Published: November 30, 2021 | Updated: November 29, 2021

Women of Impact: Mentorships in their words

Marilee Wallace

Marilee Wallace

NIA’s Women of Impact Leadership Roundtable met in October to discuss mentors. More specifically who are they, why are they important and when in life, do you need one.

Turns out everyone; no matter young or old, in school or in a career, retired, rephasing or just searching for improvement can use a mentor. And along this path of life, we can use different mentors at different times. “The best mentors can help us define and express our inner calling,” says Anthony Tjan, CEO of Boston venture capital firm Cue Ball Group and author of Good People, “But rarely can one person give you everything you need to grow.”

Tjan goes as far to identify five different mentor traits that everyone should experience to help them along their path and reminds us that mentors are truly what helps define us as human beings.

Mentor No. 1: The master of the craft. This person is the best at what they do. The best. Period. You admire their skills, accomplishments and talents. These masters of their crafts are often not asked to be mentors as they may be seen as unapproachable. They are not. Ask them. You’ll be glad you did.

Mentor No. 2: The champion of your cause. These mentors are the connectors. They talk you up and introduce you around. These mentors are known for giving their mentee a step up, opening doors and making valuable introductions.

Mentor No. 3: The co-pilot. Think of when you learned to drive a car. Someone sat in the seat next to you, talked you though each turn, checked your progress, supported you and praised you along the way until you were able to drive on your own. We all need co-pilots in our lives, no matter where we are going.

Mentor No. 4: The anchor. This mentor really knows you. Usually a family member or close friend, this person will patiently let you drift, watch as you test the waters and when they see you are moving off course, will pull you back to safety, lessons learned.

Mentor No. 5: The reverse mentor. Usually we think of a mentor as an older, wiser person but this mentor offers a different perspective. This mentor is typically younger, has different ideas and mythology then you and typically offer a fresh approach to something and in doing so, updates your process of critical thinking.

Going through this checklist of these five different mentor traits, we were curious to hear from our NIA Leadership Roundtable ladies in what they hoped for in a mentor.

Shelley Austin of KEA: “I hope a mentor will show me the ropes without judgement, someone I can ask candid questions of, someone who is aware and proud of how they operate in the workplace and is willing to be an example of good practices. And nice. And a wicked sense of humor!”

Marie Price with Idaho Forest Group thinks a good mentor is someone who sees potential and opportunities that she may not see, and provides her with vision, belief and encouragement that can help her achieve more than she thought possible.

Salvation Army Kroc Center Donor Development team member VickyJo Carey says “A good mentor is a person who teaches you from your mistakes and is willing to share their failures as well as their successes. They are there for you for correction and support but above all are willing to listen when you feel inadequate or defeated and offer you advice and wisdom.”

Tracy Harris, Senior VP at Informa Markets says “My best mentors have been champions, cheerleaders and generous with their feedback, which included both praise and constructive criticism.”

And Kim Homdrom with Architects West didn’t clearly define the perfect traits but offered words of wisdom from one of her life mentors, her Uncle Ken who would always tell her “It’s a sad day when you don’t learn something new and that there’s nothing you can’t do if you just read.” Sounds like Uncle Ken could have been the “Anchor Mentor” in Kim’s life!

The Women of Impact Leadership meets once a month for a nine-month series, and we base our monthly agenda on the word IMPACTED. “I” for Inspiration was September’s topic and our speakers were women who spoke from their hearts and truly inspired our group. October’s “M,” as you just read, was all about Mentors” and our November focus, is P where we explore Participation, specifically on nonprofit boards. In December the Ladies will hear about the Arts in our region, this is, of course, the “A” in our series.

To see the lineup of our monthly topics and to get details on additional programs NIA is offering to Impact women in our region, please visit our Facebook page at

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Marilee Wallace, IOM, president/CEO of the North Idaho Alliance Women of Impact.