Tuesday, April 9, 2024

From Mentee to Mentor: Crafting a Path to Professional Growth

From Mentee to Mentor: Crafting a Path to Professional Growth written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch

In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interviewed Ruth, an esteemed expert in mentorship and leadership development. Ruth is the Chief Learning Officer and associate professor of education in anesthesiology at Weill Cornell Medicine. She is hailed by nature, Wall Street Journal, and Columbia University as a globally recognized expert in mentorship.

Ruth sheds light on the transformative power of mentorship, emphasizing its significance in personal and professional growth, especially for women and systemically disadvantaged members of society. She shares invaluable insights into effective mentorship strategies and the difference between mentors and tor-mentors, drawing from her extensive experience in mentoring leaders across various industries.


Key Takeaways

“In every profession, those who are mentored out earn and outperform those who are not”.

Ruth underscores the transformative power of mentorship, emphasizing its critical role in personal and professional growth for both Mentor and Mentee. Effective mentorship techniques, such as active listening and fostering strong relationships, form the foundation of successful mentorship dynamics. By creating a culture of mentorship at work and seeking diverse mentorship experiences, individuals and organizations can unlock their full potential, drive innovation, and thrive in today’s competitive business landscape.

Questions I ask Dr. Ruth Gotian:

[01:44] How does working as an anesthesiologist come into the field of mentorship?

[03:26] What are the first steps that need to be taken in igniting a mentorship relationship?

[05:57] Would you say that the organizational approach outlined in your book is what people should begin using as a platform?

[10:31] How often does the mentee become the mentor?

[11:35] How beneficial is mentorship to women and marginalized groups in our society?

[14:54] How do mentorships fail?

[16:33] Can you explain the phrase from the mentor’s point of view ‘hear what’s not being said’ ?

[17:37] Should mentorships be infused in company culture?

[18:08] Where can people connect with you and learn more about the Mentorship?


More About Dr. Ruth Gotian:


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(01:03): Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch, and my guest today is Dr. Ruth Gotian. She is the Chief Learning Officer and associate professor of education in anesthesiology at Weill Cornell Medicine is a globally recognized expert in mentorship and leadership development, hailed by nature, wall Street Journal and Columbia University. She was named a top one of the top 20 mentors worldwide. She is also an award-winning author of The Success Factor and a book we're going to talk about today, the Financial Times Guide to Mentoring. So Ruth, welcome to the show.

Ruth (01:42): Thank you so much. I'm excited.

John (01:44): So what's the connection between an anesthesiologist and mentoring? That was my first thought when I got your bio.

Ruth (01:52): Well, I am a doctor, but I'm not a physician. I am based in the Department of anesthesiology and what mentoring has to do with it is what it has to do with every profession, which is those who are mentored out, earn and outperform those who are not. And that's across the board across every industry, which is why I was so excited to partner with Andy Lata and write the book about mentoring.

John (02:21): Let's start with you just mentioned, those who are mentored, perform better. Let's start with the people. How do you be an effective mentor? A lot of my listeners are owners of companies. They have employees that they really should be looking at as mentees in some cases. So what are some of the factors that help somebody become a better mentor?

Ruth (02:42): I think you really need to look for what is undone and what is not said within the mentees. And if you could draw that out of people and then help them think bigger, dream bigger, see bigger, then you're able to get them to do bigger things. Giving them these stretch assignments which push them right outside their comfort zone because we know in leadership development that true learning occurs right where the comfort ends. So if you're able to do that and then you're able to open doors for them doors they didn't even know existed, that's what makes you a great mentor.

John (03:21): You zoomed right past to the amazing relationship, right? But there's a whole lot of people who have never done this before and don't even know how to get started. In fact, maybe until they listened to this show, didn't know it was their responsibility. So how, what's the baby steps?

Ruth (03:37): I think the baby step actually starts with the mentee. Sure, A mentor, they see the diamond in the rough by all means approach them, but really it's the mentee who should be taking the reins in the relationship. Now, you don't go up to someone and say, John, you're really successful. You've written seven books. Will you be my mentor? Where do you start with that? Right? Where do we even start the conversation? But if I gave some context and if I gave a timeline and if I showed encouragement as the mentee, then the mentor is more likely to step forward. So for example, if I said, John, I'd like to write my next book or my first book, I have a rough outline in place. I know you've written seven books, all the ins and outs. Could I grab 15, 20 minutes, show you my outline, tell me what you think I'm missing or how I can make it stronger?

