Janice Omadeke of The Mentor Method
Like many young entrepreneurs, Janice Omadeke's business started because of her own experiences. Smart, driven and ready to take on the world, the young graphic designer wanted to find a mentor that could help guide her as she entered the workforce. "I knew finding a mentor was important for my career development, so I set out to find one at my first job out of college."
The process was long and awkward. Networking events and in-office programs were impersonal and disappointing. As a young woman of color, she found it difficult to find a mentor that was the right fit for her. Too often, corporate mentoring programs matched her up with people based on her gender, her race or her current job title, but didn't factor her personality or career goals into the mix. "They would match me with the only other women or black person or graphic designer," she says. "That was it."
Omadeke realized that if she was having these issues, other young professionals like her were also going through the same challenges. "Finding a mentor should be rewarding from the start."
Omadeke believes that a good mentor-mentee relationship is built on much more than being in the same industry. It's also important to find someone with a complementary personality who may share less tangible similarities.
"You can't just wait for someone to help you. You have to help yourself." - Janice Omadeke, Founder & CEO of The Mentor Method
So she created The Mentor Method — a mentor-matching service for millennial career women that uses a patent-pending personality profile assessment where algorithmic compatibility matches people. It's like Match.com for mentors and mentees.
In addition to matchmaking, The Mentor Method includes a four-month-long program that comes with a toolkit to helps mentees get the most out of their relationship with their mentor.
Omadeke came up with the idea for The Mentor Method at the end of 2015 but didn't officially launch until early 2016. She was previously a creative design manager at PricewaterhouseCoopers and a lead graphic designer at BAE Systems.
The company originally was geared toward selling mentor services to mentees, but Omadeke flipped the business model to sell diversity services to larger companies because it enabled her company to reach more people and have more of an impact. It also provides a meaningful solution for tech companies looking for proven ways to diversify their workforce. Current clients include consulting firm Deloitte and Fannie Mae.
She said that The Mentor Method already has led to promotions, new jobs, entrepreneurial ventures and increased confidence. One of her favorite success stories is Mia, a bar manager at TGIF and was teaching herself graphic design on the side. When looking for a job, she got numerous rejection letters from companies because she lacked a 4-year degree. Her mentor helped her get a paying graphic design internship which is now a full-time position.
Omadeke says her big moment came when she applied for MIT's Global Entrepreneurship Bootcamp in 2016 – a long shot for her 1-month-old company. At the time, The Mentor Method was a landing page and "a lot of hope." Omadeke was one of only 74 founders chosen from a field of more than 600 applicants and was flown to Seoul, South Korea for the intense, week-long program.
"I realized, this is what I was meant to do. Something is happening that's more than me."
For the past two years, she ran The Mentor Method while working a full-time job but finally took the leap three months ago to do it full time. "I had to make a choice. It's the best decision I've made," she says, determined now more than ever before. She also mentions that she now has to make it work because she has no safety net.
Xina Eiland of X+ PR
Omadeke knows the power of a good mentor. She credits her mentor Xina Eiland, President & CEO at X+PR, Co-Host of Get Found Get Funded Podcast and recently named one of SheaMoisture's Community Commerce Fellows, with helping her accomplish her goals. Eiland says she has worked with her mentee on three main values including, transparency, gratitude, and dedication. Eiland feels it's important to be transparent in communication, "let people know who you are upfront through honest, open and direct conversations."
"Stay the course no matter how the circumstances may change in life," says Eiland.
"Being a failure in something is better than being a loser. Losers give up and throw in the towel. People who have failures will eventually succeed."-Xina Eiland, President & CEO of X+PR
Eiland says she's watched with pride as her mentee has taken her part-time idea to a full-time business.
Omadeke's career success is a world away from the life her parents came from. Originally from the DRC Congo, her parents grew up in absolute poverty and came to the United States with three children, barely knowing any English, to provide their children with a better life than the one they had left behind. She is the first entrepreneur in her family. "I have no excuse not to push myself. How could I not try when they put everything on the line for us?"
One of Omadeke's ultimate goals for The Mentor Method is to help create inclusive workplace cultures by mentoring diverse talent.
"If we want to see more minorities in leadership positions, we have to change the way we provide opportunities to future leaders," Omadeke says. "We wanted to create a world where minorities and women in tech are viewed as assets, not a way to check a box."
Omadeke is driven by her own experience. "I know what it feels like when you just need someone to crack the door open for you slightly. Every day, I feel I can help underrepresented professionals who don't feel they have a place in their company."
Eiland believes Omadeke will be able to make The Mentor Method into one of the premiere agencies that will help Fortune 500 companies solve its diversity and inclusion challenges.
"I remind her that she has the grit and guts it takes to be an entrepreneur."
Do you have a mentor? If not, what are some of your struggles with finding one? Let us know in the comments.
About SheaMoisture Community Commerce
This post was created in partnership with SheaMoisture around its focus on Community Commerce, a purpose-driven business model that creates opportunities for sustainable social and economic empowerment throughout its supply chain and communities in the United States and Africa.
Community Commerce focuses on entrepreneurship, women’s empowerment, education and wellness. It’s bigger than beauty. It’s about investing in local and global communities, striving to eliminate generational poverty and empowering women. A portion of proceeds from select SheaMoisture Community Commerce collections are invested in its Shea butter, coconut and African Black Soap cooperatives in Ghana and others that supply their handcrafted natural ingredients.
In the United States, their women’s empowerment programs focus on entrepreneurship and education, including fellowships to attend the Dartmouth College Tuck School of Business Minority program and Babson College's summer entrepreneurship program. Most recently, through the $100,000,000 New Voices Fund -- created to invest in women of color entrepreneurs to help them build sustainable businesses -- SheaMoisture is working to transform the landscape of business and what it means to live a more beautiful life.