By Ashley Womble
Generations of women have depended on advice from mentors to get promoted, make more money and shatter glass ceilings at the office. But getting help and advice from more experienced people doesn’t just apply to work. You can repurpose that proven get-ahead strategy to accomplish major goals in other areas of your life. “We are all superior in certain areas, and inferior in others,” says life coach Julie Holmes, who is based in NYC. “As long as you are willing to learn, grow and try new things, anything is possible.”
Read on to find out how five women found mentors to help become savvier travelers, better mothers, buy an apartment in a tough market, and feel at home in a new city. Then, get ready to welcome an arsenal of experts into your life.
The Travel Mentor: Carole Ludwig is no stranger to wanderlust. This year alone she’s trekked from New York City to the Deep South, St. Croix and Iceland. But before she has her passport stamped, she always checks in with her travel mentor Kiki. Kiki, who lives in Switzerland when she’s not in one of the dozens of countries she’s visited, is the kind of person who makes friends wherever she is and has mentally stockpiled insider knowledge about every place she’s been.
You may be able to plan a trip based on Internet research alone, but a travel mentor can act as a guide and give you a not-for-tourists perspective while also answering important questions about safety and if it’s really OK to drink the water. So next time you like someone’s travel pics on Instagram for the umpteemth time, find out if they have more than eye candy they are willing to share. It may seem a little intimidating to ask someone to mentor you, but Holmes believes it shows confidence. “It’s impressive and very smart to want to model yourself after someone who has already mastered what you want,” she says.
The Mommy Mentors: Claire Cuno has read all of the important parenting books and often has her own mom around to take care of her 1-year-old son, but it’s having someone she can randomly text for advice that helps her sleep at night. (When he’s sleeping, of course.) As Cuno says, her mommy mentors “understand my stress and ridiculous irrational behavior better than anyone else, including my family and my partner.”
A mommy mentor isn’t just anyone with a kid slightly older than yours. The trope that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery applies here. “You have to really admire and respect whoever you choose as a mentor,” Holmes says. New moms often find one another in play groups with similarly aged kids, but when you are looking for a mommy mentor, think beyond age groups and keep your eye out for someone who has a parenting style you’d like to emulate.
The New City Mentor: When April Keller and her husband Jay moved cross country on a few weeks notice for his job, she immediately recruited an old friend to help her navigate her new city. “Stanton was crucial in making the transition much easier. When I was looking at neighborhoods to live in, I’d send him Zillow links in neighborhoods I was thinking about, and he’d say ‘yay’ or ‘nay’ depending on his experience,” Keller said. “At one point, I picked him up for coffee and he said, ‘What neighborhood have you not seen yet? OK. Let’s go there and I’ll tell you all about it.’”
One of the great benefits of social media is that you can keep tabs on a wide network, and as April found, old friends make excellent new city mentors. If you are considering a move, reach out to a contact in your potential new city whether you are super close or not, and ask them for advice or to show you around.
The Real Estate Mentor: Buying a home anywhere is a challenge, and nowhere is that process more complex than in New York City. After Caroline Slaten watched me and my finance get a great deal on a prewar co-op in an up-and-coming neighborhood in Brooklyn, she was inspired to enter the buying process with her husband, Colin. And since the experience was still so fresh in my mind, I was eager to share tips that worked in this specific market. “Even though my husband and I had both purchased condos before in Atlanta, the New York market is much more competitive,” Slaten says. “It was helpful to get advice from someone who had learned a few tricks about how to avoid a bidding war, which can be a deal-breaker to anyone who isn’t in the 1 percent.”
If you aren’t comfortable reaching out to someone you aren’t close with for real estate advice, especially when disclosing finances are concerned, Holmes suggests thinking about what you can offer them. “There is natural flow of give and take. Trading services or bartering is a great alternative,” she says.
The Fitness Mentor: Lucia Burns had a few short races under her belt but needed an extra push to get her to the finish line of a 10K. She turned to her athletic friend Samantha Cassidy for help coming up with a training plan and tips on how to stretch properly and run with proper form. “I remember her saying to me that all I needed to do was think of a rope in front of me and pull on it to help me take the next step,” Burns says. “I wouldn’t have finished if it I weren’t for her!”
Mentoring is a two-way relationship, and can be just as rewarding for the mentor as the mentee. Helping Lucia train for a 10K became a life-changing experience for Cassidy. “It solidified in my mind that I wanted to help people realize and achieve their fitness goals and work in the fitness industry,” she says.