Emanuela Fato *** AM I ENOUGH? ***

Am I enough? This was the first question that came to her mind when asked to be a mentor. 

Emanuela is a career coach, works for a non-profit, and lectures at the university when she is not the president of her Toastmasters club in Turin, Italy. So, it is fair to say that guidance and mentoring are near her daily life, yet she had doubts when first taking on a mentee. She had been with Toastmasters for over two years. Was she ready?

She began her Toastmasters journey in America, where she spent a year “sitting in the corner,” it was not until she returned to Italy that she took her first mentor, “He was very different to me, but I knew he had strengths that could help me.” He was the club president, and while she describes herself as high-energy, she chose someone who could give her some structure to direct her energy.

She was unsure when her club approached her to be a mentor. Rather quickly, self-realization came to her: They chose her not because they did not have a choice but because they did. They were sure they needed something and knew that Emanuela was the right person, even if she did not. “I love growth and have seen the power of mentoring with my experiences.” She put those two drivers together to be the best she could be.

*** AM I ENOUGH? ***

One of the most crucial choices was not to give up being a mentee; she continues to get support from her mentors. She describes the mentoring process as a circle, circulating energy, “From both my mentor and my mentees, I got precious insights about myself, as feedback makes the difference. I can express different but complementary sides of myself as I can express doubts and weaknesses with my mentor and challenge myself to be supportive and helpful to my mentees. This is why I consider it a circle.” She points out that her mentor is from outside her club, making the relationship with her mentees easier.

Emanuela has set up a WhatsApp group with her four mentees; she calls these groups’ Success Teams’, where one mentor works with multiple mentees, giving them regular voice messages to help them along their way and scheduling separate time each week for a short one-to-one with each. “Everyone has different time needs, maybe five minutes a week, maybe an hour a month, and this needs to be set up at the beginning of the mentoring relationship.” She also stresses that this time needs to be on your schedule, “if it isn’t on your schedule, it doesn’t exist.”

*** AM I ENOUGH? ***

I asked her what she would do differently if she had the chance to return and start again, “I wouldn’t have lost that first year!” she also realized that each mentee needs to be treated holistically. People are not just who they are at Toastmasters and should be treated 360 degrees. Sometimes, something outside the club is holding them back, and you need to understand that. A mentor must be humble, “You are not a mentor because you know everything! You know something, and that is enough.”

Mentoring is one of the most essential things that Toastmasters offers. I asked Emanuela if she should be assigned a dedicated officer role in every club. “It is part of the VPE’s role, but VPEs have so much to do that they should have someone, maybe an assistant to the VPE, so they are coordinated.” Toastmasters are the perfect environment for mentoring. It attracts people from all walks of life and professions. She recognizes that her professional mentors have given her so much in her professional career as she hopes to provide for the people she coaches and teaches. It helps you to set goals and have clear steps to get there. Whether it be in leadership or public speaking, having someone to support you is powerful and can change the direction of your life.

*** AM I ENOUGH? ***

I love growth and have seen the power of mentoring with my experiences.

My mentor and my mentees gave me precious insights about myself.

Toastmasters is the perfect environment for mentoring; it attracts people from all walks of life and professions.

Everyone has different time needs: five minutes a week, an hour a month. I have a WhatsApp group named “SUCCESS GROUP” and send regular voice messages.

Thank you, Emanuela, for sharing your insights into Mentoring with us. David O’Regan, VPPR Toastmasters Thessaloniki