Welcome to The Spark Show! In this episode, I talk to Kelsey Chapman, author of What They Taught Me: Recognizing the Mentors Who Will Take You From Dream to Done, that is out on shelves now. She’s also a podcaster and personal cheerleader to women building their dream life and business.
We discuss why it's important to have a mentor, how your mentor may already be in your inner circle, the difference between investing in a mentor versus "picking their brain," and so much more!
"I love women investing in women and I have known since I was a little girl that I wanted to write books, that's been something that's been a dream for as far back as I can remember," said Chapman. "And when I started putting pen to paper, or keyboard to Google Docs a few years ago, I really just started with this story of a woman who invested so generously in me and I was like, 'wow, I actually have more of these stories.' And, I'm realizing this is unique, because I have friends who regularly ask me, 'How did you find a mentor?' And I would say, 'Well, I just asked,' or 'They were already in my life,' and I think that's when it clicked, oh, I have more of these stories."
"I want my friends to be able to access mentors, like I've been able to, so let's boil it down into a book. That's where this started," added Chapman. "And really, the heart behind it is, let me tell stories of how these women who were ordinary women impacted my life in extraordinary ways and let me help you look around for some of those women in your life, or maybe shift a mindset to help you understand you can be that for someone else. If people walk away from this book and decided to become a mentor or seek mentorship in their life, that would be a total win for me."
"I think mentors really help you shortcut the distance to success," said Chapman. "Say you want a successful marriage, they'll shortcut your process. Instead of learning the lesson over five years, maybe you can learn it in six months, right? And, if I can shortcut the process to more fullness and freedom with less pain involved to me, if you tell me anything that will help me shortcut my distance to success, I'm all ears. And so, as I've navigated life, I have looked at each facet of life I really want to grow or excel in, where I have an opportunity to learn something to kind of bridge the gap between how I'm currently existing and where I want to be. I'm going to seek a woman's advice to help me get there, someone that I admire that's modeling a life that I want to build. I really believe that for anyone, a mentor can help you shortcut that process so that you don't have to learn the long, hard way."
"My number one piece of advice would be to start where you are, to look around and maybe there's a friend's mom who's crushing it in a department you want to grow in," said Chapman. "She might not be perfect, a mentor is not going to be perfect. I mean, for any of us, people who are married out there, we know a spouse didn't complete us, so how the heck would a mentor complete us, like seriously? Look for someone who's crushing it in one area of life. Just because she's not crushing it in all areas doesn't mean that she doesn't have something impactful to offer you, and ask her to step in. Maybe it's a friend's mom, maybe it's a neighbor that you're like, 'wow, they're a killer parent and I want to be a parent one day or I just had a kid, or they're a few years ahead of me and I want to learn from her, or wow, she's an amazing entrepreneur and I just got into this space and I have no idea what I'm doing.' So, I'm going to ask, what can I do to learn from you? Do you want me to come fold laundry while you're getting some chores done and I can just ask you questions? Or can I send you a Starbucks gift card and treat you to a Zoom coffee day, because that kind of makes sense for the current state of the world, right?"
"And so, if you have people in your life that you already admire, just ask," added Chapman. "It can be awkward to put yourself out there, but I promise it's worth it. And then, if you don't have someone in your inner circle, I think that's an opportunity to join communities who share the same values as you like joining a hikers club, or joining a moms group, or joining a specific type of workout class. Over time, you're going to build relationships with people there, you don't have to go the first day and say, 'Hey, will you be my life mentor?' that might be coming on a little too strong. So, just ask them to coffee once first to see if it's a viable connection and go from there. That's a great place to meet mentors or friends, right in a shared value or hobby."
"I hate the phrase 'picking my brain' because here's the deal, any person that I have relational equity with has full access to my mind for free, even with my service based business right now, I will tell a personal friend, in a reciprocal relationship with me, literally everything I know," said Chapman. "I will say, 'Hey, I'll tell you how to do it. But, if you want someone to do it for you, you can pay me. But literally, I'll tell you how to do it.' That is kind of my life philosophy. I will give my information freely to people who I am in relation with, but, when someone I'm not in relation with already wants to pick my brain, well, what they're not thinking about is supporting me, they're only thinking about taking. I know that the majority of people who say that are not really thinking 'I want to take from you.' That's not the heart and I recognize that. But if we could just shift gears a bit, and say, 'Hey, I would love to learn from you, what can I do to support you and to serve you?' Sometimes that's paying, especially if that's what they do for their job."
"If I'm coming to you for guidance in an area that you are billing other customers for every day, it is appropriate for me to pay you," added Chapman. "I think if someone's out there looking for a mentor in that capacity, it's probably time to pay them. Now, in the past, I've also traded my services for mentorship. For me, when I got started, I didn't have a ton of money and so I said, 'Hey, I run this service for $150 a month (And that grew over time, but when I got started, that's what I charged) and I would love one hour of your time. So, all you have to do is give me your brain, no implementation, nothing beyond the hour of your time, and I will run my service that actually is like 10 hours of my time a month for you.' And that was a way that I could show them I'm committed to giving back to them. Was there a monetary exchange there? No. But they understood that my manual labor was far more of an investment than their one hour, and so, they saw some grit and some determination and that I appreciated their wisdom and were more than willing to give me their time."
"Now I'm not saying that you go to any mentor out there and say, 'let me trade with you,'" said Chapman. "That might not always work out for you and it certainly hasn't always worked out for me, but I think the heart there is service and if you can serve your mentor, or if you're paying them and do your service for them to show that you're invested and you want to serve them, I promise they're going to want to give more to you out of your simple positioning of your heart towards them."
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