Be a Mentor. Find a Mentor. The Missing Piece – Have a Plan!

I read this great article this evening, The 3 Career Mentors Everyone Should Have and it reminded me how important it is to take and participate in active mentoring. I’ve found that the last couple of years, I’ve worn the hat of “mentor”  — but I really need to get back into being the “mentee.” I just haven’t found the right mentor — well that’s the lie I tell myself. Truthfully, I haven’t been looking.

“If you’re waiting to find a mentor who looks like you, you may be waiting a long time.”

I attended #SHRM12 last month in Atlanta, GA and this article immediately reminded me of the opening conference speech by Condoleezza Rice. She spoke on many topics and I gained TONS of nuggets of wisdom. She spoke specifically on mentoring and said, “If you’re waiting to find a mentor who looks like you, you may be waiting a long time.” I LOVE that sentiment because it drives empowerment and ownership in your career. That kind of talk really speaks to me. It moved me to action and I wanted to find some “new” mentors! But when I went back to my office, I fizzled out a bit about “WHO” to start a mentoring relationship with.

The great thing about the tips in this article is that it helps to gives guidance around finding a mentor for both short and longer term goals and while many may find that it has more of a professional slant — mentoring – mentee relationships don’t always have to be about the workplace. They may revolve around an activity, an attribute you like in someone else that you want to develop, or a subject/area that you want to get to know more about — and probably a dozen more reasons.

Take charge of your career and development! You’re in the driver seat!

Drive your career and development! Find someone to mentor you! And find someone to mentor!

Spend the rest of the month of July coming up with your requirements (PM talk for what do you need to get out of a mentoring relationship) and then come up with your plan and identify some resources. And focus on August to get  something started — many of us have just completed mid year performance reviews or assessments —  career and development are top of mind!

I’m re-energized and back on track! Join me!

Nine Minutes on Monday – James Robbins

Its Tuesday Morning here in beautiful Atlanta and I got my 3rd day at the #SHRM12 conference kicked off early for a 7am session with James Robbins (@jamesrobbins97) for a session called “9 Minutes on Mondaythe quick and easy way to go from manager to leader.

Getting ready for the presentation — first session of the day — and it was a packed session. Robbins playfully comments, “Its a 7am session — how many of you are from the west coast… what are you doing here?!?! Its 4am!!!”

What a great way to kick off the day! I found James Robbins to be a fantastic and inspirational! He had some of the best stories to tie back to his points — from his time in Bolivia and climbing the mountain to stories about his family (his child Sydney riding her bicycle in the snow with James to get to a client meeting had me in tears laughing!).

I want to share my 3 biggest takeaways(and trust me, I got WAY more than three of them):

It’s the little things — Its not about adding more engagement levers, its about using the ones that we have better. 

Our jobs as managers, leaders, and HR People — get results! We are paid to produce results, and our people produce the results, so you’ve got to be a good leader.

Our teams are like gauges — we have to pay attention to them and make sure that we don’t loose focus on them.

We also need to remember that our people have the need to be more than a number. As leaders we need take a genuine interest in our teams. We should take a minute to learn about each one of them– and be real about it (ixnay on the surveymonkey). It’ll take time, but as you get to know about them you’re also building trust. “Caring is a form of trust,” says James.

My third biggest take away is that people crave feedback because they want to know where they are to make an achievement. Can you give your people feedback? Can you give it timely? When you give feedback do you tie it back to a tangible effect? Many of us probably do the first two easily — but  maybe forget that third point. Its important that we can tie the feedback back to an effect (impact to you as a manager/leader, the company, clients, or other goal) to help people get that feeling of achievement.

Check out a more about Jame’s recognition codes on how to give meaningful and effective feedback to your teams.

James Robbins giving speech “Nine Minutes on Monday” at the 2012 SHRM conference, Tuesday June 26, 2012

I look forward to putting these into practice when I return to the office on Thursday — that’s right, I’m so excited, I can’t even wait to Monday!

Jim Collins – Kicks off Day 3 at SHRM 2012

I always have enjoyed listening to Jim Collins — and reading his books (I know I’m not the only one who has “Good to Great” in their list of all time favorite books)


Collins talked about a lot about the stuff he’s chatted about in his talks before — but there was one theme that I really took away this time. Creativity is natural, discipline is learned. Everyone is creative.”If you breathe, you are creative.” Collins uses the example of a 5 year old and asks, “Did anyone have to teach you to be creative?” But then countered — “… but how disciplined were you at 5?”

So the question is: How do you marry discipline to creativity?


Last Minute Tips For an Awesome SHRM 2012 Conference

You arrived at the Atlanta airport — successfully navigated to your hotel– and you even figured out the shuttles to get you to the conference center and got through the registration line– now what?

There is a TON of stuff to do and see that the conference — so having a plan — even a quasi-plan — is helpful. You may have already done some research on how to make the most of your conference experience — but I thought I’d put a few more tips out there for any of you last minute planners :).

Tip #1 – Decide what your focus?

There are tons of sessions, booths, and networking opportunities …. so what is your focus? Pick activities that help you accomplish those goals and make sure that you balance your time between the activities.

Also think about WHAT you want to learn about — are you looking for new technology? HR thought leaders? Implementing or re-vamping a HR program? Networking with people in your industry or location? Keep these factors in mind — it’ll help you select sessions and how you want to spend your time.

I spoke with @mikevandervort who said that a conference in the past, his focus was all about networking — so he spend most of his time at networking events and in the exhibition hall.

Its all about what YOU need to get out of this experience.

Tip #2 – Do a little prep work.

Okay — I admit, I WAS that nerdy kid in school who LOVED homework (and was known to even ask for more) so no surprise that I’d recommend this — but trust me, this one is simple and won’t put you out too much (like 10 mins tops!)– and you’ll get SO much out of it when you get back to your office. You’ll find it helpful to have a few prepared questions to ask potential vendors or people that you’re networking with — particularly if you’re looking at software, networking,  or new business relationships. It will help you have a targeted conversation and when you get back from the conference you’ll have some notes to compare — you’ll be able to hit the ground running with follow up when you’re ready. 

If you’re all about sessions, be sure to take a look at the sessions online — some of them require per-registration and if you’re looking for re-certification credits, you can search before hand to see if (and how many) the sessions will qualify for.

If you’re traveling in a group consider taking a divide and conquer approach! And remember, many sessions are recorded and you can view sessions online after the conference.

Tip #3 – Exercise flexibility! 

I’m not talking about yoga here guys. You’ve thought about what you want to focus on for your conference experience, thought about what you’re asking folks and thought about what the sessions you’re interested but be flexible and open minded in case a session you’re interested in is full or another opportunity comes up for networking.


It goes without saying — HAVE FUN and RELAX! You’ll have a great conference experience!