Imagine if The Today Show's Hoda Kotb was your mentor. Or Angela Duckworth, who introduced the concept of grit to the popular parlance. Or Air Force pilot-turned-surgeon Cholene Espinoza. How about triple-threat astronaut, chemist and physician Anna Fisher?
Or, better yet, how about all of the above—and more?
That's the premise behind our latest book rec, The Epic Mentor Guide by Illana Raia, which features 180 incredible women who are the top talents in their fields. For the next generation of movers and shakers—not to mention would-be career pivoters—it's an indispensable resource to inspire and spark passion, action and purpose. "For every girl building a bold, brave future," touts Reshma Saujani, founder of Girls Who Code and former VB Edit feature, on the cover, "this is the book you need."
But The Epic Mentor Guide is just a start. Through Être, the mentorship platform for girls Raia founded in 2016, she offers multiple channels of support—and a community—to young women who are figuring out who they want to be (hence its curious moniker, which means “to be” in French). There are school clubs, Lunch & Learns at major corporations, such as Spotify and Morgan Stanley, even Être TED-Ed. If Raia is able to anticipate what exactly these future leaders need now, it's because, well, her audience is her brain trust too—Être's board consists entirely of middle- and high school-aged girls.
The initial inspiration, in fact, stems from her own daughter. The former corporate lawyer and guest lecturer at Columbia University realized her daughter didn’t fully grasp what she did all day. She understood that her mom was accomplished, but the ins and outs of her career were somewhat of a mystery. How, then, could a girl know what “to be” as she grew into herself and her future career, if she wasn’t aware of the nuts and bolts of how to make it happen?
By connecting these girls to CEOs, surgeons, lawyers, entrepreneurs, authors, Olympians—the list goes on—Être is helping them gain confidence with each hand that’s raised and every question that’s answered. "You’re building a future," as Raia writes in the intro. "We’re building a pipeline."
Below, a few excerpts from the book, including from our own Veronica Miele Beard.
Veronica Miele Beard, left, and Illana Raia at the book party at VB Madison
To face my impostor syndrome head-on, I started keeping a tally of all the things I had accomplished that once felt so impossible to me. I’d write them down in the Notes section of my phone or in a journal. Success is built on baby steps, not a swell of work or lineup of accomplishments that come in all at once. I think logging those baby steps and taking pride in them is very important. —Ali Kriegsman, Co-Founder and COO of Bulletin
Your career will take on a life of its own, and it’s yours. Life happens. Live your life—or your bosses, increased responsibilities, and what seems really important at the time will live it for you. Be true to yourself. Own your life. Own your worth. — Beth O’Connell, Former Executive Producer, NBC News; Former Editor-In-Chief, UBS Client Strategy Office, and Être Advisor
Pick a company to work for whose purpose makes your heart beat stronger every day. Bring your whole self to work because your whole self is your special power. To do that, on a sustainable basis, you have to tend to your whole self, especially your mind. That way, you are improving what makes you special every day. — CeCe Morken, CEO of Headspace
Don’t say no to yourself. It’s never too late to pursue your passion. As Billy Mills, American Indian Olympian, said: Every passion has its destiny. Embrace the struggle. Enjoy the level you’re at. Recognize that failures are inevitable. Failure is a sign that your aim is not too low. — Cholene Espinoza, US Air Force Pilot and OB/GYN Surgeon
Listen to that quiet but persistent voice in your head asking "what if?" What if I quit this job and moved? What if I told my boss I want to try something new? What if I didn’t question myself?Becoming a film director was never in my plans. And yet it’s the perfect job for me. I couldn’t know that when I was 18 or even 25. I had to keep listening to my gut about each next career step. Each job brought me closer to my dream job and now I can’t imagine doing anything else. Except maybe making furniture. What if? — Dawn Porter, Award-Winning Film Director, Trilogy Films
Hard work and ambition aren’t enough. You have to be strategic, intentional, and take help from others. — Shellye Archambeau, CEO, Silicon Valley Leader, Board Member, and Author of Unapologetically Ambitious
My mindset is "supermodel CEO." Never apologize for wanting to be all. Your job/career (no matter what it is, doctor, teacher, social worker...) is your runway for fashion and your individual look! You get one shot at this first impression. I always think about Kelly McGillis in Top Gun when she walked down the aisle in the pencil skirt and bomber jacket, blonde hair blowing. She turned around and completely disarmed the room! How you walk through the door is critical! Wear an outfit that drives all attention to your face and complement with your hair and makeup so you look and feel legit and confident. If you wear what makes you feel gorgeous, you’ll slay dragons! — Veronica Miele Beard, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Veronica Beard