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Tips for Mentors and Mentees

Tips for Being a Great Mentor

Mentorship Experience: Bill Gates and Warren Buffett Having a great mentor can do wonders for your professional development and career. Describe what you’ve learned from them and how those skills will help your career going forward. Don’t focus on the relationship’s inadequacies—accentuate the positive. Effective mentorship takes time. Mentors trade away hours they could use to chase their own career goals and spend them on someone else’s.

  • Mentoring is about instituting a partnership that helps your protege learn. It is not about your being an expert or the authority.
  • Great mentors foster discovery, they don’t coach; thought-provoking questions are much more powerful than smart answers.
  • Your protege will learn more if you create a association that is safe and comfortable. Be authentic, open, and sincere.
  • Your rank or position is your greatest obligation—act more like a friend than a boss.
  • Great listening comes from genuine curiosity and obvious attentiveness.
  • Give feedback with a strong focus on the future, not a heavy rehash of the past.
  • Mentoring is not just about what you say in a mentoring session; it is also about how you support your protege after the session. Focus on helping your protege transfer learning back to the workplace.
  • If your mentoring relationship is not working like you hoped it would, clearly communicate your apprehensions to your protege.
  • Mentoring relationships are intended to be temporary. When your protege has met his or her mentoring goals, be willing to let the relationship end.

Tips for Being a Great Mentee

How to Make the Most of a Mentorship Experience The best mentors avoid overriding the dreams of their mentees. If an employee and a job aren’t a good fit, or if an ambitious employee realistically has limited upward mobility in a company, a good mentor will help that employee move on. They might be better suited to another role within the organization, or even to a new path somewhere else.

  • Select a mentor who can help you be the best you can be, not one you think can help you get a promotion.
  • Remember, you can sometimes learn more from people who are different than from people who are “just like you.”
  • Get transparent on your goals and expectations for a mentoring relationship.
  • Communicate your goals and expectations in your first meeting.
  • Mentoring is about learning, not looking good in front of your mentor. Be yourself and be willing to take risks and experiment with new skills and ideas.
  • When your mentor gives you advice or feedback, work hard to hear it as a gift. Just because it may be painful does not mean it is not beneficial.
  • If your mentoring relationship is not working like you hoped it would, clearly communicate your concerns to your mentor.
  • Great mentoring relationships take two people—a partnership. Look in the mirror before you conclude a poor mentoring relationship is all about your mentor.
  • Mentoring relationships are designed to be temporary. When you have met your mentoring goals, be willing to let the relationship end.
Posted in Management and Leadership

Why You Need a Mentor & How to Make the Most of a Mentorship Experience

Mentorship Experience: Bill Gates and Warren Buffett A mentor can be an important catalyst for career development. It’s important, therefore, to take the initiative and seek a mentor, either within or outside one’s workplace. Mentoring refers to a developmental relationship between two people where the more experienced person, or the mentor, acts as a teacher, coach and guide to the mentee, who is seeking to move ahead in education, career or life in general. Let’s take a look at what can be gained from having a mentor at this stage in your career:

  1. Perspective and Experience. A mentor can give you the benefit of his or her perspective and experience. He or she can help you assimilate to a new position and give you an insider’s view on how to get things done.
  2. Think Outside the Box. A mentor can help you look at situations in new ways. He or she can ask hard questions and help you solve problems.
  3. Define and Reach Long-Term Goals. A mentor can help you define your career path and ensure that you don’t lose focus and continue down that road even when you become distracted by day-to-day pressures.
  4. Accountability. When you know you are meeting with your mentor, you ensure that all the tasks you discussed in your last meeting are completed.
  5. Set Realistic Expectations. Idealism can be very detrimental to teachers. Think of a mentor whom you consider great. Seasoned professionals can share their failings and consequent learnings with their mentees. This will provide a foundation for accepting failures as inevitable and recoverable. Growth and learning are uncomfortable. Feeling that way is normal and expected. If you let them know it is going to happen, then it reduces fear.
  6. Trusted Colleague to Discuss Issues. A mentor can be a great sounding board for all issues—whether you are having difficulty with your immediate supervisor, an ethical dilemma, or need advice on how to tackle a new project or ask for a raise.
  7. Champion and Ally. A mentor who knows you well can be a strong champion of your positive attributes and an ally during any bumpy spots in your career. You get the insights and hindsight perspective that comes with first-hand knowledge.
  8. Expand Your Contacts and Network. A mentor can help expand your network of contacts and business acquaintances.
  9. Open Doors. A mentor can open doors within your company, in other companies, or onto a board.
  10. Inspire. A mentor whose work you admire can be a strong inspiration. A good mentor will positively impact your morale and engagement, leading to increased effectiveness in your current role.
  11. Work Better. With the help of a good mentor, you can work more efficiently with a clearer view of the future you are trying to achieve. This helps you feel more confident in your job, which leads to better job performance and more success along your chosen road.

