It was all about walking the walk and talking the talk last month at [email protected]'s inaugural Mentors Walk. Early on a drizzling June morning, 70 well-established female executives -- including Gerry Laybourne, co-founder, Oxygen Media; Linda Kaplan Thaler, CEO-chief creative officer, Kaplan Thaler Group; and Cindi Leive, editor in chief, Glamour -- participated in a brisk morning walk in Central Park with 165 young women. For the event, [email protected] teamed up with the Step Up Women's Network, a national nonprofit group focused on empowering girls and women.
Lauren Zalaznick, president of NBCU's Women & Lifestyle Entertainment Networks, spearheaded the walk. She said bringing together junior and high-ranking women was a natural extension of [email protected]'s mission: "We want to put power behind women in the work force. We want to keep a very hands-on approach to positively impacting women's advancement in the work force."
For the walk, each mentor was paired with several young women. Pairings were made according to experience and interest. "It was a very intimate experience in the sense that it wasn't a general networking event," Ms. Zalaznick said.
Mentorships are important to Ms. Zalaznick -- and so is the difference between mentoring and career counseling, she said. "Mentoring is not about 'How do I get my next job?' or 'What shall I do today?'" she said. "It's really giving your 'mentee' a sense of opportunity -- and a quick look past where they've come from and where they think they might want to go -- and trying to get clarity on what they think their success attributes are vs. what they think are things that have blocked them to date."
Ms. Zalaznick said she shared those thoughts with the group at a breakfast at Tavern on the Green following the walk.
Oxygen's Ms. Laybourne conceived the idea for the walk in 2005. After NBCU acquired Oxygen in November 2007 and created [email protected] in summer 2008, the group decided to launch the Mentors Walk. Ms. Zalaznick said she hopes to repeat the event next year.