I am realizing that at this stage in my life — 42, with school-age kids and ready to dive back into working more hours — that I am seeking female mentors who have been there, done that and who can help me transition into this next chapter. I am lucky though because I have two great women to learn from who are now living close by.
Eighteen years ago, I was hired in New York City by the editor-in-chief of a trade magazine. She is about nine years older than me. She hired me as an assistant editor but within a year I was the managing editor. During that year, she taught me about a lot of things that didn’t necessarily have to do with journalism. She is very organized and to this day I still set up my story folders the way she taught me. She was amazing at industry cocktail parties gliding from client to client always prepared to ask about a family member or new product and always knowing in her mind what she wanted to achieve next with that client. (Did she want them for a feature, did she want them to buy an ad?) She had advice for all the 20-somethings working under her on everything from etiquette, to dressing, to relationships.
We have stayed friends over the years. We both have families, and she lives in the town where we have moved. She has been incredibly supportive through our move. I stayed with her to house hunt. And she helped me house hunt when I was in town and after I returned to Arizona.
We stayed with her family the night before we could get into our house and she watched me the next morning as I loaded up the car alone. When I came back in, she said “Your kids are perfectly capable of helping you load and unload your car and you made the choice not to have them help. That is on you.” And she was totally right. Her kids are older than mine but extremely independent and that is something I want to strive toward.
She also runs her own business and has already hired me for several assignments. I am really looking forward to working with her again, and learning from her on many fronts.
The other woman I am thoroughly enjoying and looking forward to developing our relationship is a former boss of Michael’s. She is still an executive with AP and works in the Manhattan office. She is extremely well educated and her kids are now grown and through college. Two weekends ago, she and her husband invited our family to visit them at their country houses. (Here that means acres above New York City.) And while her house, her gardens and her food were amazing (think very Martha Stewart), what I enjoyed the most was just talking with her about finding balance in your life and how to manage kids and your husband and not completely lose yourself.
I feel very lucky to have these two women in my life right now. And while we are friends, I do see them as mentors.
Do you have any women mentors in your life? Are they former bosses? Friends of family? How and where can women find mentors if they don’t have them occurring naturally?