Create long-lasting mentoring relationships by being a great mentee

While I wrote this article for how to be a good mentee, some of these also apply to being a good "coachee"/"client" but a good coach will help guide you through these to get clarity and create the right actions.

Over the years, I've mentored a lot of folks. Some of my mentoring relationships stay transactional and short-lived. However, some go on to become meaningful and long-lasting. As I was thinking about what sets the two apart, what stands out for me is the qualities that the mentees demonstrate. When I see mentees consistently demonstrate these qualities, I end up really valuing and willing to invest more of my personal energy in the relationship and the success of the mentees. If you are looking to build long-term mentoring relationships or want to get the most of the short-lived mentoring sessions you have, I hope these will help you:


Mentee has clarity what they would like help with and why I am a good mentor for them.

Mentees who come to me being clear what they want help with and why they chose me as a mentor really help both themselves and the mentor. As a mentee, this helps them be specific about the topics and the help they need. As a mentor I am clear what I need to be offering to be of value, evaluate if I am a good fit, tailor my relationship and understand what success looks like for the relationship.


Mentee comes prepared to each session with a topic that is current and relevant to them.

Mentees who come prepared to each session demonstrate to me that they value my time and theirs as well. Because they are prepared and focused, they will get something useful out of the conversation for a topic which is a current challenge for them. Bonus points if they share this in advance of the session which allows me to do some more thinking or dig up relevant resources for them. By being prepared and having a quality conversation, this makes the session and the relationship more relevant and valuable for them. This then ends up also being a positive loop for the relationship to nurture. It also creates accountability for the mentee for each session.

Follow Through

Mentee follows through on action items offline or gives me an update the next time we meet.

Mentees who take the insights from the sessions and the action items seriously have a higher chance of applying what they learnt and benefitting from it. By doing this, they also show me they are following through and taking actions, respect my time and theirs, which makes me want to invest more time myself. Ensuring that they give an update at the next session creates accountability for them, ability to tweak the approach by learning what worked and didnt, and continues to fuel the value of the relationship.

Attitude and Professionalism

Mentee recognizes this is a huge time investment at both ends, is humble and has a good attitude.

Mentees who come with an open mind and willing to learn are a pleasure to have. I may not have all the answers, but the mentee shows they are willing to explore together and keep a positive learning attitude. By ensuring you are being professional and not engaging in small talk, you also show respect for the time and the relationship.

Seek Feedback and Perspectives

Mentee requests feedback, whether it is situations they dealt it and asks for perspective on how else they could have dealt with the situation.

Mentees who constantly seek feedback or perspectives show me that they are exhibiting a growth mindset and looking to constantly improve. By also sharing practical situations they dealt with and seeking feedback or perspectives on it, it helps me see what their strengths and approach is to situations so I can guide them appropriately on those challenges or new challenges.

Trust and Confidentiality

Mentee understands the confidential nature of the relationship and creates and expects trust.

Mentees who create a sense of trust and demonstrate that they respect the confidential nature of the relationship and share openly help create a space where the conversations can be more genuine, and the mentor can do the same. It creates an opportunity for both to share failures and lessons learnt from failures and be more vulnerable which plays a huge role in connecting more deeply.


Mentee respects the frequency and length of the sessions.

All mentoring sessions do not have to be a fixed one hour or 30-minute sessions; and don't have to be at a regular cadence. By scheduling these sessions at a time that is aligned to pressing needs and guidance helps make the sessions more relevant and timelier for the mentee, and also for the mentor to better prioritize their time.

Offer something in return

Mentee has something to offer from their skills or experience and connections.

We can all learn something from others, and as a mentor, I always think of what I can learn from my mentee. Whether it is their attitude to things, their interests and passions, or it is the area they work in. I also find that mentees who actively think about how they can help their mentors, demonstrate curiosity about the challenges the mentor is facing and offer resources or solutions or connections are showing the mentors they want this to be a two-way relationship. Sometimes it can also just be feedback on the relationship to my boss, so that my time investment and impact can be recognized.

