Bowling with Bumpers: Insights from EntreFEST

Last week was a pretty exciting week at Lead(h)er and we want to tell you all about it!

Our very own Melissa Pepper, founder of Lead(h)er and all-around marketing guru, was invited to participate in a mentoring panel at this year's EntreFEST.  EntreFEST is Iowa's largest gathering of the entrepreneurial and innovation community and Melissa's invitation was a big deal... mostly because it gave her the chance to spread Lead(h)er's message outside of our community.  

We knew that Melissa would come back with a little inspiration and a lot of insight and she didn't disappoint.

Read what she has to say about bowling, mentors and why we do what we do:

"Mentorship is like bowling with bumpers.  As the mentor, you're the bumpers... you can let the mentee bounce around a little bit, but you don't let them land in the gutter."

These were the words spoken by fellow panelist, Ryan Bell, at the mentor panel at EntreFEST on Friday. EntreFEST, the start-up and innovators conference in Iowa City, brings together entrepreneurs and intrepreneurs from across the Midwest for two days of creative thinking, collaboration, and fun.My panel, "Mentors & Mentees: What it Really Means" focused on how mentors can best help those they mentor. I came out of Friday afternoon's session feeling energized and inspired by the other panelists. I couldn't take notes while sitting on the panel, but I have compiled some soundbites from the conversation we had. Whether you sit on the mentor or mentee side of the equation, I hope some of these thoughts will inspire you as well.

On the  role of mentors

  • To help someone achieve their goals

  • To fuel community and career engagement for someone (hmmm...I wonder who gave this answer?)

  • To be a sounding board

  • To be a connector

On why we mentor: 

  • Because it makes us feel really good to give back

  • Because it completes the circle of helping those who come after us

  • Because it is gratifying to share our story

On the mentorship relationship

  • Before beginning to mentor someone, it's really important to ask what the mentee wants to gain from the relationship. 

  • Be careful to not project exactly what you would do in the situation onto the mentee. Being a listener is twice as important as doling out advice. 

  • Sometimes the mentee needs to hear things that are hard to hear. Don't sugarcoat your remarks, but always deliver feedback in a way that is respectful.

On how to be a good mentor

  • Understand your expectations.

  • Know what you know and admit what you don't. Connect your mentee with others when you're not the subject matter expert.

  • Listen. 

  • Be open-minded.

  • Be curious.

  • Be authentic.

All ways to score a mentorship strike --or should we say, strike a match?