A CEO Shares Tips for Finding a Great Mentor

H2O+ Beauty is a skincare company that focuses on using one of the earth’s most abundant resource and continuing to use innovative formulas that leverage the company as an industry leader.

Something you’re often told as young professional is to find a mentor. And that’s pretty much it—there are never really directions on how to get a mentor, what a mentor can do for you, or what qualities to look for in a mentor. Also, how do you even ask someone to mentor you?

More than anything, a mentorship is a relationship. It is a way to build your network, support system, and a way to strengthen your knowledge of the industry. Mentors, even mentees, can be a resource for you when you’re making a big decision in your career, such as switching jobs, negotiating a raise or promotion, or even how to manage your work/life balance. They can be within your company, outside of your industry, or just someone who you respect and value their opinion and advice.

So many successful businessmen and women have emphasized the value of mentorship, and here at FindSpark, we believe a strong network is powerful! We decided to sit down with H20+ Beauty Chairman and CEO, Joy Chen to talk about mentorship and how she built her successful career.

Chen has been named Most Admired CEO and Most Influential Women by the San Francisco Business Times, and is a US Business Hall of Fame recipient. She has been noted for her innovative problem solving, turnaround business success, and her passion for mentorship and multi-functional teams. She graduated from Harvard Business School with her MBA and went on to become the VP General Manager at Clorox. After 17 years at Clorox, she left the large corporate setting for a smaller, more entrepreneurial opportunity with skincare company, Yes To in 2009. In 2015 she began her career at H20+ Beauty.

You can read our interview below and make sure to follow along on social media for an awesome H20+Beauty giveaway later this week!

Joy Chen portrait

Tell me a little about your story and how you joined the H2O+ beauty team.
I saw H2O+ Beauty as a brand with significant potential and I enjoy the challenges that come with restoring a business to profitability and growth. I had success doing that during my time at Clorox and again at Yes To, and I was eager for the opportunity to do it again at H2O+ Beauty. Finding the right strategy to turn around a business is a significant amount of work, but I find it extremely rewarding.

Mentorship is extremely important to the FindSpark community; what makes you want to mentor someone and spend time with them?
Mentorship is a two-way relationship, and it cannot be forced. What I find most rewarding about mentoring someone is seeing them grow and thrive from the relationship. Additionally, I learn from my mentees too because they teach me things that make me a more effective leader.

You have built a career around inspiring and engaging women, and helping them realize their potential – How did you realize your potential and put that into actionable steps? And what are your tips for helping other women discover what they’re good at?
My advice to others is same that I have followed: believe in yourself and follow your dream. My life is a compilation of choices I made because I learned to believe in my capabilities and make my dream a reality. In order to do this, you have to understand who you are, what makes you happy, and under what circumstances your best work comes out. One of my significant turning points was when I realized I was a better fit with an entrepreneurial environment. I made the choice to leave Clorox after 17 years so I could pursue my dream of becoming the CEO of a growth business.

In an article you have on your LinkedIn, “Advice from a CEO: Ask and get what you want”, you said that when it comes to negotiating for personal goals and desires, women do that less often and are less aggressive than their male peers. What can women do to successfully prepare and execute their goals? Is it through strategic planning, or having a good team or mentor?
It starts with us believing in our personal abilities and then making sure others recognize them as well. This requires us to pat ourselves on the back for good work. Planning is important but it’s more important to understand and believe in the value we bring. Getting others to support your good work is important as well.

You’ve brought some people from previous roles to H2O+ Beauty with you. What qualities or characteristics classify a good employee to you personally? What makes you want to scoop someone out of their job to work with you?
I look for people that are consistent with the company values. To me, culture fit is key to company success. For H2O+ Beauty, I look for individuals that have a positive, winning attitude. Additionally, they have strong accountability for their actions and are quick to act. Finally, they exhibit great ethical values.

What is the best piece of advice a mentor ever gave you?
I have been really blessed because I have had mentors throughout my career but my mom has been my constant throughout my life. In addition to being my biggest supporter, she also has given me the best piece of advice, which I have carried throughout whatever I do. That is, “you can do anything as long as you put your heart and mind to it.”

Have you ever received “bad” advice? If so, what was it and what did you learn from it?
It may not be “bad” advice, but just not best for me. I was told to focus on making my weaknesses better. I have worked for managers who would rather help me improve my weak skills. Over the years, I learned that I am happier and more successful when I work in an environment that taps into my strengths. That is one of the reasons I shifted from a large company to a smaller one. My strengths are much more appropriate in an entrepreneurial setting than a corporate one.

What qualities should young professionals look for when you’re seeking out a mentor? Similar industry, company, senior title vs. peer?
I look for mentors that are different from me. For example, I learn the most from male mentors because they are different from me in their leadership style, how they perceive a situation and solve a problem. All this makes me a better leader.

Asking someone to be your mentor can be awkward or intimidating – how can someone overcome that fear of connecting with someone they admire?
I have never asked anyone to be my mentor, and it is not a relationship that needs to be established formally like that. I have many mentor and mentee relationships and they happen because both sides want it. The best way is to reach out to a potential mentor and ask them for coffee (no pressure in getting together) or quick call just to get to know them.   Because it is a two-way relationship, you should also bring something of value to the relationship by knowing what he or she likes so you can make a connection with him/her over something you both share or enjoy.

There are so many ways to connect with mentors nowadays – social media, LinkedIn, your office, etc. What should or shouldn’t college students do when looking for a mentor online? And in person?
I don’t like it when anyone just sends me a Linked In request with no personal email introduction or purpose. Anyone that reaches out to connect with mentors should establish a personal introduction explaining who they are and why they are reaching out. The note should come across as genuine and good intentioned.

People in our community always express that they feel like they are pestering or annoying someone in follow-up emails. What’s an example of someone you’ve mentored who has done a good job at staying in touch over a long period of time; and what have they done to stay in touch? And how can our community get out of the mindset that they are “annoying” someone when following up?
The best ones have done a great job by sharing information periodically that they know is of interest to the mentor.   This can range from a link to a news article to a review to a great new local restaurant. Doing this to stay in touch helps build your relationship with your mentor so when you really need assistance from him/her, he/she will make time.

So there you have it guys, finding a mentor doesn’t have to be as scary or intimidating as it can seem. Choose a variety of people you want to learn from and start building a relationship with them. These mentors can be supervisors, peers and friends—the more variety of backgrounds, interests and levels of experience, the stronger your network is.

As Joy stated above, the best piece of advice she ever received was, “you can do anything as long as you put your heart and mind to it.” So let’s go build our own networks, find great mentors, and be even better mentors to someone else.


Also make sure to enter our Instagram giveaway to win some awesome H2O+ Beauty products! Enter here



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