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One Mentor Circle At A Time



Eldor: Mentor circles are a huge part of OKREAL; why is mentorship such a critical part of career (and human) growth?

Fraser: I used to think having a mentor meant identifying a wise and important person who you met with on a regular basis to receive advice. What I found as I developed OKREAL was that the most helpful mentors were those at a similar stage to me, especially those who were somewhere in between friend and colleague. I wanted to recreate that experience of peer-to-peer mentoring for the OKREAL community, and started running mentor circles about a year and a half ago. We have since held them every weekend in New York, and have also held circles in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New Zealand. Amy Aniobi echoed this sentiment in a recent panel, which we hosted with her and Yvonne Orji: “Network across, not up. I see people spending a lot of time talking to people who are more powerful than them asking, 'Can you feed me?' And that person being like, 'What are you talking about?' What you should be doing is talking to your peers. The person sitting next to you. Your best friend. Spend all that energy making friends, being genuine, and being nice. That will go further than an email to some producer.”

Eldor: It’s the #MeToo era and we’re not only living in it, we’re defining it and rising above it. How has your own experience in the corporate world helped fuel your desire to build a female-centric brand, helping women define their version of success?

Fraser: I think most (if not all) women experience sexism far prior to a work environment and are taught to endure it—starting from a boy snapping your bra straps on the playground and everyone saying “boys will be boys,” and to not “overreact.” That kind of systemic sexism is dangerous because it instills that “it’s just the way things are.” We are trained to accept it. This gives us a huge disadvantage in dealing with overt sexual harassment later on in life. Like most women, I have endured varying forms and degrees of sexual harassment, and for the most part have brushed it off as something that women just deal with. The fact that women are now speaking out and saying “this is not okay” is long overdue. After I recently went through a personal trauma involving my ex-husband where I could have kept quiet, I instead spoke out about what had happened to me. It is frightening to experience how the actions of others can have a huge impact on the trajectory of your life, and using your voice is a way of reclaiming your power. Using your voice allows you to say: this is something that happened to me, but it is not who I am.

— Karin Eldor
First appeared on Forbes