Sunday, April 19, 2020

Mentoring in a Quarantined World

Quarantine | A word cloud featuring "Quarantine". This image… | Flickr
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It has been quite a while since I last posted simply because I felt I had said everything I wanted to say on the topic of mentoring. My passion for mentoring has not dwindled at all. In fact, it has only increased. Instead of blogging, I've spent the past 18 months co-launching a peer mentoring program for technology leaders, created content around building mentoring programs and continued to mentor and be mentored myself. 

What moves me to post today is a strong desire to inspire folks impacted by the coronavirus pandemic (which basically means, everyone) to take advantage of a golden opportunity: most, if not all, of your potential mentors and mentees are spending significant time sheltering in place. And many of these same folks are looking to make connections, maintain communication and find some way to contribute to the world. This is an excellent time to reach out in an appropriate, social distancing fashion and ask someone you've admired if they'd be interested in being your mentor.

If you are a mentor, or have ever considered becoming one, offering to share your experiences and guide individuals who may be in a career crisis right now is a priceless way of giving back to the community and helping out during this unprecedented situation. 

Technology has brought the world closer together. My own mentoring sessions are all done now via video conference. The transition has been seamless. Sure, it may be a bit challenging to start a new mentoring relationship over video conference but it's not impossible. It may take just a little longer to solidify the connection than if you could start out in person with each other. This shouldn't prevent anyone from giving it a try. And if video conferencing isn't your thing, I've conducted countless successful sessions by phone.

This is an exceptionally good and unique time to get into mentoring. I hope you seriously consider it. Most importantly, stay healthy and safe! 

“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”
― Winston Churchill

Sunday, February 10, 2019


"Balance is not something you find, it's something you create." - Jana Kingsford

A mentee once asked me: "What is the right work/life balance? How do you find it and how do you maintain it?"

These types of questions seem more pressing these days. Perhaps it's because we hear that millennials value work/life balance very highly (presumably after seeing the sacrifices their parents made). Balance is a great and important topic indeed. There are no straightforward answers to these questions. And that's not necessarily a bad thing.

We all have our passions, our limits, our frustrations and our ambitions. What are you willing to trade to get what you need? What are you willing to trade to get what you want?

My belief is that the right work/life balance is a very individual and very personal mix. I'm certain we'll find an entrepreneur's perspective of work/life balance is quite different from an actor's or from a police officer's or from a single mom of 3, etc.

As the quote at the beginning states - it's more about creating the right balance for yourself rather than finding it. This is a crucial difference in the way of thinking about the answer to the question because creating it implies you have to take action. It is not some magical equilibrium point you're supposed to discover. You have the power and the responsibility to figure out what it means in your life. Whether you are intentional about it or not, you are at some mix of work/life activity right now. This mix is impacting your career trajectory, your income and your personal relationships. And even when you are intentional and do define it, that point will evolve over time.

So how do you know that you've achieved the 'right' balance? By honestly answering this question to yourself: Are you happy?

It is as simple as that. You will know the answer. What you need to do is to pay attention to that answer, and if it's not the result you desire then take action to re-balance.

Amazon's immensely successful CEO Jeff Bezos said:  "I get asked about work/life balance all the time. And my view is, that's a debilitating phrase because it implies there's a strict trade-off. It actually is a circle. It's not a balance."

That may be the right framing for him. But he makes it sound like he's not making any tradeoffs. I doubt that. I disagree that his advice is widely applicable or that one can avoid making tough choices.

In the end, it's a prioritization exercise. As we evolve throughout our lives, those choices we make will likely evolve with us. It's critical to check in with yourself and challenge the path you are on. Periodically ask yourself if you're happy. Don't fall asleep with choices a younger version of yourself made.

Because if you're asleep, it's impossible to keep your balance.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Happy New Year - The Magic of Beginnings

It’s been quite a while since I’ve authored any postings. I’m grateful to have received a number of queries as to when my next article would be published here or on my blog and why it’s been on a long pause. Put simply, I only want to put something out there if I have something unique to say or something to say in a unique way. There’s certainly so much content floating around on our newsfeeds – it seems most everyone is in the business of sharing advice. And that’s great. For me, I don’t want to publish just to publish. In my case I’m glad that posting articles is done as my passion and not the way I earn my living. Being a champion for mentoring and helping out with thoughts about career development is one of the ways I feel I can give back to the world.

Sometimes I’ll have a topic in mind or someone suggests something they’d like my perspective on and within a day or two I’ll see it covered in my LinkedIn feed. I may ‘like’ or share that article if I feel strongly about it. Couple my avoiding 'duplication' with the fact that I am an active mentor and mentee myself and I’m dissuaded from adding to all that’s out there.

There are still compelling things to write about and articles that are in the process of being crafted. Over the years my conversations with my amazing mentees and mentors have offered me many ideas. I’d like to generalize/anonymize those and share them with you. So stay tuned…

In the meantime as we approach the end of 2018 I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for your readership and feedback. Your feedback is very important to me and helps to guide me on what to write about and how to present it. I wish you and your families and friends the most joyous and peaceful of holiday seasons.

And may you be surrounded by the magic of new beginnings in this New Year!