This story was written by Malati Marlene Shinazy
I read once that successful people have at least one mentor in their career. Sounded like a great formula: Get a mentor; become successful. So, when I was a young boomer, I went hunting for a mentor.
George F. Simons is an expert in the field of diversity and cross-cultural communication. His list of accomplishments is long and impressive. By the time I met him, he had written books, developed award winning training games, taught at universities and had a thriving international consulting and training practice.
As is typical for me, I just called him up and asked if he would be my mentor. I was thoroughly shocked when he agreed so readily. He had but one requirement: I make a commitment to myself and to the field of diversity to learn everything he had to offer. What I didn’t realize at the time was, he was offering to share with me literally everything he knew.
Each day for an entire summer, I drove two hours round trip over a notoriously twisty mountain highway to spend time with him. I absorbed all the information, knowledge and nuances of insight I could… The experience was simultaneously thrilling and formidable.
And, I swear… I grew from a newbie into a junior expert in just a few months. This one change in my life had to be the reason: George was mentoring me.
When I decided I was ready to strike out on my own, I put into practice everything George taught me… Voila, I became successful too. — Actually, I was more than a bit amazed. Could it be the mentoring? I thought so at the time. Now, I know so…
A few years ago, with a new job, I inherited a millennial generation employee who was, I was told, “like a sponge,” continually soaking up information to grow professionally.
Ah – ha, I thought… You know where this story is going, right? What did this woman need to boost her to the next level of success? Yup, mentoring.
So, as we now know is typical for me, I just plunged in and asked Nikie if I could be her mentor. She quickly agreed, as George had done so many years prior.
For the next two years, I shared all the knowledge I had about the field of learning and workforce development, including cross-cultural aspects, metrics, project management… I mean, everything. I shared what I knew about the industry in which we worked, economic cycles, key success factors to competitive advantage and corporate cultures. Everything.
Mentoring became one of the favorite aspects of my job. I watched Nikie develop from a young professional into a seasoned pro who could take each project offered and run with it to successful completion.
Mentoring grew me. And now, mentoring was growing another individual. When Nikie told me she was looking for a new job, I was thrilled. She was ready to strike out on her own… as I had decades ago.
Over the years, George, my mentor, became a valued life-long friend. Yesterday, he left for his home in France to write another book.
How wonderful it will be when one day I hear Nikie is mentoring someone too.
What’s So Great About Mentoring? For me… Everything!