Since it is the holidays, which is all about giving and gratitude, I thought the topic of mentoring would  be well timed.  I am incredibly grateful to have made it this far in my personal and professional life.  When I reflect on my journey, mentoring is right at the top of what has been key along the way.  I had the chance to tape a radio interview with my mentor and first boss, Michael Mitchell last week.  Michael is the retired founder of GreenLight Management and served as head of HR for Swiss Bank Corporation, Tiffany & Co., and Bergdorf Goodman.  He paved the way for me to create, design, and develop my own leadership and human resources career, while being instrumental in many components of my personal path as well.

Today’s Leader Can Be Vulnerable and Open

Our radio interview, hosted by Susan Rocco on WWDB 860 AM and Women To Watch™, focuses on today’s leader, the role of a mentor, and being vulnerable and open.  I also share candidly about my 20 year struggle with deep, clinically diagnosed depression.  This is the first time I have publicly talked about this illness, how it impacted my career, and how it now forms the basis of the strategic advisor, executive coach, partner, and leader I want to be.  Michael was my boss and mentor during the onset of this illness.

I am grateful that Michael was the first of a number of mentors I have been lucky to have through my life and career.  My journey to founding East Tenth Group, and becoming who I am today, is threaded with successes, failures, and extreme personal challenges.  Without mentors along the way, I’m not sure how it would have all turned out.

So What About Mentorship?

Michael did a terrific job framing 3 key elements for great mentorship as well as leadership.  Some of these he did while mentoring me, others he learned from mentoring me.  If you are a mentor, here’s what you can do:

  1. Listen.  Really listen and not trying to solve anything.
  2. Engage.  “I trust you, I love you, I have your back”.  Unconditionally.
  3. Support.  The mentee’s actions, their path and not direct it.

I Am Not Alone

Pamela Kruger’s article from Fast Company, takes us through Paul Wieand’s own leadership journey.  Paul went from youngest CEO of a bank to founder of the center for Advanced Emotional Intelligence.  His story reminds me of my own.  Incredible successes, yet wrought with tough failures and subsequent depression.  It tells me that I am not alone.  Paul’s AEI center is committed to whole-hearted leadership and the work I do is the same.  With the support of mentors, coaches, great team members, and our friends and colleagues, whole-hearted leadership is possible.  We just need to open ourselves up to the full journey that gets us there.

I hope you take the time to listen to the radio interview and form your own thoughts around this topic.   We reference The Athena Doctrine in our interview, which I invite you to read and of course, we talk about vulnerability, thanks to Dr. Brené Brown’s work.  Finally, there are many, many resources to support you or your loved ones with depression – I encourage you to reach out for help.  I will continue to remain grateful for all that have helped me along my path.  Wishing you a beautiful holiday season.


As the CEO & Founder of East Tenth Group, Michelle leverages 25 years of business and experience as a strategic advisor and executive coach to help drive actionable people solutions and provide practical insights on business strategy to senior leaders. she and her team and are fiercely committed to the development and growth of people and companies because we believe that when people thrive, business thrives.

Learn More About Michelle