WISE Up: How mentoring works both ways

JANUARY 22, 2024

Scroll down for tips from the winningest college basketball coach (as of last night!)


National Mentoring Month

Dear WISE Community,

January is National Mentoring Month, but the truth is we consider every month to be Mentoring Month. After all, at WISE, one of the foundational pillars of our mission is to elevate and advance the careers of our members. Still, whenever January rolls around, we are happy to celebrate the art of mentoring just a little more avidly. So I will use this moment to encourage you to take the time to lift each other so we may all rise together, certain in the knowledge that these relationships enrich the mentor and mentee in equal measure.


WISE offers multiple opportunities to establish these singularly powerful connections:

  • Our national pairs a member with a mentor particularly suited to advise on a specific goal or career challenge. Engagements can be as short as one month, though we recommend up to three to really build the relationship.
  • The annual virtual , taking place this year on January 31, is a fast-paced, high-impact night of discussion with industry leaders.
  • And, last but certainly not least, our local chapters are offering a host of programs throughout the month.

The newsletter that follows has been curated with an eye towards helping you maximize the mentor relationship. I hear concerns from many of you about whether you are mentor material. I also know mentees worry about whether there's real value in a formal relationship. I'm here to tell you: You all have more to give — and gain — than you realize. The conversation below between one of our mentor-mentee pairs highlights just how powerful and actionable the connection can be. Here's to all our mentors and mentees, and to continuing to fuel professional and personal growth, WISE-style.


Kathleen Francis

Chair & President

One-Question Quiz: Endorsement Edition

Multi-sport legend Babe Didrikson Zaharias is generally considered the first female athlete to land a product endorsement deal, in 1933. What type of product did she promote? Answer at the bottom.

The WISE Interview: Maximizing Mentoring Relationships


Photos: Mentor, Charlotte chapter member Lindsay Hall (L); Mentee, LA chapter member Jolene Latimer (R)

How should a mentee make the most of her opportunity? Can a mentor benefit from the experience, too? One WISE Within mentor-mentee duo, , and , share their tips for …


Finding the right match:

LH: "Before my experience with Jolene, I would have thought I'd be most useful to women in similar roles or the same sport as me, but she opened my eyes to the fact that being on different tracks, in different sports, or even in different cities doesn't matter. The most important thing is that the mentee is open to what the mentor has to offer, and that the mentor is committed to giving time and effort to the mentee. Still, sometimes it's just not going to work out. Like with dating, you have to be able to admit when it's not a good fit."

JL: "I think what a mentee should be looking for is someone a couple of career steps above her who can help her to think strategically and develop critical soft skills. A mentor doesn't need to know your particular side of the industry front to back; a mentorship is not an apprenticeship. Although Lindsay is not a journalist, she gave me the kind of high-level advice that allowed me to think through different ideas."


Starting off on the right foot:

JL: "I did a mentoring program through the LA chapter first, and the organizers made it very clear that I would get out of it what I put in. It's in the mentee's hands to craft the experience and set expectations. To move the ball forward, you need to be clear about your goal and how your mentor can help you achieve it, set an agenda for each meeting, and do the homework. I would encourage every mentee to have an early conversation with their mentor about what they want to get out of the relationship. I also have one piece of advice for mentors: It's fine to put a time limit on your commitment, so long as you are willing and able to honor the full scope of the commitment you make."

LH: "You may not realize you need a network until you actually need a network, and at that moment it's too late to start building one. So you should always be thinking ahead, always be reaching out. Remember, the initial conversations should be more general and introductory. It takes time for a useful relationship to develop."


Getting the most out of each session:

LH: "Our meetings were very productive because Jolene was organized. She would have a purpose for every one. The onus falls on the mentee to keep things moving forward. They need to set up the calls and lead the conversations. That said, whenever we met, I was very attuned to her needs and I followed up after we talked with the links and resources I had promised."

