“Tooting My Own Horn”
This past Friday night, I was honored with a Stevie’s Award for Women in Business. The Stevie’s Award ceremony is fashioned somewhat after the Oscars, in that there are about 50 categories, which range anywhere from Best Blog to Best Website to Best Entrepreneur.
I was encouraged to attend the ceremony. By the time 49 awards had been given out, I hadn’t won anything. I was ready to pack it in and go home. It had been a nice evening, and I was content that my family had accompanied me for the evening. But then, the announcer said, “And we’ve saved the best for last. The most coveted award for Best Mentor goes to…”
…Yes, it went to Yours Truly.
I gave a speech and accepted my award. I was really thrilled.
When the initial excitement died down over the weekend, I got to thinking it over. I was so honored to have won the award for Best Mentor, but I have to admit that the people whom I mentor—the team members at my company—are really the winners. They are the greatest “mentorees,” if you will, because they absorb everything like sponges, they become smarter and savvier as much on their own as they do under my mentorship. In many ways, they have taught me just as much as or MORE than I have taught them.
So I concluded that if I am really going to accept this Stevie’s Award for Best Mentor, and if I am to learn to be proud of it, I need to rise to the occasion. I need to be worthy of my award. I have to take it to the next level.
I have recently been in contact with a wonderful organization called Student Sponsor Partners (SSP), which offers assistance to “at-risk” children. These are children whose families are living below the poverty line, whose grades are below average, who often come from single-parent homes.
SSP accepts 400 children per year into their program, and, through donor support, places children they consider “at risk” in private schools in and around New York City, to encourage them in a fresh new environment, to inspire them to reach for the stars. I n addition, SSP also assigns each child a mentor, with whom they meet on a periodic basis throughout the year.
I decided that in order for me to be a good mentor, I need to encourage my mentorees to become mentors as well! I approached my team at every single Kids Club location, and I told them: “We are willing to pay the tuition for one child per every New York Kids Club location to go to private school for four years – IF your location team agrees to fill the role of mentoring a child. There is no obligation.”
We would become actively involved in these children’s lives, I told them. We would meet them on a monthly basis and we would talk to them and listen to them. We would take them out for social time, to a ballgame or to the park. We would be dedicated to having a positive impact on their lives.
“So,” I asked. “What do you say?”
The response was tremendous. All six locations were emphatically, hands-down, IN! We snapped into action and mapped out spreadsheets and schedules, and special events we will take the children to. On days off from school, the children will spend time with us at the New York Kids Club and might even become our special summer interns!
NOW, I can be a proud owner of my Stevie’s Award. The fact that I took my award for Best Mentor seriously, that I have found success in inspiring my team to become mentors to others, gives me a sense of pride I can hardly even describe.
Yes, I have been tooting my own horn relentlessly in this post, I don’t deny it. I wholeheartedly admit it! But I am not without a cause. I’m not just tooting for the sake of tooting. I’m tooting in hopes that others will join the band!
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