Your Career Mentor

Your Career Mentor
By Sonya L Sigler

I wrote a presentation last month (New Year, New You – The Top 10 Ways to Manage Your Career) and was fortunate enough to be able to give it with one of my best friends in the world, Graciela Tiscareno-Sato, to the Women in eDiscovery Silicon Valley group. After thinking about it more and reviewing the slides and stories we told, I have decided to turn it into a book. I’ve included the 10 tips below and I am looking for additional stories to add to the book. I have 1-2 stories for each tip already but I want to be able to include 3-5 illustrative stories for each tip. So, read on and if you have a story (yours or someone else’s) that fits with a particular tip or piece of advice, please contact me, I’d love to hear about it!

10. Have a Goal
Every career (or life, for that matter) needs a goal. If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there. Putting together a goal or set of goals will help guide your career, rather than merely letting it meander aimlessly. Put together a plan of goals for your career with 1, 3, and 5-year milestones or mini-goals. Don’t be afraid to reassess these goals on a regular basis!

9. Know Your Value
What is your unique value proposition? This isn’t just marketing speak. Having thought about what makes you unique and what you can bring to the table AND being able to articulate it, will set you apart from others who may have similar skills and experience.

8. Show (Share) Your Value
Rather than merely keeping a list of your accomplishments and achievements, share that information with colleagues and higher-ups in a meaningful and lasting way. Learn to describe and communicate your value to others without sounding like you are bragging. Learn to tout each other’s accomplishments too!

7. Be Present. Now.
Feel like you are juggling too many balls and they are falling and hitting you on the head? Trying to balance work and life is really just a juggling act and it is more about establishing boundaries. No one but you knows where your boundaries are and how to put them in place. Is having dinner each night with your family important? Is coaching your child’s soccer team important to you? Do you make time to sing in a choir? Each of these things requires a boundary and requires you to be present, now.

6. Volunteer Yourself
Show initiative in taking on more responsibility or a new project. Find out what keeps your boss up at night or what they are really worried about in the business. Do not wait to be asked. Volunteer yourself or your team! Take the initiative to solve a problem.

5. What Would A Man Do?
This tip isn’t about man-spreading. It is about being seen and heard without asking for permission or waiting to be asked for your opinion. Would a man take a seat at the table? Would a man speak up in this same situation? Would a man put his hat in the ring for a promotion or leadership position? The take your seat at the table, speak up, and do not hesitate to be seen AND heard, especially in situations where your opinion may be in the minority.

4. Mentor Each Other
Don’t wait to find the perfect mentor – they don’t exist. If you have to flat out ask, ”Will you be my mentor?” the answer is no. The good news is that anyone can be your mentor. Look around for people you admire and speak to them about issues that concern you or seek their feedback. Your parents, your siblings, college classmates, girlfriends, colleagues, other managers are all good resources for mentoring. Mentoring is a two way street. Don’t be afraid of sharing your own observations and experiences.

3. Be Your Own Best Cheerleader
What if that negative voice in your head could be ultra positive and supportive? If you wouldn’t say something to your best friend, don’t say it to yourself. When you catch yourself saying something negative to your self, stop, and immediately replace it with something positive (not an airy positive affirmation, but a true positive statement). Be your own best cheerleader.

2. Step Up to the Challenge
Do you find yourself waiting to do something until you feel completely prepared? Do you hesitate to put your name in for consideration of a new project or position? Are you holding yourself back while you wait for the feeling of complete preparation to wash over you? Be prepared! (NOT). Most of the time, you will never feel prepared; Put your hat in the ring for a promotion or a new position anyway. Stop waiting to be 100% prepared. Step out of your comfort zone. Step up to the challenge.

1. Always Ask – Always!
When was the last time you asked for a raise? Was it during a formal review process? Or never?!? Always ask for raises, promotions, more stock, or other compensation. You can always ask the question, “What do I need to do to be promoted?” No one will volunteer to pay you more.

Again, if you have stories you want to share related to any of these tips, please contact me:

Sonya L Sigler
@iampractigal or @sonyasigler or

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