John C. Crosby (a 19th century U.S. politician ) once said “Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction.” And that sums up what our Grow to Lead Mentorship program is all about.
The program, which wrapped up at the end of June, brought together leaders in both the local arts and private sectors and saw six mentorship pairs working together over the past 10 months to navigate challenges, build skills, and help strengthen the arts sector as a whole. And it’s had quite the impact.
About a month ago, we shared the story of one of our mentorship pairs (click here to read “Spotlight on Grow to Lead with Connie Boland & Nancy Dahn”). This month, we’d like to introduce you to Geoff Davis and Diana Daly.
Davis (an independent board director, and Senior Business Development Advisor with MOBIA and Higher Talent) and Daly (Managing Producer for Wonderbolt Productions, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year) have been working together since September and over that time, have established a mentor/mentee relationship that has been beneficial for both.
“The relationship with Diana has been great. Wonderbolt has been around a long while, but they’re a fairly dynamic organization, and they’re growing…it’s been fascinating finding out about Wonderbolt and the operations of a circus. I would categorize them as world class in what they do. So for me, it’s been a great opportunity to provide some guidance in areas that maybe they’re not as focused on as the main things that Wonderbolt does every day,” Davis says.
“So it’s been fun (and) informative for me.”
Working with Daly, Davis says, has also given him a better understanding of the unique needs and challenges of an organization like Wonderbolt.
“I’ve learned a lot about the environment locally in St. John’s, about getting resources and setting up venues. Of course, when they have to do something, they have to have a venue; they’re a circus, they need something with high ceilings, for example. They need somewhere for spectators, etc. So it’s a very different type of operation.”
For Daly, working with Davis has given her a chance to sharpen her own leadership skills and view things through a new lens.
“It was great to be able to speak with somebody (with) a completely fresh perspective…when you speak with somebody who’s not in your everyday sphere, you look at things differently. So I really appreciated that,” she says.
Daly says her mentor’s insights, encouragement (Davis, along with Victoria Belbin, Chair of Wonderbolt’s board of directors, for example, encouraged Daly to take the not-for-profit board governance training course through the Institute of Corporate Directors) and willingness to go above and beyond contributed greatly to her overall experience.
“The program is great. It doesn’t have a huge expectation. Nobody has to produce anything by the end, which I think is really important. It’s purely a process. And there’s just all sorts of seeds sown of ideas and options,” she says.
“That’s real tangible support that I like. And the other thing I love about the program, too, is it paired a bunch of different people and everybody met each other where they’re at like, you know, we’re all on the same level.”
Perhaps one of the greatest strengths of the mentorship program is its ability to connect people from different sectors and give a better idea of what it takes to successfully run an arts organization as dynamic as Wonderbolt, Davis says.
“It’s (Wonderbolt) a unique organization and most of the arts organizations, I think, that are being mentored are unique. And for people coming in from the outside, who haven’t been exposed to arts organizations, I think it’s been a very fresh experience. It has been for me.”
We would like to say a big thank you to the Canada Council for the Arts | Conseil des arts du Canada for supporting the Grow to Lead Mentorship program. We hope to run this program again, so keep an eye out for this great opportunity the next time it rolls around!