Inspiration January 5, 2018
Lucky for you, this publishing all-star believes in the power of mentorship.
She’s served as publisher of Travel & Leisure and Allure, founding publisher of Departures and Lucky Magazine and won Conde Nast Publisher of the Year. Twice.
And now Sandy Golinkin uses all of the knowledge she’s acquired to help young professionals get the jobs of their dreams. With her company Raising the Bar, Golinkin works one-on-one with clients to help guide them through their transition from university to the workforce, developing necessary habits and skills.
ENTITY was lucky enough to score a chat with the publishing dynamo, who opened up about the joys of launching Lucky, her love of mentoring and the most common mistakes young people are making in the job hunt.
ENTITY: What was it like being on the ground floor of something like Lucky?
SG: It was heaven on Earth. It was absolutely, positively one of my most favorite jobs ever. It was an enormous amount of hard work. I think the first 18 months I was blinded by how hard we worked. But it was also unbelievably rewarding. After working very, very hard for the first two years, we enjoyed tremendous success.
ENTITY: What are your thoughts on the way publishing is pivoting?
SG: I think the industry is clearly evolving and transforming itself on a daily basis. There’s an enormous amount of change. When magazines were head of the heap, there weren’t really other options. But now there are just so many options between podcast and digital and streaming and original content. There’s so much more out there for entertainment and information. The reader/the viewer has so many more choices.
ENTITY: What made you want to mentor professionally?
SG: I think what attracted me to this is that I genuinely adore young people. I always have. I have 19 Godchildren, and it’s because everyone knows how much I adore young people. And about 15 years ago, I started organizing these dinners where I would put young people together who didn’t know each other, just to sort of say welcome to New York.
ENTITY: And that’s so nice, because sometimes the more successful women don’t want to help up-and-comers because they only see them as competition.
SG: I love surrounding myself with brilliant people. They can be a billion times more brilliant than I am, and I’m that much happier to be working with them. I don’t need to be the only person in the room with the idea, or the only person in the room who gets the microphone. I’m a big believer that really good leaders can surround themselves with people who are way smarter and way more competent than they are. I think that’s just smart.
ENTITY: Why do you think it’s so important for young women to have a mentor?
SG: I think that there’s just so much to learn… My focal point is college students and graduates, and to me, joining the professional world after four years of academia, I think that it’s a whole new world out there. And isn’t it great if you have somebody who can mentor you and tell you some of the real basics and answer some of the more difficult questions as you’re finding your way?
I think it’s sort of turning the lights on, on what’s important as you are joining the professional world. And there’s so much that is important. So I think that’s a very big part of mentoring. I also think it’s nice to have somebody who is older and wiser and who can speak from boots on the ground, experience. Because there’s really nothing quite like actual experience.
ENTITY: Even if you don’t follow someone’s advice to a T, it’s nice to hear it, especially from someone who has been there and has that experience.
SG: As I like to say, information is power. So if, for example, I share with you the reason I think it’s really good to do X, and you’re not sure, you don’t have to agree with me to hear about why X is good. Which means you know the pros and cons of doing X. And again, you don’t have to do it, but at least you are informed on why it’s of interest, which makes you a better informed person. So I think that’s important.
ENTITY: Did you have a similar experience as a young woman or are you being the mentor that perhaps you wish you’d had?
SG: I certainly wish I had had somebody who would have told me more about the professional options that were possibly available to me. But, see, when I was joining the workplace, there was no such thing as an internship. So it was a different world. I had one boss who was just super wonderful and really, really brilliant. And I learned a lot from that boss, but I didn’t have sort of a lifelong, professional mentor.
ENTITY: What advice do you think you would give your younger self?
SG: I would’ve advised my younger self to have jumped into the digital world earlier on. I was so busy working hard and enjoying the fruits of our labors at Lucky, and I really think I overstayed my welcome by about three years. And I wish I had jumped ship to the digital world. And I think it’s a mistake that I made.
ENTITY: What do you think is one of the more common mistakes you see with young people – on the job hunt or in the beginning of their careers?
SG: I would say probably one of three things: Number one would be not taking seriously how very important it is to pay your dues. Number two would be not understanding what good, thorough excellent preparation means. And number three would be weighing the pros and cons with older, wiser people, about the differences between working for a startup, where you can get a lot more responsibility versus working for an established company where you may be doing not as glamorous or sophisticated work, but you’re paying your dues for a more secure opportunity.
That, I think, is a very Millennial situation right now. And I could take the debate team on either side, I just think you need to evaluate those opportunities with wisdom and patience.
ENTITY: Do you think Millennial stereotypes are true?
SG: A lot of Millennials don’t like to network. But say you’re applying for a job at Nike. They have four final candidates, and all are great. They’re torn. But if one has a note on it saying, “by the way, the head of this department knows her family, and says they’re all brilliant, wonderful, people,” that could tip the scales for that one person. Don’t you want to be that person? That’s what networking does.
ENTITY: What in particular do you like about working with Millennials?
SG: I think one of the most exciting things about working with Millennials is the enormous diversity of the job opportunities that are out there for them. I remember hearing about a university’s welcome speech that said, “I want you to know as head of this university, and all of the faculty members, we are well aware of the fact that the jobs you will be taking four years from now when you graduate do not exist today.” And that fascinates me, because it’s so true. And that’s one of the delights of working with Millennials, I find, the tremendous opportunity.
ENTITY: What is your process when it comes to taking on new clients?
SG: Basically people call me up and usually the first thing I say is, “I’m delighted to talk to you. I think probably the best thing you should do is spend some time with my website, go to the ‘Press’ button and read some of the articles. And then please let me know what questions you might have.”
And one woman called me seven times with questions. I said, please don’t be embarrassed. You can ask me all the questions you want. Then one woman called me, I think we were on the phone for two minutes, and she said, “I’ll have my daughter call you tomorrow.” And the daughter said, “When do I start?” Everybody’s very different, so the process varies for everybody.
ENTITY: Is there a skill you notice most people have to work on?
SG: No, there are many, many skills from learning how to write a great cover letter to learning how to prepare for an interview. There are many, many skills that I think are very important. A lot of people get very nervous when they go into an interview, and you know, one of the things I believe is it’s okay to be nervous when you go into an interview, but there are tricks to not showing you’re nervous.
I usually say to my clients in one of the early meetings, “So what would you most like to work on and what would you like to specifically get from working with me?” And again, people have enormously diverse answers.
ENTITY: What advice do you have for young women entering the workforce?
SG: Make yourself invaluable.
ENTITY: What about the publishing world specifically?
SG: Be very mindful that media is radically changing. Be very, very mindful of that.
Golinkin has hired and mentored so many people throughout her career, and they’ve gone on to outstanding careers of their own. “One of my mentees runs a big department at Snapchat. Two of my mentees have very superior management positions at Facebook. Two of my mentees work at Google,” she shares.
She says those experiences have really helped her understand about mentoring, making her facile in doing her job now. “It wasn’t my full-time job back then, but I certainly learned a lot while I was doing it. It was just part of my life as a publisher,” Golinkin says. Well, lucky for you, it is her full-time job now.
To learn more about Raising the Bar, check out Golinkin’s website.
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