Mentor and Mentee Pt. 2 (Inspiring Women, Episode 45)
In this episode of Inspiring Women, Merry Korn and Sheryl Marrero continue the story of their mentor-mentee relationship, which began through the Women’s Small Business Accelerator.
The host of Inspiring Women is Betty Collins and the show is presented by Brady Ware & Company.
Betty’s Show Notes
In our previous episode, Merry Korn and Sheryl Marrero talked about their journey as a mentor and a mentee.
Sheryl, as the mentee, was in really, really bad shape as a business owner and reached out and said, I need a mentor. And she met Merry Korn, who’s a very successful businesswoman. She has used common sense practices, good advisors, all that kind of stuff. But Merry was not in Sheryl’s industry. Merry was a little intimidated by it, but she became a great mentor because business is business.
The key thing about their relationship that made it successful from the beginning, there was a connection. They had a great connection to the point that Sheryl, who didn’t know Merry, could be transparent, be open, and then she could actually listen and as she says, “be obedient” to and accountable to what Merry was telling her. Those were key elements of a good mentor relationship.
They also didn’t put a timetable on the relationship. They are still going strong. It’s not just about getting together. It’s not just getting coffee together. It’s just not talking. It’s about developing success. And in the case of Sheryl and Merry, Sheryl really became a completely different person as a business owner and a person. And Merry really loved the mentor role and was energized by being there with her. And there will probably be, I would say, business friends and lifetime friends.
This is why Sheryl thinks the mentoring was so impactful.
It was impactful because it actually pushed me to believe in myself. It was like it unleashed my potential that I didn’t even recognize.
We find out what Sheryl was hoping in the beginning that the mentoring would accomplish.
In the beginning, I was just hoping to break even because I was in a different mindset at the time. So initially I was thinking, if I can just break even, I’ll walk away and be done with business. But after being in the program, that changed it. I mean, it just changed everything and it just ended up being so much more.
And what did Merry want the mentoring relationship to accomplish?
One of the things I always said to Sheryl is, Sheryl, whatever happens between us, I know you’re going to be successful. And my big ask is to pay it forward. Her success as a minority woman business owner is she’s literally one in a million. It’s that rare. So my big ask of Sheryl is to pass it forward.
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Has anyone ever inspired you to change your life that made you more fulfilled? Well, as a leader in your business and in your community, what are those questions that you ask yourself on a daily basis? It’s these questions that we explore on inspiring women. I am your host, Betty Collins, and I’m a certified public accountant, a business owner and a community leader who partners with others who want to achieve remarkable results for themselves and their organizations. I am here to help inspire you to a positive step forward for a better life. So today we’re in part two of a podcast on mentoring, whether you’re the mentor or the mentee. And in our previous episode, which you should listen to, by the way, Merry Korn and Sheryl Marrero talked about their journey as mentor and mentee. And Sheryl was the mentee and she was in really, really bad shape as a business owner and reached out and said, I need a mentor. And she met Merry Korn, who’s a very successful businesswoman, who has used common sense practices, good advisors, all that kind of stuff. And she was not in her industry. She was a little intimidated by it, but she became a great mentor because business is business. The key things about their relationship that made it successful was this from the beginning, there was a connection. They had a great connection to the point that Sheryl, who didn’t know Merry, could be transparent, be open, and then she could actually listen and as she says, be obedient in and accountable to what Merry was telling her. Those were key elements of a good mentor relationship. They also didn’t put a timetable on the relationship. They are still going along as this has played out.
Other successful things about mentoring is that you see progress. In some manner.
