Hey, a big hello from Portland, Oregon! Welcome to another episode of B2B Marketing & More. I have an exceptional guest today, incredibly special – Shelley Wagner.

Shelly is the Chief of Staff for Intel‘s Client Security Division and a certified coach from the very prestigious Systematic Coaching Program. She’s been a coach for more than 15 years, a passionate and collaborative change agent with extensive experience leading organizations using value-centered leadership and coach-based management.

Today we talk about coaching, mentoring, and how can people decide which one they need.

In this episode:

  • Why are there so many different explanations of a coach and coaching?
  • What is a definition of a coach?
  • How is a coach different from a mentor?
  • Where do people who advocate or sponsor fit in?
  • How to approach someone to ask for mentorship?
  • In what ways can people define or discover if they need a coach or if they need a mentor?
  • What is an “informal” mentor?
  • What happens if a manager suggests coaching on mentorship?
  • How can someone become a mentor or a certified coach?
  • What is an excellent way to find a great mentor?
  • What are some career tips for marketers who would like to explore a career in coaching or becoming mentors?

Quotes from the episode:

“When talking about coaching versus mentoring, there are some similarities, but there are some differences. A mentor is like a wise advisor. Often, they’re almost always more experienced than you because they’re imparting their knowledge to you. They support and encourage.”

“When you think of your development, what’s my learning edge or what I want to work on, a coach is someone specifically who is going to gauge a coaching objective, which is going to be goal-oriented.”


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Are you contemplating finding a coach or mentor, perhaps developing or changing your career? Check out some of my previous podcast episodes and blog posts.

Is a Career in Marketing Right for Me?

Making Career Transition to An Independent Consultant

5 Rules of Personal Branding

7 Tips to Start a Career in Digital Marketing


Hey, a big hello from Portland, Oregon. Welcome to another episode of B2B Marketing & More. I have a very special guest today, incredibly special. Shelley Wagner. Shelly and I have known each other for a long time. She was my first manager, my first manager when I joined Intel centuries ago.

That was centuries ago. Trust me. And Shelly is the chief of staff for Intel’s Client Security Division. We’re going to find out a little bit more about that. And she’s also a certified coach from the very prestigious Systematic Coaching Program. Welcome, Shelley. So happy to have you!

Shelley Wagner: Thank you. Good to be here, Pam.

Pam Didner: Excellent. Excellent. So, in addition to being a Chief of Staff, I know that you pretty much take care of everything for your division. And I know that you have taken courses actually for a long period to be a coach. And the coach can mean different things for different people. So what is your definition of a coach? And how is a coach different from a mentor? 

Shelley Wagner: Sure, the coaching profession has, um, progressed quite a bit since I got my, what it’s called a certificate, which was over 15 years ago. So I’ve been a coach for quite a while, and then there’s an International Coaching Federation that, um, most people they get accredited. So it’s kind of the standard body. 

When you talk about coaching versus mentoring, there are some similarities, but there are some differences. I always like to say the mentor, the mentors, like the wise advisor. Often, they’re almost always more experienced than you because they’re imparting their knowledge to you. They support and encourage, and they provide tips, like, “Oh, when that happened to me, this is maybe something you should consider.” So you’re there to learn from, you know, like sitting at their knee and listening to their advice.  

Now the second part, there’s somebody you would call an advocate or sponsor.

Pam Didner: That’s a term I use, I think, a whole lot more prevalent in enterprises.

Shelley Wagner: Yes, well, these are the people I would say in larger businesses. And, and it could be outside of your company, but they’re the people who speak on your behalf when you’re not there. Like, I could be an advocate for you to say, “Pam’s such an awesome marketing person, and she’s taught me a lot. You should hire her.” That’s advocacy.

Pam Didner: (laughs) Say that a couple more times! 

Shelley Wagner: And the thing is, is I know that because I’ve worked with you in that capacity. Now, the coach is focused on their clients’ potential, always with an agreed goal. So this is not. Hey, mentorship could last for years, right? Coaching is, “Hey Pam, what are you trying to achieve?” and then we work together and as a pure relationship where a mentor is usually someone more, you know, more senior than you, uh, P it’s peer you’re equals. The coach is there to help the coachee develop a skill or confidence or change a behavior. 

Pam Didner: Thank you for that definition. Are you talking about a coach versus a mentor? I used a coach for a short period, and I also have mentors throughout my career, just like you indicated. And for coaching, I tend to pay for it. For mentor tend to be someone willing to lend a hand. 

So, how should we approach someone, uh, to mentor us? For example, I remember when I was working at Intel and the, there were a couple of kinds of like a VP level female manager I admire. Still, I always feel very intimidated to approach them, to ask for their time to be my mentor. What is your suggestion to kind of overcome that kind of thinking, to make that first move? 

