Career Advice

What I Learned from My Mentor

Jacqui Barrett Poindexter 2015 0311 large

Throughout the past 20 years, I’ve accepted mentoring offered me as well as sought out mentoring as needed and as inspired to do so.

My most recent mentoring experience has been through a major disruptor and book author, Whitney Johnson. She has described herself as an accountability and thought partner, which I find to be apt.

I’m thankful for the relationship because it’s helped me not only develop new strengths but also reaffirmed and expanded upon the strengths I already possessed. The mentorship relationship I have with Whitney was instrumental in helping me capitalize upon and internalize the value I bring to the table.

She also has encouraged me to continue building and living my dream.

Here are 5 things I’ve learned thanks to my mentor:

1. It is okay to focus on yourself.

As a business owner/entrepreneur, I had gotten into the habit of thinking I was fully self-absorbed, focusing in on my little business baby nearly every single day for the past 20 years. But the reality is, the longer I’ve been in business, the less I focus on me – or have the benefit of someone else focusing in on my development.

During our first session, Whitney said something, the idea of which stuck with me. She referenced the fact that I probably wasn’t used to having this much attention on me/my needs, and didn’t it feel good? She was right! It felt awesome. What a light bulb moment as I realized how soothing and invigorating it was to be focusing on (and carving time for) my personal and professional needs!

[Related: 5 Steps to Build Your Personal Brand]

2. How to calculate my value and as a consequence, better position my services and pricing.  

This takeaway directly applies to any careerist. Employees who know how to calculate and communicate their value better increase their chances of earning the salary and promotions they deserve. It’s also an extremely important skill to hone for someone who is self-employed, because if you don’t fully acknowledge your own value no one else will.

3. Twenty years’ experience is invaluable.

I’ve been day-in-day-out a career writer since 1997. There is value in this devotion and dedicated focus. All careerists must value their time and energy investment.

[Related: Here’s What a Mentor Can (And Can’t) Do For Your Career]

4. An outsider’s perspective can help me see things about myself that I didn’t see as special.

While we think we are marketing our value as we see fit, we are often too close to have perspective. My mentor has shone a light on areas of my value that I had taken for granted.

5. An outsider’s perspective can help me see gaps.

For example, Whitney quickly suggested I revamp my website and get a new headshot. She also guided me in that process, initially. I was uncomfortable with my husband’s discomfort on the headshot result (he felt the makeup was overdone); my mentor suggested I publish the headshot, and that my husband doesn’t see it the same as I do, that he sees me through a different lens, and that is okay.

Over the span of our mentor-mentee relationship, Whitney has given me the additional push I needed to embrace my own value and acknowledge all I bring to the table. I’ve been able to shed old inhibitions and transition from my own personal Fall, through Winter and into a Spring that has found me in full bloom.