Mentors - Having and Being

JJ and Melissa dedicate this podcast to their loved and respected mentor Don Kielley.

When we are younger, mentorship comes in many forms. Often we are consciously being mentored but often we are unaware of the support until much later. As we mature and grow, we become resourced to give back and mentor others. What's been your experience with mentorship?

December 14, 2021
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Melissa Albers  0:01  
Hey everyone. Welcome to the self awareness Journey podcast. I'm Melissa Albers.

JJ Parker  0:06  
And I'm JJ Parker. This podcast is for seekers, seekers of happiness and joy seekers of a centered approach to success in life. Seekers of their true authentic selves.

Melissa Albers  0:17  
Get ready for some real talk on everything from anxiety, emotions and habits. To love, compassion and forgiveness. We know you'll be challenged and enlightened by this conversation. We're so glad you're here. Let's dive in.

JJ Parker  0:34  
All right, Melissa. Today, our episode is dedicated to Don Kiley.

Melissa Albers  0:39  
Right. Don is a mentor of both of ours, and has been battling cancer. And we just really want to talk about his impact in our lives, which got us thinking about mentorship.

JJ Parker  0:51  
Yeah, yeah. So first about Don, he, he has been my mentor for, I don't know, 810 years, I've known him something like that quite quite a while.

Melissa Albers  1:06  
Yeah, yeah. And, and he's been my mentor for probably closer to 15 for a really long time. And it was much more of an informal mentorship in my case for many years. And then it became a formal mentorship. And then it became an informal,

JJ Parker  1:22  
informal. So for me, Don was my Vistage coach, right. Yeah. Like, like he was for you for? For a little while. So that's the formal part. Right. Right. That's us being involved in a professional organization. Yeah. Don's role. Yeah, was to actively coach and mentor us, right, over a period of time,

Melissa Albers  1:45  
right over our business models and the PR we worked with and to help inform us about how to make decisions in our business lives and in our personal personal

JJ Parker  1:53  
lives and keeping us in check. Yeah, when we're acting like knuckleheads, either, personally, or business wise,

Unknown Speaker  2:02  
I got in trouble a lot you? Yeah.

JJ Parker  2:06  
So the thing that I really like about being mentored, yeah. Especially with someone like Don, who has about the best intent. I know, for us in the world. I know.

Unknown Speaker  2:24  
Yeah. He shared

JJ Parker  2:25  
his that. He was one of the few people in my life that could just basically call me out on stuff. Right. Same. And, and it was never, you know, it was always in a really well intentioned way. And the way he Yeah, positioned that stuff. Never felt like an attack or felt like a judgement. I was

Melissa Albers  2:49  
going to use that word, too. Yeah. Yeah. It was simple observation and support scale. And yeah, to be thinking about, like, he has certain key phrases that he used and uses frequently, yeah, to be thinking about. And I don't know the outcome of all this. Like, he always just balanced out something very important with something very nonchalant. He just had a, he just had a real gift in giving feedback, for sure. Yeah. And it got me thinking, you know, there have been a number a number of mentors in my life that were informal mentors and formal mentors. And you know, I'm not actually even sure if I knew they were some of them. I didn't even know they were mentors. That's

JJ Parker  3:28  
it. Yeah. So what's, what's an example of that? Who is someone that you that later you look back into it? Oh, that was like a key mentor for me. Yeah. That wasn't a formal relations. Yeah.

Melissa Albers  3:37  
So I had a biology teacher in high school. That was pretty gruff, and pretty direct. And he was kind of intimidating to all of us. I mean, he was an old Army medic. And he had a really funny sense of humor, but it was bit cutting. So people were they were kids were scared of him. And I did a lot of work in the labs because I had extra hours in my day that I could do that as a senior. And so I worked in the labs with him. And despite how much time I spent with him, I I didn't actually realize how much he was mentoring me. But one time I was being a real brat. And there was a substitute teacher. And I was disrespectful when the teacher was there. And word got out that I had been like that. And I'm making it sound worse than it was I maybe said one or two years. Super rowdy. Yeah. I said, like one or two sentences when I wasn't supposed to talk, right? And the guy called me out and said, I told you, I wanted it to be quiet. And now you're getting detention. And I was so deeply embarrassed by this, but the course I was acting cool because you know, in high school, that's just what you do. And Mr. Connors was his name. And he got wind that I had done that. And when we were back in the labs working, he made a comment about it. And it was one single comment And then he walked away and ignored it. And I felt so bad. About two days later, I interrupted his class knocked on his door. And I said, I just want to tell you how sorry I am. So there was something in how he treated me and what he believed about me that I didn't even believe about myself. Yeah. So to me, it was like he was really setting the tone for what his expectations were. And I never questioned what they were. Yeah, I always knew. Yeah.

