Building up a fashion empire takes capital, so for the last few years I’ve earned part of my income as a “career coach,” helping people people start and grow their careers.
Some of my clients work 9-5’s, some work multiple jobs to scale their “side hustle,” some are solopreneurs and some are entrepreneurs.
TL;DR: They run the gamut.
“I’m Looking for a Mentor”
Because of my focus on developing careers, social media often feeds me posts from non-clients who are looking for career advice. (All Hail The Mighty Algorithm!!)
And I see posts like this all of the time:
- “I’m looking for a mentor in (x)! Can anyone connect me?”
- “I’m looking to build my business, and I have questions about (operations/software/hiring). Any advice for finding a mentor?”
Seeing all of these questions, where people are quite lost and posting with hope in their hearts – reminds me of a children’s book.
Specifically, these posts me of the famous Dr. Seuss book, “Are You My Mother?” where a baby bird goes up to trucks, trees and random creatures asking, “Are you my mother?”
And just like that cute little bird, people are out here on the internet going up to anyone who will listen, “Are you my mentor? Do you know how to find my mentor?” And getting nowhere.
Oftentimes, I want to write a looooong comment sharing why their post isn’t going to get them where they want to be – but I usually just keep scrolling, or force myself to close the app and get sh*t done!
Following is advice that I’ve wanted to write for a LONGGGGG TIME, and I’ve often been tempted to dump my thoughts in Facebook comments. But I have a fashion empire to build, and I’m not here to debate mentorship on social media.
Thank you, next.
If you’ve found your way here (either through someone sharing this post or me plopping this link in your comments), I encourage you to open yourself up to a new way of thinking and challenge your beliefs. I’ve got some hard truths to tell, so buckle up buttercup!
Insight #1: You’re **Actually** Looking for a Coach or Consultant
When people look for a “mentor,” they’re often looking for a fairy godmother. But instead of helping you make questionable decisions about shoes, they’re looking for a business version – a knowledgable and influential person who will help you scale your business drastically or break into a new income bracket.
And, darling, I have to tell you that the odds are not in your favor. Finding a mentor who picks you – out of the hundreds or thousands (!!) of other people who want their attention – is not super likely. You may dream of a leader in your field scouting you and ~developing~ your potential, but this is like winning the lottery. It happens, but how good are your odds? (Note: If you’re determined to snag a specific person as your mentor, be sure to read this entire post.)
If you are waiting for an awesome mentor to find you, and pluck you from your life – you’re counting on a MF fairytale. I’m small beans, and I have 2-3 people a week asking me to be their mentor.
Influential people simply do not have the time to help everyone who reaches out.
Pay to Play
If you’re looking for someone to step into your life and help you figure stuff out over the longterm, whether it’s getting your life together or building your business – you’re most likely ACTUALLY looking for a coach or consultant.
One more time: If you are looking for someone to spend hours with you and help you get things moving and grow, your best bet is to hire a knowledgable coach or consultant.
These two terms are often interchangeable, and it mostly gets down to what folks want to call themselves. A coach or consultant helps you look at your life or business, and figure out how to grow the crap out of it. The person you hire (should) have a ton of experience in what you’re trying to do.
Olympic athletes hire coaches to help them win medals. Actors hire coaches and continually take classes. Business leaders have coaches and consultants that help them get sh*t done. And while these coaches/consultants *are* mentors, they are also being paid.
I <3 Cheat Codes
The longer term the relationship, the better you’ll be able to level up. Why suffer through making mistakes everyone makes when you could learn from someone else and get the cheat codes?!
Ex: If you’re trying to scale a B2B tech startup, it would behoove you to reach out to people who have done what you want to do, and hire them as a consultant or business coach. They are INUNDATED with requests to “pick their brain,” and you’re better off paying for their expertise to get their undivided attention.
Ex #2: If you REALLY WANT to publish your novel, it’s be a good idea to reach out and pay for a consulting session with an author whose books are listed in your comps.
<<Tire Screeching Sound – “I shouldn’t have to pay for help!!!”>>
If you read the above and got REALLY pissed off, thinking, “I shouldn’t have to pay for advice! These people have everything and they should help me!”
Okay, let’s run with that. If industry leaders answered every question and said “Sure!” to every request for coffee/mentorship, how much time do you think that would take?
I’m betting it would easily take up their entire workweek, and they still wouldn’t have time to help everyone. So, instead, they may spend 5-10 minutes per person. Even if they do respond to you, you’re not getting 1:1 attention, and you’re not able to fully dive into the challenges you’re having.
When people get pissed off about me telling them to pay for a coach or consultant, my go-to response is: “Why do you feel entitled to other people’s time?”
