I consider myself to be incredibly lucky and blessed. I had not one, but two near-death experiences – the first time was in my mother’s womb six weeks before I eventually arrived, and the second time was in Feb 2009 when the plane I was on with 147 other passengers that nearly missed crashing into a helicopter carrying the President of India. I was old enough the second time to come away with the scary thought that if the plane did crash and all the 148 of us onboard died, who would the world talk about the most?
The second experience taught me two important lessons –
- Life is precious
- We are all here for a purpose to do something meaningful.
That purpose for me is to make mentoring an integral part of everyone’s life and career.
My first mentors were my Mom and Dad who taught me the power of love, patience and hard work. My Dad built his career from scratch to become the top 100 insurance agents in India, and was a master at giving and helping others. When he passed away in 1999, hundreds of people came by to pay their respects and shared stories of how my Dad helped them in their lives and careers. So, it only seems natural to me now that I have written this book on The Art of Mentoring, as a guidebook for giving help and getting help from those we care for and those we respect.
I am deeply grateful to so many scholars, business leaders, teachers, professors, entrepreneurs, mentors, mentees, friends and family members who I have had the privilege of working with and having insightful conversations about mentoring. Each and everyone of them has taught me something new that I cherish dearly.
Can a cloud claim ownership of the water it holds? Can the same cloud tell us where each droplet of water came from? Neither can a mountain claim ownership of the water it receives nor the river that carries the water for long distances, enriching the earth and people along the way, before it merges into the ocean.
I feel the same way about the knowledge I am sharing with you in this book on The Art of Mentoring. It is a collection and summary of what I have heard, seen, learned, experienced and reflected upon.
However, there are few oceans of knowledge that I want to specially acknowledge, and they include: Rajesh Setty, Prasad Kaipa, Sheila Forte-Trammell, Marla Gottschalk, BV Jagadeesh, Murali Koteshwar, Tony Tasca, Jason & Jodi Womack, Peter Lovgren, Sashi Chimala, Ranga Jayaraman, Santrupt Mishra, Mukul Agarwal, and Richie Norton. Every conversation with these individuals has enriched my knowledge of mentoring.
My deepest gratitude to Rajesh Setty who inspired me to write this book, and guided me at every step of the way. Rajesh never stops giving and is a living example of Si Li Ji Ren that Mr. Sammy Lee talks about in his Foreword to this book.
I would like to thank the Verbinden team of Satish Chapparike, Girish Kerodi, Vinay Kumar, Jerlin Johnson Biju, Saranya Bhaskaran who demonstrated so much patience and love for the work, and made this book possible.
Huge thanks to Tara May Flanagan who helped edit the final manuscript and gave excellent suggestions along the way. That she did all of this during a severe snow storm and without power in her house is incredible, and her heroic efforts demonstrate the power of teamwork when each and everyone on the team is connected to the cause and focused on the end goal.
I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to Jason Franzen from More Simple for his gift of creativity and genius with the cover design.
I would like to thank Sammy Lee, Chairman and Managing Director of LKK Health Products Group Ltd for writing the foreword for this book, and Jamie Lee for her help coordinating the same with great enthusiasm.
I am grateful to my guru Brahmasri Saamavedam Shanmukha Sarma, a true scholar and expert on Indian Vedas and countless other Indian literary texts. His blessings and immense wisdom continue to inspire and energize me.
The very essence of what I do everyday and the principles I live by are the result of my spiritual mentor Sri Sathya Sai Baba, and to him I offer my humble thanks and gratitude. His message of ‘Love All – Serve All’ is a recipe to bring joy to yourself and to everyone around you.
I want to thank my wife Vani who stood by me, with patience and love, and supported me immensely through ups and downs in this journey, as an entrepreneur and author. It is a true blessing to have a partner that believes in my vision and is willing to put up with everything that comes with it. Thanks to my daughter Nithya, an aspiring bioengineer and a mentor herself, for helping me choose the cover design and encouraging me to write this book as a valuable resource for her generation too. Vani and Nithya make my work worthwhile and add color to it every day.
There are so many other people that I want to thank but am unable to do so due to space constraints, but all of those that have helped me to become who I am today have a place in my heart. One being our little dog Sparky, who was a constant companion during many late night sessions while I was working on this book.
There is still so much more to learn and share, and this book is only a humble beginning in my journey towards achieving my life’s purpose. I am so delighted that you are a part of that journey now and hope you will read this book and refer to it time and again to give and get the most from your mentoring relationships. I sincerely welcome your feedback and suggestions. Be a mentor. Find a mentor. Change your world and the world around you.
– Ravishankar Gundlapalli Ph.D,
San Jose, CA | Jan 2017