JJ Parker  5:25  
There. There's a book called Leadership and self deception. Right. And they talk about, well, we what we've just been discussing is, like, there are people in our lives that can be fairly hard on us. Yeah. Right. That can give us bad news that can call us out that can hold us accountable when we don't want to be held accountable. Right, right. But some people do do that. And they're just like, Oh, you're like, you're Wow, that person's mean, there are a whole lot what they say. And there's others that come with the same information or the same feedback. Yeah. And you take it in a completely different way. Right. Right. I think that starts with that person's intention, when they give you that feedback, right? Yep. Man, both are stories with Don and high school teacher. Their intention was set, right? Yeah, exactly. Right. given feedback, right. Yeah. And it's a whole different relationship.

Melissa Albers  6:27  
Yeah. And you know, in the world of business, we've been in the world of business for a number of years. And our roles have changed over time to like, when you're a younger business person, it doesn't matter what your job is, you do have a natural tendency to want your boss or your manager to be your mentor. Also, that's a real natural conclusion that people go to. But that isn't actually always the case. And a lot of times, we get very disappointed by that. And then you'll find many people as they go through their careers, they get into bigger roles, bigger leadership roles, and there aren't managers above them. So then they sort of feel stuck, like, wait a minute, I don't have anyone in my company that is my mentor anymore. And it's super interesting, when you pull back a little bit from what you are a traditional person that you would call a mentor, if you think of a manager or boss, and realize, actually, in order for me to be resourced properly, there is a point in my life where now it's not an unintentional mentoring. Now, it's where I seek out mentors for specific things, because I know that they're resourced in that area. Yeah. And it becomes an intentional search, I

JJ Parker  7:37  
think. Yeah. When when we talk about climbing the corporate ladder. Mm hmm. I think you're right that, you know, you'll hear a lot of people that will really like their manager, right. Well even leave Jelic if their manager. Yeah. Which is jobs. So just companies, they'll go with that. Yeah, they follow sort of their manager around. Probably because I do seek, they're probably getting a mentorship kind of relationship. Right. Right. Right. Right, exactly. But you're right, as you sometimes move up in an organization that happens less than less to the point where you might be very lonely, right, like at the tail, you say that it's lonely at the top. Right. Yeah, um, where there might not be that structure for you anymore.

Melissa Albers  8:26  
Yeah. And I think it's an interesting thing to be thinking about formal structure, right? Yeah, the formal one, I have a client that just was at an all women's conference, and they had a speaker there, that talked a lot. And this was coming from the perspective of women in business. But I think this perspective applies for every single one of us. And what this speaker was doing was, she drew out a concept map. So this, she had one circle, and that said, Me, and then there were several lines and different circles that were attached. And the speaker was saying that in every part of your life, it is a natural, you'll have a natural connection to someone that can offer you mentorship, or growth or perspective or something like that. And it was really interesting how she did that. So there was family, there was learning if you want to be learning something, there was your professional skill, but then there was also your influential skill, like how do you go to someone to learn how to help other people, and so those circles would change depending on what role you are in, but it was such a holistic approach. I thought it was just beautifully stated. Yeah. You know, and, and it got me thinking it's like, you know, besides my role as a coach, and besides your role as a business owner, we we are now mentoring others in different ways, whether we're aware of it or not.

JJ Parker  9:51  
Melissa and I are huge self awareness nerds. We've been working on this stuff for a really long time and we love talking about it and sharing it with All of you, we've actually brought all of the stuff we've made into an online course. And we think it's really great. The course starts by learning about yourself, and how your mind body connection works. It dives into your thoughts and feelings, and then helps you learn how to become your true authentic self. Start your journey today. Head to the self awareness journey.com to learn more and sign up.

