Last Thursday marked our fifth(!) event in our Changing the Conversation series. Generously hosted by ZocDoc, nearly 100 women and men joined us for wine (thanks again to Moore Brothers!), hors d’oeuvres, and thoughtful conversation.
Over the years, Changing the Conversation has evolved from a forum about individual paths to success to a more action-oriented, topic-driven conversation about the various ways in which we can equalize and diversify corporate leadership. Thursday’s event was centered on the importance of the sponsor-sponsee (an outgrowth of the mentor-mentee) relationship.
Our panel consisted of two pairs of sponsors/sponsees: Jean Brownhill, Founder and CEO of Sweeten and her sponsor Reese Fayde, Principle at Reese Fayde and Associates, and Maureen Guthman, SVP of Program Strategy and Acquisitions at TV One and her sponsor, Pete Danielsen, Owner of Danielsen Design. Rabia De Lande Long moderated, facilitating dialogue on how each panelist influenced each other, and how (and why) other people should seek out a similar partnership.
Some takeaways from our panelists, in case you missed it…
I think I have felt a mutuality in terms of our relationship. “Mentor”/ “Mentee” has a directional connotation. It’s not the relationship [Jean and I] have. We both feel passionately that we have an obligation to bring along other people as often as we can. – Reese Fayde
Be open to opportunities, and talk to different people. Opportunity comes at the most random times. —Jean Brownhill
Knowing yourself, and knowing what areas you want to develop, is key. Find someone that can complement or enhance what you want to strengthen. –Maureen Guthman
Help others--you’ll get as much, if not more, out of helping others as you will out of getting help yourself. –Pete Danielsen
Advice for those new to the sponsor/sponsee relationship:
- Don’t be overzealous! “Be cool”, as Jean Brownhill says. Drop the formality when approaching a potential sponsor, and remember, it will make her (or him) feel good helping you, too.
- Maureen Guthman suggests: “Own your power, and find your commonality.” Find a point of interest that you and your potential sponsor share, and start there.
- “Just be clear,” Pete advises. “Ask a very specific question when you are looking for help.” Broader questions can be too vague, whereas a specific question guides a potential sponsor as to how they can help you (or who they can connect you with).
- To those new to the sponsor role, Reese reminds that there is no one way to be a sponsor. “Listen, and you will find the right responses. There are no rules, no framework that works each time.”
Some of the feedback we’ve heard from attendees…
I thought last night was excellent: a great atmosphere with high quality discussions so a big thank you.
Have definitely been thinking about that question of how to be a good male ally and use my voice since the event. Most of the time I've come to the conclusion that being there, in the room, is often the best way for me to participate.
The panel was really interesting and inspiring. I was able to meet many great women in your network. I’m already looking forward to your next event!
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