I recently stumbled upon Stacy Cassio's Pink Mentor Network (PMN) in Charlotte, North Carolina. PMN is mentorship gone big! It is evidence that one determined woman's quest for a mentor can lead to a movement and that the desire for mentorship is considerable. Beyond offering engaging content in group settings, this growing mentorship community provides a diverse network from which members can share their perspective and from which more intimate mentorships organically evolve.
In early March, I had the pleasure of speaking to Ms. Cassio to learn more about the PMN and the impetus for its creation. The following discussion is informed from this personal communication and a variety of documents available through Ms. Cassio's websites, listed below.
Ms. Cassio is a remarkable young woman whose journey in creating PMN illustrates the value of "grit," a characteristic described in the September 2019 FAANP Forum (Goolsby, 2019). Her journey began when she became the first and only female lead on the engineering team at the manufacturing company in which she worked. She knew the value of having a mentor from previous experiences. She sought an external female mentor, but found it more difficult than anticipated. In 2017, recognizing that other women likely shared her need for mentorship, she devised a plan to organize "mentor dinners" through which she and others would benefit. Believing successful female leaders would commit to a one-time event where they could share information with a group of like-minded mentees, Ms. Cassio individually invited female leaders from varied settings and roles to share their wisdom over dinner with Ms. Cassio and other invitees. In this way, Ms. Cassio was able to obtain one-time mentorship and the invited mentor was given a small audience. Through word of mouth, growth in attendance led to the emergence of an expansive mentor-mentee network based on the belief that everyone has something to offer others.
In 2018, Ms. Cassio developed PMN as a membership model business. It continues to grow and holds several events each month — including signature events, sometimes attended by dozens of women, and a newer, small-group Pop-Up Mentor (PUM) Model. Leaders from a wide range of positions and industries continue to willingly share lessons learned through their journey, with Ms. Cassio describing this form of mentorship as learning from another's unfiltered experience. Ms. Cassio's programming serves more than 200 mentors and 4,500 women and includes sponsorships from Charlotte companies, which engage Ms. Cassio to bring mentorship to their settings. This year, Ms. Cassio launched a digital platform to further extend the reach of her model and community. Her mentor community reminds me of a "tribe," individuals connected to one another, a leader and an idea, as defined by Seth Godin and described in an earlier FAANP Forum column.1
Ms. Cassio developed the PUM Model to guide the network activities and provide a shared language. It identifies six types of mentors needed in varied situations. Members use the model to consider the type of guidance from which they would benefit so as to purposefully seek relevant mentorship. It also encourages members to identify knowledge they share with others in each of these six categories. In this way, prospective mentees and mentors are less likely to miss opportunities when they are prepared to engage in brief or extended discussions as the need presents.
Early Stage: Provide guidance related to a new job or setting; helping to be successful when starting out.
Leader: Support leadership development regarding skills and traits such as communication styles, strategic planning, entrepreneurship, courageousness; identification of personal strengths and uniqueness.
Industry Pioneer: Share knowledge beyond foundation, based on mentor’s experience as trend-setting, having navigated innovative opportunities; creative processes.
Early Adopter: Lend understanding of how to innovate within an area or industry; consider what lies ahead and available resources.
Connector: Help to make connections beyond an immediate setting (or within a larger one); opening doors and introducing the mentee into a broader network.
Advocate: Endorse and advise based on direct experience with and confidence in the mentee; encouraging at times of self-doubt.
As the number of nurse practitioners (NPs) grows, I hope you will join me in encouraging and/or supporting varied types of mentorships and mentor networks in our communities. I encourage you to learn more about the PMN and the PUM Model. If you are in the Charlotte area, you should check it out!
In the next FAANP Forum issue, I will share some other examples of smaller-scale mentorships. As always, I welcome feedback and invite others to contribute to this column.
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