Don’t formally ask people to be your mentors. Adopt mentors informally and don’t tell them.
By Sophia Perl (Product Manager, eBay)

It’s been awhile since I’ve been out and about in the Valley. Last Saturday, I attended Santa Clara University’s Women in Business Conference at eBay’s north campus, aka PayPal.

I’m a bit of hard person to please when it comes to talks. I get bored easily if the talk is too high-level, abstract with no takeaways. That Saturday morning, it was far the opposite. The keynote speaker Shellye Archambeau, CEO of MetricStream, gave a great talk on how to leverage your strengths as a woman leader and then some. It was a very educational and entertaining talk.

My top 5 take aways:

  1. Ending your opinions with questions may make you sound not confident. Action: Don’t end with questions unless you really want other opinions.
  2. Being collaborative could make you look indecisive. Action: Set decision criteria and timelines for when decision will be made.
  3. Not enough self-promotion. Action: If someone asks how you are doing, talk about recent achievements like “oh I’m great because the team just hit this milestone…”. Take opportunities to promote in everyday conversations.
  4. Using “I feel…”, nobody cares how you feel. Action: People care about what you know.
  5. Don’t formally ask people to be your mentors because it requires time and commitment. Action: Just adopt mentors informally and don’t tell them. What they don’t know can’t hurt them.

One thing that I’d like to add is to say no to meaningless (or not as meaningful) tasks. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen women be asked to organize team events or lead up some random task force while the others constantly are passed over or say no. I’m all for being a team player, but not at the expense of my valuable time and maybe my work reputation (Who wants to be known as the potluck queen?). If you keep saying yes, then you’ll keep getting asked. Say no already! It’s okay.

This post was originally posted at Sophia Perl of Wisdom.

About the guest blogger: Sophia Perl is a product manager for e-commerce security at eBay. She has over ten years of combined software experience in areas of e-commerce security, enterprise software and mobile apps. Sophia is the iOS developer for iPhone apps Eventabulous and PicPredict and is an avid blogger on topics of Silicon Valley startups and technology at her blog. She holds a BS in Computer Science from University of Southern California and an MBA from University of California at Davis. Follow her on Twitter at @sounalath.