When I was in my mid 20’s, I had the opportunity to join a new and exciting company in the luxury cosmetics field and started the job with stars in my eyes. I was already working as a freelance makeup artist around Nashville by offering my services to photographer, videographer, and event planning friends in the music business, so this seemed like the next right step.
Once I got into the swing of the daily job, I quickly realized how much I didn’t know. Not only was my product knowledge lacking, but my artistic skill was in it’s infancy–all I had to do was assist another seasoned makeup artist to witness her expertise while she served a challenging client (and it was obvious that her experience was light years away from my own!)
After some time, I noticed one artist in particular. She was polite, well groomed, and reserved (some would even say intimidating)…but her work was head and shoulders above the rest. Her ability to glance at someone and know exactly what product and shade to use spoke to her deep knowledge of our inventory; her skill at application and personal touch revealed her ability to execute both parts of her job (the artistic side and the sales side) with excellence. I decided then to make her my “secret mentor” via three points of action: I would watch her work, try to emulate as much as possible, and always be a help to her (and never a hindrance or annoyance!)
The strategy worked. It didn’t cost anything of me except my pride (and I was fine with being in the student role…I was too eager to learn to feel anything but excitement about it!) By observing someone else do the job really well, it helped me to visualize myself at that level and inspired me to work harder. It also brought focus to my mind during a shift because now I knew who I could turn to with my questions, where I could go to learn a new technique, and how I needed to be filling my time.
If you are starting a new job or transitioning careers, it will benefit you to find someone at your new firm to be your “secret mentor.” You don’t have to tell anyone (hence, the “secret” part) but you do have to pay attention!
You can do this by:
- recognizing those in leadership who do their job well
- zeroing-in on one or two people at this level
- honoring those people by being a pillar of support for their work
- and learn, learn, learn as much as possible!
Over time, I gleaned a wealth of knowledge from that artist, and we eventually became friends. Because of the example that my “secret mentor” set for me, I was able to rise to a role of brand education and regional leadership (which I loved even more than being a makeup artist!) There were many mistakes made during the early days of my working life, but this is a strategy that I’ve carried over to other jobs and careers and it has brought me success–I hope it serves you well!