J. Kelly Hoey

How Do You Mentor? Insights From Melissa Gonzalez, CEO and Founder, The Lion’esque Group

Melissa Gonzalez is the Founder of The Lion’esque Group and Author of The Pop-Up Paradigm. She started her career in the rough and tumble of Wall Street — the training ground of many new NYC based entrepreneurs. Melissa is also a regular contributor on ABC LA Radio and The Daily News. In 2015, she was honored with the 2015 Retail Innovator Award by Retail Touchpoints for her work to transform the pop-up store environment and in 2014, her company’s work was honored with the CLIO Image Award for experiential engagement.

How do you define “mentor”?

To me a mentor has a vested interest in my success. They are not only a role model, but they are accessible teachers.

What’s your approach to being a mentor?

Firstly, I say no if a) I know I won’t have the needed time and/or b) I don’t possess the particular expertise that they need.

If I invest, I am sure to set a realistic timeline and communicate my time abilities (i.e.:once a week, once a quarter, etc).

I also think outside the box. So it’s not just about scheduled interactions, but my mentoree’s become embedded in my mind for when any relevant opportunity arises for them that comes across my plate

How did you come to using this approach?

I took into account what helped me most, who had the most impact in my life and career.

Who is your dream mentor?

WHOA! Hmmm…. In life it’s women who have successfully found what makes them happy and pursued it to the fullest. It sounds cliche perhaps but people underestimate the strength needed to fully embrace your own individual life goals and pursue them, regardless of what society may try to dictate. This may mean being a mom and a career women, it could mean traveling the world and building a personal brand, etc.

In my career my dream mentors are game changers. I am always in awe of those that have had the foresight to change the way we function day to day (Ie: Dropbox, Apple Pay).

How else can someone be mentored by you?

I am very active on twitter and LinkedIn, sharing curated and self-published content regarding retail innovation. And then there’s my book The Pop-Up Paradigm which explains how brands (new and established) can use temporary retail to generate customer loyalty, understand new markets, and test innovative concepts. It answers many of the questions young designers, entrepreneurs and emerging brands seek ‘mentoring’ from me on!

Read more mentoring insights here and here (+ yes, more to come).


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