Mentors Can’t Get The Job Done

Champions Can Save the Day!

I was talking with Shawna Butler about how to bring more young women into our entrepreneurship program here at Illinois State University. As a little background, I have talked to roughly 300 female entrepreneurs, investors, business leaders and small business owners since Christmas about this issue.  On almost every phone call with every one of those women, they have pointed out the importance of including a strong mentor program into our program.

Shawna shocked me, which is not easily done. She said “we don’t need mentoring, we need championing.” As she explained, a mentor, for the most part, will usually tell or help a mentee figure out how to do something. A task. A learning goal. There’s a whole lot of supportive and exploratory talking. It is a valuable relationship, no doubt about it. But Shawna had a great perspective I never thought about to be honest. Blew my mind!

Instead of introducing a mentor program, she suggested introducing a Champion Program. A champion will help someone he/she is working with in the task/goal arena just as a mentor. But wait, there’s more! A champion will also put his/her name and reputation on the line for another person. They will advocate for that person. They will champion that person’s future (in the case of college students).

Mentors Talk the Talk, Champions Walk the Walk

As a young college student, I had some idea where I was going. I had mentors helping me figure out my goals. They helped me learn certain tasks that are very valuable to this day. Only one of them stuck their neck out for me, and put their reputation on the line for me. She was my champion, and it made all the difference in the world. Shawna, you’re a genius! Thank you for opening my eyes.

PS – If you are a mentor, should you be a champion instead?

PPS – Do you need a champion?

 

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