Mentors can be friends, coaches, potential future sponsors and great sounding boards. I recommend you have a few mentors, each with a different background and a different set of strengths, so you can learn from them for different types of challenges and situations you encounter. And with any mentor, the practices I shared above will really help you as a mentee. If you do these things consistently, not only will you get the most out of your relationships, but you will also find that there's mutual respect created between you and the mentor, and it will be a longer-lasting relationship that you can nurture and always count on.

Would you add any other best practices? Please share your feedback and thoughts.

If you want mentoring, I am on Mentor Cruise -

If you want coaching, then please find more here - Professional Coaching Services - Services ( 

Lessons from a mountaineering accomplishment

On Friday, June 30th, 2023, I stood at the summit of Mount Rainier, at 14,411ft, the tallest mountain and volcano in the state of Washington. The picture you see is just one of the gorgeous shots from our climb. This is how sunrise looks from around 13,000ft :) Pretty spectacular, I must say.

Back in 2018, I had gone guided, and I was pretty scared and new to mountaineering, even though I did manage to reach the summit. This was my second summit of Rainier, and it was a self-guided summit, with my rope team of 4 people. Over the last few years, I've continued to gain experience as a climber, acquiring new skills like navigation, trip planning, crevasse rescue, self-rescue, and just overall experience with different conditions. I felt ready to take on this challenge of working with the team and planning our self-guided attempt to summit Mount Rainier. We trained, not just fitness wise, but the other skills needed, made a plan, discussed under what conditions we would attempt and kept a close eye on the weather, and decided to make a summit bid for Thursday night/Friday morning. We also did a few other big climbs leading up to this as a team.

We left town early on Thursday, started our climb from Paradise (5,400 ft) with ~40-45 lb backpacks, got a spot in the shelter at Camp Muir (10,000ft), which offers first come first serve spots to put your sleeping bag and sleep so you don’t need to pitch a tent, and is sheltered from winds. We started our summit push at midnight and made it to the summit crater at 8am. Weather was cold due to winds, but otherwise route was in good condition, with a couple of crevasses that you need to jump over, one ladder to cross and several other crevasses to step over. Navigation on the scree/rock sections was a bit more tricky to find the flags, but we worked as a team. We spent a good 2 hours at the summit, walking up to the true summit from the crater and then to the summit register. On the way we were greeted by an amazing sunrise. We took 6 hours to come back to Muir. Once back we decided to spend the night at Muir since no one was interested in packing up and hauling our heavy packs down in soft snow (we had taken permits for two nights as backup so that worked well), and head down the next morning back to Paradise.

Overall, of course this needs physical strength and training, but it is more mental. At altitude and when you are tired, the math just goes off the window, and as we were moving slowly, and looking at how high and far the false summit (the tallest point you can see, but is not the real summit as that is hidden from view until you reach higher) looked, I miscalculated that we won’t reach the summit before 11am (clearly that wasn’t the case and we would be comfortably there before our 10am turnaround time) and was really wondering if we would summit or need to turn around. I resorted to my usual, count to 50 and then restart because I know I can always take the next 50 steps even if the summit seems far away. As a self-guided team, it also takes more mental focus, as you are constantly watching for objective hazards which this mountain has plenty (icefall, rockfall, crevasses, collapsing snow bridges, steep slopes etc) and you are staying alert in case you need to arrest the fall of any team member. So mentally, and when the altitude goes above 12K, it gets hard. I am so proud of the team - we made a good plan, talked contingencies about turning around, staying together, and we stuck to the plan and executed it well.

Compared to my 2018 guided attempt, I felt way more confident of my skills, my footwork, the trust in my gear and really enjoyed my trip. Also, timing was perfect with summit day before my birthday and a sunrise at 10K feet on the day of, with a hike down Muir. As I reflect on this trip, I wanted to share the key lessons from my mountaineering journey and progress:

1) It is about the journey, and not the destination, and it doesn't happen overnight. While the destination looks spectacular, this didn't happen overnight. Since 2018, I've committed to, prioritized and enjoyed focusing on my fitness and learning skills which culminated and helped me even dream of having a goal like doing a self-guided Rainier summit bid.

