This month we had the opportunity to interview Shawn Mintz, the founder and creator of MentorCity, and Global Learning’s newest strategic partner. It was such an honor to speak with Shawn, a brilliant man, with an inspiring story about chasing your dreams and doing what you love. When Shawn begins to tell you about mentoring and the passion that he has for it, you immediately get a sense that he has found his calling and he is truly living it!
Shawn spent the first 13 years of his career in the non-for profit sector, working for an organization that helped newcomers to Canada to get their first job. He was hired by the company as a career counselor, but soon went on to create an entire marketing department for the organization. A few years later he developed and established his first “mentoring initiative that was offered on a regular basis, sometimes up to three to four times a week”. Shawn recalled those first mentoring sessions and how, “whenever I could I would just sneak into the room and I would just watch people. I loved their hand gestures, their facial expressions and how excited they were when they were having those mentoring conversations”. He loved how “at the end of every single event, the mentees were ready to take on the world, and the mentors also felt amazing because they were able to pay it forward and really give back to the community”.
“Everyone was so excited during those mentoring sessions, that the energy literally filled the room”.
That was the moment when Shawn realized that if mentoring had that kind of impact on people’s lives, he wanted to do more of it! From there, the spark was ignited, and he started to write about mentoring and later began writing a book. It was around this time, while preparing to have a meeting with one of his own mentors, that he had an idea. “I realized that there were just so many books out there about mentoring but there really wasn’t anything that actually matched people to mentors, like an E-Harmony, but for mentors”. Shawn shared his idea with his own mentor, who responded with great enthusiasm and basically gave him the confidence and encouragement to begin pursing his idea. It was from that mentor meeting that “I just really started focusing on the business plan and turning it into reality. So I left my fulltime job and followed my dream. I always wanted to be an entrepreneur, so I jumped ship to create a dream company”
Shawn went on to tell me about his company and how his mentoring program works. MentorCity, which was founded in 2011, offers private mentoring programs to companies and is designed to connect employees within a particular organization to one another, by matching mentees to mentors, and then leading those matches through the entire mentoring process. For instance “if you were an employee you would go onto the site, you would fill out your profile which is all LinkedIn compatible, and include all of the skills that you are interested in developing. Whether you want to improve your presentation skills, or your self- confidence for example. Then you could search through a bunch of criteria based on what kind of mentor you’re looking for. Whether you want to find someone who has a similar job function, a different job function or a mentor who has experience in another industry all together. Finally you would click on save and search, at which point you would receive your most compatible mentor matches. You could then look through their profiles and invite someone to be your mentor”.
The site takes the process one-step further by helping you to input your mentoring objectives and goals, enabling you to talk back and forth to your mentor or mentee to arrange meetings, while giving you a place to track those relationships at the same time. In addition to this, as an administrator or as one of the companies that has purchased the MentorCity program, “you are given the ability to build a successful and effective mentoring program that really works, a mentoring program that leads their employees through the entire process, that is easy and comprehensive, while always keeping things on track by sending regular remarks, and reminders”. Shawn also mentioned that MentorCity offers a public website that is available to anyone in the world, and is their way of giving back. Case in point, “if someone doesn’t belong to one of the companies that has signed up with the program, they could sign up on the public site and find a mentor from anywhere around the world”.
When asked what some of the biggest benefits are from implementing mentoring programs, Shawn responded by saying that so much of it has to do with employee engagement. “When you have a mentor in the company where you work, you are going be more involved, feel so much more included, committed and less likely to leave that company. Mentoring is about recruiting talent of course, but it is also about keeping that talent within your organization. As a result mentoring can have a positive impact on employees as well as the company as a whole. “Mentoring is also good for a company’s ROI, based on the fact that if an employee leaves who you have invested a lot of money, resources and time into, you could end up losing up to $20,000 just replacing that one person, depending on their level within the organization”. A mentoring initiative will help you to keep those valuable employees while helping more people to really reach their full potential within their company.
Shawn went on to explain that mentoring also becomes an important part of succession planning, especially due to the fact that so many people are going to be retiring from the workforce over the next few years. As a result, it is really important for companies to start transferring the knowledge from their senior employees on to the next generation. In addition to this, Shawn talked about how MentorCity is working with a lot of companies on their high potential programs. “Leadership development is huge and that goes had in hand with high potential as a lot of companies continue developing their future leaders”. In this regard, a company would identify their high potential performers and then they would offer them a mentoring program to ensure that they continue their growth within the company.
Shawn expressed further how mentoring is also about diversity and inclusion and that MentorCity is “working with a lot of clients who are helping to create a more diverse and inclusive workforce. Whether it’s for some of their affinity or resource groups, or for women for example, they are creating mentoring communities to connect to other mentors within the organization”. Moreover “what is really amazing about mentoring, and really important for diversity and inclusion is that these mentoring relationships have the potential to turn into sponsorship relationships. A sponsor relationship is a little bit different than a mentor, in that a sponsor is the person who literally goes to bat for you. They help you get that promotion. So as a mentor it’s more about them helping you to get where you need to go by giving you guidance, encouragement and support. The sponsor on the other hand takes a more active role. That is huge for diversity. When you have those sponsors within your organization, those people who really believe in you, who really believe in your abilities, they’re going to talk to other people about you, they’re going to help you get that promotion. That’s what is key I think. Having those ambassadors, your own ambassadors within an organization, who are going to help you get to that next level.
“This invites companies to really open their eyes and explore other potential talent within their organization that they may have otherwise overlooked, if they didn’t have this sponsor, this advocate, this person who believes in them. Furthermore “the power of mentoring is that those connections that people are making are totally game changing, because you never know exactly where a mentor relationship will lead, it opens up other networks, it opens up other opportunities, it helps develop your skill sets and your knowledge”.
Last but not least I asked Shawn to tell me about the brand new strategic alliance that has been created between MentorCity and Global Learning, and what it means to him. “What really excites me about this partnership is that together we can do so much more, in terms of really helping companies to leverage the diverse talent that they have. At the same time we create meaningful mentoring relationships for organizations, while ensuring that each of their employees will have the opportunity to reach the level they want within their chosen field. I strongly believe with Global Learning’s strategy, their training solutions and their resources, together with MentorCity’s technology, we have the potential to change workplaces faster. Above all, MentorCity is not only passionate about making sure that every one of their mentoring program works, but also that every mentoring relationship works. I see this partnership working really well because our two businesses really go hand in hand.”
If you’d like to learn more about MentorCity and how this resource can advance the relationships, collaboration, and diversity and inclusion in your organization, please contact Elaine Newman at 416-488-0175 or firstname.lastname@example.org.