Yeah, that's, that's the thing. So I had I had a mentor in my, I guess, like high school college years. His name was Tom Randall. And he ran the TV station that I volunteered at, and then I worked out Oh, yeah, you've talked about him? Yeah. And, and he was great. I mean, his view on life and was just really impactful. For me. Even a lot of the philosophies that he held, are actually reflected in the companies here. Yeah. Um, but one thing that he said to me that was like, really, one of the most impactful things he said to me, is that part of like, our TV operations was like, we'd go out and shoot, like, the football game, or whatever. And we'd have student volunteers who would like run all the equipment, right? So I was on staff that would drive the TV truck to the school, all volunteers show up. We do the shoot, right. And we go back, and we are later. And I don't remember exactly what was happening. But like, it's like, I don't know, the volunteer, like the some dynamics of like, the one of the shoots was going to kind of weird and he, he said one time, like, JJ, you have to remember that. Those kids are watching you all the time. And your impact on them is way bigger than you expect. Oh, right. I was probably doing something stupid. And that really stuck with me. Right? Yeah, this idea that informal influence is really powerful and bigger than you expect. Oh, my gosh, yes. Right. Yeah. And so the idea that I was sort of informally mentoring all of these kids that were volunteering at the TV station, right. At the time, I was like, 18, like, right. 18. All right.

Unknown Speaker  12:33  
You had vast experience compared to

JJ Parker  12:35  
them? Yeah, right. Exactly. Yeah. But that really always stuck with me. Is that be really mindful of your influence, right?

Melissa Albers  12:45  
I think so too. And I think that we, you know, regardless of what kind of jobs we have, even if we are not outside jobs, if we have inside jobs in our homes, and that sort of thing. And we're influencing people all the time. And I think that the value of mentorship for me is, first of all, there's nothing worse than someone who thinks that they're a, quote, mentor or a teacher. And really, it's just a platform for them to talk about what they know. Like, that is not mentorship. Yeah. Or if it's mentorship, it's not the kind of mentorship that's going to be sticky for anybody. Yeah, it actually creates the opposite.

JJ Parker  13:20  
Well, right. And that, like that is ego driven. That's right, right. Like if you want to be a mentor, because it serves you serves you you're like, yeah, it makes you feel smart. Yeah, it makes you feel needed. If that's kinda like the wrong intention.

Melissa Albers  13:38  
Yeah, exactly. Right. And I've seen that time and time again. But I really think like to make a really good impact in mentoring. It's simply being more focused about you know what this is, this is what I've experienced in my life. This is what I've done in these kinds of situations. And I don't know if that will work for you. But being able to just come alongside of someone you know, and talk about your own experience, I think is so impactful for people. And I think too, like I think it gets harder and harder. As you get older, as you get more seasoned, and whatever you're doing. Depending on your roles at work, it gets harder and harder to find people that you want to get mentored by, I think it gets harder and harder. And I've also seen a lot of my coaching clients, we're all encouraged them. It's like, hey, just because you have a coach doesn't mean you're getting all of your needs met. As a matter of fact, I encourage you to go out and find people that light you up. And you can even find people that are maybe in your industry or maybe in your job or maybe are 10 years ahead of you and you look up to them greatly. Ask them if they'd be willing to sit down and have coffee with you. So many people get like that hero worship or fear, where they see somebody like Oh, that would be so amazing. If if I could meet him, you know, like are her one of the funniest things. I was such a John Maxwell fan. You know, 15 years ago, and I did this really funny thing, and I maybe told you about this, but I found a picture of him on stage. And I took a picture of myself. And I, I taped it for your, for your vision board for my vision board, you remember that. And because I just loved his mentorship, I loved his love of people. It had nothing to do with any of his professional stigmas. I just loved how he was with people, there was something in the purity of how he would come alongside people and show them love regardless of their circumstances or conditions in their lives. He treated everyone that very, like they were special. And so I just loved him. And I thought, oh, my gosh, I want to meet this guy. So I did this, I put this crazy thing on my vision board. And I just all I could think about was how cool it would be if someday I could meet him. And lo and behold, I ended up not only meeting him, but sitting on stage with him and getting to know him and know his, his admin person that was with him for years and years. And the feeling of reaching for a mentor. That was a little scary for me the feeling of actually being able to connect and have that mentorship was so powerful for me. And you know what this is? I don't mean this to sound ego ish, or anything. But what I needed in that mentorship I've already received and I no longer need it. You know, I know I appreciate what I got out of that. I guess what I'm just saying is I think mentoring and who we want to spend our time with changes all the time.

