Allies and Mentors and Masterminds…Oh My!

As Dorothy once said, “Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.” Over the last year I have written individual posts about each of the above categories. Yet, they bear repeating.

As a solo rezoomer you need to acquire a strong base from which to launch. You need to define a network of Allies, Mentors and Masterminds. The three are not the same and no one person can fill all three roles for you on your journey. They can be acquired and evolve along the way, yet these role models must be available at the onset to give you the advice you need when you are ‘charging at windmills.’

As rezoomers we are uniquely qualified to find the best Allies, Mentors and Masterminds for our brain trust because we have age, experience, and colleagues in other fields.

An Ally is someone on the same or similar journey, who is either in the trenches with us or has already met with success in their own business. They provide an honest sounding board for our thoughts and ideas. They recognize themselves in us and wish to help us reach our goals as they have reached theirs. They will probably emerge from within your practice field but not from your own office. They have knowledge of the forum and give useful feedback on topics oriented and germane to your solo practice.

Rezoomers are not at a loss when looking for allies on our journey, especially in this economic climate; the old adage one for all and all for one comes to mind. We do not hesitate to ask for help, we have been doing it for a long time and realize how important delegation and cooperation is to any endeavor. We have learned, due to our varied backgrounds and experiences, that it is much easier to row the boat with others than try to row it alone.

Maybe, like me, when you exited law school you were sure you could row the boat all by yourself. You set a course, landed the job you wanted and worked your butt off to climb the legal ladder and receive well -deserved compliments and promotions. This surefootedness and bravado is a prized quality in new grads. They are fearless and find meeting people and moving at the speed of light just what the doctor ordered. This is, as we all know, the play station and Nintendo generation! Yet, as rezoomers, we are caught in the world of self-doubt, having been away from the practice of law. We now reenter with what some believe are stale skills. This is where our allies come in. They are the people you know and who have worked with you, both in the legal field and the non-legal field. They are now your staunch supporters, believing in your successful return to the practice of law. They may come from where you began your practice of law, where you have spent your hiatus, or where you are right now in your return to practice. They believe in you because they realize how well you have adapted your legal skills to function in a multidimensional field.

Our Mentor is someone, usually outside our sphere of business, who singlehandedly challenges us to strive for that big idea; the one you have only dreamed of attaining and would never allow yourself to really believe was achievable. This is the person who stops your thoughts of limitation and self-sabotage. They see you for who you are and who you can be. Mentors are invaluable for helping you think bigger. They are not hamstrung by your self-sabotage; they probably have enough of their own. They have, ‘climbed the mountain’ so to speak and feel they can share their map with you so that you can have an easier climb. They glimpse the next generation of an idea in you and are thrilled to help make that idea a reality!

Lastly, our Mastermind colleagues are that group of people, at similar points in their businesses, who help one another see the big picture of what they all want to do. They are our first clients, vetting the concepts we are creating to see if the response we are going for is the response they feel. You are test marketing your wildass ideas on colleagues who have committed to help you design, test and do your best job the first time out of the box. They are your interested audience, to whom you explain what it is you do or want to do. Mastermind colleagues critique your presentations, ideas and processes. They give you feedback, both positive and negative, enabling you to tweak your business model so it speaks to your audience in a way they understand. In turn this builds your business the way you want from the get go.

In a recent New York City Bar Association presentation, Kara Baysinger and Michelle Coleman Mayes, the ladies of General Counsel-dom were interviewed about their book, Couregous Counsel – Conversations with Women General Counsels in the Fortune500. These ladies outlined what they did to get ahead as well as interviewed women who had done the same. Each woman General Counsel interviewed mentioned networking, not as a secret ingredient, but as close to the special sauce as you could get. Without it they felt their entire journey to their positions as General Counsels would never have taken place. In the article they confirm what I said months ago and again here, Allies, Mentors and Masterminds, from inside and outside your comfort zone and zone of influence, are crucial. They can see where you came from and where you are going more clearly and without the baggage we bring along for the ride.

They said the General Counsels they interviewed encourage everyone looking to become a General Counsel to ASK! Wow, I think I wrote about that months ago too. Is this a recurring theme among intelligent people? It you don’t ask how will anyone know what you want? If you ‘hang’ with people who are successful you will become successful? Remember to be strategic in seeking help and feedback, as Kara and Michelle said in this article.

Lastly, if you institute the ‘threesome,’ Allies, Mentors, and Masterminds, it will be a lot less scary. Yes Dorothy, we are not in Kansas any more. We are Solo’s out in the world pulling our clients in by our focus, dedication to our practice, and clarity of mission. Without the input from each of these necessary people we will not get as far as we can as quickly as we can. Don’t choose to miss a step or a piece of the puzzle. Using each party to their fullest is a sure fire way for a solo to meet with success.

All opinions, advice, and experiences of guest bloggers/columnists are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions, practices or experiences of Solo Practice University®.

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2 comments on “Allies and Mentors and Masterminds…Oh My!

  • Great article, Debra! I wish I had had this advice when I was a young attorney. My only additional advice regarding choosing a mentor is to make sure you don’t choose one who will feel threatened when your success and achievements are more than theirs!

    Heather G. Anderson
    Knoxville, TN

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