Making the Most of the Mentorship Experience

How to Make the Most of a Mentorship Experience

  • Don’t just settle down for instructional mentoring. Instead, work on building fuller developmental relationships with mentors who help you build confidence and credibility within the workplace.
  • Don’t mistake mentoring and coaching with friendship. When selecting a mentor, choose someone you really respect and has the respect of the company you’re in.
  • When investigating new job options, talk to current employees and look at the company’s record of accomplishment in mentoring. Critically important is choosing the right environment.
  • Don’t be afraid to discuss race, ethnicity, and gender issues with your mentor, as these may significantly impact assignments, promotions, and perceptions about you within the workplace. Engaging your mentor in honest discussions can strengthen your lines of communication over the long-term.
  • Signal to the mentor that you’re willing to work around your weaknesses, that you don’t want to just be acceptable but exceptional.
  • Challenge your mentor to challenge you. If you’re stuck in a professional rut, seek your mentor’s guidance on opportunities that stretch your current talents and skills.

Realize that your development is ultimately your responsibility, whether or not your company offers formalized mentoring programs. But mentors will help you stretch yourself in ways that you might not have tried without their encouragement.

Posted in Management and Leadership

Knowledge is Never Really Acquired

A portrait statue of Socrates The famous statement, “All I know is that I do not know,” is attributed-questionably, according to some scholars-to the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates (c. 470-399 BCE), based on two dialogues written by his disciple Plato (c. 424-c. 348 BCE).

In The Republic (c. 360 BCE), Socrates concludes a discussion with Thrasymachus on “justice” by saying, “the result of the discussion, as far as I’m concerned, is that I know nothing, for when I don’t know what justice is, I’ll hardly know whether it is a kind of virtue or not, or whether a person who has it is happy or unhappy.”

In The Apology (399 BCE), Socrates says of a well-respected politician that “he knows nothing, and thinks that he knows; I neither know nor think that I know.” The resulting slogan was adopted by later thinkers and incorporated into the tradition that became known as “Academic Skepticism.” Rather than believing that it is impossible to know anything, Academic Skeptics actually claim only that we can know very little about reality—namely, truths of logic and mathematics. This contrasts with Pyrrhonian skepticism, which involves an attitude of doubting every positive judgment, including logic and mathematics.

A serious problem with Socrates’s statements is that he seems committed to an incoherent position. If he truly does not know anything, then it is false that he knows that; but if he does know he does not know anything, then it is false that he does not know anything. Thus, the claim “I know that I do not know” is self-defeating (resulting in the statement also being known as the Socratic paradox). In response, many scholars argue that this is an uncharitable reading of Plato. They contend that Socrates’s claims are expressed in a particular context, referring only to specific concepts and not to knowledge generally (“Justice” in The Republic, and “beauty” and “goodness” in The Apology).

Posted in Education and Career Philosophy and Wisdom

Lessons from Edgar de Picciotto

Edgar de Picciotto of Union Bancaire Privee

Edgar de Picciotto, an early promoter of hedge fund investing, passed away on Sunday 13 March 2016 after a long sickness. On November 12, 1969, de Picciotto opened his own asset-management bank in a city dominated by such well-known private banking names as Pictet Group, Lombard Odier, Darier and Hentsch.