2) Focus on preparing for what is in your control and accept the rest and adapt. We trained for things we could - our fitness, the skills, and discussed things like the trip plan, contingencies, decision making, risk appetite etc. Beyond that, whether the mountain would give us a safe passage and no one in the team would have altitude sickness was really something we could not control. What we focused on was preparing ourselves with things we could control, manage the overall risk by being flexible on a good weather window, and hope for the best.

3) Your confidence will only grow when you attempt things that are uncomfortable and hard. I really believe that when we are in the comfort zone, there is no growth. Life goes on, you keep chugging along, but you don't necessarily gain any new perspectives or skills. When you do things that are outside of your comfort zone, you have to step it up. When you then attempt and succeed at those things, you learn, and your confidence grows. Sometimes you also fail, and that is when you learn the most and adapt.

4) Always break down big goals. With anything big that looks daunting, there's always the first step you can take that is doable now. And there's always a way to break it down into the smaller things that need to be tackled, and a plan to make those things happen. Just because the big thing seems hard, don't shy away from it, break it down. Whether it is skills you need to learn, or mini milestones you need to accomplish, break down the bigger problem into smaller things and then tackle them.

5) Trust the team. While some folks like to go solo, I am a team person. In this case, we went as a rope team of 4, had to trust each other's decisions, skills and work together. It was important to build the relationship and to have open communication for us to feel comfortable. We did a few other simpler climbs before we embarked on this higher consequence and higher reward adventure.

6) Teach and help others. I volunteer as a program coordinator and climbing lead for the Asha for Education Seattle Climbing program. I help others aspiring to climb big mountains by mentoring and advising, leading training hikes, and in this process, I grow too. Teaching others, especially newbies needs you to simplify the complex into the basics and really helps you remember the fundamentals, and helps you improve.

7) Be grateful. Along the way, I've had many mentors and friends who have taught me skills and who have provided companionship and accountability. I've had the support of my family for me to pursue these adventures. I've also hired help, whether it was trainers or whether it is a nanny. This doesn't just happen on its own. I am grateful for the role every one of them has played in my journey.

How do you do it "ALL"?

I often get this question from co-workers and friends. How do you do it "all"?

My first reaction is - I am flattered you think I can do it "all" because I certainly don't think so. But then I realize, the "all" they see and refer to is only one slice of my life/day that they see and may be wanting to work on in their lives (and hence are curious how I do it).

I definitely do not do it "all", but I work on doing the "some" that really matter to me. I balance a lot of things - parenting responsibilities, house responsibilities, work responsibilities, volunteer work, and making time for fitness. And juggling these is not easy, nor did it happen overnight. It has been a process and will continue to be a process as my priorities or circumstances change. And even if I was to tell them how I do it "all", I don't think they can replicate it overnight, until they go through this process for themselves, fail and iterate, and make it their own journey.

This journey starts with being clear about and being true to what I deeply value and want for myself and my loved ones. For me it is Family, Health & Fitness, and Education. These are the things I prioritize over other things because these define not just my daily actions and habits, but more importantly my identity. I am not talking about what people think of me, but what makes me feel I am being true to myself. The underlying conditioning I have around being responsible and committed applies to all these aspects of my life. I set goals, and then I work on systems or processes that lead to the achievement of those goals. I try to do things on a day-to-day basis such that my actions speak louder than my words. And believe me, I fail. I fail every day. But that is an opportunity to learn and tweak the process. And it never ends.

Having been through this experience myself in areas of work and personal life, whether it is navigating my career to be where I am or accomplishing my personal goals, I can bring the wisdom that comes from the failures and the process to my coaching practice. While my goal is to not be prescriptive, I can partner with my clients to explore what they want, what is getting in the way, and be part of their process, and that "aha" moment when they finally breakthrough. So what are "some" things that truly matter to you?