It’s not just getting together. It’s not just coffee. It’s just not talking. You’re seeing success. And in the case of Sheryl and Merry, Sheryl really became a completely different person as a business owner and a person. And Merry really loved and was energized by being there with her. And there will probably be, I would say, business friends and lifetime, lifetime friends the way the way they are. What generally doesn’t work well, though, in mentoring is if there is no connection from the beginning, if there is even a bit of tension or. You just can’t really let your guard down. You know, that’s not the mentor for your life. You know, that’s not going to get you through it if you start off anyways with that relationship and nothing progresses and everything they try to mentor you on is going against the entire grain of what you wanted to get out of this. You’ve got the wrong mentor, so knowing how to be a mentor and identifying things in your mentee are really important from the beginning. The connection is really important. In the case of Merry and Sheryl, there was Sheryl who had a lot of hard work to do, was willing to be the student. That’s the key. And and then in the whole mentoring episode that we have, everyone needs to play the role. Whether you’re the mentee or the mentor throughout your entire business career, people around you need you and you need them. So we’re going to talk a little bit more today about Sheryl, the mentee, and Merry, the mentor. Let’s take a shift and go and talk about the mentoring piece. I’m going to talk to Sheryl a little bit first and then we’ll talk with Merry. But why do you think the mentoring was so impactful, this program?
I think it was impactful because it actually pushed me to believe in myself. I had different abilities. I didn’t know that I had because I almost gave up. But the mentoring program, it was impactful because. It was like it unleashed. Like. I guess my some of my potential that I didn’t even recognize. And and just seeing small wins at the time, I think that was the the key that I needed to keep going.
Those milestones are awesome. When you can and you see it, then you’re like, okay, what’s the next milestone? Instead of I’ve got this big cloud, it’s like, I’m on my next milestone, right? What were you hoping in the beginning that that the mentoring would accomplish?
In the beginning, I was just hoping to break even because I was in a different mindset at the time. So initially I was thinking, if I can just break even, I’ll walk away and be done with business. But after being in the program, that changed it. I mean, it just changed everything and it just ended up being so much more. I just got more involved with Get Well Planned. I was able to push myself, become more confident, like Merry said, and then it all just came together for me as we continued on the program.
Well, how long did it take you to see impact? I mean I mean, how long were you in in the journey? I mean, it’s been a couple of years now, but when was that first impact that you saw?
I believe the first impact, I would say, was the first six months I recognized that I was headed in the right direction, even though, you know, six months just wasn’t enough to help me get to where I am today. Because at that point, that’s when I went back to the SBA and I had asked them if they would be willing for me to continue like six month program and extend it six months within six month increments. So I recognized a difference within the first six months, but it just ended up being two years.
And probably now you just want to be together. That’s all good. But you know, you had results. Obviously a paying down a lot of debt, but what other results did you see that that we haven’t kind of talked about?
Okay. So some of the other things I think that was very helpful for me, paying down the debt was one of them. That was the biggest issue that I had, but also just starting from scratch. I didn’t have what I would consider a good foundation for my business. I mean, although I had QuickBooks, but we were doing it internally. And I learned, just like you mentioned earlier, Betty, like having the right professionals in your corner. So we had QuickBooks, but we were doing it internally. And so there was no one internally who. Who would be considered an expert. So that’s when I met Kathy, who’s a professional in QuickBooks. So I ended up surrounding myself with professional people who could help me with the foundation of my business. And by doing that, it seemed like it had a ripple effect. So now I have bigger lines with better interest rates. Now my banker, if they ask for anything, I can provide it with a click of a button for certain reports. And now I’m getting notified by my banker saying, Hey, we got this good promotion for business owners. Here you go. So it was just one thing after another. So I’m in a very good place, credit wise, for the business. I’m also what most people say bankable. I’m bankable, but I’m just very careful. Yes. Linda Boyle. So I’m Linda Boyle. And. It’s just been good. I mean, those are some of the things I can think of off the top, you know, having a CPA, you know, as a resource. He works well with Cathy and, you know, just the team together know, they just help me with certain expenses and and a smarter way of spending for the business and things like that. So it’s help all the way around and it’s like it came back full circle, you know, from the financial piece of it.