Edgar de Picciotto founded Union Bancaire Privee (UBP) in 1969. UBP is one of the most favorably capitalized private banks in the world, and a leading player in the field of wealth management in Switzerland with $110 billion in assets under management at the end of December 2015. Edgar de Picciotto, who was born of Syrian-Lebanese parentage, moved to Switzerland in the 1950s and worked as a financier before founding UBP’s predecessor in 1969. From the bank’s inconspicuous headquarters on one of Geneva’s chief luxury-shopping drags, he built a customer base of affluent individuals and institutions all over Europe, the U.S., and the Middle East.

De Picciotto was born in Beirut and hailed from a lineage of businesspersons, which lived from the 14th to the 17th century in Portugal, moving in later centuries via Italy and Syria to the Lebanon. He afterward lived with his parents and brothers in Milan, ultimately deciding to study mechanical engineering in France. However, it was financial engineering, which took his perpetual fancy. He earned his spurs and made financial contacts, working in his previous father-in-law’s bank in Geneva. In its 2015 annual report, UBP recalled,

As our 2015 Annual Report was going to print, we learnt with deep sorrow that Edgar de Picciotto, the Chairman and founder of Union Bancaire Privee, had passed away at 86 years of age.

Edgar de Picciotto was a recognized creative visionary and pioneer in a wide variety of fields in the banking industry. He quickly rose to become a leading figure of the Geneva financial hub, and one of the most respected authorities on investments around the world.

In just a few decades, Edgar de Picciotto turned UBP into one of the world’s biggest family-owned banks. Very early on, he also set up a governance structure designed to ensure the Group’s longevity by integrating the second generation of his family into the business.

UBP is his life’s work. UBP is his legacy to us. It now falls to us to grow UBP with the same entrepreneurial spirit that he used to create the Bank, by perpetuating the values that Edgar de Picciotto would wish to see upheld every day and in everything we do.

Edgar de Picciotto’s children and all the members of UBP’s management are determined to carry on the spirit that its founder instilled in it, and they know that they can rely on the professionalism and dedication of all UBP’s staff members to continue to grow the Bank’s business, while also maintaining its independence.

In 2002, news of merger talks between two family-controlled private banks, Union Bancaire Privee (UBP) and Discount Bank & Trust Company (DTBT) over forming one of Geneva’s biggest private banks became newest sign of the altering attitude among the country’s private banks. Withdrawing from UBP’s operational management 20 years ago, de Picciotto set up a governance structure designed to guarantee the bank’s durability. His son Guy de Picciotto has been chief executive officer since 1998, while his daughter, Anne Rotman de Picciotto, and his eldest son, Daniel de Picciotto, are on the board of directors.

Byron Wien, vice chairperson of Blackstone Advisory Partners, had the pleasure of calling Edgar de Picciotto his mentor.

My purpose in reviewing Edgar’s thinking over the past 15 years is to show how he consistently tried to integrate his world view into the investment environment. That was his imperative. He wasn’t always right, but he was always questioning himself and he remained flexible. When he lost money, it tended to cause minimal pain in relation to his overall assets, and when one of his maverick ideas worked, he made what he called “serious money.”

Lessons from Edgar de Picciotto of Union Bancaire Privee

Edgar de Picciotto as a Mentor

Mentors fall into two categories: there are those you work with every day who are incessantly guiding you to enhanced performance. The ability to serve as a great mentor is one of the most undervalued and underappreciated skills in finance. Perhaps better branded as a “role model,” an outstanding mentor can provide not only a wide-ranging knowledge base and technical skills, but also the sagacious financial judgment that implies the high-class investor. Perhaps of even larger importance, a mentor can express a “philosophy of practice,” including the optimal interaction with clients and economists, a procedure for remaining current with advances in the field, and a thorough concept of how the practice of finance fits into a full life. A sympathetic mentor can also provide counselling in selecting the best practice opportunity and can maintain a close relationship for many years.

