Creatives in Focus
Hello friends, this week I had a “Creatives in Focus” interviewed Funmi Odedoyin, the founder of the Mentor Me Network. The Mentor Me Network is a platform that provides 1-to-1 mentoring, group mentoring and encouragement to young individuals. I spoke to Funmi about the importance of a mentor and how mentoring can impact your life and help you succeed in any aspect of your life. So, grab a cup of tea, a snack and let us get stuck in.
Vicky: Please tell me a little about yourself and your professional background.
Funmi: I am Funmi Odedoyin, I have a degree in psychology. I am passionate about people, the way they think and develop. Soon, I would like to venture into the mental health sector. I am the founder of the Mentor Me Network, I am also a youth pastor at my church and work with other ministries.
Vicky: Who is the Mentor Me Network for?
Funmi: The Mentor Me network is aimed at young, millennial, Christian women. However, we are not restricted to one group, our focus is to inspire everyone to be a mentor in their own capacity.
Vicky: What challenges do you face as the founder of the Mentor Me Network?
Funmi: Making sure that we a constantly putting out content and being consistent, especially on the blog and other social media platforms. Putting myself out there on social media was initially challenging.
Vicky: How do you manage your time?
Funmi: That is a good question!!! I am passionate about what I do. However, because I am involved in a lot of projects, I am careful to commit to things I have the time for. I prioritise and make sure I am organised. I also seek help when needed.
Vicky: Why did you decide to start the Mentor Me Network and what was the inspiration for The Mentor Me Network?
Funmi: I am passionate about people, especially young people and being part of the process of building their relationship with God. As a youth pastor, I was already working with young individuals. While at school, I experienced mentoring from a teacher who was passionate about my individual walk as a Christian which built me up. I felt God was calling me to start the Mentor Me Network. I began to see that many young people are crying out. It may not necessarily be through their words but also their behaviour. They are saying “Mentor me, I need help, I need someone to pay attention to me, I need guidance”. I felt led and had a responsibility to act and that is how the Mentor Me Network was born.
Vicky: Who is a mentor?
Funmi: A mentor is someone you can look up to. A mentor can offer guidance, see potential and perhaps offer strategies to success. A mentor can listen to you, advice, affirm you and pay attention to your needs realistically. In terms of age, a mentor does not have to be older. Mentoring is about sharing your story, everybody has been through experiences irrespective of age and through this, they can inspire others. Individuals are looking for someone to listen to them. As a mentor, I may not have a response for someone looking for advice but just the fact that I have listened lightens their burden. I believe a mentor is someone that sets a good example, they should practice what they preach. As a mentor, I still have things to learn and I can still learn from a mentee and others.
Vicky: What are the characteristics or skills that every mentor should have?
Funmi: A mentor should be honest and a good listener because mentoring is not always happy sailing. Mentors have the privilege to have access to the life of their mentee’s, they would need to be honest about mistakes or things that can be done better. Mentors should be confrontational but constructive. Mentors have a responsibility to guide at the same time they should be passive and not enforce themselves on the mentee. A mentor needs to be accessible. A mentor should have leadership abilities in the sense that they are able to have a vision for the lives of the mentee further than the mentee can see. To be able to do this they will need to lead. In addition, they should be trustworthy, they need to take confidentiality important because the mentee is entrusting their information and aspirations to them.
Vicky: How has mentoring impacted your life?
Funmi: After I had the inspiration for the Mentor Me Network, I remembered that during my first year of University my university pastor asked me about my purpose in life. He said to me, “They are a lot of young women that need to be mentored”. This was six years ago, that word has now come forth. I believe mentors see and communicate things to you that may not be relevant at the time but will help you in your journey. I am a product of mentoring in many ways because they were things I was able to avoid and that has helped me to get to where I am today. I believe the role of a mentor is to help to guide you from harm. The bible says, “In the midst of many advisers there is safety”. Where there is no advice there is the potential for harm.
Vicky: In this social media age, what is about the importance of having a mentor?
Funmi: I would say authenticity, with social media people are most likely going to portray the good. However, individual 1 to 1 mentoring will enable you to access real-life experiences and address individual issues. Sometimes looking for help online is not helpful because but someone has not put up information relating to your situation. Mentoring allows analysis of your situation and offers detailed guidance. Today everyone has a voice through social media, but we are constantly bombarded with so much irrelevant information. That is why a godly platform where you can speak on issues that pertain you is key. Mentoring is very important.
