Two years ago I spoke to a senior Google executive who described the deluge of mentoring requests that beset many executive women.

The pick-your-brain requests, the coffee meetings, the long emails requesting a formalized three-month mentoring relationship.

And as much as they want to help, these senior women typically don’t have the time or mental capacity to meet the demand.

The irony: despite the rash of mentoring requests, women are still under-mentored.

According to a recent Women Shaping Business survey from Randstad Canada, 77% of women surveyed say they have never had (or sought) a mentor.

Meanwhile, only 5% of women have a mentor that they sought on their own and just 9% were provided a mentor by their employer.

What a crying shame.

Mentoring can make you tens of thousands of dollars and shave years off your learning curve.

The other day I got a piece of insight from a mentor that helped me see my business in a whole new way, and has basically blasted open the door on a new market for what I do.

You know how I got that gold nugget?

I asked her a targeted question that she could help me answer in under ten minutes.

Listen: powerful people don’t have time. Their calendars fill up months, sometimes years in advance. And yet, they have something you need: decades of wisdom, experience and insight that can help to guide your career and inform your choices.

You probably know this, which may be what holds you back from approaching senior people for advice.

Don’t let time be an issue — work with it.

Rather than asking for general career or business advice, ask your heavy hitter a focused question she can answer in a couple of minutes — while she’s at the coffee machine, or walking to her car.

And don’t limit yourself to women mentors. Find men to mentor you as well. They still run the show, darlings. Which means they have a wealth of wisdom to share with us.

I happen to specialize in helping people boil complex communications into stunningly simply ideas. In the comments below, share the “ten minute question” you’d like to ask a heavy hitter— if you want help making it even more focused, say so and I’ll help you out.

xo

Eleanor.

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