Mentoring For Authors
Tom Morkes had invited me to be part of several summits before I saw one that resonated on a deep level: The Mentor Success Summit hosted by Ken Blanchard and Claire Diaz-Ortiz, co-authors of One Minute Mentoring.
I thought of the prominent role mentors have played in my successes—from the literary agent who walked me through a solid understanding of what publishers look for and how to write a book proposal when everyone else abandoned our table at a writer’s conference, to the life coach who invited to teach me her coaching systems in return for coaching her.
I knew it would be fun and interesting to explore mentoring for authors, the role of mentors in an author’s life, as well as the bigger picture of how mentoring can be extremely rewarding in myriad ways for both mentor and mentee. How to be a strong mentor? How to get the most out of being mentored? How to choose a mentor? I knew these questions and their answers would be valuable for my clients and community—and also for me.
Named one of the 100 Most Creative People in Business by Fast Company, Claire has expanded my view of what mentoring is and can be. Here, I interview her about both the upcoming Mentor Success Summit and her latest book, One Minute Mentoring.
Mentoring for Authors: The Interview
Lisa: How did the idea for your book with Ken Blanchard, One Minute Mentoring come about?
Claire: Ken and I were introduced a few years back, and when we started talking about the prospect of a book together we knew that mentoring would be the theme. The idea initially was to focus simply on cross generational mentoring—as our own mentoring partnership shows, but then it expanded. Ken is a mentor to me, and he says I’m a mentor to him, so our partnership truly shows the power of a 2-way mentoring relationship. I firmly believe that the best ones work this way.
The Mentor Success Summit
Lisa: There are so many summits nowadays but yours seemed really fresh to me—the idea of mentoring. When did you get the idea for a summit about mentoring and what need did you see for this?
Claire: Mentoring has become more popular in the past decade—and for good reason. People know it holds keys to helping them better succeed in life, but often don’t know where to start. Hence the idea of creating a summit where “success mentors” would come and share their input and advice to participants.
Mentoring can happen in many different ways, as the title of our book One Minute Mentoring suggests. Sometimes, you can have a powerful “mentoring moment” with someone you just meet!
The idea of the summit is that after hearing 100 experts speak about concepts related to success, folks can go away inspired and empowered.
Lisa: What are some of the types of mentors you looked for when you were writing your books? What is some of the advice you got from these mentors?
Claire: I’ve had some wonderful mentors over the years (Ken Blanchard included). With writing, some of my earliest mentors were mentors “through the pages”—or, authors whose work I loved. Over time, some of these people have turned into real life mentors as well, which is a special gift. Ultimately, mentoring can and does happen in different ways, and finding great lessons can come from many different places.
Lisa: Is Ken Blanchard a mentor of yours? How did that mentorship begin? If so, how has it changed over time and as you became co-authors?
Claire: Our mentoring partnership has changed with the years as new seasons of life emerge—the season of brainstorming a book, then writing it, then seeing it in the rear window and thinking about new horizons. Ultimately it’s based in the idea that we each have something we teach one another (no matter how often I think it’s just Ken teaching me, he swears this isn’t the case!).
The MENTOR Model for Developing Effective Mentoring Relationships Tweet This
Lisa: I’m sure it is—I can see you have so much to offer! How do you develop a great mentoring relationship?
Claire: This is the MENTOR model we teach in the book, which walks through a 6-part process for developing a great mentoring relationship:
M = Mission
It is essential to create a vision and purpose for your future mentoring partnership.
The first step in any working relationship is to have a clear mission statement.
Things to remember:
- It is important to find a mentor or mentee who shares your key values.
- Approach a prospective mentor or mentee with courtesy and respect. Regardless of the outcome, thank them for their time.
- Develop a short mission statement to set your intention and direct the mentor/mentee relationship.
- Mentoring adds value on both sides—mentees have knowledge and ideas to offer mentors as well.
E = Engagement
Agree on ways to engage that work for your personalities and schedules.
Make a commitment to regular meetings, at least, even if they are virtual.
Things to remember:
- Determine the type of engagement that works best for your personalities. Is your mentor or mentee an extrovert or an introvert? Are they best with set times scheduled far in advance? Or do they prefer off-the-cuff e-mails and calls?
- Mentoring partnerships require both the flexibility to engage in digital communication and the power of in-person meetings when possible.
N = Networking
Expand your network with that of your mentor or mentee. But remember: tread carefully on the networking contacts of your mentoring partner.
Cultivating productive relationships is a major key to success.
Things to remember:
- Networking is a two-way street—your mentor or mentee can broaden your connections.
- It is essential to tread carefully on the network or contacts of your mentoring partner.
- Networking is not just about one-to-one connections with your mentoring partner’s contacts. The one-to-many connections—like those on social media—can be valuable as well.
T = Trust
Build and maintain trust with your mentoring partner by telling the truth, staying connected, and being dependable.
Building trust takes time—and it can be destroyed in an instant.
Things to remember:
- As a mentoring relationship deepens, trust should deepen as well.
- Address communication breakdowns right away, to keep them from eroding trust.
- Honesty and clear communication with your mentoring partner can deepen trust and take your relationship to the next level.
O = Opportunity
Create opportunities for your mentee or mentor to grow.
As a mentoring partner, you’ll have access to personal and business opportunities that simply aren’t available to non-mentor-mentees.
Things to remember:
- A mentoring partnership is a two-way street—both partners have strengths to bring to the table.
- Mentoring between generations—also known as cross-generational mentoring—is a powerful way to exchange time-tested and new knowledge.
- Digital media makes potential networks bigger than ever, allowing for more opportunities for mentors and mentees.
- Scheduling a regular review—once a year, for example—keeps both mentor and mentee on track.
- Ensure that reviews take place by putting them into your calendar when you create your mission statement.
- If your review reveals that the mission has not been accomplished, discuss new strategies to achieve the goal.
Claire: One tip about Twitter is to 100% focus on engagement—not follower numbers. This the most important thing you can do to expand your influence.
Lisa: How to start some engagement?
Claire: Ask a question or offer to help someone!
Lisa: What is the purpose of the Success Mentor Summit?
Claire: The summit is a chance to bring together 100 expert mentors to teach participants some of the keys to success—what it is, what it isn’t, and how mentoring can help you get there.
Lisa: What are some common mistakes people make it seeking out a mentor and how does one prevent them?
Claire: Jumping in too fast! Make sure that a relationship and rapport is developed before opening the kimono and spilling all your needs and secrets. Boundaries and authenticity are both important to a great relationship.
Lisa: I agree! Who are some of the speakers in this summit who might be of special interest to aspiring authors and recent authors?
Claire: There are tons of great authors in the summit. a few that come to mind: Chandler Bolt, Jeff Goins, Don Miller and Emily P. Freeman stand out as folks who have mentored me over the years in different ways.
Lisa: Before we go, I just want to mention one more of your books, Hope Runs. I just started reading it and am enjoying this story about the African boy, now a man, who had such an impact in your life. What a beautiful story.
Claire Diaz-Ortiz (@claire) is an author, speaker and Silicon Valley innovator who was an early employee at Twitter. Named one of the 100 Most Creative People in Business by Fast Company, she holds an MBA and other degrees from Stanford and Oxford and has been featured widely in print and broadcast media. She writes a popular business blog at ClaireDiazOrtiz.com and is the award-winning author of eight books that have been published in more than a dozen countries.