I think the term mentor is really misunderstood. People come to it with these tremendous expectations, as though one mentor can be all things to all people. Everyone can't teach everyone about everything. So learn little bit from a lot of very diverse people, instead.

When I was in my 20s, I had about 40 mentors, which I didn't realize was unusual until many years later. But I had so many in part because I understood early on that I could learn a little from everyone. After the company officially connected me with a 60-something-year-old white man who I shared little in common with and who behaved towards me as though I was his daughter -- which I was, in fact, young enough to be, so bristled at, since the dad lane was already quite well occupied, thank you, and I was young and full of myself and the whole set-up-the mentorship-thing was awkward (for both of us, I now realize) -- I also connected with a bunch of other folks of all backgrounds. 

Some of the most powerful were White women about 10 years my senior (they were all white because, well -- and there's no way to say it delicately -- there were no other women of color who were middle managers, even in 1990) including my friend Christine Cook, who took me under her wing. I learned two extremely important things from Chris, who was a director of quality. One was how to think and problem solve in a very organized manner. Unbeknownst to me at the time, Chris was training me to become a good editor; however, I wouldn't realize that until years later, when I was actually working as a writer and editor. (Thanks Chris!) The second lesson was the high price a person pays for integrating an environment. Chris was the only woman at her level in research and manufacturing settings. Just watching what she had to do to deal with the sexism she encountered was stunning! This lesson was reinforced as I observed the Black men who mentored me. Ultimately witnessing how much time my White female and Black male mentors spent dealing with sexism and racism helped me to conclude early on that spending my day fighting those battles and barely to see any progress would be a colossal waste of my life force energy, which I could more effectively and enjoyably direct elsewhere. 

I was mentored by several accountants of various genders and races who liked me because I respected them rather than dismissing them as bean counters, as many of my marketing colleagues did. They taught me a lot about cost structures and cost accounting and showed me how to price things, which comes in handy today in my business. The administrative folks (women of various races) and the folks in the mailroom (black men and women), knew everything about everything -- relationships, power dynamics, etc. -- and are often very powerful themselves in ways that may not be obvious. Diss them at your own risk! 

I was mentored by several plant managers, who liked me because I didn't think they were dumb Southerners, as many of my Northern colleagues did. And because I listened to their concerns. And because when I visited the plants I would talk to the manufacturing workers on all three shifts, which the other marketing folks thought was beneath them to do. That made them slightly less suspicious of me than they were of my colleagues, and helped me get things done. 

The point being: everyone has something valuable to share. Listen to them and learn.