Your career is one of your most important assets. After your health, it plays the largest role in determining your ability to acquire wealth. Penelope Trunk’s Brazen Careerist is a weblog filled with practical workplace advice that that can help separate you from your peers. Some of her past articles include:

One Brazen Careerist reader recently wrote for advice about how to ask for mentoring. “Read a lot,” Trunk answered. “Find people you want to be like and send them an email.” But after replying she realized:

To be honest, it’s not like I do this all the time. So, like I said, the more I give advice the more likely I am to take it, and finally, I decided to try contacting someone I read about. [...] I emailed her to ask if she could give me some career advice. I sent her some sample columns and I made a little joke about how even the career columnist needs career advice. After all, humility and humor go a long way in getting someone to want to help.

She replied to my email ten minutes later. I couldn’t believe it. I rarely respond to my emails that fast. I decided she was very organized and on top of things and she would really have a lot to teach me. I got excited. And then I got nervous that I wouldn’t have good questions, or that I wouldn’t know how to steer the conversation. [...] Finally, I called.

[...]

I felt great after that call. I felt great that I took action to get a new mentor, even if it didn’t work. I felt great that I read about someone and talked to her. That’s what people should do, and I knew that after having done it once, I would do it again. It wasn’t difficult at all.

Mentors come in many forms. The key is identifying those people from whom you can learn, and to ask them to share their wisdom with you. Do you work in a large firm? Would you like to pick the brain of the CEO? Form some questions and call her. Are you an aspiring writer? Drop your favorite author a line and ask him for advice. Don’t fawn. Don’t gush. If you are polite, and if you are sincere, most people will be pleased to respond. They were young once, too. They know what it’s like to be starting out.

I have a wishlist of people I want to contact. Among them are big names like Dave Ramsey, Guy Kawasaki, Warren Buffet, and Robert Kiyosaki. Despite having formed this wishlist, I have never acted upon it. That’s ridiculous. There is absolutely no harm in trying to contact these people.

Trunk’s story has urged me to action; during the next month, I will attempt to contact these gurus to ask them if they can offer personal finance advice to the readers of Get Rich Slowly. Like Trunk, maybe I’ll get lucky. (My first step is finding contact information for these potential mentors.)

Not all mentors are big name celebrities, of course. Most are simply successful people further along your chosen career path. But they can be as close as your circle of friends, or your family. I’m fortunate to have a blogging mentor who lives nearby; his advice is invaluable. By seeking the wisdom of others, you can learn from their experience, and use this knowledge to improve yourself.

I’ll be reviewing Trunk’s new book, Brazen Careerist: The New Rules for Success, during the beginning of May.

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