6 Best practices when you spot your potential mentor (and ask them to be yours)

Welcome to “What I Did Last Week (and what I’m looking forward to),” a newsletter where I offer actionable tips, based on what I am doing personally and professionally.

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Today at a glance

  • Best practices when asking someone to be your potential mentor (the storytelling you need to do)
  • 13 signs of a ‘high agency person’
  • How to use AI to remove unwanted objects in your travel photos
  • The 6 best dress shopping places in Nice (IMO)

I wrapped up my Samita Lab Mastermind members’ Deep Writing and Reflection Retreat the first week of June. As everyone headed home, I started to make my way through the different villages that make up the French Riviera.

Nice, where I am based, reminds me of California.

Everyone is very fit.

From morning till night, folks are running or biking the Promenade de Anglais, the boardwalk rimming the coast. The Tour de France concludes in Nice, France July 21st this year.

Lately, the ions in the air in New York are causing me so much anxiety. The homelessness has gotten exponentially worse since the pandemic. My nervous system never really gets a rest as I’m small and constantly watching my back on the subway platform. 

Too many have been pushed onto the tracks in the last few years.

So–I decided to take action. I have rearranged my business to work in another country for at least 2-3 months each year to give my nervous system a break.

  • It’s my ‘think’ time.’
  • I’m thinking about the future of my business.
  • I’m thinking about next year’s Mastermind and the retreat in Corfu.
  • I’m wondering how my business could become less ‘me’ all the time.

Could I build a course? How I plan 2 months out of country like this a year in advance? How travel is more about courage than it is about the money?

I’m also working with clients remotely. There are days my work day ties up at 2am GMT, because I’m still working New York hours, doing client service.

One of the questions I got during my SheSuite monthly roundtable (We have 1 spot open. DM me at joya@joyadass.com to apply) was, “How do I appoint a mentor?” More often than not, the ‘how’ is tied to self-worth and I prompted an inquiry about that in this post.

Great mentors don’t just tell you what you want to hear.

They nail the hard truths.

Here are the 6 fundamentals you need to get right (and the storytelling you need to do)


1/ The WHO is important.

  • This person isn’t someone who is afraid to be a ‘hard mirror’ and tell you where your gaps are. Scan your LinkedIn and reach out to 2nd or 3rd degree connections that are a few steps ahead.
  • Ps. most make the mistake of thinking mentors have to be real-life people. Titans of business like Bob Iger (CEO of Disney), Phil Knight (founder of Nike) have taken the time to write their memoirs. Mentorship can be found in their stories. They are giving you a front row seat to the build of Disney+ or realizing commercial success late in life.

2/ Research the WHY.

Don’t make the generic request to ‘pick your brain.’

Use this formula:

  • Open with the specific: Research the person and cite specifics around their podcast, LinkedIn post, or magazine interview that prompted you to reach out. How does their knowledge-base or expertise resonate with you?
  • Ask them if they have bandwidth to take on a mentee. Share where you are going in life, and how you foresee them helping you navigate that road.

3/ Decide on the HOW.

  • How often will you meet? monthly? quarterly?
  • How will you meet? by phone? by email? over coffee?
  • How long will the mentorship engagement be? One year? One month? One quarter?

4/ Be prepared.

Come to each meet prepared with:

  • Recent wins.
  • Specific questions/items you need their input on.
  • Allow time for the gap analysis.

5/ Keep in mind, this person is busy.

 Be respectful of the time.

  • Show up on time.
  • Confirm the time.
  • Finish on time.

6/ Know the difference between a ‘mentor’ and a ‘sponsor.’

  • A mentor is talking about you while you are IN THE ROOM.
  • A sponsor is talking about you when you are NOT IN THE ROOM.

Starting a mentorship journey is hard.

There’s no easy steps to getting it right.

But, if you nail these 6 fundamentals, you’ll give yourself a great chance to succeed.

