January 17, 2023

Mentee & Mentor Experience: Daniela & Pavla

Mentoring Daniela Sedlonova (a professional mental coach and a Google certified trainer) seemed a challenge at first to her mentor Pavla Grigarova (a regional marketing lead at Google). But during their chemistry session, they both discovered it was a mentoring match made in heaven. Read about how mentoring has contributed to both of the ladies’ careers. 

What inspired you to join the mentoring program? 

Daniela: I believe that you can get quite far by yourself, but you can get much further with the support from someone else. I participated in another mentoring program some years ago, which helped me tremendously, and every time I am facing a new professional challenge, I use mentoring as a way to help me overcome it. 

Pavla: I can only agree with Daniela as I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for mentoring. Each time I have a mentor or a coach, it always helps me progress much faster. So, I am very grateful for this opportunity and also glad that I can now pay it forward. 

What were your expectations prior to joining the program? 

D: As a mental coach and a Google certified trainer, I wanted to focus on PR & marketing as it is a new topic for me. I was also looking for another perspective since we tend to get absorbed in our own bubble and miss out on some alternative points of view.

Have they been met/changed since being matched?

D: I was also looking for someone who would be a bit pushy but also kind and loving, and that is exactly what I got - even more.

I feel like the whole universe came together to give me my mentor, so I am extremely grateful for being matched with Pavla. 

P: When I saw Daniela’s profile, I was very humble because how do you mentor a professional coach? However, at our first meeting, I realized that our mentoring will be mostly about marketing and finding ways to reach Daniela’s objectives. 

D: I remember how Pavla suggested in the early stages of the program to use a coaching technique - a scale 0-10 where zero is your starting point and 10 the desired outcome. It really pushed me and I was pleasantly surprised that Pavla wasn’t afraid to use a coaching method. 

Hasn’t she had said that we would be using the working document from the start, I probably wouldn't have done it. It is to my mentor's credit that the working document is all filled in. It holds me accountable and helps me stick to the timelines we laid out at the start. 

What have you learned from your mentee? 

P: Something I admire about Daniela is her proactiveness - after every meeting, she goes and does what we discussed. She is unafraid to try new things and I can see how she puts them into practice almost right away. This inspires me to be well prepared for every session and shows that it is the small steps you can take and learn from the most effectively. 

D: Pavla is amazing in this because I usually leave the meeting saying ‘yes - I can do this’, only to find out later how difficult it is. I usually spend a lot of time on the preparation part because I want to do a good job. But I never feel like I am 100% ready, so I adopted the approach - better done than perfect! Once Pavla made me go and ask my clients about what they want. I realize it is not rocket science but it pushed me well outside my comfort zone and it had fantastic results. 

What do you cover in your mentoring sessions? 

D: Usually, I have loads of ideas and Pavla sets me on the right track. She helps me narrow down my focus and brings me back to the topic in a very natural and loving way. We keep our sessions strictly to one hour, so I try to make the most out of my mentor’s time. I think Pavla has the skills that I lack. She is a great listener and somehow magically manages to meet all of my needs and wishes. 

P: We usually start with looking back at the past two weeks and go over the homework. I try to add some structure to Daniela’s thinking, then we always revisit our timeline and decide what to do next. I also share some useful resources and ensure she fills in the working doc. 

The biggest contribution of mentoring to my career 

P: The question is what mentoring hasn’t helped me with in my career. When I am facing a big decision, such as a career change or taking on a new project, it is great to have someone to discuss it with who provides a new perspective and an informed judgment.

D: When faced with a big decision, it is great to first work with a coach to help you figure out what it is that you want to achieve and then continue with the mentoring. I know Femme Palette offers this through the Coaching & Mentoring Program which is great. As I have coached myself on the goals, I knew exactly what I wanted and I could jump straight into mentoring. I am sure I wouldn’t be progressing this fast if it wasn’t for my mentor. 

My favorite mentoring moment

P: It was when Daniela wanted to discuss moving abroad and how it would affect her career. She said ‘I would be able to compete with the prices there because I come from eastern Europe’. I looked at her and she immediately realized what she just said.

Sometimes, you don’t need to hear any advice at all, just saying things out loud can help you tremendously! 

D: Pavla is a great advocate for women and seeing how much she believes in me never fails to motivate me.  

My recommendation to other mentors & mentees?

P: Active listening is key, so first listen, then ask. Then give alternatives but make sure you let the mentee speak.

Every mentee has an opinion and as they have spent a lot of time thinking about the issue, you as a mentor should give them space to present it. And always be there for the mentee. 

D: Be open and honest. Show up to all the mentoring sessions as you are and make it your priority, if possible. I really value Pavla’s time, so I try to prepare well and show commitment. 

Anything else you would like to add? 

P: Daniela knew exactly what she wanted from mentoring, but it is also ok not to know.

I had mentees in the past who were unsure about their goals but they got clearer as we went through the mentoring journey. So don’t let the fear of unclear goals stop you and just sign up!

D: If I were to describe the mentoring in one word, it would be ‘grateful’. So, go with your gut feeling and if you believe your mentor is the right match for you, go for it! The chemistry between you two is super important, so trust your instincts. Mentoring is a great gift for you. 

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