Here at Who’s Your Momma LDN, we’re encouraging our mentors and mentees to speak up and share their experiences of mentoring, so that we're not only changing individual's careers, but we're also having a positive effect on the industry from the inside out.
This is the third story from our mentoring stories series. Our Momma has requested she remains anonymous for the purpose of this article but below she and mentee Sarah Turner have shared their stories:
From our Who's Your Momma Mentor:
At the end of our six months together, Sarah posed me a series of questions. Here are my responses. Sarah’s feedback follows afterwards.
Why did you seek a mentor at this stage in your career?
Career shifting to copywriting at 40, after a long career break, was daunting. But it was a gamble to create a new way of life for my family and me, and I was determined to make it work.
I did an online course, I read books and blogs and Facebook feeds, I worked hard to understand what was important. And then I hit the “I don’t know what I don’t know” wall and realised that I was getting side-tracked with marketing strategies and Google rankings and a creative and tempting (thanks, other copywriters) marketplace of more courses.
With two little kids at home, my spare time was minuscule, and I needed to be sure that every minute and hour moved me closer to my freelancing goal. A mentor who would give me honest feedback on my writing, support and challenge me in building my business, and help me tune out the noise seemed like the answer.
Finding the ‘Who’s Your Momma’ scheme was a gift and a perfectly timed one.
Now you've had mentoring, how different is your approach / your feelings towards your career?
Mentoring has given me the focus I craved. My mentor is laser-sharp about what is and isn’t good for her business and her brand, and she’s inspired me to be the same way.
She’s replied in minutes when I’ve had a request from a client that felt odd or beyond me, and she’s either talked me through it or said it’s not important. After six months of that feedback, I’m (moderately) confident that I can handle whatever comes my way.
And I have far more patience. When I first met my mentor, I was all over the place and she’s gently encouraged me that I’m doing the right things and I just need to keep doing them. Things won’t happen overnight, and that doesn’t mean I’m doing them wrong. Building a business is a long game.
Would you recommend mentoring to other creatives?
Yes: already have, repeatedly.
Mentoring is a chance to supercharge your learning. If you’re willing to work hard and you trust your mentor’s advice, you can move mountains in a short space of time. Even if those mountains are your own self-doubt and fear of failure.
Having an incredibly talented creative willing to commit their time and give you their undivided attention is an opportunity you can’t put a price on. Get on the ‘Who’s Your Momma’ waiting list today!
Is there a particular bit of advice that sticks in your mind?
There are so many but “trust the process” is one of my favourites. When I’m staring at a blank page or trying to cram more research in or worrying about whether I’m up to this next job, I take a deep breath and trust the process.
Writing something, anything, the skeleton or the title or copy and pasting the client brief, will get my brain working. The words will come, and the panic will subside.
I honestly can’t thank my mentor or SheSaysUK enough for this incredible journey. Having my own, flexible business that is moving in the right direction is fantastic for my kids and me. And it wouldn’t have happened without ‘Who’s Yr Momma.’
From our Mentee Sarah:
I’m particularly keen to mentor working mothers. Not because I am one (I’m not). But because I see too many talented, experienced and creative women slip out (get pushed out) of our industry around baby number 2 or after a certain age. From a selfish point of view, I’m tired of being the oldest woman at the table. Depressingly, I’m often the only woman at the table. This has to change. Our industry needs diversity. If I can help a working mother come back into the workplace or achieve a better work/home balance then I will.
So for me, it was extremely rewarding to mentor my last mentee who was in her early 40s, ambitious, talented, the recipient of a PhD and a mother to two small children. In other words, an impressive superwoman. Which meant I had to bring my mentoring A game.
A successful mentoring partnership - and it is a partnership - needs hard work and commitment from both sides. So, a few days in advance, my mentee would email me the topics she wanted to cover during the next session. This system worked very well and gave me time to think about the answers!
Despite what she says, I’m not sure there’s anything I told my mentee she didn't already know. I think my role as a mentor was to talk through her issues and challenges and give her the confidence to come to a conclusion herself. I would often say ‘this is how I would deal with it’ or ‘a similar thing happened to me and this is what I did’. But ultimately, it’s about helping your mentee find a solution themselves that they feel comfortable with.
When I first started mentoring, I thought I’d be talking about copywriting a lot. But that’s rare. Most conversations are about putting a process in place, building a business, growing a network, dealing with difficult clients, handling difficult managers, invoicing, time management, project management, knowing what to charge, managing your home life. And I think we covered all of these in our sessions!
I’ve been a mentor for the SheSays mentoring programme for a couple of years and there’s one thing that is consistently true: mentoring is a two-way street. A great mentee will ask difficult questions and push you in a way that makes you want to be better at your own job. That was certainly true on this occasion. It was an absolute pleasure to work with my mentee. I have absolutely no doubt about her future success.
Thank you to both mentor and mentee for boldly sharing their story with us to continue this series. If you would like to share (anonymously if needed) your mentor story with us and how it has changed your life, please email us: firstname.lastname@example.org