January is National Mentoring Month

Because I’m a career mentor I celebrate National Mentoring Month.  It’s a party around here all of January.

Seriously folks, working with a mentor is a great way to advance your career.  You can work with me virtually by reading my blog posts and downloading my books.  You can work with me directly.  You can schedule a free 30 minute mentoring call.  All you have to do is send an email to Bud@BudBilanich.com with the words “free mentoring call” in the headline.

The term “mentor” comes from The Odyssey. Odysseus entrusted the care of his son, Telemachus, to Mentor when he set out to fight the Trojan War.

The best mentors will help you learn and grow by sharing their knowledge and wisdom with you. In this way, you can benefit from their experience without having to suffer the consequences of gaining that experience firsthand.  Mentors are positive people by definition. It takes a positive person to give of himself or herself to help another learn, grow and succeed.

I have been fortunate to have had several mentors in my life and career. All of them shared several characteristics. They all…

  • Were willing to share their wisdom, knowledge, skills and expertise.
  • Had a positive outlook on life. They helped me through tough times and showed me how to find the opportunity in the difficulties I was facing.
  • Were genuinely concerned about me and my success. In addition to being knowledgeable, they were empathic.
  • Really knew what they were doing. I respected them for their knowledge and skills.
  • Kept growing themselves. All of my mentors were curious and inquisitive. Sometimes the roles were reversed. They asked what I was reading, and then read the books themselves – so they could learn and we could discuss the ideas.
  • Gave me direct, constructive feedback. They held me to high standards. They congratulated me when I met their expectations. They corrected me when I failed to do so – but in a manner where I learned what not to do the next time.
  • Were respected by their colleagues. People who are highly regarded in their field or company make the best mentors.
  • Sought out and valued the opinions of others. My best mentor always told me to listen most carefully to the people with whom I disagreed – in that way I might learn something. And, he was right.

As the old saying goes, a mentor is someone whose hindsight can become your foresight.

Do you want to find a mentor? Just look around you. Who are the people you admire and want to emulate? Watch what they do, and do the same. I’ve had several mentors who never even realized they were mentoring me. I call these unacknowledged mentoring relationships.

I learned how to build a network of solid contacts by watching Maggie Watson. I learned the rules of business etiquette and dressing for success by watching Bill Rankin. I learned how to become a first-rate public speaker by watching Steve Roesler. I learned how to become a trusted advisor by watching Don Nelson. I learned how to carry myself with dignity in even the most difficult situations by watching JF and Carol Kiernan. I learned how to become a better conversationalist by watching Cathy, my wife.

The reverse is also true. I’ve learned plenty about what not to do to build self-esteem, give performance feedback and treat people with respect and dignity from observing a few of my managers over the years.

On the other hand, I’ve found that if you want to have an acknowledged mentoring relationship, all you have to do is ask. Go to the people you admire and tell them that you admire their judgment and would like to learn from them. Ask if you can impose on their time to get answers to questions you have. I have never had anyone turn me down when I’ve asked this way.

Just as it’s important to find someone you respect to mentor you, it also important to mentor others. You don’t have to be in a formal leadership position or have years and years of experience to mentor someone else. It’s never too early to become a mentor. We all have something to give, and the sooner you begin giving, the better. If you’re in college, you can mentor high school students. If you’re a recent graduate, you can mentor others still in school.

In his great book, Love is the Killer App, Tim Sanders tells the story of how he turned one of the people who worked for him from a “mad dog” into a “lovecat.” The advice is simple: “Offer your wisdom freely… And always be human.”

The career mentor point here is simple common sense. Mentors can help you create the life and career success you want and deserve. Successful people follow the career advice in Tweet 51 in Success Tweets. “Find a mentor. Mentors are positive people who will help you find the lessons in your experiences and use them to move forward.” You can enter into a formal mentoring relationship. Or you can just observe people you admire. They can mentor you without even realizing that they are doing so. And, it’s never too early to become a mentor yourself. There is always someone who needs your career advice; someone who needs to know what you’ve already learned. Be a positive person. Help others achieve the life and career success they want and deserve.

January is National Mentoring Month.  It’s a good time to begin a mentoring relationship to help you move forward in your life and career,  It’s also a good time to help out someone else by becoming a mentor yourself.

Your career mentor,


PS: You can download a free copy of Success Tweets and its companion piece Success Tweets Explained at www.SuccessTweets.com.  When you do, I’ll give you a complimentary membership in my career mentoring site and begin sending you daily motivational quotes



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