With the Radical Mentorship Golf Tournament happening today, we wanted to take some time to sit down with BELAY Co-founder and CEO, Shannon Miles, to get a better understanding of why mentoring has always played such a big role for her, both professionally and personally.
Importance of Mentorship in Business
We’ve lost count of how many times you, Bryan and BELAY have sponsored or participated in a mentoring event. When you commit to mentorship, what are your goals?
“Simply put: It’s life change. I want to challenge my mentees that they don’t have to settle – ever. They can change their lives in order to live life to the fullest and achieve more than they ever thought possible. I want to expand their horizons, just as my mentors have done for me. Bryan and I have always sought out people who are ahead of us in their marriages, families, businesses, and more so we could learn what is possible.”
“I strive to be that person – just a little ahead of my mentees – to inspire them to change.”
Thus far, what have you seen as the greatest professional impacts from both you and Bryan’s mentorships?
“The impact of our mentoring ranges for each participant, of course, but for our mentees, we’ve seen one end of the spectrum of opening their eyes to new perspectives on life and business. And the other end of the spectrum is total life change. One of my mentees has said on many occasions that Balance Mentoring (the mentorship program that I started a few years ago) changed the trajectory of her life, and therefore, that of her family.”
“Many of Bryan’s mentees have started businesses while maintaining strong relationships with their families. After mentoring for over five years, we are still seeing the long-term impact of mentoring – and that has been one of our greatest joys.”
It’s amazing because while the focus is obviously on helping affect life change for the mentees, the bonus is that the mentors also stand to gain so much, too. How do you think these opportunities have impacted you personally?
“For both Bryan and I, mentoring makes us better people. Inevitably, when we mentor, we are faced with challenges that come out of nowhere. For instance, my Balance Mentoring group ran over the course of 2016. In January 2016, my dad passed away unexpectedly and my mom had a massive heart attack. They had not been married since I was 4, so these two life-altering events happening within a week of each other and – understandably – shook me to my core.”
“A week later, I had to mentor and share all of my knowledge and wisdom with the women. They were coming to me for strength and inspiration – and I didn’t feel like I had it to give. But it’s in those moments when I have to remind myself that there is strength in vulnerability. No one benefits from someone who appears to have it all together, even when they don’t.”
The right choice isn’t always the easy choice – but honesty and vulnerability facilitate a connection that would be otherwise impossible. You turned tragedy into triumph. And how does that approach impact your family?
“I love the fact that our children, Rainey, 12, and Harper, 10, see us mentoring. We are modeling for them that this life is not about us; it’s about how you can help and serve others. It is about using what God has blessed you with and leveraging it for other people. They also see the time commitment it takes, which shows them that the important things in life take hard work and investment.”
“We are intentional to connect the dots for them – the time we are investing in the mentees impacts the mentee, their employees, their children. It’s a ripple effect.”
With both you and Bryan so deeply entrenched in mentoring, you must share ‘insider’ tricks of the trade. How have some of Bryan’s mentoring principles have inspired you – and how have you applied them in your own mentoring?
“The Radical Mentoring model works. I saw the transformation that took place in Bryan’s life as a result of going through the program, so when it was time for me to create Balance Mentoring, I followed a similar structure. The women apply to be in the group, sign a covenant, and give me permission to speak into their lives. We meet for three hours a month – during the business day but instead of in the evening. The women read one book a month and provide a net out. We also take two retreats – one in the spring and one in the fall. And just like Radical Mentoring, I pay for everything.”
“I do, however, make one key distinction with my mentoring as I don’t have the women memorize scripture. I am upfront with the women that I’m a Christian and my faith impacts how I lead. They need to be comfortable with us praying in the meetings and weaving our faith throughout our discussions; however, this is not a women’s Bible study. There are plenty of those – but very few mentoring programs for female business owners.”
“I also keep my groups small – 4 to 6 women – in order to go relationally deep, not wide.”
And lastly, how do you apply experiences and inspirations from mentoring to BELAY?
“Interestingly, I actually apply more principles from BELAY to Balance Mentoring more so than the other way around. From icebreakers, to books, to business concepts, I leverage my BELAY experience to pour into my mentees. Being a CEO of a fast-growing company is the best business school I could ever attend, so I leverage those experiences in Balance.”
“I’ve always believed that if you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room so I often bring other professional colleagues to be guest speakers at the Balance meetings. I don’t always have all the answers, but I know some really smart people who do!”
We love that BELAY and our CEOs, Bryan and Shannon Miles, have such passion for mentoring. Today, you’ll find them supporting Radical Mentorship’s Golf Tournament at White Columns Country Club.
Let us know in the comments below how mentorship has improved your life or business.