(04:31): Well, now you're excited as a potential mentor. I never used that label, but I gave you context. I showed you I'm interested, I showed you I'm willing to work, and I told you it's only for 15, 20 minutes. It's not all day. Now all of a sudden we have something, we have a template that we can move forward with and people are so worried about that labeled mentor. And I tell people, we've got enough labels in our life. Don't worry about that one. If you start asking someone to be your mentor without doing any work beforehand, that's very stressful because that makes them feel like they need to take on another job. Don't worry about the label. That will come much later. That is an earned label.

John (05:16): It's interesting as I listened to you describe that template. That's a great template for any ask, right? That's correct. Be as specific as possible. Outline what the objectives are, what's in it for them or what their accountability or responsibility is going to be. In fact, I have had people over the years just come with that sort of blanket, would you be my mentor? And I've actually said, okay, prove that you deserve it. I didn't say that. That's right. I said, tell me this and this and come back to me with that. And half of them never showed back up again. That's right. That's right.

Ruth (05:50): They want you to illuminate a path, but which path they have to do some of the work.

John (05:57): Would you say that the approach that you outlined in the book is something that organizationally people should start adopting as a bit of a platform? Talk about how that might work.

Ruth (06:07): So the book is actually broken up into how to be a great mentor, how to be an effective mentee, and how organizations could really develop these programs. Because my co-author, Andy Lata and I, we looked at all these organizations. We all know that mentorship is needed, right? The research is crystal clear on this, but we couldn't find organizations that were doing a fantastic job with this. There were so many loose ends, the platforms weren't working, the matches weren't working. And what happened was it just sort of fell by the wayside. So we decided we were going to offer these opportunities, these blueprints, how to create these great programs, how to make more effective matches that aren't random. You're not just going to put two people together because they're both from Kentucky, that not everyone from Kentucky is the same, but that's what people are doing.

(07:00): That's what organizations are doing. So we decided we are going to offer a better strategy, which also includes an off ramp. So if you are going to match people up one-on-one, realize not every match is made in heaven and you need to allow an off-ramp so that a new better match could be made or the approach that we are pushing, which is more of a team approach to mentoring, which is the more contemporary approach. And we discuss how to set that up effectively with different layers and so on. But this is something that every organization should have and should revisit to make sure it's effective because not only is it great for the mentor, not only is it great for the mentee, it's also great for the organization. Those who are mentored actually have greater loyalty to the organization. It's one of the best retention tools out there.

John (07:53): Yeah, absolutely. So we kind of glossed over your initial statement was that we know that they perform better. So let's maybe break down kind of specific, and I don't know, it's hard to give an example maybe or case study, but in this case maybe it's not. But what are some very specific benefits to really both parties, the person being mentored? Because I'm guessing that you've got some examples of people who have been mentors that say, you know what? I get as much out of this as I give.

Ruth (08:20): Yes, we have definitely interviewed many people from all over the world, but some of the most popular examples are that people who are mentored earn more money. They're happier in their job and in their career. Why? Because your mentor will tell you, Ruth, you have been sitting in that chair doing the same job long enough. It is time to throw your hat in the ring and apply for the promotion. And then I might say, I'm not ready. I don't meet all the criteria, all the usual conversation. And they said, nobody meets all the criteria. Put your hat in the ring and try. And when you get it, surround yourself with people that can advise you and you can ask questions, et cetera. So they give you that encouragement, they give you those guardrails, and again, they push you out of your comfort zone with that promotion comes more money, et cetera, et cetera.

(09:14): Why is it great for the mentors? The mentors are also learning from the mentees because they're open to new knowledge. And I study, I'm a social scientist. I study extreme high achievers, Nobel Prize winners and astronauts and Olympians. And we share many of those stories in the book as well. And every single one who has served as a mentor will share how much they have learned from their mentees. One of the people was Dr. Bob Lefkowitz who won the Nobel Prize in 2012, and he shared the Nobel Prizes, usually shared two or three people. And one of his first questions when he got that 4:00 AM phone call was, who am I sharing the Nobel Prize with? And they told him, and it turned out it was his former mentee. And I said to him, that's strange that you're sharing that Nobel Prize, the biggest prize of your career with a former mentee. He said, strange. He said, that is the biggest honor. There is a mentor measures their success by the success of their mentees.

John (10:23): Wonder how many was

Ruth (10:23): Brilliant.

John (10:24): Well, yeah, I mean I think that's definitely the right way to look at it. I mean, as leaders, that's our job, right? That's right. So I wonder, and you might know this, how many people who have been mentored then go on inside the organization to become mentors? So they've been mentored, become mentors.

Ruth (10:41): So the mentee becomes the

John (10:43): Mentor. They had that experience. It was a great experience for them. They're like, I'm going to do that too, or I'm going to give back. You probably have some All of them.

