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Mentors' advice comes at speed of sound in Lakewood Ranch

Side of Ranch: Jay Heater

Grapevine's Allison Imre gives advice about getting involved in the community, as she is doing here wth Venice's Lynn Massaroni at Bartending for a Cause at the Polo Grill & Bar in 2018.
Grapevine's Allison Imre gives advice about getting involved in the community, as she is doing here wth Venice's Lynn Massaroni at Bartending for a Cause at the Polo Grill & Bar in 2018.
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It was quite a ways into my journalism career that my newspaper at the time hired an expert consultant to tell us how to do our job.

It always amuses me when someone not in the industry spends all of his/her time telling those of us in the industry what we should be doing.

So I daydreamed through much of the presentation until he basically insulted all of us in the room.

"One thing you always need to remember," he said, his hands shooting up into the air, each clutching a pen. "Always bring two pens to an interview."

What a toad! He was making $300 an hour to instruct us to bring an extra pen. For goodness sakes, where do I sign up for this gig?

So, of course, you probably know what stuck with me for years from that annoying session? Yes, I never leave for an interview without making sure I have two pens. It's automatic. Thank you, Mr. Toad.

Good advice can come when you least expect it, and perhaps that amplifies the pressure on mentors during Mentor Connect, which is a Young Leaders Alliance event 5:30-8 p.m., Thursday, June 13 at Cowork LWR, 8130 Lakewood Main St., Lakewood Ranch.

The Young Leaders Alliance is a branch of the Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance and it made up of businessmen and businesswomen who are under 40. It also is made up of those looking for ways to succeed.

Mentor Connect is a program kind of like speed dating. Each Young Leaders Alliance member will sit with three mentors, such as Grapevine Communications owner and President Allison Imre or Richard Bedford of Real Estate and Land Consulting. The event, which costs $25 for YLA members and $40 for nonmembers, will feature 12 mentors in all.

I talked with Imre about knowing how to choose good advise to pass along. She said immediately she will ask the person about his/her direction. Advice for an aspiring cardiologist might be different than something you would give to a banker.

Imre thought back to the best advice she received, and it was a learning on the job experience. She was a 21-year-old working in 1999 with Suzanne Rayson, the director of sports marketing for the Kansas City Royals.

Rayson told her, "Make sure you study harder, show up earlier and work longer."

Makes sense, kind of like bringing two pens to an interview. But it stuck with Imre.

Can she deliver something similar at Mentor Connect?

She talked about advising youth leaders to "plan your work and work your plan, starting with an unobtainable goal."

That is followed by by building a roadmap and plotting what steps to take to get there.

"How do you eat an elephant?" Imre asked rhetorically. "One bite at a time."

Becoming involved in the community will be one of Imre's comments. A person's work life and home life is connected to his/her community and it all leads to a better life, she said.

"If you are not engaged in the community, you are not making connections," she said.

She added "never think you are too good to do something to the mix," and then wanted to stop because she needed to save some zingers for the event.

"Frankly, I am a little nervous," she said. "I need to listen twice as much as I talk."

Was that more advice?

Ashlyn McCarty, the director of sales for Buffalo Lodging, is a member of the Young Leaders Alliance and she helped to coordinate the event. At 32, McCarty has been on the receiving side of the third-year event.

She has walked away with what she called "practical tools," such as tips and tricks for cold calls.

McCarty said she now pays attention to certain media outlets, such as the Business Observer, because of advice she received at the event. She also took to heart advice about getting involved with nonprofits and now is a volunteer with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

One useful tip was to become more involved with the Bradenton Area Economic Development Corporation by going to its events. 

"The more I learn, the more I know I need to learn," she said.

Geez, that does sound like good advice.

Where's my pen?


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