Every week, I get the fun job of visiting with industry leaders on the 8th & Walton Conference Call podcast. The interviews are very relaxed, and it’s nice to share a few laughs while learning about the evolving retail landscape. This week was particularly enjoyable as I got to speak with Tim McCarthy, President of WorkPlace Impact, about mentoring. Not only was he a fantastic guest, but his message is very timely in the current environment.
Why? Your career is no different than your health; too many of us decide to eat healthy and exercise only after a bad visit to the doctor. Similarly, what are our first thoughts after unfavorable things happen at work?
- “I really need a current resume.”
- “Is my LinkedIn account still active?”
- “Maybe I should look at getting some mentors.”
This isn’t to say it’s ever too late to get a mentor. The point is this: Having mentors during the peaks of your career will only help as you experience the valleys.
Jump-Starting the Mentoring Relationship
“Getting started, it really is as simple as seeking out the people with the experience you need,” McCarthy explains. He goes on to encourage us not to “play it safe” when looking for experienced mentors. “Consider somebody you admire but really don’t think will talk to you. See if they’ll talk to you. The worst they can do is say ‘no.'”
Good leaders are always happy to help, and enjoy the opportunity to mentor others in their career. Setting your sights high when looking for mentors will only benefit you, no matter how long the search.
The More, the Merrier
If you’re serious about looking for a mentor, that may be a huge mistake. By that, I mean looking for “a” mentor. McCarthy pointed this out when asked what he felt was the biggest misconception about seeking a mentor. “I think the biggest misconception is that you need just one,” he affirms. “People may try to have one and think that’s all they need, but it’s just not true.”
He explains why a balance of multiple mentors will make the mentee stronger. “You need different mentors for the different things you go through. We all have weaknesses, and people with great strengths have great weaknesses. I never tried to look for ‘that one mentor.’ I always tried to at least have half-a-dozen — and still do to this day.”
Great Mentors Grow Great Mentors
McCarthy has such a passion for mentoring others that I wanted to know more about his experience as a mentee. When asked about some of the best advice he received, he immediately recalled an experience with one of his first mentors.
“The best advice I received that relates to my mentoring now was given to me by the person who taught me how to go into business. He attached me to his business and let me work for him for a while.
“I remember the last day I was working for him. I asked him how in the world I could possibly thank him for the opportunity he had given me. He said, ‘By paying it forward. Just promise me you’ll do for others what I’ve been able to do for you.'”
It Starts With You
Getting to spend a few minutes with Tim McCarthy was definitely a highlight for our little show. I hope you get a chance to listen to the entire 8th & Walton Conference Call interview with him for more takeaways.
My biggest takeaway was that getting a mentor is no different from anything else in your career. It’s all up to you. The harder you work and bigger chance you take, the more rewards and opportunities you’ll create through lasting relationships. If you haven’t already, consider expanding your horizon with (or as) a mentor.