JL: "To start, my agendas were very detailed. For the first call, I wrote: 'I'd love to discuss your preferred contact method, my goals, what would make this relationship great for you … .' As we went on, I got less formal. But I still prepped some questions, about, for example, other opportunities for journalists in sports, or whether I was overreacting to a work situation."


Ensuring success:

JL: "For me, the biggest benefit was knowing there was someone in my court. Lindsay also kept me accountable; it's easy to put things off, but if someone is giving you their time you owe it to the relationship to be engaged. And don't be flaky; send an invite for the next meeting as soon as the current one is over. Also, remember, this is not a therapy session; you're looking for professional guidance. Finally, be open to what they have to say."

LH: "Jolene was so buttoned up that I looked forward to our conversations. She wanted to make a change but didn't know exactly how to do it. I read through her résumé. I had advice for next steps, and I was happy to open my network to her. As a bonus, I expanded my own network through her."


Participating in a formal program:

LH: "There is no program at my work, and I have no direct reports at the moment. WISE Within fills that hole. And it's all resourced for you."

JL: "I don't think you get this type of connection in the workplace even if you have an informal mentor, because you can't always be as honest about your goals or desire for change. Plus, the formal method keeps everything targeted."


"It's never too late. I just found my first real mentor three years ago. Ask for what you want and need." —Billie Jean King, tennis champion and social advocate, in her 2002 WISE Women of the Year speech


"As a mentor, I've been able to grow my leadership skills and challenge myself, thanks to the fresh perspectives of my mentees." —Clara Stroude-Vazquez, chief of culture and inclusion for the Miami Heat


"You don't have to go through career challenges on your own. Through goal-setting and perspective-sharing, mentors help mentees make better decisions — and mentees help mentors stay up to date." —Tonya Harris Cornileus, Ph.D., senior vice president, learning and talent solutions at The Walt Disney Company


CALLING ALL MENTORS: Ready to share your wisdom? Join WISE Within and experience the power of mentoring for yourself.

Worth the Click

Experimentation, asking for help, and the art of the controlled meltdown: (NYT gift link) Related:


Adidas is building back its game back up: (WSJ)


Trend to watch: (Business Insider, paywall)


We've all experienced it: (Slate)

From the

New York, New York (On-site)

Pack your bags because you'll be managing a wide range of exciting domestic and international event operations for the league. Responsibilities include: planning, logistics, budget reconciliation, and invoice processing. Spanish-speaking candidates are strongly preferred.

Mark Your Calendar: National Events

WISE/R Symposium

: January 31

Don't miss this chance to build new relationships with peers and industry vets nationwide and gain keen insights that will catapult you through National Mentoring Month and beyond. Registration closes this Wednesday, January 24!


: Exclusive Scholarship Opportunity for WISE Members!

As we have since 2019, WISE and UMass Amherst's Mark H. McCormack Department of Sport Management are again partnering to offer tuition-free admission to one of the school's prestigious MBA programs to two of our members. Don't delay — the application deadline is February 1.


: February 29

This unique accelerator for female executives in sports will focus on the industry's investment in analytics and its diverse and practical applications. Request an invitation . In partnership with the Wasserman Foundation and the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference.


: March 19

Tickets are on sale now. This year's honorees: Ayala Deutsch, executive vice president and deputy general counsel, NBA; Kate Johnson, director and head of global sports and entertainment marketing, Google; Michele Kajiwara, senior vice president, premium and events business, Crypto.com Arena and Peacock Theater; and Renee Chube Washington, chief operating officer, USA Track & Field.

One-Question Quiz Answer


Automobile. Specifically, Dodge (she had bought one before signing with the automaker). Zaharias became a national figure when she won three track and field medals at the 1932 Olympics. She later won 10 LPGA majors. FYI: Baseball player George Wright is generally considered to be the first male athlete to land an endorsement deal — in 1876, for Red Stockings Cigars.


We'd Love to Hear From You! Ideas for WISE Up? New job? Just want to say hello? Email us.