A mentor is an invaluable asset for any business leader looking to gain the benefits of real-world experience without the growing pains of trial and error.

In episode #098 of the Meeting Leadership Podcast, we continue our Meeting Leadership Exercises with Tracy Carroll.  She is well-versed in the nature of mentorship, and lends her acting skills to our examples.

This episode focuses on the two-way communication between between an aspiring mentee and potential mentor.  We’ll lay out the ideal approach and ensuing interactions from both parties, which will assume you chose the right person as your mentor.

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00:00 – Show Opening

Are you a professional who wants to become a more effective leader? Then get ready for daily tips from the coach with the experience and inspiration to help you succeed in any leadership situation. You’re listening to the Meeting Leadership Podcast with Gordon Sheppard.

00:27 – Start Here – Podcast content starts here!

Gordon Sheppard: Welcome to another episode of the Meeting Leadership Podcast. My name is Gordon Sheppard. I want to say thank you so much for being here. Thank you for being a professional who wants to become a better meeting leader. Thank you for trusting this podcast as the place where you can pick up one leadership skill, two leadership skills and the tips and the strategies that you need to learn how to run effective meetings. And then you’re pulling those things together, you’re going back to your organization, you’re having a better meeting with your team. That’s impacting your organization and ultimately that flows through to supporting your customers and your community at the highest possible level. It is really great to have you here.

01:05 – Meeting Leadership Exercises with Tracy Carroll – MLP 081 – MLP 088 

Gordon Sheppard: And in today’s episode, if you’re the type of professional who really appreciates the value of self awareness, you’re going to get a lot out of the demonstration that we’re doing today. Because today we’re back for another installment of Meeting Leadership exercises. And today we’re going to talk about how to ask someone to be your mentor. And fortunately again, we’ve got Tracy Carroll back on the show. You would have heard from her in episode 81, episode 88. Tracy, welcome.

Tracy Carroll:      Thanks. I’m back.

Gordon Sheppard: Tracy, big parenthesis here, I’m married to Tracy, but also she’s a theater professional in her own right and has held all kinds of roles in the theater throughout her career. So she’s got a lot of experience with people, a lot of insight into sort of human conditions. So she comes by honestly when we do these little examples for you here on the show.

And Tracy, before we get really rolling here, have you ever had a mentor in your own life and what was that experience like for you?

02:00 – Mentor relationships can start organically

Tracy Carroll: I have had mentors. I still have mentors. I had in particular two fantastic women early on in my career who were really encouraging and I could ask them any questions and they were terrific. It was invaluable.

Gordon Sheppard: And they really helped you out. And do you remember how those relationships started? Was it an organic thing or was it proactive or-

Tracy Carroll: Yeah, it was pretty organic. We had been working on some shows together at a theater and it just turned into them being natural mentors.

Gordon Sheppard: I love that kind of process. It makes sense. And not everybody has the luxury of being in a situation, say a working situation or an apprentice situation or whatever you were in there to be around that, to allow it to organically occur. And that’s why I want to do the episode today, is actually I think people, if they’re proactive, because we know that the value of mentorship is really, really high. But we’ve got this moment where it’s hard to reach out and ask. And so the demonstration today is really to help people imagine what that might be like.

Gordon Sheppard: So I wanted to set up a little scenario here where you are like the CEO of some big thing. What would you be the CEO of?

Tracy Carroll:

Gordon Sheppard: Yeah, you’re the CEO of and I’m an engineer, programmer person and I can see that you are like-

Tracy Carroll: I know everything.

02:30 – Choosing your mentor, setting up the relationship

Gordon Sheppard: 15 or 20 years ahead of me and this is the thing, when you go to choose your mentor, I mean you can imagine these days, especially with the Internet, you can find people that you want to be the exact match for the type of skills that you’re looking for. Now, let’s say also on this engineer, and I have this idea that I want to be in a leadership role, so I’m really good at my technical work, but I know to take it up a level, I need to hang around some really strong leaders and get their feedback.

Well the opportunity then, if I found you and I was able to say make contact, either on a pre-call or reached out to you, say via text or whatever way, LinkedIn maybe, was able to book a coffee meeting with you. And this is what I want to demonstrate right now. So we’re there, we’re face to face, we’re not actually in a mentoring situation, but we’re setting up the relationship and we’re going to go through the steps that it takes to set that up. Does that make sense?

Tracy Carroll: Mm-hmm.

04:09 – The conversation: mentee to potential mentor

Gordon Sheppard: Great. Okay. So the first thing then is I’m the mentee, you’re the mentor and I’m going to talk like the way a mentee might talk in this situation. So the first thing I’d be saying is like, “Well thank you Tracy. It’s so great that you took time out of your busy schedule to spend time with me. I really, really appreciate it.”

Tracy Carroll: Nice to meet you, Gord.

Gordon Sheppard: Great. I reached out specifically because I’m just really aware of your history and your resume and your reputation, and I wanted to ask you if you would be my mentor. So I really appreciate that you’re considering it right now.

