Mentors

A guest post by Shannon Pfeffer

In 2018 I was stuck in traffic. A lot. I became a podcast superuser and always, always, ALWAYS had one on in the background.

One particularly traffic-filled morning from Santa Monica to the Valley, I listened to a podcast topic so interesting, the drive didn’t matter anymore. The podcast did.

The interviewee was Eva Chen, director of fashion partnerships at Instagram. Chen, a long-time influential fashion editor and mom of two caught my attention. How does she get it all done and remain so bright and cheery? Besides Chen’s strategies for all things parenthood and fashion, she also talked about mentoring.

The Call scheduling link: https://calendly.com/shannonpfeffer
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/shannon-radecki-pfeffer-8709944/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/shannonrad/

For 10+ years Chen has cleared her calendar once per week to have mentoring conversations with people she doesn’t know. She opens her door, her calendar and her contacts to strangers. She expects nothing in return and just gives. The flipside is that after years of holding these weekly meetings, only a handful have ever kept in contact with her.

Chen’s purpose around selflessly mentoring others struck a chord in me. It drove me to take action and create a virtual platform around mentoring. Or, the moniker “The Call,” as I call it.

In January 2019, I started with a post on LinkedIn that outlined my offer. Free virtual mentoring for 30 minutes every Thursday for the year. Giving, not taking. Listening, not judging. Connecting, not flaking. Within a day I had the month completely booked. And soon after, the next month too! At first it was people that I already knew, then it caught on to people I didn’t know.

I would like to say that six months into “The Call,” my results were very different from Chen’s; that somehow, I had the golden ticket to making it work. I didn’t. But I’ve learned some important lessons coming out of it:

  1. Mentoring takes effort, but more on the mentee. The mentor is there waiting to help. Utilize them. Don’t be afraid or shy or lazy.
  2. Most people – regardless of field – don’t have a purpose for their work life. Everyone I spoke to asked me the same question, “What should I do next?”
  3. Just because you don’t get the results you expected, doesn’t mean that you should stop. I thought this offering would turn out to be different from the rest, but it doesn’t make me want to quit, it makes me want to keep going.  

I’ve had myriad mentors in my life. Some are there for the full journey, while others are there to serve a purpose and then the mentorship naturally untangles. Still, all are equally important and valuable. And when you’re lucky, a few truly stand out:  

Leslie, Brooke, Nathan, Ian, Sandra, Alan, Margie, and Michael. You shaped me and changed me not just by working together but showing me what it takes to be great. Thank you. And thank you, Eva Chen, for enlightening me how to help others get to their greatness as well. As promised, I will keep at it. I hope my callers do too.