Tangata Think Tank

The Value of Mentors in Business and Life


Mentoring is an essential aspect of business, but it's not often discussed. Whether you're a new manager or an experienced business person, having a mentor can make a huge difference in your success. I want to share the value I received as a mentor and the value I provide as a mentor. 

Early in my career, I was very fortunate to be assigned a mentor who eventually became a Fortune 50 company CEO. What surprised me about my discussions with him was that most of the conversation pertained to my life, not just business. He provided me with insights into ethics, logic, passion, mind, body, and spirit. To this day, we still connect, and I can never thank him enough. He challenged me to do the same for someone else. It is a challenge that I embrace and that I genuinely enjoy.

In the past 30 years, I've mentored over twenty people. They ranged from high school kids in the DC Public School System, new employees in various companies, veterans entering the job market, and individuals with multiple barriers to employment, including many who have recently been released from prison. Every person was different in their guidance needs. How do I advance in my career? How can I go to college? How do I fill out my benefits form? How do I get a checking account? How do I survive out here after being in prison for 20 years? All things that many of us sometimes take for granted are enormous roadblocks for someone else.

I didn't speak to them as some wise man. I just listened to what they needed help with, and we talked about it and set a plan. Yes, I have sat at a McDonald's, helping with college applications. I've performed dozens of mock interviews. I've helped pick out a shirt & tie and even a dress or two. I've reviewed multiple versions of resumes, walked a car lot with someone purchasing their first car, and been an ear for someone to vent and I've enjoyed every moment.

These gestures never took much time. Typically, one hour each month with touch base emails, calls, and texts. It is hard to put into words the feeling I get when one of my mentees achieves their goal. When everything fits together for them, and the time spent working on something finally pays off there is a sense of accomplishment we both feel!

Think about helping someone by sharing your knowledge and experiences. I promise you that you will not be disappointed and you can make a difference in someone's life.

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