The Right Way to Find a Career Sponsor with May Busch

June 23, 2020

The Right Way to Find a Career Sponsor with May Busch

The Right Way to Find a Career Sponsor with May Busch

As you can imagine, having a career sponsor can dramatically improve your work experiences and the trajectory of your career. This person can help you succeed not only in your career but in your entire life, by being better, doing better and making the difference you are meant to make. However, there is a right way to find the right career sponsor for you, and things to avoid doing, and today’s Brave by Design expert guest is here to help you navigate the common pitfalls that many employees encounter in this process. 

Following her successful investment banking career, May Busch focuses on bringing her insights and experiences to help high-potential and high-performance leaders and their teams perform at their best and fulfill their potential. She shares her career insights through keynotes, workshops, executive coaching and consulting, and online through her blog, webinars and online courses.

May is the author of Accelerate: 9 Capabilities to Achieve Success at Any Career Stage. This actionable guide helps high achievers identify, understand and master the hidden skills needed to get and stay ahead. She is the also the founder and host of Career Mastery™ Kickstart,  the popular online summit that helps mid-career professionals get the new year off to a great start and perform at their best.

Connect with May: https://maybusch.com/

Connect with Laura Khalil online:

instagram.com/iambravebydesign

https://www.facebook.com/groups/BraveByDesign/

linkedIn.com/in/LauraKhalil

Get on Laura’s Newsletter:

http://bravebydesign.net 

Invite Laura to speak at your live or virtual event http://bravebydesign.net

Support the show (https://www.paypal.me/bravebydesign)

What You’ll Hear In This Episode: 

  • The critical experiences that May has learned over the course of her 24-year career that fuels what she does today [2:29]

  • How mentors and sponsors differ, and the way she was influenced by these critical guides she had along her journey [5:17]

  • What to do to set yourself up for success in finding a sponsor, including how to identify candidates and then find opportunities to build a genuine relationships with them [10:14]

  • Why advocating for yourself and putting yourself “out there” is the best strategy for long-term career success [16:05]

  • The three main areas that provide challenges for many people, and May’s advice for overcoming the adversity you could face [20:37]

Additional Links & Resources: 

May’s Career Mastery™ Membership & Career Mastery™ Kickstart

Her Book, Accelerate: 9 Capabilities to Achieve Success at Any Career Stage

Support the show (https://www.paypal.me/bravebydesign)

Transcript
May Busch :

I recommend not doing it with the attitude that I have, that you have to be independent and prove something to yourself and others. It's we need to be looking for those guides along the way.

Laura Khalil :

Welcome to brave by design. I'm your host Laura Khalil. I'm an entrepreneur, coach and speaker. I love thinking bait, exploring the power of personal development and sharing the best strategies from thought leaders and pioneers in business to empower ambitious women and allies to bravely rise and thrive. Let's get started. Everyone, welcome to this episode of brave by design. I cannot wait for you to hear from today's guests. Mei bush is a sought after executive coach, Speaker advisor and author. Her mission is helping people succeed in their career and life to be better, do more and make the difference. They are meant to Make god I love that may is the founder and proud host of the career mastery kickstart summit. Prior to this may enjoy it a 24 year career at Morgan Stanley spanning two continents in nine different business roles. She was most recently Chief Operating Officer for Europe. May is the author of accelerate nine capabilities to achieve success on any career stage, an actionable guide to help high achievers identify, understand, and master the hidden skills needed to get and stay ahead. May

May Busch :

Welcome to brave by design. Thank you so much, Laura, this is such an honor to have this time with you and all of the wonderful, brave women in your community. Well, thank

Laura Khalil :

you, you know, it's a real honor to have you here. And I had heard you on a previous podcast and I was so impressed by you and so honored when you agreed to come on the show, you know, we see very few women who actually are able to ascend into the C suite. And you actually did it. And I think that's an incredible achievement. And I would love if you could just like, tell us a little bit about your story. How did you rise to becoming CEO for Europe of Morgan Stanley? And how has that informed what you do today?

