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Never ask someone to be your mentor. ~Sheryl Sandberg

Stashed in: General Wisdom, Networking, Women, Leadership!, Zuck!, Confidence, Relationships, Management, Awesome, @ericschmidt, Jobs, Coaching

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Sheryl Sandberg talks about how relationships are progressions:

Sandberg says that she's often been put in the awkward position of being asked to be a mentor to near strangers: "If someone has to ask the question, the answer is probably no." Instead, the logic everyone — both women and men — should use is, "excel and you will find a mentor."

Mentors and sponsors are crucial to success. But the relationships should develop more naturally and be more reciprocal than anything else.

Sandberg talks about how Larry Summers become a mentor for her: "During my junior year of college, I took Larry Summers's public sector economics class. He offered to supervise my senior thesis — something very few Harvard professors volunteer to do for undergraduates. Larry has been a major part of my life ever since."

Sandberg says she's had several great male mentors in addition to Larry Summers. She credits Eric Schmidt for telling her years ago "not to be an idiot" and always to take jobs based on potential for growth (not stability), and Mark Zuckerberg for saying that you can't please everyone — that will only hold you back.

Excel, and you will find a mentor.

Don't waste time looking for one.

And never ask. If you have to ask, the answer is no.

Re-reading above, shouldn't it be common sense not to be an idiot?

And doesn't everyone know that you can't please everyone?

I think I saw this on PW: Common Sense, it's so rare it's a superpower.

But more importantly, it means that all these mentoring and life-coaching services are a complete waste of everyone's time!

Sheryl Sandberg would agree.

She would say that you don't need mentors. You just need confidence.

I like these Tony Robbins videos on that subject:

Sheryl Sandberg on confidence:

Self confidence is at the heart of what it means to lead, take risks and become powerful. 

It also comes easier for men. Sandberg talks about how even "to this day, I joke that I wish I could spend a few hours feeling as self-confident as my brother. It must feel so, so good — like receiving a cosmic flat one every day." The same is true for her husband, Dave Goldberg — even amidst all of her success, she still describes him as more self-confident. 

Sandberg says that she observed how acutely gender dynamics can play out during a Q&A session at Harvard Business School:

"A number of men leapt to the microphone and posed thoughtful, big-picture questions like, 'What did you learn at Google that you are applying at Facebook?' and 'How do you run a platform company and ensure stability for your developers?' Then two women rose to the microphone. The first asked, 'Do you think it's OK to work for a company that competes with the company you worked for before business school?' The second asked, 'How can I get a mentor?' My heart sank.

The men were focusing on how to manage a business and the women were focusing on how to manage a career. The men wanted answers and the women wanted permission and help."

At the end of the day, many women need to think more ambitiously and see the bigger picture. "It's hard to visualize someone as a leader, if she is always waiting to be told what to do," Sandberg says.

Sheryl Sandberg's advice is to figure it out yourself.

I was just reading some studies about the types of words used in recommendations and evals for women vs. men. Being born in the era that believed in absolute equality, then being dropkicked into situations that showed it wasn't true, it's interesting.  

It's frustrating how slowly there is progress.

I guess you guys are just talking about biz mentors? I think there's a lot of value in mentoring in the open source/development context. Ex:

There's value in mentoring but the way a person finds a mentor is to excel.

You don't ask someone to mentor you. You do great work, and the relationship naturally develops from a person you're already working with.

Disagree. In the context I describe, lots of people who would get value from mentoring will never make the relationships you describe. Not everyone has the necessary social confidence to just make it happen. Lots of people do good work but don't promote themselves in a way that garners attention.

Note that I'd draw a distinct line between what I'm talking about and "life coaching," which maybe is closer to what you guys are talking about. I find that shit creepy.

Use a synonym if it feels better, but the purpose of something like PHPMentoring is to help folks who are looking to learn match up with folks who are looking to help -- classic collaborative learning so common in open source. Applying a little formalization to the process makes it much more successful. I don't see why folks need to "excel" to participate, any more than the folks who want to attend a Pyladies or RailsGirls event have to "excel" somehow before they can learn.

"Excel" is an MBA euphemism for "don't wait; get working".

Which we believe in for developers too.

Matching budding developers with seasoned pros is a fine idea, but it's possible because programming is a specific, definable skillset, unlike "leadership" or even "management".

dig it.

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