First, mentoring matches are out- and I hope you're enjoying your pairings as much as I enjoyed matching you! With that being said, if you havent reached out to me on Networks to be connected with the mentor of your dreams, there's still time! We're celebrating Mentor Month until the end of February, so don't wait, send me a message on Networks today!
This week, we'd like you to meet our Chief Talent Officer, Rachel Valdez. Rachel is the fearless leader of our company's "Dream Team" and is by far one of the most inspiring people I've ever met. She is an entrepreneur, educator and community builder. In 2009, her company was named the most favorite startup in the Seattle Times People's Pick Awards and she holds a Bachelor and Master degrees in Communications from the University of Washington. In 2017, Rachel was named a LWT Tech Fellow in Washington D.C. and is working on a mentoring app for the Tegan & Sara Foundation.
In her past lives, she has been in senior roles for Microsoft and T-Mobile and has also worked for startups in the Seattle area. She plays the piano and guitar and has recently formed a band! Rachel believes in mentorship and has been both a mentor and mentee throughout her career.
Q: Have you ever had a mentor or mentee that's made a significant impact on your career and why?
A: Yes! Michele Le Brasseur, Ph.D. is one of my long-running mentors (over 15 years now) who has helped me grow tremendously as a leader and educator. Michele was one of the first Native Americans who earned her Ph.D. in Instructional Design. We met at Microsoft where we were building an innovative online learning platform. One of the best pieces of confidence boosting she gave me was that I was enough and I had the skills, tools and perseverance to see my visions through and to take stock in my instincts. She would remind me to trust my gut.
Q: What makes a good mentor/ mentee?
A: From my experience, setting clear expectations and goals about what both parties want out of the relationship and writing it down helps both parties be successful. Committing to a time frame is also important so that you have the time scheduled. If you're the mentee, honoring the commitments you make in your meetings with your mentor to respect your time and their time. If you're the mentor, be present with your mentee, build trust and be respectful. Celebrate the wins and unpack the not yets with your mentor. Having a sense of humor also makes for good mentors and mentees. It's important to work with someone who truly believes in you and helps you believe more in yourself!
Q: You lead a pretty big (and successful!) team at PowerToFly- what advice do you have for other leaders who may be struggling to inspire their teams?
A: It's not about you, it's about them. Take the time to learn and care about the individuals who make up your team. Build the relationships by building trust, respect and having integrity. You don't need money to do these things! One of my favorite relationship books is, "The Five Love Languages" by Gary Chapman. Learn what your team love languages are and that will help increase communication efficacy. When people feel heard, seen, believed, valued, loved, etc., people feel inspired, more open and more creative.
One of my favorite connection points with my team is what we call TGIIF (Thank Goodness It's Inspiration Friday!). We take time to hear what inspired the team members that week, what their weekend plans are and anything else they want to share. These casual conversations increase the positivity on our team and we end the week on a strong note. I suggest trying it out with your team!
Q: You've attended a lot of our live PowerToFly events recently, what's been your favorite moment thus far?
A: It's meeting the people (talents and clients)! Everytime! I am energized by hearing our talents tell me about how our company has impacted their lives in such a positive way and it's truly heartfelt. I am energized by our client's faces lighting up with enthusiasm for the amazing talent that we've brought together for their events. And I'm always inspired when I hear about people finding their dream job through PowerToFly!
Q: It seems like you love to travel! How has working remotely changed your life?
A: Yes, I do love to travel. Outside of owning my business, this is the first remote job that I've had and I LOVE working remotely! I no longer spend 4 hours of my day commuting into the city so my family sees me more! The flexibility in my schedule allows me to go to the gym on a regular basis so my health has greatly improved!
Q: What tips do you have for other women looking to start a remote career?
A: Communication is #1 when you're working remotely. Use video conferencing tools as much as you can as communication is 99% non-verbal.
Establish clear goals with your manager. Set your working office hours and communicate it with the team.
It's important to create a routine for yourself, like you would in a work site office. Be sure to take breaks to eat, move your body and rest your eyes from the screen. I use my fitbit to track my steps. If I have low steps and it's half way through the day, I schedule myself to get outside, even for 10-15 minutes and walk around my neighborhood with my dogs. It's important to take good care of yourself as it will help you feel good about your work.
If you're an extrovert, you may find it helpful to work in a shared work space or your local friendly coffee shop from time to time to help you feel connected with people.
Q: What's the best piece of advice you've ever been given throughout your career?
A: Listen more, talk less.
Q: What's the best piece of advice you've ever given someone throughout their career?
A: Do not give up on your dreams especially when you can't see what's around the corner. Trust that the Universe has your back and is conspiring for your highest good.
Q: What motivates you to come to work every day?
A: I am a highly driven, energetic person who is motivated and passionate to end gender disparity for women, non-binary and gender non-conforming people around the world.
Q: Why do you love networking on PowerToFly?
A: Networking on our PowerToFly platform is a great way to get the help that you need to take your career to the next level.