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WomenUp members Beatrice Tetteh (L) and Rhonda Staley-Brooks (R) at the 2019 Nehemiah Emerging Leaders Graduation Ceremony

When I was asked to write about mentorship, I was challenged on what I would talk about.  I spent 23-years at Big Brothers Big Sisters and found the experience I gained was not only from matching young people to adults but also matching adults to resources in the community.  This gave me an opportunity to know how Sacramento functions and run in many different arenas. I moved from mentoring youth to mentoring adults through the Nehemiah Emergency Leaders Program.  That experience gave me the opportunity to look through many different lenses. I also gained many mentoring relationships (giving and receiving) through that journey. So I’m going to approach this blog in a Q&A.  Below are suggested questions to ask a mentor. I’m going to answer the questions from my point of view:

What’s the best advice you can give to help plan a career rather than simply work to keep a job? 

Experience is key and it doesn’t matter if you get it at work or in a volunteer position. I recommend a few things in the work place:  1. Take on projects that push you out of your comfort zone 2. Collaborate with other departments or other individuals (if you are in a small organization) and learn about those positions and departments – knowledge is power.  3. Join a committee or board in the community and challenge yourself to network and take on leadership roles. When doing these things, you can expose yourself for the career you want to be at.

How do you encourage innovative ideas? 

Don’t be afraid of the NO! Innovation is taking an old idea and re-inventing it or thinking outside of the box.  If you are the leader, you have to let go of “this is the way we always have done it!” Once that is released, you open the door of new innovative ideas.

How would you describe your personal style? 

Open-book – My top strength is WOO (Winning Others Over) which means I share a lot of my life.  I work hard to be a good listener and not overpower conversations. I also like to bring all people into the conversation.  Arranger is my other strength so I use that often bringing people together.

Do you have a mentor? How have they influenced you

I have several mentors. I was fortunate to have some amazing mentors who have helped guide me through important decision making in my life.  They influenced the way I lead today.

Would you do anything differently if given the opportunity? 

Boy would I! Though I learned a lot in the process of making some big mistakes, there are definitely things I would do different.  At a time when I had to layoff staff, I felt the need to “pick-up where they left off” which made me a TERRIBLE delegator. When I was presented a mirror, and was told I was the problem, I got emotional and shut down instead of articulating why I was doing what I was doing.  I would replay that time over without a doubt.

What values are you committed to? 

I value family, friendship and care of concern for my team and co-workers.  I value treating one with respect and listening to differing opinions so both can learn.

How do you balance your work and home life? 

When my kids were younger, I had a schedule for everything.  My mother said I was overscheduled. That worked for me and my family.  I communicated well with my husband so I didn’t lose myself in the process.  Hair, nails, massage, girls trips, vacation (with and without your kids)…you can have all of that if you have a balance approach for the moment, not for eternity.  Don’t commit yourself to giving everyone, everything at the same time. It is impossible.

If you take anything from this blog, know that you don’t have to be Super Woman ALL of time.  Rely on others and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Share your talents through mentorship and don’t forget you are never too old to have a mentor. 

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