Denise Warren of ‘The New York Times’ on Successful Mentoring: ‘Have an Agenda’

job interview friendsThis morning’s New York Women in Communications panel, “The fastest way to the top,” was typical of the organization’s previous events. Inspirational, stellar and downright informative!

But hey, who wouldn’t want to learn from successful women and their secrets to success?

We sat down with Denise Warren, executive vice-president, at The New York Times. Denise oversees the operations, growth and development of its digital products coupled with providing her leadership over its subscriber relationships and digital subscription business.

For starters, she says a mentoring relationship has to “happen really naturally.” She points out it won’t work if it’s forced with something like, “Will you be my mentor?'”

For Warren, becoming a mentor has always occurred organically. “You say, ‘This is somebody I want to take an interest in, this is someone who I think can benefit from my help. This is somebody whose career guidance I can use and I can provide.'”

It’s a big mistake if the mentee thinks the mentor is their ticket without taking responsibility to own it themselves. She explains:

“You have to have an agenda. What’s the reason? How’s this person with all of this experience and knowledge going to help you? What are the issues you’re trying to work on? Whether it’s developing a skill or working on your next move, what’s your agenda for your own career development and then how can you enlist them to help you?”

And as the mentee and mentor’s relationship develops and blooms, the equation for the mentee to get additional people on board is quite simple.

“It’s about good hard work,” she says. “And showing results and going above and beyond what your commitments are. If you do those things, someone is going to take notice, take an interest and somebody is going try to help you in that regard.”

In case you’re wondering, we asked about freelancers, too. Warren mentions the situation really isn’t any different for contractors. “The same rules apply,” she indicates.

“Whatever your assignment is or whoever your client is, exceed those expectations. You know why? There’s somebody one click away who’s ready to exceed those expectations so if you want to maintain that relationship, if you want to grow and maintain that relationship, it’s about super serving your boss and clients.”