as well as the ability to increase
creativity. The movie and TV industry has used
a number of storylines that are focused
between mentor and mentee
Slide 10: Take a moment to think about when
someone in has ever inspired you. Did they
encourage you to aim higher, motivate you to
succeed, or share words of wisdom with you?
If you’ve know someone who has done this for
others, they’re a great candidate to be a
mentor! That could also be you!
For those potentially looking for a mentor– ask
yourselves, “would I want to be mentored by
Now, I want everyone else to ask themselves,
“Would I want to mentor someone?”
Slide 11: The honest answer is, you will most
likely decide to enter in a mentorship because
you have a strong point of reference with an
You say to yourself, “I have something in
common with that person.” Or you’ve thought,
“This person reminds of me of when I was
starting out in my career.” That’s having a
point of reference – It’s what makes the
mentorship feel natural – it’s also a reason
people feel happy when they’re in a
Slide 12: Now, this doesn’t mean you need to
have a similar professional or academic
background, but rather a common purpose –
a shared goal that results in a connecting
similarity. And it’s this connecting similarity
with your mentor or mentee that establishes a
great foundation and start to your mentoring
Slide 13: There are several other reasons
people enter mentorships. People often
decide to mentors others because they may
have also had a mentor themselves. Mentees
want someone in their corner to constantly
push them to succeed. If you can relate to any
of these characteristics, you’re hopefully in a
mentorship now. If not, think about who you
have a connecting similarity with and start the
Slide 14: So where does the creativity part
come in? Let me tell you about a study that
was done in the mid‐90s by two researchers
from the University of Illinois, who found a
correlation between mentor support and its
impact on a mentee’s creativity.
Slide 15: In other words, when mentors are
supportive of their mentees, creativity is
increased, as seen in this very complex chart.
Okay, so not necessarily groundbreaking.
Support your mentee, and they can succeed.
Slide 16: But here’s the interesting thing. The
study also found that creativity among
mentees had increased as a result of what’s
called intrinsic motivation. What that is…is a
mentee’s self‐determination to accomplish
Slide 17: That self‐determination is what then
boosts levels of interest in work activities, and
thus, an increased level in creativity among
Slide 18: The study also links four things to developing intrinsic
motivation: One, ongoing encouragement and assurance. Two,
feedback. Three, an open dialogue to voice opinions and
concerns And four, opportunities to facilitate the development
of skills. Mentors that create an environment with these things
in mind, will help mentees gain the self‐motivation they need to
increase creativity in the workplace.
Slide 19: Let me give you an example as
context. I have a team that delivers a lot of
information in PowerPoint. However, it can
sometimes be difficult to motivate others in a
room with the standard PowerPoint tools,
especially when dealing with many numbers.
Clients see the science, but they often miss
the art. So, we decided to start using
Photoshop as a new tool for communication.
We had never used Photoshop to build our
presentations, so it was new to our team.
Slide 20: My goal, then, was to mentor during
the learning process and provide
encouragement, give feedback, and address
concerns during the development of new
skills. After a few weeks, our presentations
became visually stronger. It was amazing
work! Here are just a few examples.
Slide 21: I want to share with you what I think
is the cardinal rule for mentors to follow, and
that is to instigate. Mentors, it’s important
that you continually ask questions, and
provide alternatives in order to push your
mentees’ thinking. Mentees will tend to think
for themselves when you put them in
situations where they have to think.
Slide 22: As a mentor, be prepared to ask the
hard questions. Your mentee, in turn, will then
learn to look at things from multiple angles.
Never tell them something won’t work.
Rather, ask them, is this the right solution?
Even if so, what are other solutions? Current
and would‐be mentees, try and look at things
from all the angles and proactively share these
with your mentor. It’s an excellent way to
show creativity in your thinking!
Slide 23: So, how do we address the need of
individuals wanting to be mentored, many of
which are part of today’s millennial
Slide 24: The Bureau of Labor Statistics
predicts that by 2015, Millenials will overtake
the majority representation (51%+) of the
workforce, and will account for 75% of the
workforce by 2030. We have a great
opportunity to work with these individuals,
who seek guidance from managers,
executives, and other top level talent in order
to grow their skills.
Slide 25: So what does this group seek in
mentorships? Ultimately, millennials want
help navigating their career path; they seek
guidance through feedback, and sponsorship
for formal development programs. This
younger generation also places high value on a
flexible schedule that provides a work/life
Slide 26: Also, when you mentor a young
millennial, look to give them give on‐demand
feedback. Let them know how they can
improve and be better right away.