May Busch :

Well, having had this 24 year career has been a critical set of experiences. That today, I realized, looking back has prepared me to serve this audience out there who, who, I'm just hoping that I can take all of those experiences which we'll talk about in summary, in a moment and put them together in a way That can help other women, other people to eat on their own terms. without all the pain and suffering and all the mistakes that I went through Of course, we're always going to make mistakes. And frankly, that's when we learned the most or certainly I did meet made a lot of mistakes. So that's, that's why I think it's been so worthwhile, even though while you're going through something, sometimes you go, why am I doing this? What is going on here? And I now look back and realize that I was doing exactly what I needed to do. Wow, to add the value that I was meant to add.

Laura Khalil :

That's incorrect. So what happened?

May Busch :

Well, 24 years long time and we're not gonna take that much time No, no, no, I'm if I'm pausing is because I want to make sure I'm capturing just the essence of it. So I think one thing that is A core starting point for for me and maybe so many of us is that I began by thinking that I wanted to I was such an achiever. I still am. And I'm guessing there are a lot of achievers in this audience. Yes. And as an achiever, one of the things that motivated me all along was challenge. It almost didn't matter which mountain or Hill I was trying to climb. I wanted to be the toughest one and then and then really master it. Wow. And as a result, I wanted to do something that nobody in my family had ever done. And to demonstrate that I did it all by myself with no help, which of course Wow, that is ridiculous. Yeah, it is. I mean, I was gonna say we would love to be able to just kind of, you know, do it on our own, but we all have those guides along the way, who you know, help give us a boost. Absolutely, and recommend not doing it with the attitude that I had, that you have to be independent and prove something to yourself and others. It's we need to be looking for those guides along the way.

Laura Khalil :

Can you tell us about one of the most influential guides on your path?

May Busch :

Yeah, well, the first influential guides I had, were my parents, and I still have them. I'm very blessed. And they really gave me such a great grounding. They're immigrants from China. They have a amazing backstory, fleeing as teenagers and so forth, and then going to the US much later in life. And one of the things that you come to realize is you can learn a lot from your parents, even though as a teenager, you might want to reject that. But then career wise, I think there were three people that really stood out in my mind, looking back, and these were people who were my sponsor. Hmm. And is it worth? I'm sure you've had sponsors and mentors as well? Is it worth just spending 30 seconds on the distinction?

Laura Khalil :

I actually would love for you to talk about that because we have not talked about that on the show.

May Busch :

Okay. Mentors are people who are more expert than we are that have had more experience in a particular area, and who we can turn to for advice. So they start from the standpoint of being ahead of us in some area. They don't have to be older than us necessarily, but they usually will be because of the experience piece. So they are injecting their superior knowledge or experience or expertise into us to help us. Okay, and sponsors, on the other hand, are people who are definitely in a senior position relative to us, who will be willing to use their own personal Capital, their social capital, their political capital, put their reputation on the line to help you get to a fundamentally higher better place in your career.

Laura Khalil :

But that's a really important distinction. Because one is much more high state. So we're the people. Did you say that you had sponsors? Was it three sponsors? You said who helped you? Yes.

May Busch :

How did you find them? Well, the thing is, they found me, or, let's put it this way. It's very rare that you can go and knock on someone's door and say, oh, would you sponsor me? It's not like I remember back in the day, the equivalent of selling Girl Scout cookies, right? The box of cookies. And it's, instead, they have to choose you because as you said, it's such a high stakes roll for the other person. Most of the work that the sponsor does for you is behind the scenes so many times you might have a sponsor without even knowing it. So that's why I said I didn't even know I had a sponsor until, until that person was no longer able to sponsor me. So and so the best way to find a sponsor is to put yourself out there. Yeah. So that others, so people that are potential sponsors can see you in action.

Laura Khalil :

Yeah, and it's interesting. We've talked on the show in other episodes about the traits of a great manager. Yeah, and one of the things that we see in great managers is they're actively looking for high potential employees. So people who are demonstrating certain leadership skills or qualities that the company would be or that individual would say, hey, yeah, I want to invest in That. And as I understand it made sponsors don't always have to be your manager, they can be someone else in the organization.

May Busch :

Yes. And ideally, they are not just your manager because your manager want them to be sponsoring you. But one of the things about your manager being your main sponsor is that they, in some cases might be seen as favoring one of their team members. So it's great to have somebody who's not your direct manager, in addition to having your manager sponsor you, of course, and push you forward. But it's really nice to have somebody who's either your skip level manager, so your managers manager or a senior person in a in an adjacent or other part of the organization.

