I have been fortunate enough to have mentors who have guided me, which have allowed me to experience a fulfilling and successful career path. Without my mentors, I would have made decisions that prevented me from seeing the bigger picture. My mentors encouraged me to take risks and explore new opportunities.

My first mentor was a senior retail executive who challenged me while I was a junior buyer, helping me to excel quickly. He always put things in perspective, showing me how my efforts contributed to the success of the overall strategy and team. He’s someone I still call today to share my enthusiasm about changes in my career, as well as the challenges and disappointments that happen along the way.

Of all the many important lessons I have learned from my mentors, three rank high as my professional philosophies in life.

  • Build self-confidence in yourself to take courageous steps in your career and step outside of your comfort zone.
  • Maintain a commitment to work-life balance, so that you can be productive and happy in both places.
  • Be a mentor to others along the way. Pass on lessons and skills to those who are watching you and wanting you to make a difference.

A good mentor is able to have ‘eggshell’ conversations and give open and honest feedback. A good mentor also looks beyond a mentee’s job responsibilities and tries to understand that person and his or her interests. A good mentor exposes people to unique experiences that they might not get on a regular basis. Finally, good mentees choose their mentors wisely, take the initiative for their own development, and keep an open ear to feedback and comments.

Companies who adopt formal mentor programs, such as wal-Mart’s Mentor Me program, are creating a structure that helps people navigate through the company culture while giving everyone permission to fully activate a mentormentee relationship. The Mentor Me program encourages the exchange and transfer of diverse knowledge, experience, and perspectives among our associates and enhances their personal and professional development.