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You’ve all see the predictions about 2012, I’m sure. 12 Troubling Predictions for Internet Marketers in 2012 is a good example, along with 275 Internet Marketing Predictions for 2012. We don’t really offer predictions, but one we at Level343 can provide with a high degree of accuracy is this: we’re going to give back to the community.
Sometimes, talking about giving back to the community is a nice thing. It makes you feel good. –And sometimes, you get a chance to do more than just talk; sometimes you get a chance to actually do – whether it’s volunteering your time at the YMCA or participating in an outreach program for youth around the neighborhood. For Level343, in 2012, we get a chance to do more.
I’ve had the pleasure of meeting some amazing, strong-minded, wicked-smart women online. With our limited time, Jahnelle and I sometimes do pro bono work for mothers, friends – little groups here and there. We’ve taken on clients and (almost) done the work for free because we believed strongly in what they were offering. The experiences have been a pleasure – and I’m sure I’m speaking for all of us -; if given the chance to do it all again, we would.
Why? Well, one, it made us feel good to be able to give back. Two, and most importantly, we learned a lot creating and doing these “side” projects.
Coaching vs. Mentoring – The Finite vs. the Infinite
I was recently approached by Dr. Anne Perschel, co-founder of 3Plus International. Among many things, Anne has served as Vice-President of the New England Society of Applied Psychology. In a discussion about what 3Plus does, she taught me a valuable lesson. There is a difference between coaching and mentoring.
You see, I had always thought of myself as a mentor, but there was no real difference between “coach” and “mentor. The words were interchangeable. However, while both provide important career guidance, the ways that guidance happens is vastly different.
Mentoring – The Infinite Guide
You can unknowingly and unwillingly mentor an individual – did you know that? For example, as a speaker, you may not know that the woman sitting in the second row of every conference you speak at is hanging on every word. When the conference is over and she goes back to work, she’s going to do her best to apply everything you said.
She trusts you and values your opinion; she reads your blog posts, articles and e-books. She occasionally asks you questions in 145 characters or less. When she comes to you, you listen and provide your feedback. She didn’t ask; you didn’t offer to be her mentor. You didn’t know she had picked you… because mentoring can (although it’s most often a mutual relationship) be a one sided relationship. A person can follow you and soak up any knowledge you’re willing to share without you ever being aware of it.
A mentor doesn’t offer unsolicited suggestion and advice. Answering the question “do you have any ideas about…” is much different than saying “I have some ideas about…”
Another important distinction is that mentoring can be of infinite length. For example, if you’re knowingly mentoring an individual, she might call you up after three years and say, “Hey, I’m in this situation
and here’s what I think about it. Any thoughts?”
A mentor is:
- A giver of information
- A resource when advice or guidance is needed
- Not necessarily aware that they’re mentoring
- Most likely not the boss of the mentee
- Someone who helps the mentee achieve goals, make decisions or facilitate problem solving
- Often a life-long (or, at least, career-long) guide
Coaching – The Finite Teacher
You can’t, on the other hand, be an unknowing coach. Being a coach requires your intention, attention and leadership. The idea behind coaching is to develop the person’s skills for the current and/or future roles, but usually not for the duration of their career. Coaching is focused on competence, whereas mentoring is focused on the whole person.
For example, your company hires someone to provide customer service support. As the manager of the customer service division, it may be your job to coach the new hire in how the company handles customer issues. Once that person learns how to perform the job position, the coaching relationship comes to an end. In this way, coaching is finite.
Somehow, I’d become a coach to many. It wasn’t unknowing because I knew I was helping; it was a matter of not understanding the role I had undertaken. I was a teacher, helping people learn how to perform their job better.
A coach is:
- A teacher of information
- A resource of direction at all times
- A willing, knowing participant
- A momentary teacher, for the period of time it takes the person to learn the job
- Someone who teaches how to improve current skills and performance
3Plus International: Sponsors of Change Through Women-to-Women Mentoring
Anne came to me because of our involvement in Top SEO Women, Honoring Women Wednesday and other activities that support women in business. She invited us into the 3Plus program to become mentors
for women who need guidance (but not, necessarily coaching) as they work to achieve their career goals.
Of course I said yes, but as it turns out, there aren’t a lot of women in the tech industry that are interested in mentoring. Anne and her co-founder, Dorothy Dalton, are working to change that.
Dorothy, an international talent management strategist recently featured in Forbes, runs coaching programs to meet the needs of women facing career challenges in the workplace. On her internationally recognized blog, Future Perfect: Career Transition Strategies, she shares years of experience in corporate HR, European sales and marketing, global executive search and coaching with her readers.
Anne, also recently featured in Forbes and CIO Insight, has over 15 years’ experience as a leadership and organizational psychologist. Her business, Germane Consulting, coaches companies in strategic culture change for better business success (a 2006 Business Week article “Death of a Pushy Salesman”, outlined some of the process). As
well, she helps companies address obstacles that stand in the way of women being promoted to managers and top-level executives.
Both of these women are highly accomplished graduates. Dorothy is an Economics graduate. Anne has a Masters of Science degree in Human and Organizational Development, as well as a Doctorate in Psychology. Besides 3Plus International, they run their own businesses, are guest speakers and published authors. In short,
they’ve achieved a level of success that anyone would be happy to reach.
They have a joint goal, now. Anne talks about the Rule of 3 in 3…Plus:
“I’m in my first year of graduate school. The professor is leading a discussion on the correlation between medical/psychiatric diagnosis, race and ethnicity. There are two black students in the class. Neither speaks. I am puzzled and disappointed. After class I ask the professor about this dynamic, and hear for the first time what will later become the Rule of 3. Referencing social science research she states, “Until three members of the non-dominant group are present, they typically will not speak up, and if they do they will often not be heard.” Something rings true and I tuck this tidbit away as a possible Rule of Life.”
Later, she goes on to explain the goal of 3Plus International is “… raising a glass and the ceiling above us to ensure 3 women at top leadership teams in each and every company we touch – the early adopters. The rest will follow.”
Early Adopters – Walking the Walk
Those of you who follow us here and on our social networks know that we work to help other women achieve their professional goals. Happily, 3Plus International is another way to get involved, and we’re looking forward to working with Anne, Dorothy and the 3Plus group as mentors in 2012.
As women in the tech industry, to other women in the tech industry, we invite you to do the same by joining 3Plus International’s initiative. You can find out more about the mentoring program by reading the 3Plus Mission.