We are teaming up withOKREALfor our interview series, “Pay it Forward.” We spoke with women who we collectively admire to hear what mentorship means to them, the advice that has been most meaningful and the importance of uplifting the women around you.OKREALis a platform that curates wisdom shared by a range of smart, leading women role models.
Eighth in our series is vice president of news and programming at iOne Digital, Jamilah Lemieux. We spoke with Lemieux about self-care, the importance of facilitating connections and how she weighs her decisions.
Check back in next week for our ninth interview in this series. We’ll be talking to Nicola Adams, the first woman to win an Olympic boxing title.
My boss, Kierna Mayo, whom I’ve known nearly nine years — six of which I’ve worked for her — is my primary source of mentorship. I might not have her if Michaela Angela Davis had not taken me under her wing years ago, both facilitating our connection and guiding some of the decisions that put me in the position to work in my field in the first place.
A good mentor is able to provide tangible support, via connections, advice, etc., that is grounded in foundational knowledge of whatever connects her to her mentee: a shared career field, parenting, spirituality and/or a number of topics and issues. She may make your problems her own on occasion, but will typically serve as a compass, not a life preserver or rescue ship. Her investment in you should make you a better person/professional/parent/partner even when she isn’t around to guide your steps.
I didn’t readily assume that someone who hired me would end up playing such a role, especially in other aspects of my life outside the job. Alas, I’ve been really fortunate to have someone who can keep me accountable as an employee andsupport me in so many meaningful ways.
The women in my life who I consider mentors have consistently been honest with me about the realities of my field, raising children, dating and other critical parts of our shared experiences and I always try to deliver the same to younger women, and other folks as well.
Michaela recognized that I was talented, yet unrefined in certain ways, and that I would thrive if given the proper opportunity. She helped me to prepare for the work I wanted to do and connected me to a number of people who would allow me to get that shot — Kierna would be one of them.
I routinely preach “self care” and “balance,” and I routinely fail at both.
I tend to work best in quiet environments by myself with limited interruptions.
I’ve come to truly understand the importance of having male mentors. Without reducing the human experience to two narrow gender binaries, there is something to the ways in which cis-hetero and queer men operate in their own interest that I think women should tap into as best they can. They so often prioritize their needs, advocate for themselves and spend less time agonizing over minor details, all things that I personally struggle with. It’s not about “thinking like a man and acting like a lady,” but tapping into the masculine ability to remind yourself that you matter.
For parents, I’d say think about people in relation to what they would do for your children if (God forbid) something happened to you and treat their requests for favors accordingly. For anyone, a continual series of cost-benefit analysis should guide your decision making processes. Is this worth lost sleep? Lost time with loved ones? Will it help me advance in some way?
Don’t allow people to make you feel that folks wanting your energy or time is some sort of compliment or affirmation and ask, “What do I get for pouring into these other people? Who is pouring into me?”