“The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.” — Steven Spielberg
I recently came across an amazing interview with Jennifer Cohen and Shannon Kelley, two women who’ve I admired for years. In the discussion, these two strong and successful women outline “The Power of Genuine Mentorships” and it had helped shape their paths. It really got me thinking about who I see as mentors in my own career thus far.
As an independent contractor, I almost never have people working around me and I’ve always had to push myself creatively and mentally. However, the interview made me look deeper and I’ve realized that there are quite a few who have shaped me, and continue to inspire me, throughout my life and I want to take this opportunity to thank them.
I met Sheryl Tullis about 10 years ago now, and from that first meeting til now, she has continued inspire me. As the CMO of TA Holdings, she leads the strategic communications and marketing for a Veteran-Owned venture capital group and portfolio of brands. She, herself, is a Veteran, as well as a bad ass climber, recently having scaled Mt. Rainier. Sheryl leads by example; she works her tail off, respects those around her, and asks lots of questions to truly understand the breadth of her projects. Through this work ethic, she has built some amazing relationships along the way. Thank you, Sheryl, for showing me how it’s done and being a role model as a strong leader in business.
Back in high school, I met a family through my job at the time as a swim instructor. That relationship grew through the years, and I became their babysitter and friend. Shortly thereafter, the husband/father passed away. The circumstances were horrible, but through it all, Kathy Sesnon didn’t seem to skip a beat. She raised her two boys into astounding young men, all the while working a full time and taking care of everything as a single woman with her head held high. Every time I get to spend time with her, she has a determination and strength about her that is infectious. She always wants to get her hands on a new project or help someone out and I love this about her. She recently became a grand-mother and I’ve never seen her glow as much as she does now. Kathy’s resilience and ability to always find joy has been a huge influence for me in all that I do. Thank you, Kathy, for your inspiration and for being a mentor as a parent.
Lastly, I want to thank my Aunt Susan who we sadly lost a few months back to cancer. Susan, the oldest of 4 in her family, always blazed her own trail. A very successful watercolor artist, she was also a perennial social planner and a relentless athlete. She was always planning the next big fundraising gala, or outlining her next painting, and never seemed to slow down. Doing aerobics, playing tennis, or skiing, she was always active and healthy. I’ve always admired and looked up to her but, sadly, I never had the chance to tell her. Her untimely passing really stung because I don’t think I truly recognized what she meant to me until it was too late. Somewhere up there, I hope that she is looking down and feeling proud. Thank you, Aunt Susan, for having been a mentor to me, not only as a creative, but as a person.
Who are your mentors? How have they shaped your life? Take a moment to recognize this and show them some appreciation. It's contagious. And now it's your turn to pass it on.
Kirsti Rochon is a senior level brand designer and marketing professional in the Greater Seattle area. For more information, visit KirstiRochon.com