Laura Khalil :

Oh, interesting. So for women who and this is one of the things of course, we talk a lot about with women. We talk about finding your sponsors, finding the people or if you are An ally listening to the show, going and making a point of sponsoring those types of high potential individuals in the company, and making a point to also think about the diversity of who you're sponsoring. So if you are an employee who's thinking, Okay, I gotta go find a sponsor, and we've kind of said, Well, you can't really knock on someone's door and, you know, sell yourself to them. What do you recommend for people who want to set themselves up for success with having a sponsor? take notice of them?

May Busch :

Yeah. So this is one of those efforts that you want to just make part of your normal activities, you just want to make it into normal. So it's not this separate thing or obligation or weighty responsibility you need to or action needs to take because oftentimes, we'll put that off, they feel scary. There's some fear of rejection involved. So I like to think of it as you always want to be putting your best foot forward and bringing your best self, your best self in the context of making sure that others see and or have the ability to experience how wonderful you really are. And yeah, I always used to joke Yeah, my mother thinks I should be promoted and paid more and recognized. But you know, my mother doesn't really have any say in any of that. So it's about then having other people have a look in ability. See? So just from a practical standpoint, because everything I do is about helping people take practical actions. Yes. So one thing that you can do is start to be strategic about it. So you can say well, when I look at my organization, and by the way, sponsors for your career, Pretty much need to be in your organization because otherwise they'll have a hard time plucking you out and plopping you into this fundamentally, better situation. Yeah, so you want to,

Laura Khalil :

if I may interrupt me, whereas mentors, they don't need to be at your company. Correct.

May Busch :

And you definitely want to have some mentors that are not at your company so that you can speak more freely, even on an anonymous basis. Yes, so you won't have a combination. The other distinction that we should draw between the mentor and sponsor is you can have a lot of different mentors for different things. You can have multiple mentors for the same thing. I even had mentors when I had my first baby for flipper a little cute thing that I'm afraid and but we're sponsors, you'd be really fortunate to have one at any given time. Mm hmm. And when I said I had three, they were at different points in time. Okay, and in between time I, that's when I noticed, oh my gosh, that person was really sponsoring me. And I'm really missing the fact that they have whatever been remodeling another area or left the company or whatever, yes. Because you really notice that when you don't have a sponsor, that's when your career kind of goes sideways and you feel like you're stuck or you're in a rut. Those are the

Laura Khalil :

bow. Okay. So I'm sorry, we got a little bit off track you were going to tell us some of like the practical tools we could use? Yes,

May Busch :

yes. So number one is to look at the possible candidates to sponsor you. Okay. And I would cast the net fairly broadly. So anybody in your reporting line is a candidate and again, I would go beyond only your boss, all right. And in my mind, your boss is necessary but insufficient, they would be sponsoring you. So it's an activity they should be doing. Anyway, whereas to be the actual capital S sponsor for you the main sponsor, as I said, I think you're better off having someone in addition or else besides your boss, then so once you've laid out who these possible people are, I was gonna say the possible suspects, but that sounds the usual suspects Yeah. Then you can say, all right, well, which of these people Am I already regularly in front of? Okay. So you might be going to that boring old monthly budget meeting, but that happens to be where the Chief Financial Officer of your organization is always in attendance or whatever. That's right. And you might be sitting in the back check in your phone right thinking about a million other things, when you really have a golden opportunity every month to be Using that time together, not during the meeting, necessarily, I mean, during the meeting, you could be showing that you have a strategic approach to things or whatever it is that you want to demonstrate that would impress that person. Or maybe you volunteer to be on that committee that they need help with. And you also might use the time before the meeting. So maybe you want to go early. And maybe that's Chief Financial Officer in our example, always is very prompt or even a minute or two early then you can have that bit of even informal crap. Yeah. On or be prepared to stay a little after don't schedule something immediately after because you're then you can just say, oh, say so. And so. I really liked what you said about this. I had a couple of questions. Can I come see you, and almost always somebody in your organization is going to go Sure. Just get yourself on my calendar. So that's one strategy. It really works. Well.

