This story was originally published in the August/September 2015 issue of Chattanooga Magazine.
The son of a military family, Jimar Sanders spent much of his childhood near Army bases in Virginia, Texas and Japan. After graduating law school and spending eight years in Chattanooga at one of the South’s largest law firms. He credits two advisors, or mentors, with helping him get established in the community and achieving member status at the firm. His practice is focused on corporate finance and real estate.
City Attorney, Wade Hinton was with Miller & Martin when Sanders first came on board. Sanders remembers bouncing ideas off his senior associate, who was a few years older than he. “Wade had a broader knowledge of both the community and the law firm,” says Sanders. “He used examples from his own past experience and he has been very candid.”
The other mentor is Pat Murphy, a member attorney Sanders has been working with for the past few years. “Pat is a great teacher, he gives good explanations, but allows you to try things out on your own,” says Sanders. “He’s very supportive and has allowed me to work with some of his larger clients. That’s what you want to happen, and I hope I can replicate that when I’m older.” According to Sanders, when mentors are straightforward, he feels they have his best interest at heart. He believes patience and a willingness to spend time with the mentee are important factors. He in turn, takes time out to volunteer at Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Chattanooga.
In a 2014 Forbes article, writer Erika Anderson cites five core qualities to look for in a mentor:
- Self-reflection: Some people simply don’t spend much time thinking about their own experience; a person can be quite knowledgeable and successful without having reflected much on how they got where they are today. However, just hearing about what someone has done is much less valuable than hearing about why they did it, and about their understanding of why it worked or didn’t work.
- Discretion: In a good mentor relationship, you need to be able to be honest about your own life and circumstances—and confident that your revelations won’t go beyond your mentor. If he or she can’t be trusted to keep confidences, your relationship will be superficial at best—damaging at worst.
- Honesty: If you’re brave enough to ask your mentor for advice, he or she needs to be brave enough to give you a straight answer.
- Curiosity: Isn’t it the mentee’s responsibility to be curious about the mentor? Yes. And, if the mentor isn’t curious about the mentee, what’s important to him, what he has done so far and how it’s working—it’s unlikely his or her advice will be very helpful.
- Generosity of Spirit: A great mentor wants you to succeed, and he or she will actively support your success with words and actions. The great mentor will never be envious or feel threatene by your growth; he or she will congratulate you on your triumphs and help you recover from your setbacks. The generous mentor believes in your potential, and communicates that to you freely and with hope.
Both mentors have made introductions for Jimar Sanders that he might not have made otherwise. His young family includes wife Gabrielle, a two-year-old son and a six-year-old daughter. He believes the entire family has benefited from these relationships. “Having a mentor,” says Sanders, “is big.”