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SBA Administrator on Mentoring: 'It's About Championship'

Mentoring’s lessons can be just as beneficial for the mentors as the mentees. In this online panel, women business leaders share what mentoring has taught them.

  1. Be the adult in the room. Remembering to give back, usher and host, as mentoring requires, helps you foster relationships with every interaction, says Maria Contreras-Sweet, administrator with the U.S. Small Business Administration. Says Contreras-Sweet, “The more I gave, the more came back to me.”
  2. Be a champion. Mentoring isn’t about telling someone what to do, reminds Contreras-Sweet. It’s about being someone’s champion and helping them reach their goals.
  3. Be open to coaching. When she was young, Poornima Vijayashanker says she didn’t always listen to the people advising her. This founder of Femgineer, an education startup that supports women in tech and leadership eventually realized that the more she listened the more advisors were willing to give her their time and insights.
  4. Be able to assess risk. Jenn Piepszak, a national sales executive at Chase, says mentors have helped her learn how to be more accountable to herself and help her evaluate opportunities, such as expanded responsibility or new jobs. “Mentors who have been able to help me think about personal risk,” says Piepszak, “have been incredibly valuable.”
  5. See the big picture. Perspective is hard, but an essential lesson Bridget Weston Pollack of non-profit SCORE has learned from her mentors. She says, “Being able to take a step back and think about new angles, that might make things easier or better in the long run.”
Looking to be matched with a mentor? Check out free resources from SCORE and the SBA. For more insights, watch this short video.

Related: What Mentoring Has Meant to Me