As you advance into management, it’s important to still have mentors — though mentorship can manifest in different forms.
That’s the advice that the five industry leaders on “How to Be a Boss: Dealmakers, Deciders, Disruptors” panel presented by Loeb & Loeb, shared at Monday’s Power Women Summit.
Moderated by TheWrap’s Rocky Harris, the panel included Anne Kennedy McGuire, podcast chair, Loeb & Loeb; Carolyn Moneta, partner and head of Digital-Brand Partnerships Crossover, WME; Mika Pryce, SVP of production, Paramount Pictures; Tana Nugent Jamieson, EVP and cohead, A+E Studios; and Sophia Amoruso, entrepreneur, founder of Trust Fund and New York Times bestselling author.
“I would step out and ask people questions and get advice from time to time,” Moneta said. “I’m almost envious of the formalized spaces WME has created for mentorship through ERGs [employee resource groups] and through other things. So I wouldn’t dwell on the fact that you might not have this like, consistent person in your life.”
The panelists challenged attendees to dismantle traditional notions of mentorship.
“I don’t think you have to sort of sit there and think, ‘Oh my gosh, a mentor is at least five or 10 years older than me; they’re at a certain level in their career,’” echoed Nugent Jamieson. “My mentors are my posse of my girlfriends who were raised in the business together. I’m vulnerable with them. I ask questions. I give them advice. If you’re looking for a mentor, break out of your mind exactly what that looks like, because it could be some of your dearest friends who have great advice for you that can kind of help you rise in your career.”
Kennedy McGuire went even further, defining the difference between a “sponsor” and a “mentor.”
“I think I probably have several mentors, who I look for in different aspects of my career — at my firm, outside of my firm, at production companies — who give great advice and who I go to bounce ideas off of,” she explained. “And then there’s sponsors at my firm who are saying my name in rooms where I can’t be at — that either I’m not in or that I haven’t gotten to yet. And I think also being a boss, I seek to be a sponsor for the women and other people at my firm where I can now say their name and rooms that they can’t be in. So I think it’s important to have both and understand the difference between those as you’re coming up.”
Pryce remembered how one mentor not only changed her career, but also her mindset.
“There was one individual named Alli Shearmur; I interned for her and she was sort of a stalwart in the business and was for a long time. She understood what I needed. She understood that there were not many women who held her position; she was president of Lionsgate at the time,” Pryce recalled. “She knew and articulated things that I was afraid to say, which I think when you are a woman can sometimes feel a little bit icky. Like claiming the idea of ‘I want to be a boss.’ That can be a very tough thing to sort of own.”
Pryce continued: “I remember her in a meeting saying, ‘She wants to be me,’ as the president. That was truly the moment where I was like, ‘Huh, that’s an interesting idea. Maybe?’ And I still don’t know. But that is very important in terms of a mentor — being able to also see your potential and help you articulate that for yourself.”
Perhaps Amoruso put it best:
“Asking advice is the biggest gift you can give other people, because what you’re telling them is, ‘You’re smart!’ I think a lot of people are afraid to ask advice. And all I do is spray advice … When you’re moving up in your career, you don’t really have a lot of time to feel your way around in the dark. And getting advice from people who have been there — you know, take it with a grain of salt — but at the same time, it can really accelerate your career in ways that wouldn’t necessarily happen if you didn’t have that one data point that could get you from here to there.”
For all of TheWrap’s Power Women Summit 2023 coverage, click here.