JJ Parker  16:37  
Right? Yeah, I think about that. I think about that a lot. Like, we've, I have this like, I need to come up with a better phrase for this. I'm just like, I want to be the worst player on the tennis court. You a world. Which just means I want to be around better players than I am all the time. Yeah. And even applying that to who I hang out with. Yeah, right. The people I spend time with over the years has yet changed and morphed. Because I want to be hanging out or spending more time with people that are really challenging. Yeah, my current thinking yes. Is to me, it's like a sort of like a way to level myself up all the time. Yeah. That sounds a little like judgmental. No, no, I

Unknown Speaker  17:23  
don't think I don't know.

JJ Parker  17:24  
I mean, but no, I don't think that's what I was like I seek You know, I try to seek that all the time. Yeah, that'd be like a sort of informal. Yeah. Don't ask people to be my mentor in that way. But Right. Right, right. But like, just like, oh, some by observing other people or, you know, running businesses that are no more sophisticated than mine, or efficient that like, how are we doing that? Right. And, and seeking that stuff out? As is, I think part of the journey.

Melissa Albers  17:53  
I also think like, you mentioned the word ego. And I think that's such an important part of this conversation. Like you and I have mentored each other in different ways to I think, like you were making fun of it last week, you're like, oh, my gosh, now I'm turning into you. Like I'm spending all this time coaching.

JJ Parker  18:12  
I was like a slightly complaining about my week, like, Oh, I've been doing this.

Melissa Albers  18:18  
But and but then like, if you look at the reverse, like how much you've taught me patience, process and stuff like that. But neither one of us get too hung up on that. Because even though we're friends and we're business partners, we don't have the ego invested that says, oh, we can't be also like, we don't want we don't use words like mentorship, or we don't use words like we're teaching each other because, but we are and we don't have problems talking like that. At least I don't and I think that's a that's the thing. I think there's so many people right in front of us and right in our lives, that can be teaching us things all the time. And and it is just an interesting thing to think about it as a mentorship. Yeah, a season. No, everything has a season.

JJ Parker  18:58  
So part of this conversation is actually pretty supposing that people actually like, like, want mentorship, like you and I were talking like, Yeah, I'm like actively seeking it out. But I've seen people who, who, who don't want to be mentors who are, like, aren't maybe thinking that way, or are in the growth mode, or Yeah, or don't see it as an option. Right? Or aren't seeing the mentors that might be around them? Yeah. Like what advice advice do you have for someone who maybe is like listening to the pods? Like, oh, actually, what they're talking about their relationships with mentors? does sound good? Yeah. How would someone even start? Yeah, sort of find in an informal or a formal mentor to to help them either business or personally,

Melissa Albers  19:52  
I think that's such a good question. For me, I would immediately say, what are you longing for? In your What are you longing for? If you are a parent that is having a hard time with a child or your children? There is a feeling in there, like, I just want to be doing a good enough job. Am I doing a good job? These are the normal questions we ask ourselves. And in that case, there's a place for mentorship. Do I know any parents that are a few years ahead of me who have already gone through this who have gone through the same thing our family is going through? Is there a place where I can find a parent that can offer support? Yeah, not the answers. Not. This isn't always about the answers. Mentorship is really about somebody who's going to ask you good questions. If you're longing for a different career, why? Why are you longing for that? And if you want to be in a different career, what kind of career Do you want to be in? Oh, there's another way you can start looking, who are people in your circle that are in that kind of role, or that career or whatever? And have courage to just say, Would you be willing to meet with me for coffee? If you'd be willing to have a zoom call with me? Would you be willing to talk to me because you're someone that I think of highly, I had a woman reach out to me, she's a coach, she's, she's got a podcast. She's just fantastic. It's super into growth. And I just love her. And she said to me, you're one of my Bluebirds. And I said, I don't know what that means. And she said, you're somebody that I feel a little afraid to connect with. And I just see you like, she was trying to describe to me that she saw me in this light bigger than her. And I was so flummoxed by that. I was like, What are you even talking about? But that took her courage to say that to me. And here, I was completely, like, blown away, and so honored that she said that to me. And most of the time, when you think about calling somebody and asking them to just spend 45 minutes or an hour with you. They are so honored by that. You know, when someone asks you, boy, you really seem to be good at this, it would be so awesome. If I could just hear your story. Yeah, that blows people away. And they love to people love to help people. You know, there's a lot of ways and I think it really begins with longing. What are you longing for?

