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The World is Your Mentor

DSM Mentorship

June 17, 2019

I have a confession.

I shouldn’t be writing this blog. 

I’m *technically* not qualified.

I have never had a mentor. Well, I’ve never had an official “mentor” in the sense that you do the mentor song and dance in which you ask, “will you be my mentor” and then if they say, “yes” *BAM!* you now have coffee every second Tuesday of the month. I’ve never had that. If you do have an “official mentor,” that’s cool. For you, this is just another uninspiring mentoring blog.

This blog is for the person who doesn’t have a mentor — in fact, it’s more specific. This blog is for the woman who doesn’t have a strong female leader to be their mentor. One of the biggest challenges of traditional mentorship is that there are too few women in leadership roles for every aspiring female leader who needs a mentor.

You aren’t failing if you don’t have a mentor, just as having a mentor is not a guarantee of success. However, for people without one, the world is our mentor. If you’re resourceful, a little bit scrappy and intentional, you’ll find business lessons come from everywhere. Each interaction, each experience, each opportunity you encounter — failure and success — can be a mentor if you pay attention. 

Being a mentee is about learning. So as long as you are open and not afraid to ask questions, you can get candid feedback from anywhere. Some of the best feedback I’ve ever received hasn’t been from a boss or a mentor but from peers who honestly shared how I could improve. The feedback was much better as it came from someone who truly cared about our professional relationship and wanted to see me succeed. They were also close enough to my work and areas of responsibility that it wasn’t through a filter from afar or above.

Informal mentors can be found in your peer group or through your manager. They can be your professors, or perhaps they are someone much closer to your circle and are from your family.

Even though I haven’t had a mentor, that doesn’t mean that I haven’t had an opportunity to work with some badass ladies who are fearless leaders. Here are five lessons I’ve learned from the baddest lady leaders I’ve ever had the honor of working with.

Five Lessons from Female Leadership

Inspiration comes from a spark. 

You never know how something small can have such a meaningful and life-changing impact on others. You can be that spark.

Learned from Joyce Pingle, Chief Information Officer, Krause Gateway Center

Show up. 

Showing up shows you care and there is nothing more important than showing that you care.

Learned from Erin Wall, Vice President, Corporate Marketing, Workiva

Be your whole self.

Don’t be afraid to bring vulnerability and your whole self to work. Your best you, is you.

Learned from Martina Lauchengco, Partner, Costanoa Ventures

Rise Above the Sisters of Sabotage.

It’s inevitable and it will happen, there will be people who want to pull you down instead of raise you up. We must rise above.

Learned from Sam Ledger, Senior Director of Sales EMEA, Workiva

Your work speaks for itself.

If you are dedicated and hardworking, your work will speak for itself. 

Learned from Ann Atkin, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Prairie Meadows

There is a common theme between each of these women: they are all strong female leaders who demand excellence from their team and their peers. They make everyone around them bring their A-game and embody the type of leader that I aspire to be. They have taught me that it only takes a spark to inspire someone and that showing up matters. They’ve shown me what it takes to be your whole self, how to rise above and that if you don’t have an advocate, your work can speak for itself. I’ve never had an official mentor, but I have individuals, experiences and opportunities that teach me every day.

Joyce, Erin, Martina, Sam and Mom: thank you for being a great mentor.

Job opportunities and career resources are abundant in Greater Des Moines (DSM). Whether you're looking to find an internshipa job or to develop professionally, we have the resources to help you thrive.

Stephanie Atkin

Stephanie works at Dwolla as VP of marketing, helping make the complex and highly regulated world of moving money easy to understand. She received her Masters of Public Administration, with an emphasis on Executive Leadership Development from Drake University and her Bachelor of Arts in Marketing from Simpson College.