Alpha Rising: You Need a Sponsor -- Not Just a Mentor

Our Alpha Rising launch has been AMAZING!

Big thanks to all of you for the encouraging responses and for embracing our new series.

And, wow, have we learned so much from these fabulous women already!

While there are many common themes that weave through our interviews, one thing really stood out for me: You can't climb alone.

You need a mentor - and you really need a sponsor. Because there's a big difference. Sponsors are the ones that can make things happen for you.

And while Jane Elfers, CEO of Children's Place, told us that she really did not have either, that's not the norm. Everyone else had someone they could point to that was pulling for them.

That's why, 23-year-old Ford Motor Co. (F) research engineer Victoria Schein suggests you actively reach out and find someone who supports your endeavors.

Just make sure you are getting actionable help from your mentor and not just having coffee.

Kerrie MacPherson, an EY Global Client Service Partner and executive sponsor of its Entrepreneurial Winning Women program actually thinks that historically "woman have been over-mentored and under-sponsored."

 

Because while it's nice to have someone to brainstorm with, what you really need is someone who has the political and financial clout to make those ideas happen. That's the exact purpose of sponsorship.

Sponsors pull you along and can give you opportunities that propel your career.

But they're busy -- so don't want their time. Find someone who can help you and then ask pointed questions, says Jenny Fleiss, co-founder of Rent the Runway.

And we here at #AlphaRising are learning and taking their advice. As a matter of fact, we asked Christie Hefner, former CEO of Playboy, specifically what we need to do to become a board member.

So we are going to continue to talk to these fabulous women and continue to learn as much as we can from them.

And if you know strong, powerful, inspirational women that we can learn more from, please let us know: alpharising@thestreet.com.

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