If you are scanning for a mentor, 13 ways to spot ‘high agency people’

And now onto this week’s newsletter:

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Villafrenche sur mer

What I did last week

  • Friday. Saint Jean Cap Ferrat reminds me of Beverly Hills. It’s a village that boasts second homes to Microsoft’s Paul Allen and Andrew Lloyd Weber.
  • But I went in search of beauty built by a woman beyond her time.
  • Béatrice de Rothschild, married into the old banking family, built the Villa Ephrussi between 1907 and 1912 and filled it with paintings by the Old Masters and porcelain. Today, the mansion opens its doors to the artists and musicians to practice their craft in one of the nine gardens on the regular. I bought my ticket on the villa’s dedicated website.
  • Afterwards, I had a martini at the Grand Hotel du Cap Ferrat, host to luminaries such as Winston Churchill. A few weeks after the beginning of WWII, the Grand-Hôtel was boarded up for six long years. The hotel and swimming pool survived entirely unscathed, despite attacks.
  • As happy hour drew to a close, I Ubered back to Nice to have dinner with my friend Monica Parker, who makes her home in both London and Nice. She wrote the “Power of Wonder” and gave me many of the great ideas I put into place for the mastermind retreat this year. (Ps I’m interviewing candidates for the 2025 year class now. Apply here.)
  • We slinked away into the bowels of the Old Town Nice to have dinner at Bar des Oiseaux.
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Villa Ephrussi, built by Beatrice Rothschild, in Cap Ferrat
  • Saturday. Eze, near the Italian border, reminds me of the sets of HBO’s “Game of Thrones.”
  • It’s “hella steep.” Be sure to wear shoes with a good grip if you go (I was totally confused by a woman who chose to wear heels all the way to the tippy top) Navigating the narrow, cobblestone alleyways, I slid into a little salt boutique to buy gifts in my trusty Skechers sandals, with a sneaker bottom.
  • I bought vials of lavendar and garlic salt.
  • The number of Instagram influencers posing for the perfect photo with the perfect lipstick pout was enough to drive any sane person from Eze. No sooner had I sat down on a stone doorway to eat my sandwich, did a tourist ask me to ‘get back up’ because she just had to get a photo in that very doorway.  My inner New Yorker came out as I snarkily responded, “So to be clear, you want me to get up.”
  • I got some snaps of the Mediterranean from the exotic garden, which sits at the tippy top of the village, before I had to get the hell out.
  • I sought safe harbor at a cocktail bar ironically called Dry in neighboring Villafrenche-sur-mer.
  • I also leveraged the power of AI in the Adobe Photoshop Lightroom app (downloadable on Iphone). Did you know that you can remove unwanted objects from your photos now?

Look at this before and after:


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Okay, my hand is a little messed up but I could refine it in the app

LIGHTROOM DASHBOARD (the remove tool circled)

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Adobe Lightroom dashboard

The scary part is that you can also insert objects. For example, the AI replaced the woman with a small boy at one point.

