“Unto whom much is given, much is required” applies as much to my mentoring approach as it does to my overall life philosophy. How appropriate then that my first mentor and role model was my mother—although I didn’t realize it at the time.
She was the CEO of our family of 18 children, 16 of whom went to college. She made us “high-performing” individuals through her nurturing, prayers, and quiet guidance, teaching us that we could accomplish anything to which we set our minds.
Giving back—sharing our time, talent and treasure—was another key part of Mom’s mantra to us kids. My mother was a foster parent and taught us how to truly give of ourselves.
My first “traditional” mentor had a strikingly similar approach. While recruiting me to join General Mills from Stanford Graduate school of Business, Ann Fudge told me she’d be my mentor and “teach me everything I needed to succeed” if I in turn would do the same for others.
I was so blessed to have someone like Ann in my life at that time. I was 26 years old and fresh out of a business school; I didn’t know the first thing about the corporate world. With the exception of two brothers with lengthy careers with IBM, most of my family had pursued careers in social services or teaching. I didn’t even know what a mentor was or how valuable that opportunity was but I was smart enough to accept the offer.
From teaching me how to present myself to helping me navigate my career opportunities, Ann taught me what it takes to be successful in my career and in life. A good mentor will give you input you may not want to hear, but absolutely need to hear—and Ann did that. Her impact has been profound, and I am fortunate to still have Ann in my life.
In return, I began to mentor others after I had 10 years of a professional career under my belt. Over the years, I’ve had the honor and privilege to mentor many individuals, and these experiences continue to enrich my life. When people ask me how I can be a good mentor with my busy schedule, I remind them that giving someone 15 quality minutes—time during which you truly listen to them—can be extremely valuable; I make an effort to give people my undivided attention when we’re together (a skill I learned from my mother!).
I look forward to years of sharing with others what i’ve learned from the wonderful people in my life, knowing that every experience will teach me something new as well.