Get to know our Chief Growth Officer in this edition of Mentorship Amplified, our new series of mentors and mentees telling their mentorship stories in their own words.
Tell us about your background.
My name is Joseph Kopser. I’m the Chief Growth Officer at The Mentor Method. I'm a serial entrepreneur. I've spent the last 10 or so years in the private sector, helping to build companies. I spent 20 years in the United States Army leading and growing teams.
Through all of that time, I've been applying those lessons of leadership, and mentorship to be able to not only help teams work at their best level but also along the way to be able to help people be their best to be able to achieve their goals and aspirations.
What does mentorship mean to you?
Mentorship is a two-way relationship between someone with experience that has the time to share and invest in another person. Oftentimes, it's somebody older, when was someone younger that we call either a mentor or a mentee or protege. But sometimes it could be somebody who is the same age, but they've had a job or an experience that they want to share.
It's a two-way street and enables somebody to be able to have a safe place to be able to ask questions, sometimes very dumb questions, or things they're insecure or unsure about. Then to have that mentor, provide the guidance, provide the psycho social, which is a very fancy word for providing the confidence to be able to provide the boost of assurance that you too, can go forward in whatever challenge you're facing.
They might be providing career functions like opening up doors and giving advice and feedback on performance. All of those outside of what I call the chain of command, so it's not somebody works for somebody you work for is your boss and has to coach you on how to do your job, but a mentor someone whom you've known before or you've met recently that wants to invest in you, and that's what mentorship means to me.
Do you have a mentor? If so, who is it and why?
I've told people in stages and audiences for 20 years, as you see me today, I am the product of dozens of mentors.
Since I was a kid, talking to teachers, coaches, sports coaches, family, platoon sergeants, sergeants, major kernels – there were people who in my life took the time to invest in me, and they are too many to count.
But role models, for instance, like Mrs. Audrey, my first-grade teacher, or my sixth-grade teacher, and then there was Colonel Cohn, who was my first squadron commander when I was in the army. He provided mentorship all throughout my career about what a boss should look like.
Rick Lynch, who, even after we both left the army, we still talk to. There are so many other people who have provided that role modeling mentors, in my opinion, are the best-kept secret in how to guide you through your own self-development.
How does mentorship benefit your life inside and outside of work?
Mentorship benefits my life inside and outside of work, by providing people to act as a sounding board to help me test ideas to say.
I can say, "I'm thinking of doing this, what do you think?” Then, because they know me, and they know my skills, and my weaknesses, they might be able to tell me to, let's slow down on that, or let's try it in a different way. Or even better. After I mess something up, I go back to them to ask her to ask him about how it went, how it turned out, sometimes not always great. And that's in a professional context.
Even in my own personal life, I've learned from mentors about how to balance and integrate work life and family, how to think about how you see the world, and how to get the sleep you need to get the exercise you need. They role model those attributes in their own lives that I've tried to instill in my own life. And of course, to pay it forward to future generations that I like working with.
What brings you to The Mentor Method?
I was drawn to The Mentor Method from day one.
When I met Janice Omadeke, the CEO and founder, her life story is not only about mentorship and how it's benefited her, but also indirectly about how mentorship and someone investing in her father, to provide him with the skills and the training, he needed to get that next opportunity in life that brought his whole family forward.
Not only is that story inspiring, she herself was a force of nature, but the mission of The Mentor Method is to allow companies at scale to invest in all of their people.
I mean, it's one thing to have an expensive leadership coach, and there is value in that at the top levels of companies, senior managers because we want them to be their best. In order for companies to succeed, they need to have everybody in the company and have somebody look out for them. And mentorship within a large company is a great way to do that.
I heard the mission of what Janice is trying to accomplish with The Mentor Method and I was not only drawn in, but it gave me a place to take all my ideas which I have learned from so many mentors in the past, and even wrote a paper about it when I was studying at Harvard, on the values of mentorship. Unfortunately, everybody doesn’t have a mentor. The Mentor Method brings that opportunity at scale to 1000s of people across the country.
Is there a quote that you live by?
There are many quotes that I love sharing with my daughters and the people I work with. But if there's one thing that I share with audiences, every chance I get is that people will be what they can see.
People will be what they can see.
And that is such a powerful phrase, I believe, because what it means is, as a person, you are a role model, whether you know it or not, everyone you come in contact with is learning from you, either what right looks like, or sometimes what right does not look like.
So you can be an inspiration to people who see themselves in you. Whether it's by your age, your gender, your orientation, the color of your skin, your family, your background, your ethnicity, your accent, or whatever it is that those people see in themselves in you, you have become a role model of what's possible.
If people can see other people achieving goals that they themselves in their heart want to achieve, that I believe is the greatest form of role modeling. In mentorship, it is the responsibility in my opinion of the mentor, to be the change you want to see. So often in my relationships with mentors, I have aspired to do what they do, not everything that they do, because sometimes a part of their personality lines up in ways that may not orient or go in the direction that I'm going in life.
However, people will be what they can see. I think that's a powerful tool for leaders at all levels, and people who aren't even in leadership yet aspire to remember when they're interacting with other people.
What do you want to leave listeners with?
The last thing I want to leave with audiences and readers is that role modeling – being the change that you want to see – is perhaps the most important thing you can do in your company and in your team.
If you want people to show up on time, show up on time. If you want people to be with their families, leave work, and turn off your phone. If you want people to treat dignity and pick treat people with dignity and respect. Then, treat people with dignity and respect, not only when you're public-facing, but also when you're quiet behind doors.
To be the change you want to see is a powerful message for audiences to remember and it also ties into mentorship.
If a mentor says one thing in private but does something very different in public that is going to break down that relationship of trust between the mentor and the protege and it's not a good way to go. Just remember to be the change you want to see.
Follow more from Joseph Kopser at https://www.linkedin.com/in/josephkopser/.