With our DMN 40U40 Awards coming up, we got to thinking about the men and women who push young marketers to help achieve their greatest potential. In many cases, having a mentor to fall back on — and to learn from — can help young marketers navigate tough challenges as they build their own careers.
Mentoring programs also have an impact on promoting a more inclusive, and united, company culture that’s dedicated to lifelong learning. According to a study from Chronus Corporation, 71 percent of Fortune 500 companies have a mentor program in place.
We asked marketers, CEOs and other leaders how their mentor/mentee experiences shaped them, and what they do to help motivate young marketers of the future.
Share life lessons
“The most important thing a mentor can do when motivating the next generation of marketers is sharing life lessons — both successes and failures. I’ve been fortunate enough to have several mentors over the years, and they’ve provided great insight on not only what works well in business in life, but also what to avoid.”
Dave Rogenmoser, CEO, Proof
Open up new experiences
“I think the best thing an experienced marketer can do is give their teams the availability to experiment, to fail, and to learn and grow from those experiences. At the heart of it, marketing is about reaching your audience with a message that will ultimately resonate authentically, and move that audience to action. But the variables within those parameters are limitless, and that’s where the fun part of marketing occurs — especially for those marketers that are empowered with the freedom to make and impact and try new things.”
Daniel K. Lobring, vice president, marketing communications, rEvolution
Show them where you find your inspiration
“Mentors should point their protege in the direction of additional resources that they can track regularly. I do not claim to know everything about digital marketing; so I highlight the influencers who keep me up to date and relevant in the industry and hopefully create an appetite for new learning among young professionals.”
Greg Bullock, marketing director, TheraSpecs
“For females especially: Lean in. I am currently the senior advisor for the first-ever women’s group at my company, I have the privilege of interacting with 26 amazing women, all leaning into each other. To be heard, to be considered, to be part of the story is everyone’s responsibility, mentors and mentees alike.”
Fredda Hurwitz, chief strategy and marketing officer, RedPeg Marketing.
Cater to specific needs
“There are a few different roles mentors can play depending on the priority of the mentee. If they’re a student or recent graduate looking for their first real job, then helping them understand their strengths, build a story around their experience, and connect with hiring managers and recruiters is the main goal. I also find that this group doesn’t necessarily know about all the opportunities available to them and their job search is far too narrow.
For young marketers who are already in great jobs, my role as a mentor is to help them identify opportunities for greater ownership, increased strategic contributions, and “managing up” so they can move their career (and their compensation) forward fairly quickly. Sometimes they also need help coming to the realization that they won’t be able to achieve those things in their current role or even with their current organization, so they might need to make a lateral move to another company. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side, but often there are more interesting problems to solve and greater learning to be done.”
Cassandra Jowett, director of content marketing, PathFactory
Don’t hold back
“As a mentee, I want my mentor to be honest with me — to not hold back and to give me candid insights regarding my actions and potential. There’s little to be gained from simply hearing what I’m doing well. As a mentor of new marketing professionals, I try to do the same by providing constructive insights and encouraging them to stretch and ensure that their marketing skillset is competitive in the market. If they have specific goals around skills they’d like to refine, I make the time to check-in and highlight the incremental changes that I’m seeing.”
Ali Biggs, director of Marketing, RollWorks
“As a mentor, there are two vital lessons I like to teach young marketers. First, it is essential to help marketers new to the field get comfortable with change. Too often, change is viewed as a challenge but really, it is what keeps the industry — and careers — moving forward. Secondly, which can be more challenging, is helping young talent make the transition from viewing things tactically to strategically. Understanding and analyzing the bigger picture is so critical to long-term success.”
Jason Beckerman, CEO, Unified
Are you a mentor, or have you mentored in the past? What are some of the things you’ve learned from the experience? Let us know in the comments below!