Laura Khalil :

You know what I love about what you're saying? And this goes back to some of the research around why women have trouble rising within organizations is ultimately May, you have got to be your own best advocate. Yeah, I there are so many women who, again, the research shows us this, and I'm sure you've seen this as well, that women who say, Well, if I do a good job, someone will notice. And they'll pluck me out of, you know, obscurity. Yeah. And, you know, they'll, you know, I'll get my lucky ticket. And what I hear you saying is, yes, do a good job. But yes, tell people about it and be strategic about it.

May Busch :

Yes. And for those people who were like me, very reluctant to tell people about it, because that can feel like self promotion, it can rails scary, etc. Well, first, it's really great to learn how to do that and second, that's why I like it. idea of having them see you in action, because then it's something that they observe about you as well. And then a third thing is you could get others to talk about you with that person. Hmm.

Laura Khalil :

I love that these are so great. So let me ask you, maybe when people come to you for executive coaching, or they're part of your membership site, is this one of the very common challenges that they're facing? And are there other sort of common threads that you see that we could discuss?

May Busch :

Well, first, yes, this is a common thread, and it's especially true I found for people, for women and people in minority groups. Hmm. Because what you'll find is in any, any organization, it's usually set up for the majority of people. That just makes sense. Yep. And that means that there are all kinds of just smoothed pads, carved out pads and If you're in the majority, it just you just have to just sort of trundle along a little bit. And you don't even realize you're having those smoother pads. It's a little like I'm five foot two, you can't see that, but I'm short. And Okay, fair enough. airline seats. My husband is six foot two, he finds them not that bad or in cars, but they're so uncomfortable for me because they weren't built for me. So that's the kind of Wow,

Laura Khalil :

okay, so you're saying the same thing is true in a company that we have specific paths designed for the greatest number of individuals and not really for those minorities?

May Busch :

Yeah, and you know, a white male might be in the minority in some organizations, for example, right. So it's not about exactly who you are, but just to be recognizing that that's how the world's the gravitational pull of the world is.

Laura Khalil :

So that description, huh? It just makes it really clear because a lot of times we fail think that these things are malicious, might be too strong of a word. But that, you know, it's like thing this, the cards are being stacked against us. And I hear what I hear you saying is, well, you know, things, maybe not as much thought has been put into addressing the needs of women and minorities, but it's not. It's not that that was done in a malicious way. It's that that the people who were making the decisions weren't thinking about us.

May Busch :

Right. I think that's often the case. I mean, of course, there are a few people a few situations that will be malicious, but in general, most people are good. They're trying to do good trying to do good things, but they are Yeah, and but it's so easy because we're human to get it wrong. Right. So I think we have to, we're always better off assuming positive intent. It just otherwise it's easy to become. I'm doing this in air quotes now. bitter and twisted.

Laura Khalil :

When people spiral, yeah, because then you create the story in your head. Yes. Have you know, they obviously they're doing this to me? It's like, well hang on a second, I don't think they're thinking about you as much as you think. Good point. Yes. Yeah, I mean, I think people are always thinking everyone's eyes are on them when more often than not their eyes are on themselves. And we're more likely than not just not aware of what's going on in our environment.

May Busch :

I'm actually pulling you asked about other themes. Yes, yeah. And I find that most of the challenges and therefore opportunities come in three main areas. And these are the areas that we focus on in the career mastery, membership, and also in my book, awesome. And so in order to be successful in continuing to advance in your career, You really need to be regularly working on three different areas. One of them is how you work with other people. So I call it how you work with people. The second one is how do you work on the business? And here, it's not about the specific technical skills, but rather, how do you strategically look at and work on the main thing that your organization and your unit is trying to do. So you might be in a nonprofit or an in higher education organization, I'm still referring to your main work of that group as the business. And then the third area that is very important to be working on is how do you work on yourself? Wow. And just to give you a few examples of what those what kinds of skills and activities go into each Those so how you work with people would be things like how you communicate? Can you communicate to influence others? How do you manage your stakeholders finding a sponsor? is some of those techniques were part of managing your stakeholders to how do you lead a team? How do you build a team? Then when we talk about how do you work in the business, it's the vision and strategy piece. So not being mired in the day to day tactics and to do lists, taking moments to step back and zoom out. It's how you make decisions, what risks you're prepared to take, and are you able to create more opportunity and grow the size of the pie for the organization rather than compete for a bigger slice. And then you and I talked about this third piece working on yourself and just how pivotal that one really Is that really sits at the core of all of this, which is focusing on your own awareness, your self awareness. And then what follows from being self aware is your ability to manage yourself.

