Are You a Mentor?

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By Debbie Nicholson, Think-to-INK!

I raise this question because I am a consultant and educator for the Wide-Format printing industry -- I ponder who will stand behind me when I turn in the final job jacket. 

Mentoring Defined!Mentoring

The act or process of helping and guiding another person to support their professional or personal development.

In my opinion, a successful mentor should possess many of the following qualities:

  • Be approachable and patient -- without hesitation.
  • Good listener: capacity to hear what is not said out loud.
  • Develop mutual trust and respect with the mentee -- get to know them personally.
  • You can easily navigate between mentoring and coaching, pushing & pulling, if you will.
  • Maintains complete confidentiality and identity, if required.
  • Remains focused on the mentee’s continual learning and development in a defined area
  • Willingness to share skills and knowledge in a particular field or subject.
  • Well respected in their field of expertise.
  • Assists in setting defined and critical goals for success.
  • Demonstrates a positive attitude and acts as a positive role model.
  • A successful mentor must be brave enough to talk about their failures.
  • Understand it is not all about you; the mentee is focused on their development.
  • Most importantly – be evident of the honor of being their mentor – take it seriously.


Background Check (no pun intended):

two ladies talkingWhen I think back on my first job out of school, I still get this nervous and tense feeling inside – I was terrified!

I worked for a well-known international company still in business today. While that was not scary enough, my boss was mean and impatient.  She would tell me what to do (without details) and walk away.  I was too shy to ask for more detailed information, so - I fudged my way through.

Many times, I was right, but more times - not!  She would fuss at me and make me feel like a child (which, I guess, I was).  This went on for several months.  As you can imagine, I quit every day – in my head! 

I wasn’t a quitter; even then, I wanted to do my best – whatever that looked like at the time.

Surprisingly, I was the talker, she was quiet, not approachable, or even personable.  So, one day, I started talking about my dad; he wasn’t feeling well.  And the next day when I arrived, she asked how my dad was feeling. I said much better, thank you!  Then, oddly, she asked if my family was from Russell Springs (she noticed my last name, finally) – I said, we sure are.  Finally, she said, “well, I declare I am your cousin”!

From that day forward, she treated me like family (the good part), took me under her wing, mentored and taught me everything I needed to know about the business – in detail.  She even protected me when I made a mistake and would take the blame. She referred to it as “teaching moments.”

Within a few months, I was promoted to another department -- she was so proud of me, but sad I moved forward.

Lydia is the reason I am a compassionate and caring mentor today.  She taught me how to be persistent, strong, and patient with myself and others. 

Unbeknownst to her, she challenged me to be a positive influence while onboarding new employees. I never wanted anyone to feel like it did my first day at my new job! 

In Closing:

Are you passionate about your position in our great industry?  I mean, passionate? 

What comes naturally to me is my sincere passion for the Wide-Format industry.  Some would probably say it’s contagious.  Well, shouldn’t it be?  Personally, I take that as a high compliment.

Mentoring is a legacy that can’t be measured.  Knowing I have equipped people with my printing knowledge and experiences (good and bad) is how I measure success.  We should be willing to touch as many people as possible to help build and take part in their future – paying it forward is a measure of great reward. 

Now, who are you going to mentor? 



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