Mentors are significant to all of us, as they teach us what can’t be learned from books or in the classroom. They set aside a concrete example of “how to get it done,” and, sometimes more importantly, what to be done, when to do it, and whom to engage in the effort. Their inspiration often carries us through when nothing else does.

  • Understand the consequence of understanding the macro environment. “Many people describe themselves as stock pickers … but you have to consider the economic, social, and political context in which the stocks are being picked.” De Picciotto indubitably showed he had a good nose for trends.
  • Meet as many people of authority as you can. “For him, networking never stopped.” De Picciotto took great pleasure from knowing smart people and exchanging ideas with them.
  • “Nobody owns the truth.” De Picciotto would test his ideas on those he cherished and, and if he ran into a convincing conflicting opinion, he would contemplate on it seriously and sometimes change his position. While he never lacked principle about his ideas, he was unprejudiced and malleable.
  • Value the trust and the delight of friendship and the vainness of resentment. De Picciotto was gratified of his own success but also an enthusiast of the success of others who were his friends.
  • Never talk about overlooked opportunities except when you are disapproving yourself. Be your own harshest critic. Even if you are an intellectual risk taker, you will make many mistakes. Diagnose them early, but never stop taking risks, because that is where the tangible opportunities are and your life will be more invigorating as a result.
Posted in Investing and Finance Leaders and Innovators

Seek to Understand a Limited Number of Master Thinkers

Stoic philosopher Seneca advises,

Be careful, however, lest this reading of many authors and books of every sort may tend to make you discursive and unsteady. You must linger among a limited number of master thinkers, and digest their works, if you would derive ideas which shall win firm hold in your mind. Everywhere means nowhere. When a person spends all his time in foreign travel, he ends by having many acquaintances, but no friends. And the same thing must hold true of men who seek intimate acquaintance with no single author, but visit them all in a hasty and hurried manner.

Reference: Seneca, The Epistles of Seneca, “II. On Discursiveness in Reading”

Source: Seneca, Letters from a Stoic

Posted in Philosophy and Wisdom

How to Recapture Trust and Have People Follow You

How to Recapture Trust and Have People Follow You

Somewhere, in some company, a CEO does something to violate the trust of employees, stockholders, and the public daily. As a result, now seven in 10 people distrust CEOs. Eight in 10 are convinced these top executives would take “improper actions to help themselves at the expense of their companies. In recent months, the percentage of people who perceive big business as a threat to the nation’s future has doubled to 38 percent.

The lack of trust originates from leaders’ disregard for personal integrity. People want leaders they can trust. They expect honest answers to questions.

So, what must CEOs do? Become a Trust Me leader, focusing on the welfare and success of the people around them rather than on their own. Ironically, this ensures their own welfare and success more surely. They hold firm under pressure and maintain their focus. Above all, they possess integrity.

Integrity is intrinsic to a Trust Me leader and is so compelling that people naturally want to follow leaders who have it. People are most willing to follow someone they can trust. They must be sure foe person will be straight with them, follow through faithfully on their stated intentions, and remain true to their expressed values.

What is integrity? What does it look like? What can a leader do to become a Trust Me leader? The root word for “integrity” is integer—a whole, indivisible number. Leaders who focus on integrity choose to live a whole life, neither divided nor fractured through compromise, hypocrisy, instability or dishonesty. They won’t do it perfectly, but in spite of expected human frailties, a Trust Me leader strives to be whole and undivided. He or she is “the real deal.”

In “The Soul of the Firm”, William Pollard wrote, “We must be people of integrity seeking to do what is right, even when no one is looking.”

Barriers to Integrity

Becoming a whole leader of integrity is easier contemplated than achieved. Before exploring the attitudes and actions that build a life of integrity, let’s examine some stumbling blocks not easily seen or surmounted on the journey.