What climbing taught me about life and career

In 2018, I signed up to climb Mount Rainier - WA state's highest peak at 14,410ft, an active volcano and a technical glaciated climb. I wasn’t even much of a hiker and had probably done all of 20 hikes in my entire life before I signed up for this audacious goal. And I am a mom of two, and a working professional. I was fortunate to successfully summit it on August 10th, 2018. I continue to hike and climb regularly, and have hiked several local mountains close to where I live, and have summitted 4 of the 5 WA volcanoes now - Mount Rainier, Mount Adams, Mount Baker and Mount St Helens (leaving Glacier Peak, hopefully at some point soon). I find hiking and climbing very meditative and find that it rejuvenates me. The mountains have also taught me valuable lessons that also apply to life and career that I wanted to share.

I'll make this post a multi-part post and cover:

Why this goal:

In general, I am the kind of person who loves a challenge, and I like setting goals and work towards them. Before this, I don’t think I had ever set such an audacious goal that would test and challenge me physically and mentally. However, over the years, I had signed up and successfully accomplished the Seattle to Portland 210mi bike ride over two days, several half marathon runs of 13.1mi, and a full marathon 26.2mi run. I usually find it easier to keep up with a training regimen if I have a goal I have signed up for. I find that signing up for a goal focuses me and also works as my "me" time and gives me the quiet and reflection time when life is busy with work and kids.

Back in Oct 2015, my dad was diagnosed with Stage 4 Prostate Cancer - it sprung on us all of a sudden, and in hindsight, there were some signals but we did not know they were early stages of the cancer, and my dad's cancer was very aggressive. He went through a lot of invasive treatment but could not survive and passed away in June 2017. During that time, he suffered a lot, and my family went through a really hard time making some tough decisions, and seeing him suffer helplessly. My life also literally hung on every news I would get from my family in India or every report that we'd get from the hospital. I made several trips to India at a very short notice, something would not look right and I would get a call, I would hop on to the next plane and off I'd go hoping that when I land, he is still there. I lived a day at a time, I saw one day bringing good news as some treatment seemed to be working, and the next day, feeling completely stumped, helpless and frustrated as my dad's condition deteriorated or some new complication arose. My career also took a back seat during this time - I have no regret for being there for my family during that time - both my parents have supported me and helped me all through my life, and when they needed me, I felt the need to be there. I was fortunate I worked for some leaders at Microsoft who had seen the best of me and were very supportive for me to be gone, either completely absent from work or working remotely if possible - for that, I am forever grateful. My personal goals and family also took a backseat, as I juggled managing my family - my husband and two kids and our setup here in Seattle thousands of miles away. In July 2017, I came back to Seattle after bidding goodbye to dad, and decided I needed to heal from all emotional pain and the conflict that was going on within me - why couldn’t I save him, did we do everything in our control, why couldn’t we see the signs, why couldn’t we catch his cancer at an earlier stage, etc. I started hiking a bit and picked a goal to do the Enchantments through hike - 20 miles in a day at the end of August. I used that as a reason to get out in nature, and with each hike I did, I healed a bit - physically, and mentally. I got back in a routine of taking the time to work out as a way to balance the stress and demands of life.

In January 2018, the gym I work out at (Pro Sports Club) was offering a climb to Mount Rainier in partnership with Alpine Ascents International. It so happened that the trainer whose group fitness classes I was attending was the lead for it and he asked the class if folks were interested, and I remember chuckling and wondering how out of reach it was for me - I had seen Mount Rainier so often towering the skyline and had visited it several times and had never even imagined that I would consider climbing it. So my response to his ask was that while I thought it would be nice, I didn’t think that I could do this. He very confidently claimed that part of the program was a training plan, and he would assess where I was and would create a training plan for me to be ready and that it was a goal that was definitely achievable with training. His belief and confidence made me take a HUGE leap of faith and sign up to climb Mount Rainier in August. I also felt that it would give me a goal to focus on, keep me out hiking and in the mountains as I continue to find my peace and heal through dad's loss and all the thoughts that were going through my head. I also made it a goal that when I summit it, I will take dad's picture to the top with me to celebrate and honor and his life. I believe this "WHY" was very important, and kept me going. It played a key role as I struggled through the pain, fear, physical and mental exhaustion during the climb and while training for it.

