Ivy Exec Mentor Spotlight: John J. Blank PhD


Ivy Exec Mentor Spotlight:  Gayle Rigione, Ivy Exec’s Chief Content Editor and Mentorship Program Manager, recently interviewed John J. Blank PhD, Chief Equity Strategist, Zacks Investment Research, Inc.  John is in charge of publishing weekly articles and monthly periodicals on the global financial markets for Zacks Premium subscribers and He also helps advise the investment management arm of Zacks, with over two billion dollars under management. Before coming to Zacks Investment Research, he was the Deputy Chief Economist at the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp.’s Kyser Center. Prior to that position, John was SVP and Chief Sector Industry Equity Strategist for Decision Economics, Inc., offering a variety of major financial institutions top down macroeconomic investment advice.  He has made numerous appearances on network TV, is currently doing an AM radio talk show in Chicago called “Investing in Today’s Market”, and has written widely circulated national and international economic outlooks. 

Since the launch of the Ivy Exec Mentor Network in May of this year, John has been much in demand as a mentor and has helped protégés brainstorm solutions to career stopping hurdles and move forward in their careers.

Gayle Rigione: Why do you mentor?

John Blank: It’s fun for me.  I really like helping people.  I enjoy learning from the people who seek mentoring because they are on the move and definitely have initiative.  When I mentor I get to be part of success in the making – and how often do you get to be a part of success in the making?  You have this incredible opportunity to magnify other’s lives.  In life, you are always better off helping people – everyone matters.  I have had lots of mentors in my time and it’s time to give back.

Gayle Rigione: What is your mentoring philosophy?

John Blank: I have survived four major universities and numerous employers in 15 years — not my plan, but now I am a valuable resource on this whole job search thing!   I try to encourage people to think bigger and more dramatically about their lives.

Gayle RigioneWhat 3 words best describe your mentoring style?

John Blank: Personal, engaged, and specific.  The basis for creating a successful mentoring relationship is first – forming some sort of personal connection, and second — engaging in a mutual “learning” process.  The actual relationship is then built on something specific – that is… working through the specific issues that fostered the need/desire to connect in the first place.

Gayle Rigione: What do you enjoy most about mentoring?

John Blank: I like to work with well educated, talented people and help build them up. When a person seeks mentoring, they’re definitely ready to go because they’ve sought you out for help and guidance.  It’s a win-win. You can’t force mentoring onto people.  People need to seek it and be ready to make changes.

Gayle Rigione: What is most challenging about mentoring?

John Blank: A couple things:  It can be a time sink so you can’t do a lot of it, even if you’d like to.  And sometimes, when you mentor professionals who are further along the career curve, you have less ability to impact their careers than you do with more junior professionals.  More established professionals are just that – established.  They’re more locked into their status quo with more personal constraints, and they are much less open to ideas and possibilities for transforming their careers. They find more reasons NOT to do stuff so are harder to help in any meaningful way.  My challenge in this case is how to unlock the “box” these more established professionals have built for themselves.

Gayle Rigione: What do you consider when deciding whether or not to mentor a person?

John Blank: I always try to discern that their need is legitimate.  I try to make sure they’re not looking at mentoring as an alternative “job board.”  Mentoring isn’t about finding a job for a protégé – the onus is on the protégé for that.  My role is to help protégés   unlock their own potential.

Gayle Rigione: When you meet, what are your expectations of your protégés?

John Blank: I don’t have any pre-set expectations of proteges.  I just want my protégés to be open to change.

Gayle Rigione: Where do you find inspiration in your own career?

John Blank: I have experienced chaos in my life and through chaos have become more open to change.  I’ve really had 4 careers.  From 18 to 30 it was academics and beginning to develop a world framework that extended beyond my North Dakota roots.  From 30 to 35 I planned on becoming a professor and worked towards that.  But, it didn’t happen and the plan crumbled.  For the next 10 years I broke out of the academic paradigm and built another vision, working as an economist for major companies.  And for the last 3 years I’ve evolved into a communications professional and am able to reach a much broader audience with greater impact.  A career isn’t an endpoint, it’s a journey.

Gayle Rigione: What impact has mentoring had on your career?

John Blank: I’ve had many mentors over the years – brilliant and inspiring ones that have gone on in their own careers to win Nobel Prizes for their work.  They’ve each helped me in unique, significant ways.

Facing career hurdles? Get one-on-one guidance from seasoned executives with the The Ivy Exec Mentor Network.

The Ivy Exec Mentor Network is a powerful, community based mentoring program designed to provide career guidance to aspiring professionals who find themselves at a career crossroads. Mentors are Ivy Exec members with 15 to 20+ years of experience who volunteer their time and expertise to help other Ivy Exec members resolve serious career challenges. This unique program is global in scope and promotes broad based networking — across national borders, industries and generations — between members of Ivy Exec’s exclusive professional community. Ivy Exec – intelligence @ work… Want to know more about Ivy Exec? Check out our CrunchBase profile or interact with us on Facebook



About the Author

Gayle Rigione is Ivy Exec’s Chief Community Development Officer. Gayle spent 15 years in diverse relationship management and senior management roles at MasterCard International, Arthur Andersen Strategic Services, and Bankers Trust Company. She earned her MBA from Columbia.