When leaders are paralyzed by fear, they tend to lose perspective and often make decisions or act in ways that do not support integrity. Fear also causes them to lose vision .and hope. They vacillate and lose heart. They simply give up and a life of integrity sinks below their radar. They expect, or others expect, them to deliver results, but they are bound by such fear that they lose their sense of direction and their heart.

The compromise of values is a sad and gradual corrosion of golden intentions, happening over time—a little lie or indiscretion leads to another until, almost imperceptibly, integrity and character begin to crumble. Finally, their integrity is completely ruined.

The root word for hypocrite is lzupokrisis. It was used in classical Greek as part of theatrical acting and evolved to mean acting a part. In this sense, the great actors are hypocrites-they assume a role and act out a part. Their acting roles are separate from their real lives.

In leadership, integrity is about actions matching beliefs. Do leaders “act” the part or are they genuine? Does their walk match their talk? Hypocrisy, like fear and compromise, can destroy integrity and render leaders trustless.

Posted in Management and Leadership

Exemplary Leaders Model the Way for Others

Exemplary Leaders Model the Way for Others

Some people see across the boundary of experience and into the future. They believe that dreams can become realities. They open our eyes and lift our spirits. They build our trust and strengthen our relationships. They stand firm against the winds of resistance and give us courage to continue the quest. We call these people leaders. They take us to places we have never been before.

Exemplary leaders engage in practices that stand the test of time, the first being that they model the way. Exemplary leaders clarify their personal values and then express those values in their own style and voice, in thought and action. They then set the example by aligning their personal actions with shared values.

Find your values and your voice

Exemplary leaders have strong beliefs about matters of principle. People expect their leaders to speak out on matters of values and conscience. Nevertheless, how can you speak out if you don’t know what’s important to you? How can you show you care if you don’t know what you care about? To earn and sustain personal credibility, you must find your voice by clarifying your personal values and expressing them in your own style. By finding your voice, you take the first step in the journey to becoming a leader. By asking yourself what value you bring to your constituents, you stay at the leading edge.

Leaders are clear about the values and motivations that drive them. Values serve as guides. By identifying your values, you find your voice. The clearer you are about your values, the easier it is for you to stay on the path you have chosen. Values inform your decisions about what to do, when to say “yes” and when to say “no,” and why you make those decisions.

Learn to express your values in a way that is genuinely and authentically you. You must authentically communicate your beliefs in ways that uniquely represent who you are. You must interpret the lyrics and shape them into your own presentation so that others recognize that you’re the one who’s singing.

Set the example

Clarity about personal values is part of modeling the way for others. If you stand for some personal set of values, then the only person you’ll be leading will be yourself. When you lead a group or organization, you have to move from “what I believe” to “what we believe.”

We can’t impose values from the top. It either leads to compliance or rebellion. Values cannot be forced. They must be forged. Being clear about personal values allows us to detect where there are shared values in the community.

Discovering values that can be shared is the foundation for building productivity and genuine working relationships. Although leaders honor the diversity of their constituencies, they also stress their common values. Leaders build on agreement. They don’t worry about getting everyone to be in accord.

Tremendous energy is generated when individual, group, and institutional values are aligned. Commitment, enthusiasm, and drive are intensified, as people have reasons for caring about their work. When we care about what we are doing, we are more effective and satisfied. We experience less stress. Shared values are the internal compasses that enable us to act independently and interdependently—simultaneously.

Align personal actions with shared values

Align personal actions with shared values

The most powerful thing a leader can do to mobilize others is to set the example by aligning personal actions with shared values. Leaders show up, pay attention, and participate directly in getting extraordinary things done. They show others by their own example that they are deeply committed to the values and aspirations they espouse. Leaders are measured by the consistency of their deeds and words—by walking the talk. Leading by example is how leaders make visions and values tangible. It is how they provide the evidence that they are committed and competent.

Leaders enact the meaning of the organization in every decision they make and in every step they take. Leaders understand that they bring shared values to life in a variety of settings—in staff meetings, one-on-one conferences, telephone calls, e-mails, sermons, and in visits with colleagues and constituents.

