Everyone needs professional advice at some point in their career, and mentorships are a great way to get the information you need and stay accountable while you build your career.
Here’s a transcript of our conversation:
Emma: Hi Brittany.
Brittany: Hi, Emma.
Emma: So, today I wanna talk about mentors, specifically, what they are, what having a mentor means, but also how you can find one. So a mentor is a term that’s thrown around a lot, and especially as you get older and you start thinking more about what you wanna do with your life and what you wanna do professionally, a lot of times you will hear advice like, oh, you need to find a mentor. But I always found when people would tell me that no one would actually explain what a mentor was. or how the heck I could find one? Because you can’t exactly just walk up to people and be like, Hey, do you wanna be my mentor? So I’ll talk about some mentors that I have had in my life. my first job ever, I worked for a coffee shop called Dutch Bros. If you’re on the West Coast, you probably have seen those before. And my first boss ever was my mentor named Chelsea, and she didn’t start out as my mentor. She started out as someone who was just interviewing me for a job, and she ended up hiring me when I was 16. And I really looked up to her because she was very good at managing people and motivating people, but also drawing the line when she needed to at work and making sure that people were, you know, meeting standards and that they were getting the job done, but also that it was a really positive, happy, good quality workplace to be in. And I really respected her and I sort of became friends with her, but also I really looked up to her as a person. And I found myself seeking out her advice a lot and really looking to her, in all sorts of matters. Not necessarily just at that coffee shop, but I would talk to her about life stuff and I think, I wanna do this for college. Okay, now I think I wanna do this. And she is someone who I still talk to, I’m still close with, and she actually now owns her own Dutch Bros stand, which is pretty awesome. But that was sort of my first encounter with having like a professional mentor. But of course, there were also mentors in my life growing up, I went to church, so I had some folks in my church that were older that would sort of talk to me about life and answer my questions. And I think it’s so important to have that where you can look up to folks who, you know, typically they’re gonna be older than you, but maybe not always folks who’ve got that experience that maybe you don’t have. And you can look up to them and again, ask them questions and sort of run things by them and just talk through and get other people’s perspective. Because I think getting outside perspective with larger life decisions and sort of navigating your own path is super important. So those are, those are some mentors that I’ve had in my life. Brittany, do you have anyone that you have looked up to in the past or looked to for advice like that?
Brittany: Absolutely. And I love this topic. I’m so glad you brought this up because self-improvement is a really big deal for me. And so I’m always looking on ways I can be, you know, the best version of myself. And I wouldn’t even be, I would not say I’m the best version of myself now. I think we’re all getting there, we’re all evolving. Yes. but I wouldn’t be where I am without mentors. And so there’s three different experiences I wanna talk about. And the first one is that sometimes you don’t even have to know your mentors. Now, it’s better if you do, but someone like Jordan Peterson, who I talk a lot about, yes, he’s been a mentor to me, even though, I mean, I shook his hand once, but we’re not friends, right? I don’t know him but somebody who you can rely on for good advice, right? So sometimes they’re just YouTube videos you can watch that’ll really help you get on the right path. But in my career and in my personal life, I have two in particular that come to mind who are the whole reason my career is where it is. And as a writer, you have to work very closely with editors. And when you’re a new writer, sometimes being edited is very intimidating because you think, wait, you think I’m a good writer? Why are you changing everything I just wrote? And so having a mentor who can show you like, this is what I changed. You know, not just edit your work, but tell you this is what you need to get better at. And so I have two mentors in my life that particularly stand out. One of them was my editor, the other was a friend who’s also a female writer in the same space that I’m in. And she’s a little older like you said, so she was able to kind of say, okay, here’s where you are now, here’s where you need to be later on if, you know, setting goals and things like that. And, without them, I, like I said, I wouldn’t be where I am today. So they’re very important. But there’s another part of mentorship that comes later on, and that is that now that I am older, I am also a mentor for other younger people. And so it goes both ways. And you get to see how rewarding it is because not only do I rely on my mentors but there are young women who are in, in this liberty, you know, individualism space Yeah. Who also look to me and who I give advice to. And I honestly wouldn’t have been able to give them advice if I hadn’t gotten good advice from my mentors. So it’s a really cool process to see because not only do you get to learn from other people, but eventually, you get to pass that knowledge on to others.
Emma: I love that. And I wanna go back to something that you said. You talked about having a mentor and maybe getting that feedback that sometimes, sometimes isn’t as fun to hear. You’re like, oh, I thought I was a good writer. Why are you telling me that I need to change this? Or Why are you telling me that, you know, someday I could get better? Cuz sometimes it sounds silly, but sometimes that’s a little bit hard to hear. Yes. And I wanna tell a specific story about that mentor Chelsea, who was my boss for about three years of my life. When I was figuring out what I wanted to do, I have a very hard time waking up when my alarm goes off in the morning and working at a coffee shop, I would work some very long hours, but very early hours, especially the shop would open at 5:00 AM and sometimes I would need to be there at 4:45, which was very early. And fortunately, I lived just around the corner, so it didn’t take long to get there, but I had to make sure I woke up when the alarm went off. Otherwise, there’s no way I would make it there on time. So I had a couple of times in, within a couple of weeks I was working really hard and I was doing a lot in school and I was very tired and I slept through my alarm two times in a row and I had to be a little bit late to work two times in a row. It was one of those things, you wake up, you go, oh no, I’ve gotta run. And you’re running around trying to get out the door and I’m calling my boss saying, I’m so sorry, I’m on my way. And I felt so bad because I was like, there’s nothing I can do to change this. I slept through my alarm and Chelsea told me, she said, actually, there is something you can do about this. You need to buy a second alarm and put it across the room so that you hear it and you have to wake up and walk across the room and turn it off. And she goes, you need to do that, or I have to fire you. She said, if you’re late another time, I have to fire you. And that was a really good lesson for me because it was like, Hey, you know, this person loves me. This is a friend of mine. But also there are consequences to not taking full control of your life. And everyone has stuff like that where maybe you sleep through alarms like me, or maybe it’s something else. And you really do. And I know Jordan Peterson talks about this stuff a lot as well. You gotta figure out what that stuff is for you and learn to push through it. And having a mentor who can say those things to you in a way that is not damaging and in a way that’s not overly critical, but that’s real with you and can really help you work through those things. I just can’t say how valuable that was for me. And it gave me a new perspective that I took on even after I was done working for her and working for that business. I understood that only I was responsible for my life and showing up to work on time and those sorts of things. So that’s a kind of a long story there, but I, that’s just such a takeaway that I still remember to this day and that I still think about.