  • Sunday. I’m pleased to have found my gym rhythm here in Nice since I work out most every day at home in New York. Sunday morning, as a Half-Ironman descended on Nice, sponsored by Qatar Airways, gripped the streets. I grabbed one of the last seats at the Nicoise equivalent of Soulcycle
  • Where “you dance,” the front desk reminded me in her luxurious French accent.
  • Instructors are always quick to remind me that the class is in French. I get it. I can follow along with body movements. I do that at home too.
  • Then I sat down for my usual Sunday strategy session to plan out my week.
  • One of the things I’m being mindful of is actually SEE France while i’m here. My New York day starts at 2pm GMT, which means I get the mornings to myself. But once New York wakes up, I’m glued to my computer and desk for the next 6 hours. So–
  • Monday. I went to a vineyard within the City Limits of Nice at 10am. Host Julia is of Ukrainian descent, but calls Nice her home for the last 5 years. She was guarded as I asked her if folks at home were safe.
  • She was an excellent purveyor of information, telling us about the family that founded Chateau de Bellet, a vineyard which makes small batches of wine exclusive to this region, with the most modern of equipment. The Nicoise wine region sits just within the City Limits, with sweeping views of the Alps on one side and the Mediterranean on the other. I Ubered up there.
  • We finished with a tasting of 3 wines from the winery.
  • Tuesday. I love working from Europe because I have a 6 hour jump on my day. I have the mornings to myself to go to the grocery (Monoprix in Garibaldi square or Place Massena), pharmacy (old port), gym (Le Lab Cycling or Amplify). I stop at La Storia or Magenta for a morning cup of joe and a pain chocolat, probably and promptly reversing any calories burned at the gym.
  • I saunter back through the Cours Saleya market. I’m told the sun sits lower to the Earth here in Nice. It warms me like a light blanket as I ensure to walk past my favorite dress stores, and ogle the wares in the window. Thankfully, the stores are closed at that hour. Otherwise I would go for broke here.
  • French designed, made-in-Italy dresses. All in a whisper cotton.
  • My favorites are
  1. Mere et Filles (Mother and Daughter) on Rue Alexandre Mari. Beautiful cotton lady-like dresses and A-line skirts in the traditional French silhouettes (I got a collared dress and nipped in waist, very Carolina Herrera). Two-piece-sets native to the French Riviera. Very affordable. Expect to spend about $100 a piece here.
  2. Mon Oeil! 2 locations: 32 Rue Bonaparte, 7 Rue Antoine Gautier. French brands, designed in Italy. Say no more.  I got a long princessy, whisper cotton dress here, with a bow in the back. Very affordable. Expect to spend 55 to $89 per piece here.
  3. Gerard Darel (this is in Paris too though), 4 Av. de Verdun. The typical French silhouettes with flowy skirts and kimono tops with matching bottoms. More high-end. Expect to spend about $400 a piece here.
  4. Agnes B (found in New York) but its on my walk home, 17 Rue des Ponchettes. High end French casual wear. I’ve got my eye on an off the shoulder cornflower blue top and striped skirt. Expect to spend 80 for a tee shirt. 175 for a simple cotton skirt.
  5. Maison Djulia, 6 rue Bonaparte, Nice, France. Very high end atelier in the old port area, but I love that every thing is made in Nice. Picture the silk ballerina skirt Sarah Jessica Parker wears in the opening sequence to “Sex in the City” in pink silk. Really funky clothes too. Expect to spend $300 to $400 per piece.
  6. L’ Adresse, Nice le Port, 37 rue Bonaparte. Italian and French made blazers and floor length dresses. Very affordable but holy cow, can the Italians fashion both polyester and viscose into something divine. Expect to pay $65 to $105 for pieces.
  • Wednesday. I’ve found my gym rhythm at the indoor cycling studio Le Lab. Thankfully, they have a range of workouts including Cardio box with Romain.
  • I teach him American words for “pronate” and “Bear crawl” as he barks at us to keep doing jumping jacks.
  • I finally watched Season 3 of Bridgerton by the way. I could never get the show, all respect to Shonda Rhimes.
  • I get it now.
  • Character Penelope is in dismay that her only value is in the marriage market. She finds her voice in writing a gossip rag that is widely read. The intrigue lies in outing her identity.
  • Thursday. Matt was due to arrive in Nice, but as things go at airports in New York in summer, his flight was cancelled. He was deplaned, rescheduled at least 3 times before he headed back home to Brooklyn. Headed back to the gate.
  • He’s now scheduled to arrive today.
  • I had made lunch reservations at an olive oil store-cum-dining spot called Oliviera.
  • The owner gently and kindly reminded me to put my phone on the inside of the table, so nobody nabs it. The outdoor tables sit in a busy alleyway with tourists and locals alike sauntering past.
  • I’ve never felt unsafe in Nice. Tourists from all over the world are here with their families. I sit out on my terrace, overlooking the sidewalk, and they wonder what is this girl doing on her computer?
  • By evening, I went to the quaint village of Cagnes sur mer to visit with a friend and shared conversation over red wine and brie.
  • I realized that I wasn’t quite ready to integrate back into being with people just yet from my annual silent retreat.
  • I scuttled home to journal on the day.


What am I looking forward to

  • I always do one retreat with just women. Another including former clients and current with spouses, kids. The latter group arrives this week, barring any delays with Delta.
  • Monday, Matt and I sail Antibes at sunset.
  • It’s cool in the mornings and at night in Nice. You definitely need to bring a jacket. The day gradually warms by 3 or 4pm GMT, when the sun is at its height and gets unforgiving.
  • Farther inland, its HOT! We head to Aix-en-Provence! to the lavendar fields later in the week.
  • We have lunch reservations at the famed Chateau de la Chevre D’or, which sits at the top of Eze Village.
  • Saint Paul de Vance is another medieval village and home to the Maeght Foundation, rife with  sculptures by Giacometti and Jean Miro.
  • Since Italy is a stone’s throw, we will just go over the border to visit Ventimiglia too.

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I’ll add to it each week.

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