Shelley Wagner: That’s a great question. Um, there are a couple of do’s, and don’ts of say I’m seeking a mentor and what am I do. The don’t–and this has happened to me–is I’m presenting to a large crowd, and someone comes in the middle of all the little crowds asking me at a Q&A and say, “will you be my mentor?” That’s a no-no. People don’t like that. It’s very difficult to even say “what?”

What you would want to do is, uh, you ha you [00:04:30] develop a trust relationship with a mentor. And so you kind of need to have a connection, and you won’t know that. You might see the person go, “Oh, I like their style. I think I could learn from them.” The best thing is to ask them for an introductory meeting. And you don’t have to say, “because I want you to be my mentor.” 

Um, most senior managers have a certain capacity, and they’ve learned like “I can have two mentors or I can have 15.” I mean, be able to have 15. And so sometimes they’re at capacity. Like they want to do it, and they might say, “Hey, in six months, I’ll talk to you.” The first discussion would be to say. I’m sitting. I’m meeting with you. And I want to say “Pam, you know, I admire your marketing skills. I don’t know anything about it. I’d like to learn from you.” And it might even be something where it’s like once a quarter. I mean, for some things, once a quarter for an hour or 30 minutes is good. So I think that one thing is to just start with the introduction and you connect. Because sometimes you don’t, and then you just need to move on. 

Pam:  Yep. 

Shelley:  The other one is you need to make sure that you’re prepared to be a mentee. So an example would say, I’m asking you Pam, and I’m exploring the relationship. And I might even say, “I would like to explore a mentor relationship with you.” And obviously, I’m going to ask you how busy you are and what you could provide, you know, could you do 30 minutes every month or something like that, but what happened, you give me some really good advice, and I’m too busy.

This is very common. I’m too busy to do it the next time we meet. You say, “Hey Shelley, how was your progress?” And I go, “I didn’t get to it.” Alright, then you should not be a mentee. So you have to make sure you’re ready because the mentor is taking time, and you need to be respectful, right? So you need to be able to make sure you’re in that space where you can commit time to your self-development.

I had someone who wanted to engage me and let’s just say she had a tumultuous situation at work. 

Pam Didner: Right.

Shelley Wagner: Tears. And I said, “I’ll tell you what, why don’t we just meet and chat for the next two or three months? And when this, when you get this finished, then we’ll talk about moving forward.” So, I think the key thing is you. You need to think about what do you want from this relationship? And are you willing for them to give you out of the box ideas? 

Pam Didner: And also, are you willing to commit, right? If I talk to you and there are certain things you have to follow up, you need to commit to follow up and get it done.

Shelley Wagner: Yeah, exactly. Right. 

Pam Didner: Yeah. So another question is, you know, as a business professional, sometimes we are not sure if we need a coach or a mentor or a combination of both. Can you provide some insight to share with us and help our listeners understand how they can define or discover if they need a coach or a mentor?

Shelley Wagner: A lot of times, you need both. Now, I think you could have one or more mentors always. 

Pam Didner: I like that suggestion. I always did like one mentor at a time, you know, but I agree with you that maybe you can have more mentors for different skillsets, for different expertise. I like that suggestion a lot, only that when I was, uh, when I was in a corporate world. 

Shelley Wagner: Well, think about this, Pam. I think there’s, I define there are different levels of mentors. And so, I have had what I call an informal mentor, someone I see a lot, and I watch how they handle a difficult situation. And I, I see it, and maybe I talk to them now and like maybe once a quarter. I know that they’re committed to helping me, but it’s not formalized because they’re helping me grow by me, just watching them. That’s kind of an informal mentor. And then formal mentors or someone who says, “I’m your mentor, we’re going to meet,” you know, as I said, there’s no set time once a month, once a quarter.

So I think mentors, just like, you can have multiple ones; sometimes you do have a mentor who’s helping you with communication. And another one is helping you. I don’t know, get promoted. So there are different, different levels. 

Pam Didner: Understood. 

Shelley Wagner:  So some companies like the one I worked for have internal coaches that are just, no one pays me. I already have a salary. So if you meet the criteria, it’s free. It’s part of Intel’s benefit. 

Pam Didner: I love that program of Intel. Like you can, you know, you can be a certified coach, and you can also help the Intel peers and Intel employees to help them grow, to help them improve. I love that program.

Shelley Wagner: Many people, even though coaching’s now been around for a while, still don’t. There’ll be like, “my manager wants me to get a coach. Do I, do I have a performance problem?” 

Pam Didner: That’s my to-do list. That’s because my manager asked me to do it, goddammit!

