Khaled says his manager Jay Z has helped guide his career
You can count on your mentor when the going gets tough.
In a recent speech in Los Angeles celebrating his latest album’s success, musician DJ Khaled said he considers Jay Z to be his “brother,” and added that he was grateful to have worked with him (as well as Beyoncé) on his hit song “Shining.”
“For [Jay Z] to say my name in the record… it just let me know that, I ain’t give up. It happened,” Khaled said of the first time they worked together. “He inspired me to do more than I usually do. He’s like my brother…and he’s also my manager now. I call Jay up and I know it’s going to be a great conversation or some great advice,” Khaled added.
Khaled isn’t the only celebrity with a high-profile mentor. Fashion designer Christian Dior took a chance on his protegé Yves Saint Laurent back in the mid-nineteenth century, kickstarting his career. “Dior fascinated me,” Saint Laurent said of his former teacher. “He taught me the basis of my art. Whatever was to happen next, I never forgot the years I spent at his side.”
More recently, Usher became the high-profile mentor to Justin Bieber, having originally signed Bieber to his record label in 2008. “It was his natural charisma,” Usher said of the reasons why he chose to take Bieber under his wing. “He has such a bright personality… There wasn’t just one thing I saw in Justin.”
“I think for a mentor, it’s just giving back, supporting people, understanding what it’s like to have just been there yourself,” says career coach Susan O’Sullivan of Go Coaching. “It feels good to do that.”
Here are a few tips for how to choose the right mentor for you:
1. Realize that everyone can benefit: No matter what level you’re at in your career, we can all benefit from having a mentor. “I’ve seen it oftentimes at the beginning of someone’s career,” says executive coach and author Dr. Marc Dorio. But, if you “feel like you’re plateauing, maybe you should talk to somebody,” he says of more experienced workers.
2. Pick people you respect: “People who mentored me were always people who I admired,” O’Sullivan says. “I loved the way they approached work, how they communicated with colleagues, how authentic they were… They inspired me to take the right turns versus the wrong turns.”
But, “it has to be somebody outside of your immediate reporting structure,” Dorio advises. “It can’t be your immediate boss — they’re there for a different role.” And, he adds, “you can’t compromise a mentor,” by recruiting them to resolve a dispute with your boss or to put you up for promotion.
3. Be straightforward: When asking a trusted colleague to be your mentor, don’t beat around the bush. “I would say to that person, ‘I really love what I’m doing and I’m looking for someone to help guide me and work with me in my career, and would you be open to supporting me in that role?'” O’Sullivan suggests.
4. Set goals: To maximize your time with your mentor, “make goals and objectives — this can’t just be an open-ended, ‘We’ll get together once a month and talk,'”, Dorio says. “You need outcomes you both agree upon, that will become your metrics for success.” Such goals could include developing better ties with your coworkers, or achieving career advancement.
5. Keep in touch with your mentor — even when you’ve outgrown them: Setting goals together helps you determine when you’ve gained as much as you can, but you shouldn’t throw in the towel if you’ve exceeded your mentor’s skills or seniority.
If you’ve reached that point, “it doesn’t have to be an abrupt end, like, ‘Thank you very much, we’re done,’” Dorio says. You can say something like: “You’ve helped me, I’ve gotten to the next stage,” he recommends, adding that, “A good mentor knows when a mentee is launched.”
O’Sullivan agrees. “I don’t know if it formally has to end,” she says, “but it might dissolve. Sometimes mentors are always there for you,” she notes, even if you’re not scheduling regular times to meet. “You always look to them for guidance.”
She recalls one of her own long-time mentors: “Even when she and I weren’t doing business anymore, we remained friends,” O’Sullivan says. “That work relationship lasted ten years.”
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