JJ Parker  22:07  
Yeah. I'm gonna have to think about that.

Melissa Albers  22:13  
Maybe it's the whole tennis thing. You can just say I don't want to be the worst player, maybe want to start saying I want to be the second worst player.

JJ Parker  22:20  
Last week. So back to Don. Yeah. So one of the things that I really appreciated about the relationship with Don, and is that during sort of our my formal mentorship years with him, yeah. There was a lot going on. Like, I got, like, like, I bought out my business partner. That's right. We had a company that was like, in financial, like, not trouble, but just chaos.

Melissa Albers  22:58  
Yeah. That's a good word. JJ is covering his face. Right, right.

JJ Parker  23:03  
Yeah, it was it was a mess. Like, it's just confusion everywhere. Yeah. Um, but even though like, like, I was, like, really naive about a lot of things. I was making dumb mistakes. I was like, making fairly obvious mistakes as right. He never made me feel dumb. Right. Yeah. He he always like the way he made me feel. Even though he absolutely. Like he would have every right to say like, JJ, you're such a dumb man. Just get it together. Wait, number did that. He said, let's stick with this. Let's think about that. broke things down. Right, calmed everything down. Right. Right. And that's, that's the thing that I will always remember about that relationship is like how, yeah, how he always made me feel.

Melissa Albers  23:55  
Yeah, yeah. And Don is, has retired from that role, which is why we're talking about it in past tense and has been really trying to take care of his health. And it's been a tough year for him. But yeah, he so he's kind of gone informal. But you're right, even in the informality of the relationship he's still ever present. Right? Like even he was in a hospital down in Houston having a stem cell transplant. And I called the check on how he was and he was like, What's going on with JJ what's going on? You guys doing? Well? What are you What have you released? Are you having fun? Why are you taking care of your other businesses? Like, you know, he's just always like, he's firing. It's like, Don, you are in a hospital bed having a stem cell transplant. Can we please talk about you

JJ Parker  24:42  
know, doing, like, questions about

Melissa Albers  24:46  
I know it, I know, I know it. So anyway, I just hope this conversation has has helped people just sort of think about mentorship and how they're mentoring people in their lives. You know, and and could you be more intentional about About that, you know, there's huge benefit you have something to offer. You are your unique person, every single person has something to offer in terms of helping someone else.

JJ Parker  25:11  
Yeah. And I like how you said that, like, you know if if you're longing for someone something Mm hmm. Okay, seek someone out who's had that experience? Yeah, I would say like on the other side to like, be observant of the people who are around you. Because you could also be their informal mentor and they might, you know, like, just be a little bit observant. Yeah, you might be able to recognize that and really help somebody. Absolutely.

Melissa Albers  25:35  
Yeah, great conversation.

JJ Parker  25:39  
Did you enjoy this episode? Please go to your favorite podcast platform to subscribe rate and leave a review so others can discover it as well.

Melissa Albers  25:48  
Growing self awareness is a lifelong journey and there's always further to go. And it's better when we're all in it together. Please think of someone you know who could benefit from hearing today's conversation and share this episode with them. We can't thank you enough for listening. Until next time, happy exploring seekers.

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Discussed in this episode

Let's get real

Meet your guides

JJ Parker

JJ Parker is a serial entrepreneur passionate about building creative strategy, efficient operations, and unique marketing perspectives. Parker got his start as a student at The Minneapolis Institute of Art, and soon after launched his first company Tightrope Media Systems (TRMS) with a high school buddy in 1997.

Melissa Albers

Melissa is passionate about developing people’s self-awareness and ability to positively interact with others. She focuses on the importance of building influence, and highlights the most important relationship we have is with self first. Ms. Albers speaks on leadership and self-awareness, and has shared the stage with John Maxwell (Leadership Author and Speaker), Lee Cockerell (Exec VP of Disney) and Les Brown (Motivational Speaker) to name a few.

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