34 New Things: Be a Mentor

Each year I make a list of new things I want to try. Some are easy, some are difficult, some are so ridiculously mundane. You can read about previous adventures here


It’s hard to view yourself as someone who has wisdom worth imparting when you’re pretty sure your own adult life is a comedy of errors, possibly involving hidden cameras. (On my recent roadtrip, I got pulled over and tried to convince the police officer that the receipt for the purchase of my car was actually the registration.  Like, I walked up the highway to his car, knocked on the window and was all “Is this it?”)Be that as it may, there are some things that I know about.  Things like writingtravel, moving a million times,  mastering the internet – and as a former teacher, I love few things more than helping people understand stuff that I know about.  When I added ‘be a mentor’ to my list for this year, I knew this might be sort of challenging.  I travel a lot and I didn’t want to bond with – and then inadvertently abandon – a sweet , in-need-of-reliable-adult-interaction preteen, so I decided that I wanted to try an internet mentorship of sorts.

I first met Alicia when she bought advertising space and Yes and Yes.  As with all of my sponsors, I checked out her blog to see if she was a good fit for my readers and I was impressed with her candid, engaging writing style and nice photography. She always sent me the links and photos for her sponsor posts before the deadline and whenever she sent through her photos they were always appropriately resized and labeled. (Your mom wasn’t lying about people noticing the details.) Eventually Alicia started contributing the Read // Eat series and I rather awkwardly asked her if she was in the market for a mentor.  As luck would have it, she was!

How does one mentor?  Well, we set up a once-monthly video pow wow. We talk about work and writing and interneting and life and I answer any questions she might have about reaching out to bloggers and publications she likes, how to deal with guest posts, and anything I know about.  It’s been so, so lovely to share what I know and hopefully help her avoid some of those mistakes we all learn the hard way (I’m looking at you, Twitter oversharing.)

I’m sure there will come a day when Alicia is helming HuffPo and I tell everybody that I knew her way back when. And then I’ll awkwardly email another youngster and ask if they need my input on the merits of @mentioning.Have you ever mentored or been mentored?  Tell us about your experience!

Welcome to Yes & Yes!

Want to spend your time, money, and energy on purpose? I'll show you how.

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  1. Anne Fawcett

    I'm a mentor to final year veterinary students through a formal mentoring program and it is my favourite form of teaching as a) its one on one; b) its an exercise in establishing and negotiating expectations which is useful for both mentor and mentee; c) I always learn something, even if its a different way of seeing something I do every day; d) it validates every stuff up and setback I've ever had because not only did I learn from it but someone else has the benefit. I absolutely recommend mentoring to anyone who has knowledge/experience to share. They say that to really learn you need to "see one, do one, teach one" so there are benefits to mentors in imparting wisdom too. Plus it just feels good giving back.

  2. Maggie Olson

    I'd love to have you as a mentor someday! You're taken right now, but my goal is to have a blog up and running by September 1st, at which point I'll be on the lookout.

  3. Anonymous

    I'm still wondering where the Get Reiki goal went.

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      I opted to do something else instead 🙂

    • Grace Quantock

      Sarah, if you'd still like to get Reiki, I send distance Reiki and would be happy to send you a session as a gift.

      Details of how it works etc are here: http://gracequantock.com/services/sparkle-reiki-darlings

      I love this post and I love mentoring – I've been so lucky to have people help me and through the charity UnLtd who supported Healing Boxes CIC we've been sent other people to help and support. It's a symbiotic pay-it-forward scheme.

      I love your story here – good luck to you both x

      Grace x

  4. Alicia Johnston

    Hurrah for mentorship! I love that my childhood bedroom is gracing Yes & Yes. I about fell off my chair when you first reached out via email, and I remain that excited each time we talk. It is so beneficial to hear from someone who is just making it happen–writing, blogging, and awesome-ifying the internet for other wonderful sites and brands.

    I just gave a presentation to recent college grads about preparing for the future, and the importance of finding mentors was my most enthusiastic recommendation for professional growth. One of my sorority sisters asked me to mentor her, so we're setting up a hangout soon and I can't wait!

    Alicia / Jaybird

    • Emily

      POWER DUO.

  5. Secret Squirrel

    Ah, that's really nice, Sarah. I recently started mentoring a work colleague, (after being approached by her line manager) and I hope she finds it useful. But honestly? I am learning so much from her too 😉

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      Yes! And a lot of times giving advice to other people is a reminder to up your own game and be the sort of person who has advice worth giving 😉

  6. Rosie

    I'm mentoring two brilliant people developing their careers in arts marketing and museums, and find them incredibly inspiring. I think accountability is really important: typing up the notes of what we've talked about each time, setting goals to go for by a particular date, and checking in for progress updates at regular intervals. Every time they report how well they're doing, I feel hugely proud!

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      That's so lovely! So glad it's been a good experience 🙂

  7. aestheticsnafu.com

    Any recommendations on finding a mentor? I find that most of the business suggestions out there are so impersonal and fake-y

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      You can certainly use the Network of Nice! 🙂

  8. Erika from Chimerikal

    Whoa, it's so crazy to come across this post because my path just recently crossed with Alicia's online, sort of randomly. And wow — here she is, popping up again. Internet kismet. 🙂


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