Mark Devito Stuart Granger

Mark Devito credits a handful of mentors with giving him valuable opportunities that have shaped his varied, multi-disciplinary marketing career. After helping, in 1999, bring to life ZDTV (which eventually became TechTV), a San Francisco-based, international 24-hour television network backed by publishing-and-internet company Ziff-Davis, Devito made his way to D.C. Introduced to many well-known and influential political strategists, he forged relationships that got him hooked on political marketing. Several years in, Devito met pollster-turned advertising-and-PR investor Mark Penn, who eventually hired him into the agency world with the launch of Proof Communications (a unit of WPP Group’s global PR network Burson Marsteller). An AMADC board member and head of his own brand strategy shop, The Gigawatt Group, here Devito and Stuart Granger, Gigawatt’s Director of Content Marketing — both mentors in the 2016-17 Mentor Program — discuss their experience.

Why did you sign up as a Mentor? Mark: Two reasons. Some really great people have helped me at times. Now, when I look back at it, I realize the impact of their input and direction. They encouraged me and prodded me; because of them, I was able to envision a path and understand what was possible. Second, I come from a family of teachers, and I’ve taught classes as an adjunct professor. I love it; to me, mentoring is teaching. Stuart: Mark encouraged me to join. At first, I didn’t view myself as a mentor, but once I gave it some thought, I realized I do have a lot of experience; I’ve transitioned from different disciplines – back in London, I started as an account manager in PR, moved on to experiential marketing and live event production, then into brand development before coming to the U.S.  Here, I’ve segued into content marketing, responsible for creating work rather than directing accounts. I figured that my breadth of experience might offer a wider field of vision to a protégé.

What advice would you give to an aspiring Mentor Program protégé? Mark: One piece of advice that I give to anyone – not just protégés – is, “Be opportunistic.” That means don’t over analyze before trying something new. Of course, weigh the pros and cons, but don’t let the possibility of a disappointment, or less-than-stellar experience, keep you from trying. My specific advice for a Mentor Program protégé: be clear on your goals, and don’t be shy about communicating those goals to your mentor. Once you’ve done that, in partnership with your mentor, create a roadmap to achieve those goals. Stuart: My recommendation: set clear ground rules with your mentor at the start of the program. Agree on the channel you’ll use – email, phone, text – and how often. Once weekly? Is a follow up nudge OK? Like Mark, I believe that protégés really need to know what they want to achieve.

Proteges are the relationship leads in the The AMADC Mentor Program; protégés are responsible for managing the process, from establishing meeting agendas to tracking progress toward the goal. What qualities help Proteges succeed? Stuart: Enthusiasm for the task at hand, of course. That’s contagious. Come to your meetings prepared, with an agenda. Be clear on what you want your mentor to address. Mark:  Focus. Results-oriented. Respect for your mentor’s time.

Having been a Program Mentor, what should a prospective Mentor know? Stuart: You won’t have all the answers, and you aren’t expected to have them. Rather, you need to understand what makes your protégé tick, and what information and resources you can offer or help them find to reach the goal you’ve both set. Mark: A mentor is a teacher. Your role is to help your protégé envision a possibility, then figure out a way to reach it.