As we begin to redefine work in this “still in a pandemic/hopefully one day out of a pandemic” world in the way that best suits us, one of the relationships we want to throw away is the mentor/mentee relationship. There is nothing wrong with learning from someone. Far from it. But maybe it’s time we move past the one way exchange of knowledge, and recognize that we all have so much to learn from each other. That’s where collaboration comes in.
When I started my social media business, I was very much on my own. I had no idea what I was doing. I had left my job in marketing at a major movie studio at the urging of my very supportive boss, who truly believed I had the skills to go out on my own. But that still left me needing to find clients, teaching myself about running a business, figuring out what to charge, etc. And, yes there was a lot of googling… a lot! But, the more I began looking for ways to meet other women, at all stages of their careers, the more I found the guidance and help I needed.
One such place I was lucky to find was The Riveter in West LA. In fact, I think I was possibly one of the first members of that LA location. At the time, I was not making a lot of money, but I had a gut feeling that surrounding myself with women, many of whom were fellow freelancers, creatives, and small business owners, was a wise thing to do. I had a feeling that by putting myself in that collaborative environment, I would not only meet other people that would help me, but I would probably help them. This was the first time I truly took myself seriously as a business owner, the first time I invested in my business, and it is what allowed others to take me seriously as well.
Sitting in that collaborative environment, day after day, was truly a joy. Not only did I become friends with many of my fellow office mates, but I became colleagues with them and worked with many. There was the PR person who would give me her opinion on my copy, as I gave her thoughts on her pitches. There was the beauty brand that I saw go from idea to execution, and got to weigh in on packaging, logos, colors (and I love seeing how successful they are). There were also many doing similar jobs to me, but rather than feel threatened, as we are so conditioned to feel, I learned to use it to my advantage. I found ways to work together. To offer them services I had that they didn’t.
Yet, you might be asking, why am I talking about a physical space, when we work in a digital world now? Because this still exists. We still have the opportunity and the chance to use collaboration as a way to level the playing field. To make work more equitable for all women, for everyone, not just men, not just those at the top.
I am filtering out what is, so I can focus on what could be.Hitha Palepu
I was so fortunate to host a IG Live conversation yesterday as part of our #theunfilteredlife series for AARP (watch here) with Hitha Palepu and our own Amy Nelson. Hitha so profoundly said, “I am filtering out what is, so I can focus on what could be.” What could be is a world where we work together, instead of apart. Where we, as Amy said, “Can make the introductions, open the doors. Because just because Hitha raises a million dollars, doesn’t mean I’m not going to.” Let’s stop thinking we have so much knowledge to impart to each other, and rather, work together to make things better. To get the funding dollars. To build our villages. To make work environments that are pleasant and enjoyable. It’s possible, especially if we all start working together!