Welcome to Episode 19 of Navigating the Fustercluck—a podcast full of snackable insights to help you navigate the agonizingly wonderful world of creativity.
My name is Wegs, like eggs with a W, joining you from Deaf Mule Studios in Dallas, and whether you work in advertising, design, gaming, fine art, commercial art, content creation, whatever it may be, we’re here to talk about mentorship.
Let’s start with this:
If You Cannot See Where You Are Going, Ask Someone Who Has Been There Before. – J Loren Norris
Over the course of my life, I’ve been fortune to have many mentors, some of whom I hope to talk about today. So, let’s talk about how being mentored, and how mentoring others can help everyone involved.
First, a thought from 2-Time British Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli:
The Greatest Good You Can Do for Another is Not Just Share Your Riches but to Reveal to Him His Own.
During interviews or while on various panels, often I’ve been asked, What in your career are you most proud of? Well, it’s not any individual awards or any one thing, period. It’s when people who I once worked with tell me that part of their success is thanks to what they gained by working together. It’s the best. The absolute best. To see great people move onward & upward, often surpassing what I’ve done, is awesome. Humbling. It makes me feel like I’m part of something bigger than myself.
As my father taught me: We’re all in this together. When you see your life as a team sport, you’ll celebrate the accomplishments of others.
I’m Happy for Them, But Not Proud of Them.
Does that sound strange? Maybe this is a misguided pet peeve of mine but I never tell people how proud I am of them. I’m not their father. However, I do tell them how happy I am for them. Is that weird? I feel strongly about it yet can’t explain exactly why. Perhaps “proudly” indicates that I’m taking credit for their accomplishments. Honestly, am I off-base? I’d love your thoughts. Feel free to reach out on Twitter @NavigatingF.
Putting Together Your Board of Directors
There’s an awfully lot to know in this life. Having one mentor probably won’t cover it all. Pick and choose people who you respect and trust. In return, respect their time and efforts, so they can trust you. People are busy. You owe it to them not to waste their time. Be prepared with your questions. If it helps, even write them down. Be polite. Ask them what works best for them. And hold on to the good ones! Having your own little Board of Directors can be quite helpful and fruitful with new knowledge, contacts and even friendship.
Before going on, let’s touch on something that’s a new or newer wrinkle in mentorship. Reverse mentoring. I love this and have personally benefitted from it.
It’s Hard to Keep Up on Things
I’m not one of those people convinced that the greatest music ever written and recorded and ever will be written and recorded comes from my formative years. Seems highly unlikely and irrelevant. Although Right Said Fred’s, Too Sexy for My Shirt song, is surely something Mozart would have envied, if he’d been so honored to live long enough to hear it. That said, at some point in your life it becomes harder and harder to keep up on the new stuff. That’s why I ask people younger than myself for their suggestions and favorites. A lot of it isn’t to my tastes, but some of it is awesome. And all of it expands my understanding of what and why people are moved to listen to it.
Also, for a guy my age, when it comes to technology, I’m fairly advanced. But I ain’t no digital native. And I don’t pretend to be. Fortunately, working in a creative industry, there are plenty of younger folks happy to share their knowledge. Thank you! I will never know as much as you, and we may not agree on all things technology, but at least we can all agree that the word “dongle” is worth chuckling over like we’re all 12-year-olds once again. And that’s a good thing.
Formal vs Informal Mentoring
I’ve never seen or heard of a formal mentoring program working anywhere. That doesn’t mean one can’t, I’m just not familiar with it. Have you?
It seems like mentoring would be something everyone seems excited about. Apparently, that’s not enough. Not everyone is a natural at it. Some people just don’t want to invest the time. There are infinite reasons. Human beings are weird. My advice? Be they online or people you can meet up with face-to-face, rely on yourself to find your mentors. And before you ask for an ongoing commitment, invite them out for coffee or simply ask them a question or two first. Give both of you a chance to warm up to one another.
Who knows, maybe one day you’ll mentor me, or I’ll mentor you.
Well, I didn’t get a chance on this show to talk about my own mentors. Can you say, sequel? Yep, you can count on me sharing some stories about the men & women who helped shape me to scale the incredibly above average heights that I’ve reached. Trust me, with all their wisdom, I should be a billionaire by now. (Sorry, that took self-deprecating to self-defecating. Full-disclosure, one of the habits I’m trying to break free from.)
Let’s Take a Short Breather… (EXHALE.)
…We’re here at Deaf Mule Studios to remind everyone that this is Navigating the Fustercluck. And I’m Wegs, your world-weary host hoping that you can avoid many of the mistakes I’ve made during my otherwise adventurous career. Now back to the show with a final thought on mentorship…
Often mentors are depicted as holy men on a mountaintop. Someone of great authority who needs to be revered. My feeling is that while a mentor should be respected, we should not simply worship and obey them. They’re not gods, and we need to sift through and sample what passes the muster of our own personal values and vetting.
As mentors, we should respect this dynamic. If you’re into mentorship because you want to be worshipped and validated, you’re in it for the wrong reasons. Don’t pass on your experience and knowledge like stone tablets from on high, take a less authoritarian approach and remember:
Advice is Like Snow; the Softer it Falls, the Longer it Dwells Upon, and the Deeper it Sinks into the Mind. – Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Well, that about wraps up our 19th episode of Navigating the Fustercluck.
Here from Deaf Mule Studios, I’m your host, Wegs, like eggs with a W, thank you for listening in. Until then, please feel free to reach out to us on Twitter at NavigatingF. Remember, we’re all in this together, so thanks for doing your best to buck the cluck. Here’s to you. Here’s to the future.