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Let’s Pay it Forward for our Next Top Role Models

Mentoring our Future Generation

Founders of Project Mentor: Adrienne Arieff and Lauri Levenfeld

I have been really inspired by the progress for girls and women lately especially as International Women’s Day has come to a close (but everyday is women’s day – right?!) In the year of #MeToo and Time’s Up, the spotlight on women calling for progress is now a global movement. Each of us is a leader, and in the varied aspects of our lives we lead our families, our colleagues, our friends, and our communities.

I will admit it: Women can be hard on one another. We can be critical and judgmental.

But there’s a flip side: Women can also be incredibly supportive and empathetic of each other. And often times, when we work together, magic happens.

That’s what interests me about mentorship and why I’ve just launched Project Mentor with my partner Lauri Levenfeld. Our mission is to encourage dynamic career growth for girls and women through a series of guided events and 1:1 mentoring designed to support and empower our next gen leaders in creative industries.

While some debate the merit of mentorship within its traditional parameters, when it’s expanded to include on-going support and advocacy, it’s proven to be a critical element of success by providing mentees with the opportunity to broaden their perspective and muster up the confidence to speak up when it matters and not be scared to have a seat at any table regardless of gender or economic status.

In my case, my first mentor was my mother.

I know what you’re thinking; That’s what moms do: they teach their children. My mom took it a step further. My mom, Carol Arieff, who unfortunately passed away at only 60 in 2004, was an art appraiser who ran her own business with the most magnetic energy, sophisticated eye and spirit.

I started my professional journey with her. She made me accountable for all my work—and my word.

Today, I try to emulate her every day. I have gotten more intentional about seeking out mentors but was very lucky to have her as my first.

Whether I’m mentoring a young digital strategist just learning her trade; employees at startups who are trying to build a brand; or a teen with big dreams about launching her own business, I follow these rules:

• Make yourself available

• Give your mentee projects and hold them accountable for the finished product (with support from you of course)

• Invest in the success of the mentee

We all need role models in our life both personally and professionally. I believe the missing link between a promising career and a successful one, is often, mentoring. I have since had several incredible mentors that have helped me navigate my career choices, missteps and new opportunities. I hold them close. Just recently, I went through the exercise with my business partner of creating and completing my personal mission statement. It was fantastic! Sounds a little silly but when you know why you are here, doing a certain gig or role, what you should be doing becomes a lot more clear. A good mentor can help navigate this.

I challenge you to both seek mentors and for potential mentors to step up — not because you have too but because you feel energized by helping our next potential great leaders.

My most rewarding mentor experiences have been with my employees thus far. I’ve stayed in touch with many of them and watched them grow in their careers. Most of them I would probably work for now!

Mentoring stretches you. It exposes you to new people, new minds and humility. Nurturing someone else also nurtures your own soul. It takes you outside yourself and makes you remember why you chose your career in the first place.

Passing along a useful resource, putting someone’s name forward for a professional role (especially for women re-entering the workplace) or even connecting them to someone else who could help them are just some of the benefits of a good mentor.

Try it. Let me know how it goes!

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