Tracy Carroll: I am considering it.

Gordon Sheppard: And the main reason that I’m reaching out to you is to learn more as a leader, and I really think you’re the type of person, through all the different things that you’ve done, where I could learn something in a very specific way about leadership. Is that something that would be enjoyable for you?

Tracy Carroll: Gord, I think we can make this work, but here are my expectations with the situation. One thing is, I am really busy, I don’t have a lot of time. So if we could limit it to an hour a month, if that works for you. And also when we’re in that hour, it’s going to be productive. We’re not going to waste time talking about personal things. We’re going to help you become a better leader.

Gordon Sheppard:  That is exactly what I’m looking for and I’m so glad that you were able to help me understand how much time you have available, because I know you’re super busy. I know we can get a lot done and I can tell you from my perspective, I’m happy to take on any homework or any assignments that you have for me. So if you’ve got specific tasks that you want me to do to get ready or books to read, I would have in this case a whole month to wind up and get ready for our meetings, and I’ll be more prepared than I’ve ever been. Would that work for you?

Tracy Carroll: That’s great, and actually I have a little list right here that you can take with you.

Gordon Sheppard: This is perfect, and I think if I can get through this list and get back to you, do you think then if we can pull all this together, we can actually then agree that you would become my mentor for the next three months?

Tracy Carroll: Absolutely. Let’s meet next month.

Gordon Sheppard: And obviously, Tracy, we got into a really short version of how this would happen. But somewhere in there I think you can see the breadcrumbs of what it takes to set up a very specific type of mentoring relationship, where the person that is the mentee is getting their needs met. So in this case, specifically to develop as a leader, and the mentor is going to get something out of this as well because obviously in this case the mentor prepared a list. You were thinking about coming into the situation and how you wanted to make it better. Would that make sense?

Tracy Carroll: Yes, absolutely. It was reciprocal.

05:51 – Reciprocation is key

Gordon Sheppard: And reciprocal is exactly what we’re looking for in a mentor-mentee relationships. So let me just summarize here for a second. The big thing is the mentee identified someone they wanted to reach out to. They reached out and they set up a face to face. In the face to face, they didn’t beat around the bush. They got down to why they were there, and we always know that the mentor’s time is super, super valuable, so the mentee wants to honor that. They went back and forth and they set up some basic parameters.

06:25 – Summary of conversation

Gordon Sheppard: I’ve heard, Tracy, some people actually set up a contract and that can be a step further. Now for some people that’s too much. For some people that’s the right idea and that’s the way to create accountability. So that’s another aspect that comes up when we talk about this kind of thing.

Tracy Carroll: Yeah, it makes sense. When you sign off on an agreement, then you’ve got a commitment from both parties, right.

Gordon Sheppard: And it’s the commitment that’s really going to benefit everybody. And I think also for mentors, I think mentors should be selfish too. It’s not just giving back. I think you really want to see your mentee doing the work and really honoring the relationship as well.

Tracy Carroll: Absolutely.

Gordon Sheppard: Tracy, it’s been great to have you back on the show. Thank you so much.

Tracy Carroll:Thanks again.

07:23 – More Meeting Leadership Exercises  – MLP 081 – MLP 088

Gordon Sheppard:    And if you really liked this type of episode where you hear a demonstration of the technique, then check out episode 81. It’s called Meeting Leadership Exercises – The Pros And Cons Technique For Managing Disagreements. And check out episode 88. It’s called Meeting Leadership Exercises – The Repetition Technique For Active Listening.

And in today’s episode we talked about the mentor idea. We’ve got more of these demos coming up and I hope you really look forward to enjoying them as much as I’ve enjoyed doing them, along with Tracy. And I also want to let you know that this episode of the Meeting Leadership Podcast is brought to you by the Meeting Leadership Academy. There you’re going to find great online training opportunities and live training opportunities for you and your team to grow your leadership skills, and learn how to run outstanding meetings.

07:53 – Meeting Leadership Academy –

Gordon Sheppard: And you can learn more about that by visiting And just in case you haven’t hit the subscribe button yet, please do, and then leave a rating and review for the show. It’ll influence what we put on the next episodes. And as always, thank you so much for listening and we’ll see you tomorrow on the Meeting Leadership Podcast.

08:30 – Podcast Outro

Be sure to subscribe for more strategies to help you become an outstanding leader. And don’t forget to rate and review so we can bring you fresh content every day. We’ll see you tomorrow, right here on the Meeting Leadership Podcast.

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Gordon Sheppard

Gord is on a mission to change the world, one meeting at a time. Over his 25+ years in business Gord has run or participated in more than 2000 meetings! Not only is Gord the CEO of Business Expert Solutions Inc. (owner/operator of Meeting Leadership Inc), but he is also a Facilitator, Trainer, Business Consultant, Author, Speaker and Podcaster who helps leaders learn how to have great meetings, so they can build outstanding organizations and serve their clients at the highest possible level.

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