The training required and the journey:

At 14,411ft, Mount Rainier is a big peak. The popular climbing route which is the Disappointment Cleaver route (DC route) gains 10,000ft of elevation over 9.5 miles over 2-3 days, setting up camp first at base camp at 10,000ft on Cowiltz Glacier and then at high camp at 11,200ft on Ingraham Glacier. This helps break the climb up, and helps the climbers acclimatize to the high altitude and low oxygen supply. The final climb to the summit is done as an "alpine start" which means you start climbing at midnight or so, so that the ice is firm when you are going up, and not too soft when you are descending. This means your hardest part of the climb happens mostly in the dark but you get to experience the first rays of the sun high up on the mountain. The mountain is covered year-round with snow and ice which means the route involves the use of special equipment like crampons and ice axe. The route involves a couple of rocky sections - the Cathedral Gap and the Disappointment Cleaver - both of which have rock fall hazard and require you to focus and move fast through sections, carefully considering each step and involves a bit of scrambling. The route also involves traversing and walking on glaciers since Mount Rainier is heavily glaciated. As ice flows downhill, it breaks into huge cracks (crevasses) and blocks (seracs). To prevent climbers from falling into crevasses, especially those hidden by snow, climbing parties rope up to be able to prevent falls and rescue should someone fall accidentally into a crevasse. Some crevasses stay open and require walking over ladders to cross them if the guides have placed and secured those ladders, otherwise you navigate around them when possible. Crossing through parts where there is ice fall hazard again requires moving quickly through those sections while being very careful of each step you place and going through highly exposed sections with high-consequence of fall. When going with a guided company, the guides take care of the navigation and route prepping but the climbers need to learn some basic snow skills which include rope management and walking on a rope team, arresting a fall with an ice axe, and walking uphill on steep ice and snow using specialized foot work.

There is the obvious part of the training which is physical training and getting fit to climb, and there is the mental training.

The physical training involved 3 key elements:

The mental training is usually left to you. This, in my opinion, is an equally or probably more important part of the training. There are many times you feel miserable, it feels hard, you feel like giving up, muscles ache and there are a million other things craving your attention that make it hard to get out and train, and in all those moments, it is important to find ways to push through and gather all the mental focus to push through the training and complete the planned hike or climb. You have to "dig deep" and find your reason to push through, and have to commit and take it step by step. For me, I used a lot of strategies with the primary one just being a simple count - I'd count to 50 or 100 as I make one step at a time, and then I'd start over. This allowed me to just focus on the next 50-100 steps, and not try to think about how much more was left - I always had energy to do the next 50-100 steps and this kept me going. The mental training for me was like true meditation - you focus on your next step and you stay in the moment, you tune everything else out while gathering all the strength from it. I was also crippled by the thought of crossing crevasses, and I did a lot of mental training "imagining" what it would be like, thinking about all the people who had done it and what it would feel like if I was able to cross one too. I placed a ladder in my garage on the floor and walked many times on it wearing my boots and crampons. I tried to focus my mind on just the ladder, rather than think what was under it and how deep the crevasse would be when I was crossing over it. I kept reminding myself of why I had signed up, and that kept me going as well.

Once you have a training plan chalked out, you have to be as consistent as you can be to improve your chances of success. The dates of the climb are usually fixed several months in advance when you have no idea of what the weather or mountain conditions would be like, so you want to make sure you train and learn from everything else that is in your control (which is your physical and mental training). You test your gear, you test your food, how your body reacts to the food, how you pack and access things from your pack, how you get efficient on your 10-15 min rest breaks, how you tape up your foot to prevent blisters and you use your training hikes to work through these things and get better each time. There will be several net-new things that you cannot fully train for - the terrain, how you would manage your fear when in that terrain, the altitude and how your body will react to it - but you hope that all of the prep you did comes in handy.

