I am reading “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook. Among many somewhat shocking, but yet somehow believable statistics about the still severe minority of woman in executive positions (such as the fact that just 20 CEOs at Fortune 500 companies are women — I think I’m recalling that correctly), Sandberg stresses the importance of having mentors. I can’t stress this enough. No matter what your level in a media company, you need mentors. You also need peers with whom you can exchange ideas. Sometimes they are one and the same.
I could not have gotten where I am today—wherever that is … some sort of pasture, I think—without my many mentors and friends in the industry. These people know who they are, or they should at least. I am eternally grateful for their support and help over the years.
I also want to stress another point that Sandberg also makes—the importance of making it a two-way relationship. If all you do is take, your mentors will likely not stick around long. I try, though I may not always succeed, to offer insights to my mentors and peers whenever I can. I try to go out of my way to help them, if ever an opportunity to do so arises. Many of them are smarter than me, so it’s not always possible … but usually, at some point, there’s a way to help them. Or at least do something nice for them.
If you don’t have any mentors, or peers in the industry—preferably outside of your organization—get them. And as Sandberg suggests, you don’t get them by asking someone, “Will you be my mentor?” … You need to get out there and network. Maybe this is a topic for a longer post. If anyone wants additional information, I’ll gladly write more when I can.