Well, when I hear you talk about being the mentee, I really I really kind of summarize it in this way. It sounds like being in in this I’m going to call it not a program, but a journey of these last couple of years. It’s redefined you as a businesswoman. And I think that’s just key for other people to hear, because now you can be a different business woman going forward as you get to keep seizing the opportunities and the dream of that because you have a lot of passion about it. So I’m going to switch over to the mentor, which of course, is is Merry. And, you know, first of all, how were you guys matched? You did talk a little bit about that and you talk a little bit about I didn’t know anything about construction, but talk a little bit more about so other people who think they can’t be a mentor because they don’t know construction, how can that work? How can you be matched with someone?
Sheryl, could you take a stab at that first? Because I don’t know quite how they decided we should be together, but what is your perception?
I think my perception of it, I know initially it was probably thought I would end up being matched with the other construction person there, but I believe they took the time to review my story, you know, where I was. And I believe and no one said this, but this is just my belief. I believe they knew that I needed support. You know how to start a business from scratch pretty much, and to get on a financially healthy plan. And I believe they probably looked at Merry’s background or what she had done with her business. She I’m pretty confident that she had to grow it to get to where she is today. And so I think she had the proper skills and characteristics to know the basics of a business, just maybe not the specialty. Right. And I think I had the specialty when it came to the construction, but I was missing everything she had, although it wasn’t with construction, but I was missing everything that she had from a business standpoint on how to make it successful. And like she said, I had the number like the revenue coming in the top line, but the bottom line just wasn’t there. And I think she probably has a special skill on how to make it work for your bottom line to be profitable.
Probably more than she knows. And I think that’s probably why they agreed to allow us to. Well.
I think when we’re word we’re talking to the audience about becoming a mentor, don’t get wrapped up in. I can only mentor this industry. Right. Because what techniques really did you kind of use, Merry, in helping her? It was just business, common sense. But I mean, what did you you know, what were some of those things that you saw and maybe advised the audience on? Don’t be intimidated by industry. Help help your peer, help your other woman.
So I feel like the collaboration we had, I had the success of it. I attribute to Sheryl’s. And I said this at that dinner you were at Betty, she has resilience because there are so many people who dream of having businesses and then they stumble and they fall and they don’t pick themselves up again. So a big part of it was Sheryl’s dream was so visual and so visceral, so it was starting with her passion. And I knew she wanted it so much. So the student was so open. So the first place we started was numbers, numbers, numbers. What are we going to do to pay back your debt? What are we going to do to build this business? And how are we going to more intelligently pick business that has both bottom and top line viable revenues? And by the way, to Sheryl’s credit, she did all this fixing and wellness plan. Well, she was working full time, and I thought that was just remarkable.
So really, the technique you saw, the resilience you saw the characteristics and you took your common sense and applied it right. And so the mentor mentee relationship works when those things are there, right? Because if she didn’t have the resilience and it would have been the same conversation over and over then, right? It would have been. I’m kind of done mentoring because you’re but I like your whole thing that the student the teacher will come when the student is ready. Is that how you what do you feel, though, as the mentor that you learned from Sheryl? Because you’re very successful. You’ve been there, you’ve done that, you’ve had your rollercoaster ride. You’re probably still going to have some. What did you learn from her?
So Bernie Brown has written all these books on being vulnerable.
And a lot of people have a very hard time being vulnerable, but it’s actually a gift because if you’re honest with someone else about, I need help, can you support me? And Sheryl was so is that honesty? I don’t know about you. Sure, but I just liked you. And I felt myself caring about you. And that I think that in any relationship, whether it be therapist and patient or doctor and patient, mentor and mentee, you have to have that rapport and you have to have that trust and relationship. And if you have that, anything can happen.
Yeah. So as the mentor, I think you’ve gotten out of this just as much in some ways as Sheryl, because you talk about her so passionately. What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in Sheryl since you guys started the journey together?
