Everyone Needs a Mentor

I have been incredibly lucky throughout my career to be mentored by some strong, talented leaders. I am 100% certain my success is due in part to their patience, their encouragement, and the example they set for me.  Simply put, without my mentors, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.

Nancy Ray Photography

Nancy Ray Photography

The world today isn’t at all the same as it was 15 years ago. Young people are faced with many new challenges and young women, in particular, still have to stand up and be brave in spite of adversity and in spite of the work of the women before them. The #metoo movement has started a public conversation about topics that were once kept locked up.  Social media has shone a light on politics like never before. We now talk openly about glass ceilings, how to break through them and equality in pay and positions. But what does this all mean for young people?  How are you supposed to find your voice? Figure out your passion? Decide what you want to do with the rest of your life?

Here’s the secret… get a mentor!  I’ve been around enough young people to know that it may seem better or more valuable to be “self-made” or discover it on you own, but it’s not.  While I will never discount the value of figuring something out, in the same breath I going to shout and encourage you to seek expertise.  I’m going to say it again, in case you didn’t hear me- Get.A.Mentor!

The truth is that my best two mentors were accidental. Cyd was a brilliant woman who offered a 16-year old girl a chance to make some money. Because she was passionate and smart, she realized I wasn’t like other 16 year olds and I really LOVED my job.  Because of her, I pursued an education in hospitality. When I was in college, I got a job at the best restaurant in town- Magnolia’s.  I told Lisa, the owner, I was studying hospitality and I wanted to make money.  Lisa didn’t just offer me a job waiting tables and bartending.  She took me under her wing, showed me business, let me be a part of her expanding catering business, took me to the Catersource conference in Las Vegas and reinforced that a woman could be a boss. She didn’t owe me anything but she taught, nurtured and mentored me.Because of Lisa and Cyd’s spirit, I knew I too could (and would) be an entrepreneur. I may not have called either of these women my mentors at the time, but looking back I will never discount the value of their time and cannot thank them enough for the care they offered to me at such a formative time in my life.

So why do I write all of this?  I recently had a conversation with a young person about the value of education, career future, and money. It was a brutally honest conversation, some of which I agreed with and some of which I didn’t. Here is my opinion from years in this industry- nothing in the world can replace hands-on experience and access to expertise. The reason I had two of the best mentors in my life, is because I worked for them. I didn’t just go to class, graduate from college, and get a management job. The reason I was successful was because I had a resume of experience and confidence from mentors before I even got started. 

This spring semester, we’re excepting a limited number of student interns.  The reason our internship program still exists is because Becca and I feel committed to giving young people an opportunity to get hands-on experience in a boutique segment of the hospitality industry.  Although training and teaching takes a lot of time and energy, we know that if we can make a difference in one person’s life, it’s worth it.  I know that without my mentors, I wouldn’t be the same person so our internship program is my opportunity to pay it forward and help another young person. 

If you are interested in applying, you can read more about the program and find the application here.