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An Evening of Mentors

By Ruth Ong on Nov 13, 2013

On October 29, as part of their Creative Women's Leadership Series, The One Club hosted "An Evening of Mentors," where established creatives shared their experiences with up and coming young women in the industry in several small group sessions. 
 
Fall was in full force. Change was in the air. My agency offered me an opportunity to meet 15 advertising greats who had flown in from all over the country to be at The One Club for An Evening of Mentors. I jumped at the chance. As a mid-level creative with 6 years of experience, I wanted to learn how to manage bosses at the top, and juniors at the bottom. And, how to plan out a career path...while not going crazy in the process.
 
One lesson stood out for me: Initiative. Ask for what you want.
 
Susan Hoffman of Wieden + Kennedy fame revealed that although good mentors were a big factor in learning the ropes, she herself had never been actively approached to be a mentor before. "And why? I'd never turn anyone away from my door." Lesson: ask for help.
 
Margaret Johnson, ECD and partner of Goodby Silverstein & Partners repositioned the question of "What qualities do you look for when you're giving a promotion?" with "9 times out of 10, that person asked for the promotion." Ask for it.
 
Most mentorship questions center around smoothing interpersonal friction at work, but those problems may be easily solved with simple requests. Ellen Steinberg, GCD and partner of McKinney suggests: In a colleague malfunction situation, try asking them to treat you the way you'd like to be treated. She gave the example of her days as a junior writer, when her boss would just slip her brusque memos of 'Write this! Write that!". After continuing this monologue for some time, she asked (nicely of course) that she work in tandem with her art director. Her request was met with genuine surprise... and was granted.
 
True to form, many of the mentors that I reached out to post-event for this article (note to self : good job on asking!) responded promptly with their takeaways. Surprise, mentorship is really the biggest way of receiving new knowledge. From asking for that promotion, to asking for some respect, what comes after you've mastered the art of the request? That might be the better lesson to learn: the art of the bequest. Give, and you shall receive.
 
Ruth is an art director at Grey in New York. She loves strategy, the digital world, sailing, and culinary adventures.

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