When Dana Perino worked as President George W. Bush's press secretary, she was bombarded by invitations to coffee from young women eager for career advice. While she wanted to help, her job left little opportunity for afternoon lattes. "My schedule was packed," she recalls. "But I knew these women deserved some time."
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When she left the White House in 2009 and started her own communications firm, Perino had an idea. Why not model mentoring on speed dating, which pairs romance seekers with a new prospect every few minutes? She envisioned a recent graduate getting cover letter pointers from a speechwriter, then-after a bell signaled ten minutes had passed-quizzing a lobbyist on how to get her foot in the door, all over wine and cheese.
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In November 2009, Minute Mentoring (minutementoring.com) hosted its first event. Perino invited high-profile pals like Democratic strategist Maria Cardona, former Laura Bush chief of staff Anita McBride, and CNN's Candy Crowley to spend a few hours sharing their hard-won wisdom with young women. The mentees took turns asking everything, from "What do you read in the morning?" to "How do I ask for a raise?" "The younger women had all these questions stored up, and the mentors had advice, and we all finally had an outlet," Perino says.
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Says Crowley, "I'd felt so guilty that I didn't have time for everyone who asked-but this allowed me to say yes."
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Perino has now expanded to New York, Houston, San Diego, and even Lincoln, Nebraska. "I wish we could host an event every week," she says.
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