Slide 27: Not surprisingly, today’s young
professionals often use text and instant
messaging as a primary means of
communication at work, and presents an
opportunity to deliver what’s called nano‐
feedback. One thing you can do is send a text
message at the end of the day to congratulate
a mentee on a job well done.
Slide 28: Texts act as quick notes that provide
encouragement when a day may have been
particularly challenging or rough. When giving
feedback, I personally like to send a photo of
my notes that I took during a meeting – I snap
a quick picture and send it as a photo message
– I can get back to them quickly and it doesn’t
interrupt my mentee’s flow of work.
You can also give them the classic short, hand‐
written note. Do what works for the both of
you. No matter what approach you decide to
take, it’s easy to do deliver these small doses
of feedback, words of wisdom, a bit of
motivation, or just to say “good job today.”
As a mentor, this small but significant detail
shows your mentee that you continue to
believe in their progression, while adding a
Slide 29: Above all, the best way to
communicate with your mentor or mentee is
to talk to them in‐person! Nano‐feedback
doesn’t replace live, ongoing dialogue. For
those in current mentorships, see if you can
increase your in‐person interaction with your
mentee. Just two hours a day during a typical
work year equates to roughly 522 hours of
mentoring. Think of what you can teach or
learn during that time!
Slide 30: Sometimes, mentors have a special
kind of mentee, called a protégé. I want to tell
you the story of my protégé.
Slide 31: This is Marissa Dean. She’s one of the
smartest people I’ve had the opportunity to
mentor and work with. We’ve chosen to enter
in a mentorship to provide her with
opportunities to become a leader among her
team and among others within the agency. We
have an established mutual trust that allows
us to work collaboratively yet operate with
great freedom. She proactively asks for
feedback in order to improve, and is
intrinsically motivated to find ways to increase
her creativity on the job.
Slide 32: Our mentorship began four years go.
And during the last 18 months, we’ve worked
together to improve her presentation skills.
Today, she’s a fantastic presenter who enjoys
speaking to people and telling a story. She
continually brings fresh and new ideas to the
table that deliver value for her clients and our
Slide 33: Marissa has also realized the
importance of mentoring, and knows how to
have fun in the process. This is her prepping
her team for client presentations – she’s
providing feedback and encouragement to
motivate others prior to their presentation
meetings. And her personal mentorship has
brought about happiness in her career and in
The best part of all is that she continues to
surprise me in what she is capable of, and one
day, she’ll be in my shoes. I’m convinced that
she’ll do my job better than I ever could, and
it’s why I choose to continue mentoring her.
She’s going to keep carrying on the torch. She
believes in mentoring and to me, as her
mentor, my happiness is achieved when I see
Marissa grow, to become one of tomorrow’s
Slide 35: I want to leave you with a mental
model for five important things that both
current or would‐be mentors and mentees can
do to become more creative, innovate, and
increase happiness in their careers.
Slide 36: For mentors: Find someone to
mentor who is willing to take a risk, someone
who isn’t afraid to make mistakes and learn
from them. Also, make yourself available.
Mentees will know you are busy, but if you
make it clear that you are accessible, he or she
is more likely to come to you with issues they
want guidance on or help with. If you want to
be a mentor, make the time to be a mentor!
For mentees: be proactive and ask for
guidance. The goal isn’t to show a mentor that
you know it all; it’s to show him or her that
you’re always thinking, that you have assessed
the situation or thought of an idea or solution,
and then asking what your mentor thinks.
Mentorships are based heavily on that
principle. Also, be willing to listen. If you aren’t
listening, then you aren’t teachable, and can’t
be mentored. So keep an open mind and ear!
Finally, for both mentors and mentees: trust
each other wholeheartedly. There needs to be
mutual trust as a foundation for growth.
So, now you’re ready to ignite a mentor me
culture. With your current or future mentor or
mentor, your team, or even your entire
organization. Be an example of a mentorship
that provides increases creativity and
ultimately happiness, in your career and in the
Slide 37: I leave you with a challenge, and a
call to mentor someone. If we are going to
keep the fire alive in what we do in our
professions, and if we want that passion to
reside in those we mentor, then we need to
act now and rise to the occasion.
Think about that young rising star, or that hard
working employee with the potential to grow
with your guidance. To those starting their
career, learn from your leaders and seek out a
mentorship with one of them.
Now is the time to be happy by entering a
mentorship. And I hope you’ll join me in doing
so. Thank you.