Five years ago, when I launched a mentorship platform for girls called Être, my idea was to bring girls face-to-face with female leaders where they worked. As the French name suggests, I wanted to help girls figure out who they wanted to be.

Immediately after Être’s first visit inside a company (cue the cheering for Spotify), girls who heard about the event started asking: Wait, what did everyone in the room ask? What did the women answer? What’s one thing the execs wanted girls to know?

The more we relayed the answers, the faster new questions came in. So we kept asking.

And during every visit—whether onstage at YouTube, in the cafeteria at Google, in front of Geena Davis, or on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange—girls shot their hands up to ask smart questions. They’d confidently look icons like Tyra Banks straight in the eye, or chat casually with execs from Disney or Billboard over Zoom, and let their curiosity run wild:

How did you know you’d be good at your job? What’s more important

in your role: passion or persistence? Is it weird to be the only woman

on your team? Is this your dream job? No? What would be?

And watching from the back of the room or Zoom, I inevitably had the same thought: How could girls everywhere get to ask these questions? Quickly followed by: Because every woman would probably answer.

That’s how this book came about. Because of girls’ questions.

How do I land an internship at SpaceX? What makes a LinkedIn profile stand out? What can I actually ask in an interview? Can I use TikTok to network?

They asked, so we asked.

And 180 phenomenal women answered.

Wondering what it’s like to be the first female coach or general manager of any men’s professional sports team? Ask Nancy Lieberman or Kim Ng.

Want to know what Veronica Beard thinks you should wear to work, how Dawn Porter went from practicing law to making movies with Oprah, or what Bobbi Brown wants you to do when you hear the word no at work?  We did too.

Listen to what Hoda Kotb thinks about resilience, why Dylan Lauren opened a candy store, how the CEO of Headspace can help you stay mindful, and what TheSkimm’s founders want to tell you about transcending the trap of expectations. Concerned about negotiating your first salary raise? Who better to ask than The Fair Pay Act’s Lilly Ledbetter?

Answering girls’ questions about diversity and inclusion, raising hands, speaking up and standing out, The Epic Mentor Guide is an inside track to the workforce before you get there. Because sometimes it’s better to know what’s coming even before you start.

A word about the questions you’ll see: Some appear in their original form (exactly as they were asked in a boardroom or slid into our DMs), and some represent a compilation of different, but related, inquiries. Where we saw a topic trending, we condensed multiple questions into one to be able to ask the right mentor. The names of the girls who contributed questions are noted at the end of the book, and they rule.

A word about the mentors you’ll meet: Oh, these women. Role models, champions, and rock stars one and all. If we define a mentor as someone who takes an active interest in your future, someone who invests her time and energy to bolster your confidence, challenge your assumptions, and inspire next steps, then you hold in your hands 180 gold star mentors.

All of these women were once in your shoes, seeking advice as they entered the workforce. And all of them have epic wisdom to share. Most of them, when they responded to our questions, said “Oh my God, I wish I had this when I was starting out.”

I look at this book as just the beginning. It’s called The Epic Mentor Guide—not The Ultimate Mentor Guide—because there are so many more mentors to meet, industries to investigate, and questions to ask.

So jump in, read up, and keep those hands raised. Every leader in this book gave us her favorite social media handle, so you can keep learning from these role models in real time. Want mentors who not only walk the walk, but want you to follow in their footsteps?

They’re right here.

Keep your questions coming and we’ll keep asking today’s leaders for answers. Because the workforce is changing. And mentors—whether they are in your office, across the globe, or on the page—matter right now.

You’re building a future. 

We’re building a pipeline.

I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Excerpted from The Epic Mentor Guide: Insider Advice for Girls Eyeing the Workforce from 180 Boss Women Who Know By Illana Raia. The Epic Mentor Guide is available from Simon & Schuster for pre-order at all major retailers and hits shelves March 15th 2022. You can follow the book’s journey on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and on Être’s website – come meet your mentor!


  • Illana Raia

    Founder & CEO


    Recently named one of the first 250 entrepreneurs on the Forbes Next 1000 List, Illana Raia is the founder and CEO of Être - a mentorship platform for girls. Believing that mentors matter as early as middle school, Illana brings girls directly into companies they select to meet female leaders face to face. The goal, as Être's French name suggests, is to help today's girls figure out who they want to be.    Named a Mogul Influencer in 2017, Illana appeared in the HuffPost "Talk To Me" video series, participated in the 2018 Balance Project Interviews and the 2019 #WomenWhoRock campaign, and has been featured on Cheddar TV and podcasts like The Other 50%, Her Money, Finding Brave and Women To Watch. Illana has authored 50+ articles for Thrive Global, HuffPost and Ms. Magazine, and her award-winning book Être: Girls, Who Do You Want To Be was released on Day of the Girl 2019. Her next book, The Epic Mentor Guide, is scheduled to arrive on International Women's Day 2022.   Prior to launching Être in 2016, Illana was a corporate attorney at Skadden, Arps in NYC and an occasional guest lecturer at Columbia University. She graduated from Smith College and the University of Chicago Law School, and remains unapologetically nerdy.