The Search for Mentors

By LIZ MARCHI

People who know me know that I can be absolutely annoying about feminism.  The subtle and not so subtle differences in the way men and women are treated as children and in the workplace have been with me since my all sisters upbringing and my job in banking in the 1970’s.

At 60, Frontier Fund 2 may be my last startup.  As I look back on my career journey, I look at the role mentors played in guiding my choices in life and work.  What’s a mentor?  For me, it was someone whom I admired and wanted to emulate in my own life.  Someone that I wanted to model myself after, who reflected the values that resonated with me and who lived a life that was appealing to me.  The “dictionary” definition is short: friend, coach, and teacher.

I had phenomenal female mentors as a women’s college graduate.  They were first movers in their fields, television, publishing and finance.  But they sacrificed a lot.  Few married, they worked twice as hard as the men and they are retiring childless.  I wanted what they had, but I didn’t want to live like they did I always wanted children.

But in the world of work, men have played an enormous mentorship role in my life because I wanted jobs they had.  That has continued to this day.  My husband Jon is a great mentor for me.  He grew up with super strong smart sisters and a super independent, smart and strong mother.  He always looks for who can deliver on the task and can work in the team.  The chairmen for Frontier Fund’s 1 and 2 have been wonderful mentors for me.  I couldn’t possibly have attempted to do this work without their support and teaching.

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It’ hasn’t been easy, there have been some hard lessons and some painful communication struggles.  I know a lot of “lean in” women.  But in our rooms, when it’s just us, we often struggle with “they didn’t hear me.”  There is a lot of evolution yet to take place in the world of work.  My eggs go to the basket of Mom’s who are raising boys differently.  When boys are raised to compete and be thoughtful and compassionate, maybe, just maybe, work will be different for my children and grandchildren.

I am writing about aging for Flathead Living.  This is a quest to age vibrantly and to accept and cherish this time in life.  It’s a search for mentors.

Liz Marchi

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Liz Marchi lives on a ranch in Polson, Montana  with her husband Jon. She is the Fund Coordinator for the Frontier Angel Fund and spends a lot of time thinking and learning about entrepreneurs, the economy and Montana’s unique place in the world. She has three daughters and a stepson and daughter and a grandchild.  She graduated from Hollins College and is entering the final quarter of life…unless we go into overtime.