Mentorship: Building Out Your Personal Board

If you ask any successful individual how they have been able to reach their potential, you will more than likely hear them mention many friends/partners/role models that have guided them on their path to greatness. On Monday, April 2nd, Grand Central Tech hosted the second installment of the NYC Blend series in order to uncover the ingredients for a successful mentor/mentee relationship and why it’s so important for everyone to seek these out. Highlights from each of the speakers can be found below.

Introduction

Jovian Zayne, Founder of International Day of Purpose

“You can’t be your best self by yourself”

Jovian opened the event by describing difficulties she faced earlier in her career and how so many people suffer from significant pressure to live up to their own expectations. It wasn’t until she met her mentor through the Management Leadership for Tomorrow program that Jovian was able to open up about her struggles. Through building an authentic relationship with her mentor, she was able to directly confront this challenge and also discover the power of an effective mentor/mentee relationship. She encouraged everyone to explore how they can help their peers and to live by one of her favorite sayings, “service is the rent you pay for living.”

Community Partner

Chymeka Alfonse, Regional Executive Director & Ayanna Perez, Student, BUILD NYC

Chymeka started off by explaining BUILD’s mission, which is to use entrepreneurship as a way to keep under-resourced high school students on track for graduation. The organization emphasizes students to build team-playing skills through collaboration and communication. Incredibly, 95% of students participating end up graduating on time.

Ayanna Perez, a 10th grader, shared her story about how BUILD has uncovered her passion for entrepreneurship. She noted that the program has empowered her to build leadership skills and work toward her ambition of attending Stanford and eventually building industry-changing businesses in her future career.

Mentor/Mentee Pair #1

“You have to be a sponsor magnet…..put yourself out there”

Lisa first began helping Mark when they worked together at Proctor & Gamble. Their relationship blossomed as they helped each other grow throughout their careers. For individuals seeking mentors, Lisa emphasized the importance of putting yourself out there and identifying people who can amplify your brand.

Equally important, the two surfaced the importance of having the right approach when seeking help. It’s critical to research a potential mentors’ background, identify areas of mutual interest, and look for ways in which you can add value to them. It is not a one-way street.

Mentor/Mentee Pair #2

“Mentor/mentee relationships go both ways”

Alexandra and Rachel highlighted the importance of mentees offering value to their mentors. They stressed that everyone, no matter how inexperienced, has something to offer to a potential mentor.

In selecting mentors, it’s important to have a strong interpersonal dynamic with a high level of trust between the two parties. For each meeting, the mentee should have a list of everything they want to cover in order to streamline the process and help the mentor help you.

Mentor/Mentee Pair #3

“Be willing to make yourself vulnerable…mentors will help and propose solutions you would’ve never thought of”

Mutisya highlighted how Jillian has been a strong supporter of his as he navigates the challenges of building a startup. He emphasized that everyone needs to actively seek out mentors since they have the ability to help in ways that mentees would never think of. Jillian stressed the importance of engaging with people who are aligned with your focus areas and that are willing to share their perspective.

Takeaways

As you look to progress in your career, make it a point to put yourself out there and meet people who can provide valuable lessons from their experience. By the same token, be willing to help individuals who can benefit for your own guidance. Everyone has something to offer and each mentor/mentee relationship should be mutually beneficial — you can always learn something valuable from others.

A special thank you to Grand Central Tech for hosting and Splash Wines for sponsoring. Additionally, thanks to the following VC firms who helped organize and put on the event: Charge Ventures, Comcast Ventures Catalyst Fund, Female Founders Fund, Human Ventures, KiwiVenture Partners, Northzone, NYU Future Labs, and SeedInvest.

Please join us for the next NYC Blend event on June 4, which will cover Transparency & Access to VC Funding.

NYC Blend is a collaborative event series for the NYC tech community promoting diversity, inclusion, and empowerment. It is facilitated by VCs operating in the greater New York City area.

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Chris Collins

Chris Collins

Head of Biz Ops at Foundation // prev Principal at Human Ventures. @chris3collins — chocovc.com