Brittany: You know you brought up another good thing. So for listeners who wanna go back, Connor, I did an episode it was a while ago on how to handle criticism. And I think that plays into what you were saying because it’s not always easy to hear, this is what you need to work on. In fact, it’s a skill to get really good at getting that feedback. Yes. So, I recommend listeners go back and listen to that if they haven’t, but, all right, so let’s talk about how we find a mentor. So some thoughts on just my own experience. So like I said, one of them, actually Dan Sanchez, who we had on the show before to talk about superheroes and what they can teach us about individual liberty. He was one of my first mentors and I was fortunate enough to have him be my editor working with me at Fee. So that was kind of an easy one. But I’ve also worked with other editors who didn’t take as active as a role. and you know, it became where I would ask him a lot of questions or I’d ask him for like, assignments outside of where, like, what book should I read to do this? What should I read to get better at this? And I don’t know if we ever had a conversation of, okay, you’re my mentor now. Do you know what I mean? It’s kind of like when you’re a kid and you’re just like, Hey, do you wanna be friends? I don’t know that he and I ever had like okay, you’re my mentor, but there was an understanding of, all right, you know, you are somebody who is guiding me on this journey. And you know, we talk about a hero’s journey a lot. And one thing the heroes all need is a guide, right? Yes. But there isn’t always that clear moment in the story where they say, I’m your guide now, but you just kind of know. So then there are more formal ones. my other mentor who’s the female one, I don’t necessarily think we had like a sit-down of you’re my mentor, but it was definitely like okay, I’m looking up to you. You know, you’re someone I look up to you. But I would actually, I don’t think it’s a bad idea to find somebody who you admire and someone who you’ve built a relationship with and sending them an email and you know, or calling them on the phone or taking them out for coffee or whatever it is and saying, you know, I really look up to you cause I’ll be flattered. I really look up to you. Would you mind, you know, kind of mentoring me and showing me what to do? So I think there’s two ways you can do it. I think there’s nothing wrong with doing it a formal way and sitting down and asking. But I know some of my best, mentorships and mentees, people I’ve worked with have kind of just been born organically. Naturally. Yes. So I think that it can happen both ways.
Emma: Yes. I think you kind of look around and think about the people that maybe you look up to and that you see sort of regularly or that you talk to regularly. And maybe think about ways that you can be intentional with that relationship rather than just sort of letting it happen. You can say, Hey, this person has a lot to offer. They have all this wisdom or this experience. Maybe I should be more intentional and take ’em out to coffee and ask them about, you know, this thing that I’ve been wondering about or this decision that I have to make. And I also think a big part of that is, you know, keeping up with people and keeping them updated on your life. in this day and age, it’s so easy to, you know, forget to pick up the phone and call people, but just staying in touch and having those conversations that, you know, maybe you do have something specific that you wanna talk about, but maybe other times you just pick up the phone and you just catch up with them. and you have these relationships that will sort of organically go into, you know, you’re telling them about something that happened in school and then maybe you end up getting some advice from them or hearing a story that gives you a new perspective. I think keeping in touch and treating this person like you would treat a friend and also that you would treat someone that you respect. So maybe there’s an adult in your life that, you know, you go to church with or that you see on a regular basis. It could be a coach or anyone like that. you know, seeing them on one hand as a friend, but also on the other hand, as someone that you look up to and respect and that you can just take on these amazing, you know, pearls of wisdom from, it’s such a nice thing to have that in your life. So just being a good steward of those relationships and being intentional with them can go such a long way.
Brittany: And I think one difference between, cuz I like the, because a mentor really is kind of a combination of like a friend and a teacher, right? they’re a little bit of both. You can tell them about what’s going on in your personal life as well as your professional life depending on what your relationship is. But I think that it’s one thing that is a good way to keep you on track is to maybe have like, action items. Now with my editor, it was easy cuz he would say like, all right, next time you read, I wanna see you doing this, right? or what we would do is sometimes have book discussions that were really great. So he’d say, you know, I think this book is gonna really help you. Why don’t you read this book and we’ll talk about it next time? So there’s almost like these action items. So it’s not just like a friend where you’re going to coffee, right? There’s things that you’re like, all right, next time we see each other, we’re gonna have worked on this and we’re gonna come back and talk about it. So I think that that’s really important that you should have goals or something you are working on.
Emma: Yes, I completely agree. Well, that is all we’ve got time for today guys. But we are going to put some stuff in the show notes about this, sort of some things on how you can find a mentor and maybe what a mentor could look like for you. But thanks for tuning in, Brittany. I will talk to you soon.
Brittany: Talk to you soon.