On Mentoring

Isn’t it strange that the the concept of mentoring seems to be quaint to our generation? Sure, mentoring in the corporate world remains highly valued because livelihoods are at stake. What I am thinking about today can’t be measured in financial payoffs. It’s about human capital.

Y’all know that I’m all about navel gazing this year. Something happened as I turned 35 back in August, I realized the rest of my life needed to be focused on doing things that matter. I would lay in bed awake, staring at the ceiling, at 3am wrestling with questions.

  • What am I doing now to make a difference in the world?
  • What can I do better?
  • What should I start doing?


I don’t pretend to know all the answers. The answer today is not the same one it will be next year. The magic crystal ball that tells all the answers just never shows up, right?

So what should we do when we aren’t sure what to do?

We do the seemingly small acts of good, and we share our knowledge with those in our sphere of influence.

In short, we mentor. Before you balk at the idea of mentoring others, be sure to read this-

Alli’s Super Non-Scientific Reasons You Can Mentor Others-
1) Fake humility is so tired. C’mon, you know that there are things you do like a rockstar, subjects you know like you wrote the book on it, and you have a head full of life experience just waiting to be shared.
2) You know more about certain things than other people do.
3) See reason 1 and 2.


My challenge to you is to find someone to mentor. Share your knowledge, your stories of learning the hard way, advice about life, resources and attention. Maybe you knit the most beautiful sweaters this side of the Mississippi, or you know how to grow a pumpkin the size of a VW,  or you know how to navigate the business world, or you can code a site in an hour- whatever you love, just take the time to share it.

The first person I mentored was the the lovely Cassie Boorn. This picture of us was taken in Chicago in 2010 by Mishelle Lane.

Thank you for the picture, Mishelle Lane Photography!

The mentoring dynamic often changes over time. When I first met Cassie, I focused on teaching her all I knew from a business perspective. Now she has a fabulous job and doesn’t need my business insight as much. What she still does need is the occasional sounding board and voice of reason when she has questions about life. Who better to ask a question about parenting a young boy than the mother of 5 boys, right?

The focus of mentoring is building the life of the person you mentor even when topics of discussion evolve over time.

Mentoring others doesn’t mean you know it all and are never wrong. I’m the first to say when I have no clue on what advice to give. I live my life semi-publicly and share my thoughts with the world daily, I have a long track record of learning the hard way by making mistakes. It’s just real life. Luckily, mentoring is about sharing experience and wisdom not about pretending to be perfect.

I asked a few friends to share with us who has made a difference in their lives. How wonderful are these pictures?

My sweet friend Catherine wrote about Mammope today and highlighted the launch of Mothers2Mother’s new ‘babies2babies’ campaign.

In Catherine’s words,I wrote this as part of the launch of mothers2mother’s new ‘babies2babies’ campaign to celebrate moms and babies (launched today in honor of World Aids Day).  m2m are hoping that by sharing stories of how we’ve been inspired by other mothers and by simply driving forward a narrative that celebrates mothers and babies generally will drive some support their way, and help them continue working toward the goal of eliminating maternal transmission of HIV. To that end, they’re hoping that women and men everywhere will consider throwing baby showers real or virtual in honor of the moms and babies whose lives are threatened by HIV. Moms and babies like Mammope and Katleho, who are moms and babies like us and our own. Let’s do what we can to support them.”

Article Posted 4 years Ago
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