How To Find Mentors Using The Ancient Art Of Social Media Stalking

This post was originally published on Huffington Post Women & The Levo League

 Hi. My name is Mollie Vandor, and I’m a stalker.

No, I haven’t boiled any bunny rabbits lately. My particular brand of stalking has nothing to do with my romantic life, although it is all about passion — my passion for my career, and for the industry that I work in.

You see, I don’t stalk ex-boyfriends or old high school friends — at least not that often, and never without a few glasses of wine in me first. I do, however, regularly stalk strangers. And by strangers, I specifically mean people I consider to be mentors. Now, I’ve never met most of these mentors, and the ones I have actually met have generally been via brief handshakes against the background of a loud, crowded tech conference, which isn’t exactly prime real estate for establishing a deep, involved relationship.

Even though I’m not personally in touch with most of these mentors, I do maintain a strong personal relationship with them. Their successes are inspiration for my future successes. Their failures are lessons I learn for myself. And, their blogs, tweets and posts about these topics are the conversation that keeps me learning and growing from their example — however one-sided that conversation may be.

Celebrities — not diamonds — in the rough

For example, I’ve considered Danielle Morill a mentor ever since I met her at the Twiistup tech conference a few years ago. Danielle made her name as one of the driving forces behind the hugely successful company Twilio. When we met, she and I had a frank discussion about being young women in the tech industry, maintaining relationships and busy schedules and general tech trends and topics. I’m sure the talk meant a lot more to me than it did her, and I’m pretty sure she barely remembers it, if at all. Since then, although we haven’t talked personally, I’ve followed her on Twitter and via her blog, where she recently posted about the decision to start her own company, Referly.Her post — a timeline of the process to take her idea from conception to full-blown company creation — is a blueprint for me, not just in terms of the specific steps she took, but in terms of the way she was thinking and feeling while taking them. It’s not just about following in her footsteps, it’s about understanding how and why she decided which steps to take in the first place.

I feel the same way about my other mentors. That list — and yes, there is an actual list I maintain on Twitter as well as a list of blog and Facebook bookmarks in my browser  — includes Sheryl Sandberg,Marissa MayerJoel SpolskyLeah CulverMolly HolzschlagRand Fishkin Gina Bianchini andBethenny Frankel. Yes, Bethenny Frankel. I may not necessarily want to emulate all of my mentors’ careers. But, I do learn an awful lot from following their day-to-day thoughts and actions via Facebook, Twitter and the blogosphere. In fact, that’s where most of the value of my mentorships comes from.

Small moves

Case in point: I’ve been following Gina Bianchini’s career for years, and have consistently been blown away by her ability to keep her eyes — and her hands — on multiple tech industry trends, before the rest of the world even knows they’re trending. Sure, I could simply watch her moves as they’re breathlessly reported by the industry press. But frankly, that’s not what I find interesting about her. What I find most fascinating is her Twitterstream, where she talks about everything from Fifty Shades of Grey to The Wall Street Journal‘s paywall. It’s not necessarily always about the big moves she’s making, it’s about the mosaic of little thoughts that end up informing those big moves.That’s why we love social media in general — it’s a voyeuristic look inside someone’s day to day life, a sort of Rear Window in 140 characters or less. And, it’s why social media stalking makes for such great mentorship. Not only do I get to follow what people I admire are doing. I get to follow what they’re thinking while they do it. Which, by the way, makes me feel much better about my own doubts and decisions, and helps inspire me in countless other ways as well.

Democratization and infinite possibilities

Sure, a traditional mentor might take me to lunch, check in on me once in a while, or help me out with a job recommendation. But, my social media mentors are available 24/7, providing all of their wisdom and support without even knowing it, simply by living — and sharing — their own lives. And, in fact, I’d argue that they share an awful lot more with me without ever knowing it than they would in a more traditional, formal and professional mentorship relationship.Now, some people might not call my particular brand of ‘aspirational social media stalking’ mentorship. They may say I don’t have mentors, I merely have role models. Or people to look up to. But, the dictionary defines a ‘mentor’ as “a wise and trusted counselor or teacher.” In contrast, a ‘role model’ is simply “a person regarded by others, especially younger people, as a good example to follow.”

The difference is clear. A mentor is someone who counsels and teaches, not necessarily by being a paragon of perfection as a person or professional, but simply by being someone with wisdom worth listening to. Often, the best of that wisdom comes from the moments when a mentor is being the opposite of a good example — the times they take risks that don’t work out, make decisions they regret later, or accidentally admit to something they probably shouldn’t have. That’s when I learn the most from my mentors. They’re not role models, and they’re certainly not perfect. But they are teachers. Even when they don’t know it.

Relaxing Beach Retreat? There’s An App For That

This article was originally published on the  Exclusive Resorts blog, the online destination for all things luxury travel, from the world’s leading private club for luxury vacations.

Nothing says luxury travel quite like a beach vacation. Relaxing on the sand, smelling the salt and the suntan lotion, listening to the sound of the waves in the background. From private villas in Puerto Vallarta to beachside retreats in the British Virgin Islands, Exclusive Resorts has plenty of options to offer the traveler craving some sun and surf.

Of course, a perfect beach day requires more than just a good beach read and a great big cushy towel. There’s logistics to be considered. From curating the perfect tan to making sure you stay well hydrated while you surf, swim and sunbathe. Fortunately, since nobody wants to do that much thinking while they’re on vacation, there’s a suite of apps out there to help you track your tanning, stay safe in the sun and make sure you’re drinking plenty of water — all so you can sit back, relax and enjoy your time at the beach.

UV Detector is an iPhone app that helps you have fun in the sun safely. It checks the UV index in your area, and gives you forecasts for the coming weeks, helping you plan and prepare for plenty of beach days to come. Similarly, the Environmental Protection Agency has apps for Android, iPhone and Blackberry that give you the official UV forecast on an easy-to-read scale of 1-11+.

If you’re not afraid of a little sun — or if you’re actually seeking some of it out — there’s Suntan Watcher, which helps you time your tan, and gives you helpful reminders for when to turn over, reapply lotion and the like. Once you’ve got your tan going, use Tan Plan for iPhone, to track the progress of your gorgeous glow and share it with your friends.

Of course, all that sunbathing means you have to stay hydrated. High-end water bottle maker Sigg has an app that helps you track your water intake during the day via a simple sliding scale measuring how much you’ve drank. There’s also an Android app that lets you input the amount of water you’d like to consumer over the course of a day, and sends you friendly reminders to actually do it. So, you can be sure to swap a few glasses of water in between all those delicious drinks with the tiny umbrellas. Cheers!


Mollie Vandor has worked in the technology industry for years as product manager for online companies including BetterWorks.com, Ranker.com, and Cooking.com. She is also a regular contributor to technology and lifestyle sites across the web. She served as the Media Director for Girls in Tech LA, and is also a member of Women 2.0. When she’s not working, she enjoys traveling, reading, hiking, sharing meals with friends and dominating at Scrabble. You can find her on the web at mollievandor.com or on Twitter @mollierosev