Mentoring Creatives – Like any other professionals?

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I work in the financial services industry. I must say, as a marketing pro with a serious creative bent, financial services is not as sexy as some other industries to work in.

However, I did read an interesting article in the Journal of Accountancy recently about mentoring, and low-and-behold there was some information that crossed into our creative world.
Over the years, I’ve been mentored and I’ve mentored. And, I must say, I love both equally. Below are some of the tips that the Journal highlighted, and my suggestions on how to make them apply to creative professionals.
1. Mentors should ask challenging questions that help mentees to expand their scope of responsibilities. Okay, I’ll give them that. Yes, a mentor should challenge their mentee with questions that will help them to expand their responsibilities. When it comes to creative professionals, this technique may help mentees to reach their stretch goals.
2. Be highly connected to your mentees. Again, I can understand where they are coming from with this one. My take on this is that you should understand what your mentee does in order to help them prepare to grow in their field. However, I guess I’m challenged to believe that. There are people I work with who ask me for advice. I don’t specialize in their area of work, but they seek me out. It also applies to me. I seek people who have knowledge and advice to share who may not specialize in what I do. This gives me a new angle to look at things, and opportunity to see things a way I may not have been able to in the past. Further, they may not specialize in what I do, but they have great experience that I can learn from. In the end, to me it’s not necessarily the connection that makes the difference; it’s the ability share stories and information that resonate.
3. Challenge others with penetrating thoughts. Again, I think this is a great tip. And yes, as a mentor you should push people to be the best they can be. As a creative professional, you are marketing the best product you have—yourself. A good mentor will push you to question yourself and push you to question others. If you simply lie down and take everything at face value, how do you expect to grow? I’m not saying go out there and be a jerk about it. What I’m suggesting is know your stuff and be sure to ask questions that help you dig deeper. For example, ask questions that go beyond “how do I get to the next level in my career?,” which is a good basic-level question. Ask questions that make you go back and think about things, questions that challenge your understanding. As a mentor you want your mentee to challenge you as well. You can learn in this process just as much as they do.
When it comes down to it, mentoring creative professionals is exciting, rewarding, and engaging.
What advice do you have for mentoring creative professional? (Hint: This is a great exercise for all of us!)

Written by Becky Livingston

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