Laura Khalil :

Mm hmm. I love that. You know, it's so funny you bring this up, because I always tell when I work with clients, you know, what I always tell people is listen, we can tell you the steps for how to rise, we can tell you the steps for kind of as we've done, here's how you get a sponsor, or here's how you impress people. Here's how you show off your work. But if you have all these self limiting beliefs that are stopping you, because you've done the work on yourself, and you say, No, no, I can't talk about myself. That's boastful. That's bad. I can only go so high. You're not going to take any of the advice. You're not going to do the work or you're going to self sabotage in my opinion. So I love that that is at the core. of what you're talking about, because doing the work on yourself, really does help cascade into all these other areas.

May Busch :

Yes, it all starts with with you, right each of us.

Laura Khalil :

May let me ask you this, we're about to wrap up. Do you have a couple final pieces of advice? One or two that you'd love to impart to the audience?

May Busch :

Well, I think that the most important thing that helped me in my career and I think would especially help women is to focus on being a person and not a label. Hmm,

Laura Khalil :

what does that mean?

May Busch :

So what I mean by that is, labels or another way to say stereotypes, we're always our brains, as human beings are always trying to get shortcuts to figure out is this person a friend or a FICO is, you know, and forming opinions about people, it takes less than a second for someone to size up someone else. And we're doing it all the time. We cannot help it. It's how our brains are wired. It's prehistoric brain wiring. And what happens is that whatever those labels are that people are putting on us, because there otherwise are we be having so many thoughts that we function. So we need to be aware of what those might be, and then use those labels to our benefit. If there is one. Like for me, one of the labels that gets put on me is she's Chinese. Mm hmm. People look at me and that's obvious. And one of the assumptions behind the label is that I'm going to be really good at math, and maybe engineering to or certainly back in my day. Now the truth of it is I'm okay at math. I'm pretty good at math, but I'm not super mathy. But I wasn't going to tell people that actually, you know that math thing? I'm not really good at that. No, I'm going to just allow that to be assumed. But on the other hand, people would label me what the other thing under the label that was not very good is, oh, she's probably really meek and humble and won't make waves. Yeah. So that's a negative one. And unfortunately, it was actually true of me for a long time. You said that you have to learn how to immediately demonstrate what you really are about on that dimension. So, so just coming back to being a person and not a label. It's up to each of us to help others see us as who we are as an individual as a person. And not just one of those many, many, many, many numbers of people that are all lumped together in this stereotypical label, I love it.

Laura Khalil :

But it's interesting because you use some of those labels to your advantage when it was advantageous. Yes. And then you corrected the ones that were not advantageous to you. Exactly. That's fascinating. That is really interesting. Because you know, another way that we can talk about labels is biases. And we always talk about, you know, or a lot of people talk about rooting out biases and the fact is, you can't get rid of them. You can just become more aware of them and personally examine them. But it is absolutely fascinating that you said okay, you have this bias. Well, guess what? I'm gonna use it to my advantage. I really love that may.

May Busch :

Yeah, yeah. You know, we work with what we have, and we all have assets, and we don't want to get stuck on the negative things always want to be focusing on the positive and what you can do and how you can improve this time.

Laura Khalil :

I love it may thanks so much for joining us. How can people learn more about you your membership program in the book?

May Busch :

The best way is to go on my website, which is may bush.com. And you'll also find I have a free blog that also has a lot of great career tips. And on there you can also find information about career mastery.com, which is my membership. I love it. And my book is also on there. So yeah, all roads lead to a boss calm. Remember, we talked about the path, the smooth path, I guess, creating a smooth path.

Laura Khalil :

That's it, maybe comm we will put all of the links to that as well as my social media information in the show notes for this episode. May Bush, thank you so much for joining us on this episode.

May Busch :

My pleasure. Thank you, Laura. And hey everybody keep being brave out there.

Laura Khalil :

I want to thank you for joining And remember to subscribe to your favorite app so you can stay up to date. And I would love your review. If you've enjoyed this episode, please leave a review and comment on Apple podcasts. You can also keep in touch with me online. You can find me on LinkedIn and I'm also on Instagram at force of badassery. All that information will be available in the show notes. Until next time, stay brave