Shelley Wagner: Yes. And the funny thing is, so there are performance coaching, but it usually falls to the manager. So coaching, when we do, it is, um, kind of expansive, like sometimes it’s, uh, someone’s fallen into a big pattern. Like they react to criticism poorly in certain situations. So you, that would be one, one, somebody wants a promo. And so really it is something like when most people have yearly, we have insights three times a year. Most people have career discussions at least once, if not multiple times a year. 

When you think of your development, what’s my learning edge or what I want to work on. A coach is someone specifically who will gauge – a coaching objective, which will be goal-oriented. So it may be, “I want to get promoted to the next level,” or” I want to learn how to influence senior managers” or, you know, it’s, it could be a broad thing broad. But if you come up with a coaching objective, and that’s when you want to engage a coach, got it with the, and it always has an end date. So there is sometimes you have to say, “okay, we, we met that goal.” And, with coaching, you have, you know, a coaching engagement agreement, and it really should end. Now, if you want to start, another one is fine, but it is very goal-oriented. 

Pam Didner: Understood. Another question I have is your kind of touch a little bit in terms of like finding the mentor, have introduction meeting first and kind of feel each other out and see if this is something that both, you know, it’s kinda like, it’s kind of like in the relationship, right. I often found it’s very hard to find a great mentor. So, you know, it’s kinda like looking for that, the needle in a haystack. Do you have any suggestions in terms of how to find a great mentor?

Shelley Wagner: Usually, Uh, people who are good at mentoring, they’ve done mentoring before, but here’s one thing that I’d say to be careful. So most people are like, “Oh, VP, I want them.” But if you’re on the lower grade spectrum, that may not be the person you need 

Pam Didner:  At that time.  

Shelley Wagner:  Right, at that time. So I say, be open to who you think you might want to engage with. We had this young woman who she was, uh, she had got hired out of college, recent grad from Intel. And then she spent four years. She was a phenomenal young woman. And then she realized that she could mentor. You know she had four years of experience just figuring out this company and what it means and her technical degree.

She started mentoring the people that are coming in, and she was phenomenal because she cared. She was very committed to it. So, um, most of the people who are gonna say “no, I don’t have time, you know, if they don’t have time,” that means they just don’t have the brain space. So if you can find someone, you do need that connection. I’m not going to say, hey, that you need to be friends with this person for life. But many times, your mentor will be someone in your life for the rest of your life. 

Pam Didner: I agree. Yeah. So the bottom line is to keep looking, and then I’ll continue to have those introduction meetings. And it is, uh, it’s kind of like a journey. Right? And it’s, it’s kind of like a searching journey. Like, and I hate saying this kind of like finding a boyfriend or girlfriend (laughs) 

Shelley Wagner: Don’t say that! Um, okay, the other thing, so let’s just talk about a couple, how-tos. 

Pam Didner:  All right, please. 

Shelley Wagner:  Um, consider someone you already know that’s already in your network. I like, like, it doesn’t have to be a stranger, you might say, “Oh, I see that person all the time. And they were so nice.” Um, talk to your manager. Your manager knows you. Talk to your peers and the people you work with. Like, you’d say, “Pam, you’re my manager. I am looking now. You can’t just say I’m just looking for a mentor” because you can say I’m looking for a mentor for, for exact, right. So you have to do a little work, but. Don’t assume it has to be that person over there cause then you have to meet him. But someone who knows you and most people, you get a lot out of mentoring if they have the time. 

Pam Didner: I do agree. Yeah. Um, speaking, mentoring, and the coaching, I will turn the table around a little bit. You’ve been sharing many tips in terms of how to get the mentor and how to get coaching. What about the listeners? Just some of our listeners are interested in being certified coaches, or they have that capability to mentor. What are some of the career advice that you can share with them? I mean, you know that you have a full-time job, but you also went through the coaching program, you know, like, you know, a spare time, that’s a lot of work and, uh, obviously you have done it, and you have multiple certificates, and you have done a lot of coaching internally. So for any marketer who would like to explore that route, in addition to the jobs, what are your suggestions? 

Shelley Wagner: Well, you could Google coaching, and you get International Coaching Federation. 

Pam Didner:  Nice! “Why don’t you just Google it, okay!”  

Shelley Wagner:  No, it’s there’s a lot of information. So what I would say is first educate yourself. Okay. I would tell you I work for a very left-brain engineering um, company, and I got my MBA while working, and I about died. There was just no sleep and no social life. 

Pam Didner: I, I respect that, because that is the common feedback I got from all of the friends kind of went through that being full-time employees and go through an MBA program. It’s two years, two years of no life.

