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Mentors: Essential for Growth

 This month MyApricotHill.com celebrates National Mentoring Month by featuring the efforts of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, an organization that for one hundred years has worked to connect adults with children in mentor-child relationships.  Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) has lifted millions of children from struggle to success while fostering lifelong bonds of friendship with their respective mentors.

Mentoring, as an action, has been paramount to me throughout my life and career.  Serving as a role model and mentor to countless young people has made me proud and filled my life with enduring friendships.  Mentoring is simple and rewarding.

My first BBBS experience was as a Big Sister to Rashaan during my college years in Rhode Island.  Post-college I had the good fortune to be mentored by some amazing, smart and successful women, and men, in New York and Washington.  During the Reagan years I began to mentor interns and staff on my own.  I am proud to have mentored dozens of creative, smart and driven young people helping them to fine-tune their focus, harness their strengths and develop their professional and cultivate inter-personal skills as they set out on as they were building careers and growing as adults.

Today I am proud of my “alumni” network and thankful for their friendship.  It’s inspiring to open Outlook to find an email advising me that the way we “handled a client crisis,” “executed an event,” “facilitated a partnership agreement,” “organized a project” or “managed a peer” served as the blueprint for how they handled a situation in their current business environment.

They say imitation is the most sincere form of flattery.  They are correct. But at the end of the day a core set of values and a subscription to time-tested business principles is what you need to succeed.  However, don’t ever undervalue common sense and street smarts.  They go a long way too.

  • Organize. Set a personal protocol for time management.
  • Balance.  Find the place where laughter and love trump schedules and spreadsheets.  Set a goal to get there.
  • Lead, don’t reign. Although you may want to smile and wave from your balcony, participate in the process alongside your employees and peers.
  • Let your brain catch up before you open your mouth.
  • Play fair, be responsive.
  • Hail Sam Walton! Return calls and answer emails before you leave the office each day.
  • Don’t ask anyone to do something you would not do, or have not done, yourself.
  • Anticipate problems.  Pre-think solutions.  Don’t be caught off-guard.
  • Be decisive when it matters.  Be flexible when necessary.
  • People can be mean.  Women are meaner than men. People will be jealous.  Rise above it.  Do your best.  Shine like a star in a clear night sky.
  • Workplace bullies compensate for their own deficiencies, most are insecure.  Stare them down, don’t confront them (they thrive on confrontation), work around them.
  • Ideate, evaluate then initiate.  Successful brands and reputation need building blocks.
  • Know your audience.  Understand who they are.  Set and meet your own expectations, then exceed theirs.
  • Girl and Boy Scouts got it right.  Be prepared; for everything and anything.
  • Santa knows best. Make a list, check it twice.  Go ahead, check it three times.
  • Excellence is what we aspire to.
  • There’s nothing remotely wrong with love, laughter, sarcasm and wine.

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