<<Another Tire Screeching Sound – “Brianne, I get it! But I’m freaking broke/strapped for cash!!!”>>
Heyo, I totally get that. Insight #2 and #3 will definitely help you. There are also likely great resources at your local Chamber of Commerce, Facebook Groups and Meetups for you.
If you show up and hustle, and do the work – chances are someone will notice. And if they don’t, you’re on your grind and you will eventually be able to pay for coaching and consulting.
Insight #2: You Have Access to Amazing Mentorship RIGHT NOW
How much time a week do you devote to listening to personal development or industry podcasts, or reading personal development books? Are you following people who inspire you, who motivate you, and whose mistakes you can learn from?
There’s about a bajillion podcasts out there, and chances are that the people you WANT to be your mentors have been interviewed for a few. Chances are they’ve ALSO been interviewed for articles, or share regular tweets.
And your listening/reading doesn’t need to be limited by the work of the folks you *wish* were your mentors. There are lots of other powerful thinkers who share their insights via books they write and interviews they do.
Before you show up expecting a VIP seat with 1:1 mentorship, your butt better be in the cheap seats!!
ALSO: If you do land a meeting with someone you desperately want to be your mentor, the FIRST REAL QUESTION they’ll ask will relate to this. “What books are you reading?” or “How are you leveling up your skills?” If you ask them questions they’ve answered in their books/interviews, they’re not gonna be impressed.
Insight #3: Okay, So You Really Want a Specific Mentor (Engagement)
Okay, let’s say you really really really REALLY want to connect with a specific person, or a few people. You’ve listened or read every interview they’ve done, you’ve bought their books, etc etc. You even have Google Alerts set up for them, because you’re that serious about building a relationship with them.
Before cold emailing them and asking them to be your mentor (shudder), you’ve gotta engage with them on social media.
And the best place to do that?
Twitter is a great equalizer (in some respects, they do have a Nazi problem they refuse to address), giving you unfettered access to people through their replies. By regularly *replying* to their tweets, as well as engaging on other platforms – you stand out from the crowd. Some famous people don’t read through their replies, but many do.
Favoriting doesn’t count. Having the fortitude to put yourself forward and regularly engage will get you WAYYYY further than a cold email. Remember, they’re putting their thoughts out there into the world, with the expectation that people will reply/engage.
You need to be one of those people.
If your dream mentor is SUPER famous (a la Rihanna), they may not see your stuff. But their publicist or manager or other members of their team may. Engaging regularly is one of the best ways to catch the attention of your dream mentor.
Insight #4: Okay, So You Really Want a Specific Mentor (Purchase & Review Products)
The potential mentor you’re low key obsessed with probably has some sort of product they’re selling. And one of the best ways to get their attention is to buy it and REVIEW IT. I find it fascinating when folks fill the replies of thought leaders like Gary V, asking dozens of questions – but fail to buy his products.
You may not be a fan of Gary V (do you!), but I’m betting that if someone really wanted his attention they could get it by filming 3-4 videos that review his company, Wine Library. They could talk about and review his products, how his work has impacted them and mention a few questions they’d love to ask him.
BOOM. Attention grabbed.
Entrepreneurs and badasses seek out these reviews to gage how they’re doing. There is a SUPER HIGH probability that your dream mentor will see an in-depth blog post or video review.
If you want something from someone, the best thing to do is show up and support the crap out of their work.
Insight #5: Mentors Will Find You Working
A few years ago, I attended a fashion conference. I’m working on showing up and networking with people, even if it means flying to a different city and crashing on a friend’s couch (this is usually what this means!).
While doing this, I figured out that a lot of my fellow fashion wannabes spend an ENORMOUS amount of time DM’ing designers and brands for mentorship or insights.
And getting nowhere.
Here’s the thing. If you don’t have anything to SHOW potential mentors for feedback, how are they supposed to help you?! Even if a designer did click on a profile, they would likely see nothing or work that was years old//from fashion school.
Since starting my brand and doing the work, I’ve learned this simple truth: Mentors find you working. As I’ve posted BTS shots of my collection on Instagram Story, shared fitting and sewing issues via Tweets, etc etc, the people that I wanted to network with – people who could give me a leg up – have found me.
Most leaders want to help others on their way to the top. But they can’t help people who are only talking about dreaming of doing the work. They have to prioritize their energy by focusing on those doing the work.
Get Out There
So take what you know now, and go out there – and get to work. Share your successes and many failures. Engage on social media with others on the grind and those that inspire you. Make it a priority to pay for consulting and coaching from people who are experienced.
See you at the top.
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