Ruth (10:49): Yeah, all of them. Especially if they were mentored. Well, they always want to pay it forward. And that's one of the great things. I have achieved great heights because of these doors that were open for me, because of the advice that I've received, because of the guidance, because of those guardrails, because of those stretch assignments, I now want to pay it forward. And this is really how you create not just the retention, but you also create this pool of high achievers because everyone is lifting up the next person. But the truly great organizations, even the C-suite and the CEO, all of them have mentors as well. Yeah.

John (11:31): So this is a tricky question, particularly coming from a white male. Is there significant data that suggests certainly women, minorities that maybe unfortunately still face some disadvantages in the workplace that this is even a greater boost for them?

Ruth (11:47): So there's quite a bit of data on this, and a lot of it says also that women are over mentored, but under sponsored, and we know this, what we are advocating for is that you don't only look for mentors who look like you. And this is especially for women and those in underrepresented groups, and that's for two reasons. One, you'll be in an echo chamber. Absolutely, they should be on your mentoring team because there is that empathy and that emotional intelligence that you can grasp onto. But you will be in an echo chamber if you only hear about experiences like yours. Second, there's a very limited number of people who at those higher levels, and if every woman is going for the few women who are in the C-suite, they're not going to have time to do their job. And then that creates a whole other problems as well.

(12:42): This goes back to what we were advocating for at the beginning, get a team of mentors. So if you are a woman, somebody, at least one person on your mentoring team will be a woman. If you are an underrepresented group, at least one person on your mentoring team will be of an underrepresented group. But you also want people who are different than you so that you can learn from them as well. And you want people inside your industry, outside your industry, senior to you at your level, junior to you across those industries, cross departments within your organization. The more people you have and they don't all need to meet together to discuss your future, the better it's going to be, the more perspectives you'll have access to.

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Ruth (14:59): There are the mentors that do not do a good job, what we call TOR mentors.

(15:05): These are the people who are jealous of their mentee's success. These are the people who don't want their mentee to shine because they're afraid it'll take away from them. These are people who are very possessive of their mentees, don't have the bandwidth to take on a mentee or not sharing. They're keeping some information hidden. This is not good. And the bad part about this is that bad mentorship is worse than no mentorship. And the reason for that is if I've been burned by a bad mentor, I am not rushing to find a new one. And that's the problem because of what we discussed at the beginning and that those who are mentored out earn and outperform those who are not.

John (15:47): So that leads me to, as a mentor, what are there a set, I'm sure anybody can learn to be a good mentor, but are there a set of qualities that are sort of human nature that really kind of make somebody a better mentor than another?

Ruth (16:03): There are. I think there are a lot of qualities in, the good part is they can all be learned. A lot of it is hear what's not being said, see what's not being done. Start making those connections. Start pushing your mentee of the comfort zone, the things that we talked about at the beginning. If you're able to make someone better than they could be on their own and in a shorter amount of time than having them figure it out on their own, you've succeeded.

John (16:33): So you've said here what's not being said twice now, and I'm just guessing there's some people out there that are like, wait, tell me what that really means. How do you do that?

Ruth (16:43): It takes a lot of active listening, hearing when they're telling you something. You want to start peeling layers of an onion, right? Why is it that you are saying that? Why is it that you're doing things a certain way? And start asking those why questions a lot and then start making connections for them that they might not be able to see on their own. And once you're able to make the connections and you see their face light up, that's when you know you've got them on something good. Now you can start coming up with a plan, alright, we agree that this is what you want to do. Now let's figure out how you're going to get it done.

John (17:20): So I had what I would call a mentor. We didn't officially call it that, and he would drive me crazy because he would always just say whatever I said, he said, tell me more about that, until I would loop myself into a puddle because I had nothing left to say. So at what point do you see this as culture and inside an organization?

Ruth (17:42): I think it needs to be culture. I think it needs to be inculcated into the culture of every single person who's there into the fabric of who they are into their mission. Because if we know it works and if we know it makes the employees better and the organization better, I want someone to give me an argument about why we shouldn't be doing it. Right.

John (18:04): Well, Ruth, it was great having you stop by a few moments, share with our listeners. You want to tell people where they might connect with you or certainly find a copy of your guide to mentoring.

Ruth (18:13): Absolutely. So I am Ruth, Ian, wherever you are on social media, I am there. The book is called Financial Times Guide to Mentoring. And wherever you love buying books, that's where you'll find it.

John (18:27): Awesome. Again, appreciate yourself. Hopefully we'll run into you one of these days out there on the road.

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