Climbing the corporate ladder is hard enough—let alone climbing it with a nice, new pair of heels. Well, that is exactly what I did with the guidance of great mentors. They have been the sounding board as well as the sound of reason for me as I’ve worked to achieve professional and personal growth.

I began my career as a 12-year-old book keeper/station attendant at my family’s full-service gas station. The transition over time to senior-level executive placed me in the paths of some wonderful mentors who helped me achieve the growth needed to succeed in the corporate environment.

As a mentor and mentoree, you must be self-aware and know your are as of improvement. To maximize the potential of mentors, surrounding yourself with others you can trust and respect is key. These individuals can be in the community, church, or career field that you aspire to tap into.

I recommend fostering relationships with more than one mentor so you can develop in several areas. For example,if you need public speaking skills, one of your mentors should be experienced in that area; if you lack computer skills, seek out someone who is an accomplished computer whiz. I describe exceptional mentors as:

  • People who are honest.
  • People you respect.
  • People who want to mentor you.
  • People who have your best interests at heart.

Today,as a mentor,the question I am most often asked is “How can I get the job you have?” The best advice I can give is:

  • Be willing to start wherever you are and be the best at what you’re doing.
  • Focus on your own progress, not other people’s progress.
  • Work hard and seek out opportunities to increase your job knowledge.
  • Believe in yourself and make sure you have a support base.
  • Always focus on what you can give back.

Even though I can change tires and oil, I don’t have the exact formula for success. I do, however, believe that acquiring capable mentors and returning the favor to aspiring professionals does help everyone make it to the top.