Vicky: At what age or stage in my life should I consider getting a mentor?
Funmi: You should consider getting a mentor soon as you have questions and realise you do not have someone to answer those questions or be vulnerable to. Sometimes you do not realise you need a mentor until you meet someone, and you recognise something in that individual’s life that you would like to emulate e.g. character. I have people that mentor me that do not know that I exist but things that they have said or shown constantly inspire me. Social media comes into play because you do not know who you are inspiring, so you must be careful what you put out on the internet. As soon as you want to learn and want to grow, that is an appropriate time to seek out a mentor.
Vicky: To succeed in any career, is it necessary to have a mentor?
Funmi: A mentor is beneficial, so you have nothing to lose. They are people that have done what you are doing before and reached great heights, so wisdom will call for you to ask for help. If you want to attain a certain position or be in a better position, a mentor is necessary.
Vicky: Can I have more than one mentor?
Funmi: Yes!!! You can have more than one mentor, just as we have different friends, some closer than others. For example, we have work and social friends. You can also have mentors for different areas of your life like career and relationships. You should not limit yourself.
“If you want to attain a certain position or be in a better position, a mentor is necessary”
Vicky: Does your mentor have to be of the same gender?
Funmi: No, I have a male mentor, but I think you must be careful because mentoring usually happens on a 1 to 1 basis. A mentor must deal with wisdom, grace and accountability. I think it is good to have a mentor of the same gender to enable you to share certain issues that you face with vulnerability and openness. Ultimately, you want to gain from your mentor’s life and character.
Vicky: I am really interested in getting a mentor, but I do not know how to locate one? Where do I start from?
Funmi: You can start with your family members and friends, someone that you aspire to be like. The same applies in the workplace, someone in a senior position to you. Firstly, try and identify your passions, this is the age where a lot of people are breaking into the creative industries. They are so many people who have succeeded in the industry you are in, so take advantage of that. Social media could also help, there is no harm in reaching out to them and asking for help. The worst thing that could happen is that you do not get a response. If you pursue knowledge you are more likely to go further than not doing anything. Be open to conversations through networking events or asking for recommendations from friends and colleagues. Personally, I believe prayer works, when you pray things according to God’s will for your life, provision is available supernaturally.
Vicky: What qualities should a good mentee have?
Funmi: A mentee should be willing to learn; many young people are very stuck in their ways. You should be willing to take some risks, for example, my university mentor pushed me to teach despite me not feeling comfortable with the process. Listening and being open about your struggles is essential. The more you share, the more your mentor will be able to do the same. Honesty, transparency and commitment are key. You need to be committed to the relationship, it will do you more good to be committed mentee.
Vicky: Is there a structured process to mentoring?
Funmi: It depends if it is a formal or informal mentoring environment. Expectations should be drawn up for both the mentor and mentee. There needs to be an open door for fluidity depending on progress and setbacks. You can speak about the purpose of the relationship so that the mentoring is relevant. There should also be a constant evaluation of the mentoring process.
Vicky: How do I build rapport with my mentor and sustain the process? Whose job is it to keep the mentor and mentee relationship going?
Funmi: Be honest and be true to yourself. Ask questions and actively show that you want to gain knowledge. Make sure you appreciate them for their time. Share with them the results of your application of the advice they have given you to encourage them. Be consistent in your communication with your mentor. The mentee is most responsible for building rapport, but the mentor has a different responsibility in responding swiftly and showing genuine care.
“Be honest and be true to yourself. Ask questions and actively show that you want to gain knowledge”
Vicky: Has it been easy or challenging finding individuals, mentors and staff who believe in and run with your vision?
Funmi: When I started, I had a strong belief that every provision I needed to make the Mentor Me Network would be a provided. It has not been difficult to find help. I have gotten a very good response and support from people recognising that this platform is very much needed.
Vicky: What keeps you motivated to move forward and grow the Mentor Me Network?
Funmi: Mentoring is a responsibility. I am big on writing down the vision, so I can go back and understand and remember my reasons for starting. I knew that this platform was not about me and being fearful will affect my responsibility in encouraging and equipping young people to fulfil their destinies. I always remember that I am accountable to God because he has given me this vision to run with.
Vicky: What is the next step for the Mentor Me Network?
Funmi: When I started, I did not fully know what the Mentor Me network was. Even now it is a work in progress. In the future, I will be starting small home groups for mentoring. I would also like to write a devotional in addition to having events throughout this year.
Connect with The Mentor Me Network by clicking the links below: