Business guidance: The power of mentorship

Founder and CEO of KidSmart Deb De Sherbinin talks us through the importance of mentorship in toy firms.
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The toy industry is ripe with numerous new product ideas from product inventors, gamers and parents. Bringing these ideas to life is a long process fraught with peril, and many people go down this path without fully understanding the challenges they’ll face. And oftentimes the inventor is so emotionally invested that they can’t see the wood through the trees. That’s where the power of mentorship comes in.

I’ve been lucky enough to have several mentors in my life and their impact on me has been immeasurable. I now have the opportunity to pay it forward, and my work as an advisor and mentor for start-ups has really driven home to me the importance of helping them learn about the process, (and pitfalls), of developing and launching a product.

A mentor can view things objectively and help the mentee come up with ideas that are new and different. It’s the classic ‘two heads are better than one’ approach. A mentee can tap into a mentor’s resources and experience, which has been honed over the course of his or her career. Additionally, a mentor provides candid feedback, challenges thinking, and helps the mentee define a confident path-forward.

The attention and wisdom of a mentor is a powerful thing.

Deb de Sherbinin

Because mentorship and connections are so critical to success in business, the WIT Empowerment Day was created to support women-owned businesses at various stages of their growth – from inventors with a product idea to women who already manufacture and sell product.

These entrepreneurs get access to dozens of toy industry veterans who share their years of experience and advice in speed mentoring sessions and one-on-one product pitch sessions.

“Our Empowerment Day and mentoring events have become a cornerstone of who we are and what we do,” says Ashley Mady, president of WIT and president at Brandberry, Inc. “And at the core are our members, women helping women to grow, thrive and succeed.”

Besides Empowerment Day, WIT also hosts regional mentoring events, like the recent Speed Mentoring Event at Spin Master’s offices in southern California, where mentors from Spin Master, American Greetings Entertainment, Jakks Pacific, CENTA IP and GennComm provided mentees with expertise, fresh perspectives and guidance.

A problem shared is a problem solved, and the attention, guidance and wisdom of a mentor is a powerful thing that can truly ignite your business. Mentoring creates advantages for both the mentee and mentor and makes our workplaces and industry better as a whole. 


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