At work, we often talk about Lagging and Leading Measures of success. Lagging measures are "after the fact" -- for me, the Lagging Measure was clearly a successful summit of Mount Rainier which involves reaching the summit and coming back safely. Leading measures are "indicators of progress". For me, some of the Leading Measures of success that were suggested that would serve as a test of readiness and progress towards the ultimate goal were:

The training plan was for 4 months - I did a lot of workouts, hiked almost every weekend, obviously missed some workouts due to family commitments or work commitments or personal and work travel (which is to be expected in a training plan that spans months) - but I stuck to the plan as best as I can. I planned a few other big peaks to get ready - Mount St Helens (5th tallest volcano in the Cascade Mountains), Mount Baker (3rd tallest volcano and the 2nd tallest glaciated peak after Mount Rainier, which I did as a guided climb with Miyar Adventures). Thankfully, both of these resulted in successful summits and valuable learnings that helped me tweak my training and my gear and helped me get ready. Finally, the D-Day arrived - August 8th, 2018 - I was feeling nervous and doubting myself - had I trained enough, would I be able to do it, will I be able to cross that deep crevasse, will the weather on the mountain hold up allowing us to attempt the summit. But I knew that no matter the outcome, I had gained so much from the training alone and the process so far, that I would try and focus on the journey more and cherish every moment I get. The fact that I was fit enough to attempt this, had the support of my family to be able to pursue a bold goal like this - I was filled with gratitude to be even able to attempt it.

On our scheduled dates, the weather was generally okay, but the summer had been excessively hot and more crevasses had opened up on the mountain making the route more fragile and challenging which meant more ladder crossings, and the hot summer also meant that forest fires would mean we wouldn’t get much of a "view" of the other peaks due to high amounts of smoke in the air. We crossed 12 crevasse crossings on a ladder, we had wind gusts of 35mph, we saw a group bail and turn around even before we started for our summit push, there were a couple in our group who weren't feeling too good and decided to not make a bid for the summit from high camp, we had people feeling the altitude, but we had a great set of guides, and we had trained well and 6 out of the 8 of us made it to all the way to the summit. I had taken a medicine for preventing altitude sickness but I was still hit by light-headedness and headache once I crossed 13,000ft and my guide was questioning if I was feeling good enough to continue to go up safely and come back down. I was determined, but when I reached the summit crater, I could not believe that I had finally made it up. It was one of the most surreal moments of my life. In that moment, I had honored my father and stood at the highest point in WA state with his picture in my hand, feeling very proud and content.

Lessons from my training and the pursuit of my goal:

The training was intense and the healthy fear I had from the goal had kept me focused. As I reflect on my journey, here is what stands out to me as key lessons that apply not just to hiking or mountaineering, but also to life and career:

 Thank you for reading this far, and for those of you whose encouraging words kept pushing me along.


I first posted this on LinkedIn: Limits... | LinkedIn 

In April 2021, I climbed Mt Hood, Oregon's tallest volcano at 11,245ft. This was my first technical climb without a guiding company. I did it with some friends who had been training together, along with mentorship and training from some of our more experienced friends. The climb is challenging, you gain about 5200ft in under 3mi, passes through sulphur fumaroles as Mt Hood is an active volcano, steep open slopes where a fall may land you near a crevasse or a fumarole, and has a 45-50 degree section which is icy and narrow to climb up with an ice tool (kind of like an axe) and you are on all 4s in terms of points of contact.

Six months ago, when I signed up, I was very nervous and knew this would be totally outside my comfort zone. But I wanted to train for it, and give it a shot. Leading up to, I did a lot of open and steep slopes, training for exposure, starting to trust my gear better, improve my footwork and of course continuing to stay fit. We attempted two weeks ago with our experienced friend, and turned around due to bad weather. And then when it was clear that schedules may not align for our leader to go with us again this season, me and my friends decided found a good weather window and planned the trip this weekend, without our experienced friend. 

Here's what I learnt, and I can totally apply these not only to mountaineering but life in general.

P.S. Some folks asked me what the climb was like. This isn't my video but sums up the route and conditions we had -