Shelley Wagner:  And I, and I swore I would never do that again, but then I did my coaching. Now coaching is the right brain. It was so refreshing to me. It was just, you know, a lot of reading and a lot of reflecting. And it’s like, like, um, like this is probably a horrible analogy, but when people go through massage school, they change because they have all that bodywork. Well, in coaching, you change. I can’t tell you I’m in good and bad. 

Pam Didner: There was a lot of Shelley, sorry. I can relate to that. Like, like doing yoga. Like doing yes, several years, somehow it just transformed me. You know, I’m usually like, go, go, go, go, go type of person and very aggressive. Sometimes you know that Shelley and I like doing yoga somehow calm me down, and I kind of see things from a very different perspective. So when you say how coaching program education, and you, I mean, I can relate to that 100%. 

Shelley Wagner: Yeah. I would just, I’m talking to someone who’s just starting a coaching journey, and they were just really blown away by the first four days. And I said, “we don’t use this word very much in business. There’s a lack of intimacy as in, in personal relationships and personal growth as you get older,” I’m not talking about like a husband; I’m talking about working and your purpose and how you fit in the bigger world. 

Pam Didner: Do you know why? Because we become so jaded, I guess that has something to do with it. We are so jaded and kind of lost that sense of innocence. Do you know what I’m saying? And then you’ll all of a sudden say, “okay, status quo.” Right. Like you get up, you do your staff, you go sleep. And, um, yeah, I understand that. That’s how I felt back in 2011, 2012. 

Shelley Wagner: You did it. So you did your transformation when you left Intel, and you started your very successful business. So that was an emotional journey. 

Pam Didner: Oh my God (laughs). 

Shelley Wagner: And because of coaching going through coaching school and then becoming a coach, it’s you, first of all, you don’t lead. You focus on your personal development, and as you get older, we don’t do that as much.

I mean, when I say, “Oh, next year, I want to do XYZ,” but this is like personal stuff. So I would say people, um, I read a book called, uh, I think it’s called Actionable Coaching by David Dotlich. He’s written many books. And in it, he was kind of talking about people who had a coaching mindset. There was a thing of 10. I got eight of them are like, “no,” you know, I kind of feel like right now doesn’t mean that someone that has never done coaching, they go to coaching and they still benefit.

I love coaching myself. It has transformed who I am as a business leader and how I interact with people. And so, I like how coaches talk. I mean, like, I don’t know how to explain it, but they’ll be like, “tell me more?” (Pam laughs) Instead of “get to the point!”

Pam Didner: I love that. Gotcha. Excellent. So, um, we are about to wrap up our conversation. I do want to ask you, um, one silly question. What is the most useless talent that you possess? 

Shelley Wagner: All right. Um, so I have this lovely skill that’s quite useless. Um, and it, I studied Taekwondo for years, and I’m a second-degree black belt. And after I got my black belt, um, you know, how your elbow hits a fork and a falls?

Yeah. I don’t know if I can still do this, but I can catch it before it hits the ground cause I’m not thinking about it. 

Pam Didner:  Oh my God. 

Shelley Wagner:  And it’s not particularly useful.

Pam Didner: (laughs) That’s insane!

Shelley Wagner: Yeah, and I can, and I can catch a fly. Oh, that’s because of how fast you are. Yes. Well, it’s not good if I’m thinking about it. I can, but if I’m just like, Oh, there’s a fly and catch it. But you know, once you catch the flu, it’s gross. So it’s pretty useless. 

Pam Didner: Oh my God, like somebody cannot attack you. 

Shelley Wagner:  I don’t try that advantage. Yeah. Well, it’s trained. Do you know the black belt actually in Korean is the first step, so they assume that you train for three to five years, however long it takes people, and that’s when you begin your true path of martial arts?

Pam Didner: Wow. I can understand that. I mean, of course, you practice. It never stopped, right? I mean, you never master it.

Shelley Wagner:  I hope no one tests my black belt skills. 

Pam Didner: Well, Shelley, we should probably take that as a ridiculous goal to test you and blackmail. No, I’m kidding. 

Shelley Wagner: No, no. I might be able to break the board, but please don’t have me do a high kick.

Pam Didner:  Oh, Shelly. Thank you so much for coming to my podcast and have a lovely conversation with me. Thank you for sharing your insight about your journey and how to discover yourself and understand if you need a mentor or a coach. I love it. 

Shelley Wagner: Thank you, Pam. This has been fantastic.


What can Pam Didner do for you?

Being in the corporate world for 20+ years and having held various positions from accounting and supply chain management, and marketing to sales enablement, she knows how corporations work. She can make you and your team a rock star by identifying areas to shine and do better. She does that through private coaching, keynote speaking, workshop training, and hands-on consulting. Contact her or find her on LinkedIn and Twitter. A quick note: Check out her new 90-Day Revenue Reboot, if you are struggling with marketing.