Pro Q & A Series

Confidently Pursue Career Mentorship

Mentorship is one of the keys to being successful in your career choices and professional path. Mentorship applies beyond training and developing. Mentoring can shift your thoughts and mindset to be more productive, prosperous and expand professional and personal perspectives of how we approach and understand life, people, and communication. Opportunities for mentorship present themselves to us on an ongoing basis. Mentors can be people who are like us, different from us in age, experience, cultures and perspective. Transparent managers, progressive peers, success coaches, and enrichment programs are all forms of mentorship. For many mentorship closes the learning and information gaps that some may or may not know that applies to them. For others, it’s an adventurous journey that brings exposure to a new lifestyle and proposed accomplishments to manifest.

Darryl Woods, the Founder of Start Smart Life coaches graduates that aim to be successful and live a life that is above average. Mentoring others to positively impact the world is Darryl’s passion. Through Start Smart Life, Darryl offers programs that coach and mentorship through his workshops, speaking engagements, books, and online programs. Recently Darryl interviewed and shared how mentorship changed his life and led him to professionally mentoring graduates and others to be their best self continually.

Career Tipper:  How has mentorship impacted your life and your drive to launch Start Smart Life?

Woods:  If I had to connect any of the success that I’ve seen in life and business, it would all link back to mentorship. I do believe that a person can achieve a certain amount of success without a mentor but with a mentor your success level is multiplied. You learn what may have taken years for a person to learn in a matter of minutes. If you apply this information, you can reduce wasted time in trial and error. In launching Start Smart Life, several mentors were there for me to push me and show me what it took internally and externally. In fact, it was my mentor Stacia Pierce that helped me to form my business name and more importantly, saw the potential in me to be what I desired and cared enough to tell me. It is empowering to have someone believe in you and what you can become. 
Career Tipper:  What mindset shifts and contributions should a mentor and mentee be prepared to make throughout the mentorship process?

Woods:  As I’ve stepped into the mentor role personally and in business, there are three things that I hope for in a mentee. One, I look for hunger to learn and grow. There’s no sense in being mentored if you’re not hungry. Second, application.  My mentors love me because if they tell me to do something or give some advice, I do it as hastily as possible. Not only that but I ensure to tell them my actions and results, which then motivates them to want to help me even more. Lastly, thick skin. You can limit the amount of feedback, direction, and passion from a mentor by the thickness of your skin. The thicker your skin, the more your mentor will be willing to give you the feedback and direction that you may not like which in many cases will take you to new levels. Additional small things that make a huge difference in the mentorship process are displays of appreciation, respecting time, and humility.  
I strongly believe that the mentee creates the dynamics of the mentorship. If the mentee doesn’t bring their A-game to the relationship, the mentor will do likewise. Not all mentors are created equal. The best that I’ve experienced, above all, have been caring.  My greatest mentors have seen my success as their success because they care. To me, caring means authentically learning about your mentee. Identify their potential, their strengths, and weaknesses. Giving feedback even if it may be tough for your mentee to swallow, giving your mentee unique experiences (only to proven A-Gamers), and being as responsive as possible. Lastly, caring means speaking positively up building words to your mentee as much as possible. 
Career Tipper:  Why should professionals be open to having a mentor continually in their life?

Woods:  A great mentor can not only shave years of unneeded trial and error off of your learning curve but can also give you exposure to things that would not have been possible otherwise. For example, I was first introduced to my mentor Melanie Bergeron, former CEO and current Chair of Two Men and A Truck as a student at Michigan State University. Through Melanie, I was introduced to Two Men’s CFO, CEO, and CMO. I’m grateful that I was able to have conversations with these individuals at a time where I was confused as to my next steps and direction in life. I would not have interacted with them without my mentor Melanie. Through mentors, I’ve been exposed to things that at each stage of my life have completely shifted my mind to a new level of orchestrating my goals and aspirations.



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