About a year and a half ago, I quit my job and started the freelance journey, for real. I was freelance for some time in my 20s, having just finished cooking school (yes, cooking school) and finding that web work was a far better way to pay bills in NYC than creating vegan meals. In all honesty, I’m hoping that I can say that the reverse is true one day… but that’s a blog post for another day.
It’s been easy to long for the freelance life in Philly as the independent worker community is so vibrant here. Many people are making a living churning out all manner of websites, copywriting, software applications and other creative projects. Coworking spaces like the ultimate IndyHall and its brethren make it easy to find other indies to kibitz & collaborate with. There’s even a coworking space for parents in the works. Striking out on your own is not a problem in this town.
But this is not a post about coworking, Philly, or even freelancing. This is a post about growing your business, growing as a person, asking for help and giving help.
Since I went from paycheck earning employee to oh-shit-I-have-to-make-this-work freelancer, I’ve devoured some serious knowledge. Books, blogs, courses, e-books, newsletters, tweets, pretty much anything I could get my hands on for free and / or cheap. In many ways, my cup runneth over. My ratio of consumption to production is often out of balance.
Even though all of that information has been and continues to be helpful, I wouldn’t mind having someone I look up to give me a little advice from time to time. I could use a good mentor — an honest to goodness, committed, inspirational, accountability-driving (or at a least fortune-cookie-message-delivering) mentor. As much as I love the idea of the wonderful Chris Bartlett’s Secret Mentors concept (<–you must read this article), I want something more tangible, more concrete. i.e. Let’s check in 2 weeks from now!
But where do you find a mentor?
I posed the question on twitter last week and got an interesting variety of answers. Many people found mentors through professional associations or through their jobs. Others had people they were inspired by, but didn’t want to bother them by asking them for mentorship or guidance, thinking they’d be a nuisance or that the people were inaccessible. Most people didn’t know where to look, even though they thought it was something that might benefit their progress in their career / creative journey.
Is there something wrong with this picture?
There’s a flip side to this coin. The more I thought about seeking a mentor, I realized that if I’m asking, I better be giving something back. I’m already a bit coachy with my pals, I’m sure I could be a good mentor to someone! In all seriousness, I do very much like to help people stay accountable with their goals and help them stay on track and push closer towards their innate brilliance. I believe that we have permission to go after the things that we care about and value in order to create a happy, sustainable career for ourselves.
Sometimes it helps to have an external party there to help push you along. Better yet, it’s often even more fulfilling to be the one cheering someone else on.
That being said, I leave you with a few questions.
Do me a solid and give me your gut reaction and honest answers to any of the questions below:
Do you think that mentorship would improve the path of your career? How so?
Have you actively worked with or sought out a mentor? If so, what was your method for establishing the relationship?
Do you believe that there should be an even exchange of mentorship? (i.e. If you receive a mentor, you’d agree to mentor someone else)
Are you looking to mentor someone? Where are they in life? (high school, college, early career, mid-career)
Will you be my mentor? Can I be yours? (possibly a trick question:) )
Don’t be shy! I can’t wait to learn more about your thoughts on mentorship!