The biggest was, I mean, I wish I could describe for you that luncheon we met at a luncheon some someplace downtown. It was some venue. And I just saw this very frail, scared, timid, very soft spoken, unsure woman. And you can see in front of you, Betty, I mean, I don’t know if you’re podcast, I don’t know if you could send this visual to podcasters, but she’s just like blossoming into this beautiful, confident woman who can’t be broken because she’s grown so much faith and strength.
It’s huge. I mean, what I want, what I want women to take from this today is that this relationship can work in your own life. And if you’re at and it doesn’t matter what stage you are, because I mean, I’ve done this since I was since 1988, done this a long time. I’m 58 years old and I still look for the mentor. But I also know that I have a responsibility to be the mentor and not just be the mentee. Right. What I want to end today with Sheryl is tell the audience, be the mentee, you know, but tell them what what you’re. Let me I’m going to start that over. So I want to end today is Sheryl you’re the mentee and and Merry, you’re the mentor. Give that audience that last tidbit on being the mentee and being the mentor, and don’t be afraid of being both. So, Sheryl, that’s a I’ll put you up first. Sorry for the pressure.
Okay. So I would say as the mentee. The key would be obedience. Just obedience and. There’s a reason you’re learning or there’s a reason you’re going through the journey, and you should apply that to help someone who or another entrepreneur or someone else who has not made it to the point where you are when it’s time for you to be the mentor. So there was a couple of things I would advise people at their mentee just be obedient and also take notes from your mentor. Because I know for me, just from watching Merry and my experience with Merry as my mentor, I cannot wait to be someone else’s mentor. I love that.
Nice Merry Corn, the mentor. What would be the thoughts you would want to leave with the audience today?
Well, one of the things I always said to Sheryl is, Sheryl, whatever happens between us, I know you’re going to be successful. And my big ask is pay it forward. Because what Sheryl hasn’t shared is that when we had that dinner at the Women’s Small Business, I did research to try to understand how many black women are in construction and the number is so small, I couldn’t find the number anywhere. But the granular statistics I did is even in male owned construction businesses very close to the average male construction company, was it 50% of the top line revenues of Sheryl’s numbers? So her success as a minority woman business owner is she’s literally one in a million. It’s that rare. So my big ask of Sheryl is pass it forward. And then on another SBA project, we hired a group of graduate students to share with us what do women need for success? And they need mentors. They need mentors because it’s lonely. And as far as women have come in business, yeah, they’ve come real far, but oh my God, they have a much further way to go for the listeners. Find a mentor. And if you don’t need a mentor, become a mentor, right? And as a mentor, always start with where your mentee is. Begin with where they are, not where you think they should be.
Very, very good. Ladies, I always love to go through this and I improvise, as, you know, with my questions and my where we navigated today. But because you’re both so passionate and you’ve been on this, it was just a great information for the audience and to encourage other women. But I’m going to leave with this because I really think people who who are thinking about mentoring or being a mentee or both or whatever. Women in business. Women who lead. Be kind to yourself regardless. And we need to do that more. And that that’s just so part of this journey and time. I know for me, I have informal mentoring relationships, formal relationships. And we as women need to be giving back and doing. We’ve just experienced a really tough time period that has affected women greatly, whether it’s about day care issues, having to leave workforce, all of it industries you’re in. So get out there and help your peer, help that other woman. And there’s so many ways to do it. I can’t help but plug the SBA Women’s Small Business Accelerator out of Columbus, Ohio. Phenomenal organization to be a part of. And these these ladies have been totally effective by that. So thank you again for your time today. I know you’re very busy and but my audience, I know, appreciates that you were with us today. So thank you. Inspiring Women has been presented by Brady and Company. As your career advancements continue, your financial opportunities will continue to grow. Be prepared. Visit Brady Care.com to find out more about the accounting services that can assist you to that next level. All this, plus more about the podcast can be found in the show notes for this episode. Thank you so much for tuning in. Feel free to share this show or give us a review. Remember, inspiration is powerful. Whose life will you be changing?
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