Show people what’s important by how you spend your time

How you spend your time is the single clearest indicator, especially to other people, about what’s important to you. Critical incidents chance occurrences, particularly at a time of stress and challenge, offer significant moments of learning for leaders. They are often the most dramatic sources of moral lessons about what we should value and how we should behave. They become stories that are passed down in the workplace.

Therefore, you might use an organizer or journal to assess your alignment with your principles. Every evening, ask, “What have I done today to demonstrates that this value is near and dear to me? What have I done inadvertently to demonstrate this is not a value for me? What do I need to do to more fully express my values?”

By daily clarifying and reaffirming your values, you strengthen your resolve to contribute.

Posted in Management and Leadership

Five Ways to Kick Start Your Personal and Professional Development

Personal and Professional Development

If you reflect upon the question, “what did you learn today,” you will realize that, at the very heart of success, is your personal and professional development that require rising above the status quo enough and starting to learn something new. Human nature is such that we tend to stay where we are and cling to the status quo. We do not wish to make changes or take the necessary effort to put us into a glide path for professional and personal development. Here are five steps to keep yourself sharp professionally and help you achieve more and enjoy success more.

  1. Focus on the General Principles. A surfeit of people, lessons, training programs, classes, courses, and self-help guidebooks promise to lead you by the hand to the promised land of personal and professional success. The challenge with self-development is that, in the real world out there, things are often more difficult than the how-to-guides make them out to be. It is always a better idea to consider particular specifics less and the values, disciplines, philosophies, and personal attributes that bring success more.
  2. Take Charge. Take responsibility for your own professional development. Nobody else–your parents, your spouse, your boss at work– can take responsibility for your development. Responsibility for your professional development should lie squarely on your shoulders, especially when learning and professional development budgets are increasingly reduced and fewer good resources are available at low costs. Do not play the victim and become defensive about your underperformance or blame it on circumstances or other people.
  3. Become Self-aware. Without self-awareness, you cannot become cognizant of your strengths, your weaknesses, and your development needs. Results from personality tests like Myers-Briggs, Predictive Index, and StrengthsFinder can help you develop a framework for self-awareness helps to classify your strengths and weaknesses, and then discover your development needs. Then try to understand the values you wish to gain through the development program—such values may be personal and professional contentment, happiness, or an opportunity to move up the career ladder. Connect your development needs and concentrate on what matters to you deeply. Jog your memory of the value that your development program will bring to you whenever you need motivation to maintain your learning discipline and improve the efficacy of your learning. Acknowledge what is in your control to change and what isn’t.
  4. Manage Your Weaknesses. It’s important to acknowledge the things you aren’t good at. As a minimum, acknowledge to yourself what areas of weakness in technical or managerial capabilities you must master to do fully your job well. Create a process that helps mitigate your weakness. Weaknesses can often be conquered, and transformed into strengths with adequate effort. Some weaknesses are more important to focus on that others. Bear in mind the long-term benefits of changing a weakness into strength. If you have any weakness that involves character (anger management, inability to deliver negative feedback, lack of openness and sincerity, the tendency to overpower others, etc.,) put these on top of your development needs — working on these career-inhibiting weaknesses is essential.
  5. Ask for Help and Get the Mentoring You Need. Remember that the best person in any field or endeavor didn’t get there alone or become an expert just on his or her own efforts. Many people—friends, family, bosses, mentors—respond better to a direct “I need help” than they do the various explanations, excuses, and rationalizations that you might proffer for poor performance and lack of effort necessary for self-development. Ask for criticism and advice about how you are performing in your personal and professional life and ask for suggestions for improvement. Sincerely ask for advice, feedback, and help. Another benefit of involving others in your development is that they can appreciate your progress and become accountable for your development goals.

When you understand yourself, your development needs, listen to your gut, trust your learning instincts, try to get help from multiple sources and do the hard work of integrating everything you’ve learned into your latticework of knowledge, you can all realize your full potential.

Posted in Education and Career