Considering becoming a mentor? Or applying to Cultivate?
Find out what having a mentor has meant to some of the women we support
Nicola Cloherty | Summer 2016
Cultivation that's lead to courage: Some say that structure is best, but I have to disagree.
When Jessica shared her idea about Cultivate, I was so excited, not only for her, but for all women in New Zealand. We think we have come along way in terms of gender equality, but it’s the first time the U.S. have seen a woman in the running for president, and Helen Clark is campaigning to be the UN’s first female leader. It’s fair to say that women in New Zealand workplaces still need support if the likes of Hilary and Helen are still trying to break the glass ceiling!
I am honoured to lend my digital community building skills to Cultivate as a Partner,, but what’s more incredible is having a mentor through the programme. I consider myself incredibly lucky to have been partnered with Marianne Elliott - The Zen Peacekeeper. A humble and incredible soul who I actually admired before Cultivate. I first saw Marianne speak at TEDxWellingtonWomen in 2015 - she spoke of courage and her story sunk deep into my soul on a personal level. I then saw her speak at Extraordinary Tales of Strength and Daring where she opened up her soul and shared it with audience, so kindly and rawly. Then I read her book - if you haven’t, you should read it - Zen Under Fire. So it’s safe to say that I was a huge fan of Marianne and almost crapped my pants when I was paired with her!
During the first mentor lab (which I was at in my Cultivate capacity, not as a mentee), Trustee and HR guru Samantha Gadd talked about strategies and tactics for ‘Effective Mentoring’. Sam said there was no one way for mentors and mentees to structure their sessions, it is situational and needs to work for both parties. We heard mentors discuss the need for structure and clear goals from the outset - Marianne and I sat there, looked at each other and gave a nervous ‘Oh, S&%T!’ sort of giggle. We’d had two sessions by this point, and no structure. We were finding out more about each other and how we could work together, trying to decipher the areas I needed most support on and connecting - which in my humble opinion, is worth its weight in gold!
During the first two weeks of my Cultivate programme my partner and I decided to relocate to Holland, which meant looking at my work situation critically, and forcing me to think about what my next step should be. I was in denial for the first month that I had to leave my beloved Flick, so I procrastinated (as I do so well!) and floated around telling people that I didn’t want a new job, and I might try to do my own thing, but I wasn’t sure. I struggled to commit!
In my heart of hearts, I knew that I should seize this opportunity by doing something different; something of my own. I love marketing-communications and branding and digital, and any opportunity to help small businesses or people flourish - so why not consult? Marianne and I discussed this option, and getting a ‘normal job’ (is there such thing?!). Something deep inside me said, give it a go and try it out - if you fail, you will learn. If you don’t try, you will always wonder.
Marianne’s mentorship has been paramount in helping me find the courage to try something new! She listened to my story, with no judgment; she helped me craft what my work options could look like, should I take either path - working for myself or an organisation; she encouraged me to assess the two objectively and to talk to my partner; and she worked with me to craft my offering.
And then I actually pitched to her - I was so scared - you feel like an absolute numpty at the time, but ridiculously empowered after! I had to work out what problem was I going to solve, how I would solve it, how I should pitch it to small business owners, what makes me different to an agency or other consultants.
So, three months into our Cultivate journey, I have pitched and contacted nine companies that I could service and there are many more on my hitlist! I’ve been recommended by friends already - so to those who say word of mouth isn’t as strong as it used to be, that’s an utter fib! Word of mouth is what gave Cultivate the ‘problem’ of having 60 mentees and only 20 mentors, it then helped find more mentors, IRL and through social media.
And now I have to say thanks. Firstly to Jessica and the Trustees for cultivating such a programme that has enriched my life in such a short space of time, and genuinely supporting many sisters with this incredibly valuable programme. And to Marianne, who is not only a mentor, but someone I trust and value wholly. I wouldn’t be putting myself out there if I didn’t have her encouragement, teaching and friendship. Thank you.
Victoria Kershaw | Summer 2016
Why does being mentored by Kate rock?
Over the last couple of years almost everything good in my life has come from Twitter. Joining up for Cultivate mentoring was no different – a friend tagged me into the conversation and said I should sign up.
I was paired up with the brilliant Kate. My first impression was that she was switched on, a brilliant communicator, in control, honest, and full of energy – all the things I wanted to be and more.
Why does being mentored by Kate rock?
1) She is deeply caring and has truly thought hard about how best to connect with me – we can talk about life and business – where ever I am at, I am not afraid to be completely honest with whatever I am feeling.
2) Every meet up is different - from sitting in an office, to
impromptu quiz night participation. This week she is accompanying me to check out Toastmasters.
3) The things I have potential in and want to learn to harness, she already kicks butt at – who better to learn from!
4) She has inspired me to try new things – I now do Improv classes! I was so nervous about starting, but she cheered me on the whole way. I even fell, but got back up (literally)!
5) I have met with her more than once at my most vulnerable, and left feeling inspired to take action and propel myself towards better things.
Kate fills me with energy and excitement about where I am going, not just my career but my life. I feel so lucky she has so graciously given me her time and self so wholeheartedly in this experience.
I cannot recommend signing up to Cultivate enough.
(Did I mention she uses Twitter too? #DreamComeTrue)