By Emily Blobaum, Fearless editor

The topics of mentorship and professional development have consistently been at the top of the list of issues that Fearless readers are interested in. 

So we thought, who better to talk to about mentorship than the Business Record’s Women of Influence? 

During September’s Fearless Friday event, Business Record Editor Emily Barske hosted a panel discussion with seven of the 2021 honorees: Rosalind Fox, Emily Abbas, Suzanne Mineck, Marta Codina, Tiffany Tauscheck, Sonia Parras Konrad and Janice Lane Schroeder. 

Highlights of their remarks are below.

Good mentors help challenge you. 

Parras Konrad: “They don’t give me the answers or solutions, they ask me what I think.” 

Fox: Mentors help give you the confidence to reach higher. “Sometimes you don’t think about how far you can go because you’re just trying to get through the day.” They ask, “How are you improving? How are you thinking about the future? What did you do better today than yesterday?” 

Mineck: Good mentors “hold up mirrors and ask what I value and if what I’m doing is reflective of those values.”

Lane Schroeder: “Always be open and ready for change. Be willing to step outside your comfort zone. Be willing to accept positive feedback.”

Seek variety in your mentors. 

Abbas: “Everyone deserves to have people they can count on and people who are invested in their success. People you can be real with, people you can ask advice from. People who will step in when they see that you aren’t doing things well. But also people that can quietly celebrate with you when you’ve achieved something. It’s not just about one person, but many people in our lives.” 

Mineck: “We learn the most when we have the privilege of walking alongside others. … Some of the greatest mentoring moments have been when mentors have been vulnerable in all their falls.” 

Men have a responsibility to advocate for and mentor women.

Codina: Help teach male friends, leaders and counterparts on how they can be advocates and mentors for women. They should encourage women to not hold themselves back. “Men brought me to the table, but didn’t tell me what to say.” 

Don’t hesitate to reach out to leaders in your community. 

Mineck: Find people who occupy the spaces you want to be in, then reach out. “If you pick up the phone and reach out to someone, you have a pretty high chance that they’re going to return the call.”

Tauscheck: “Leaders in Des Moines are accessible. … That’s part of what makes our community so special. … Just as many have helped lift up each of us in different ways, it is our responsibility and our duty to do the same for others.” 

Say yes to mentorship opportunities – but know when to move on.

Parras Konrad: “I don’t wait for people to come to me and ask for help. If I see potential in my crew or staff, I’ll mentor them. Why not develop and uplift them? … Don’t wait to be discovered.” 
Fox: “I always say yes to mentoring others. Sometimes I feel like that’s half of my job, which is OK because as leaders, that’s part of our job responsibility, to grow the next generation and help pay it forward. … I always tell my mentees that I’m happy to do it, but that it won’t last forever. It allows them to go off and do something different but it also gives you room on your plate to pick up other folks.”