Why should you read this book?
I wrote this book to share with you my 20+ years of experience in helping others, as well as receiving help from others. I didn’t get to where I am alone; there were many individuals who held my hand and helped me along the way. Helping others is now a way for me to “pay it forward.”
We can all identify at least one person who made a significant and positive impact on our lives. There could be—and most likely is— more than just one such individual in each of our lives. They changed our course and molded our thoughts. Those are our mentors, and they can be friends, relatives, co-workers, teachers, or known personalities. Our mentors are the more experienced, knowledgeable people in our lives who helped us stay on the right track by constantly guiding and nudging us along the way.
You have picked up this book because mentoring means something to you and is close to your heart. You enjoy helping others and sharing your knowledge and experience with people you care about. Or maybe you have heard stories of successful professionals and entrepreneurs, and how those people had the perfect mentors in their lives. You want to learn how they managed to win the attention and access to successful and caring individuals. It may also be that you believe in the power of mentoring and want to know how to bring that power to the organization or association you care about or are part of. Whatever the reasons might be, I am glad you are reading this book.
Mentoring is not a new idea. In fact, it is one of the oldest known methods for “positive and constructive influence” from one individual to another, and it is peppered throughout time in stories and in all cultures. The origin of the term mentoring dates back to the time of the ancient Greek storyteller, Homer. It is said that the modern use of the term however, comes from the work of the 18th-century French writer, Fenelon. Even in Hindu mythology, there are references to successful kings and scholars looking at certain individuals as their “mentors,” separate from “teachers” or “gurus.” In the ancient Indian epic, Mahabharata, the great warrior and leader, Arjuna, considered Lord Krishna as his mentor, and Sage Drona as his teacher. Drona taught Arjuna skills in archery and discipline, while Lord Krishna helped Arjuna understand the real world and make wise decisions at key points in his life, and was always there to help Arjuna. In Greek history, Alexander the Great considered Aristotle as his mentor.
A mentor is someone who “cares and shares.” A mentee is someone who “trusts and acts.” When you read these ancient stories, you begin to see how great leaders surrounded themselves both with those who taught them skills and others who shared wisdom.
as her mentor. Musician Ray Charles was a mentor for the legendary musician Quincy Jones. Even Virgin Group co-founder Richard Branson wrote numerous articles about the influence mentors had on his own professional success.
Companies have for decades adopted mentoring as a means to grow high-potential employees into future leaders. Companies also leverage mentoring to advance women and minorities into leadership ranks. Leading entrepreneur networks like Y-Combinator, 500 Startups, Alchemist, Startups.co, Founder Institute, Boot Up World, and Unreasonable Institute, just to name a few, describe access to great mentors as one of their key value propositions for entrepreneurs.
Alumni networks across top-ranked global universities talk about engaging their successful alumni as mentors for recent graduates and current students. Movements like Million Women Mentors are on a mission to connect one million women working in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) careers with the up and coming generation of STEM professionals in universities and high schools across the United States of America.
My daughter Nithya was part of a mentoring program in high school where she acted as co-captain of the school’s Speech & Debate team and was given the responsibility of passing on her skills and wisdom to the next batch of debaters from junior classes.
The value of mentoring has even made its way into pop culture: Who would Batman be without Alfred? Can you think of Luke without Yoda, or Po Kung Fu Panda without Master Shifu? Who would Harry Potter be without Dumbledore?
The references are endless. Suffice it to say that the power of mentoring is still going strong in today’s organizations and institutions, and that this human practice of wisdom-transferring is at the core of what so many are doing to thrive and grow.
Unfortunately, there are still many misconceptions about what exactly mentoring is. I am dedicating an entire chapter to address these common myths about mentoring so that you are fully informed. I sincerely hope this book helps you start the conversation with those who challenge the power of mentoring, and allow you to become a champion of mentoring in your own professional and social networks.
Let us pause now and reflect on the following questions:
Do you enjoy helping others?
Do you have a skill or expertise that you believe others can benefit from?
Do you believe in sharing knowledge?
Do you enjoy being thanked for something you did for another person?
You are holding this book in your hands because your answers to these questions were a resounding YES.
Mentoring is a fundamental form of human development, where one person invests time, energy, and personal know-how in assisting the growth and capabilities of another person. A mentor is a person who identifies talent and ability within another person and helps bring those innate talents out, leading to self-discovery and mastery.
Mentoring comes in all shapes and sizes, and can start at an early age. If we reflect back on our own childhood and upbringing, mentoring actually begins at home with our mother and father as our first mentors. Legendary CEO of Cisco Systems, John Chambers, talks at length about the positive influence his mom and dad had on him. We can reflect on how our parents shaped us into who we are today. Those of us who are parents have the big responsibility of passing on our values, culture, and heritage to our children by being their first mentors.
What will be covered in this book?
This book will cover a few basic ideas and concepts related to mentoring. It will unwrap the secret that surrounds what mentoring is all about. In Chapter 2, you will get a deeper understanding of what mindset really is, and what kind of mindset mentors and mentees should have to build great mentoring relationships.
In Chapters 3 and 4, I will discuss how to be a good mentor and good mentee. These are fundamental skills for success that are not actively taught in our schools, colleges, or companies today. I want you to master these skills, and once you do, nothing can stand in your way of establishing your legacy and rapidly growing in your career.
Finding the right people to work with as a mentor or mentee can be a daunting task, and often intimidating. You can’t possibly help everyone who comes your way; you just don’t have the time and energy to do so. You also can’t simply walk up to someone you respect and admire and ask,
Can you be my mentor?” Why should they? Why should they spend their valuable and irreplaceable time helping you? What’s in it for them? In Chapter 5, I will present a 4-step process of how to find and work with the right mentors.
In Chapter 6, I will cover the core benefits of mentoring and how you can ensure you have a successful and rewarding mentoring relationship as a mentor and/or mentee. I will also share some insights on how to leverage mentoring relationships to create great stories that you can tell in your life.
What can you expect from this book?
By the time you reach the last page of this book, you will have gained the full meaning of a successful mentoring relationship, as well as proven best practices on how to be a good mentor or mentee that you can directly apply in your startup, education, or organization. Reading this book will help you learn how to give help, and how to get help. You will pick up several key skills and perspectives that you can successfully implement in your personal as well as professional lives.
Who should read this book?
I wrote this book with four kinds of people in mind. I have come across tens, sometimes hundreds, of people in each of these categories, and had the unique opportunity to be an observer, contributor, and beneficiary
Aspiring Entrepreneurs – You have big aspirations and want to change the world, but you cannot do it alone; you need the help of other people who can open doors for you. This book will show you how to leverage the art of mentoring in order to get help from the right people at the right time, and also how you can help other entrepreneurs.
Senior Executives – Mentoring is a great way to demonstrate your leadership skills and leave a legacy. If you are 15-20 years into your career, you should start thinking about the story you will leave behind for others to tell. This book will help you learn how to build those stories, and ensure that you are remembered and recognized for many years to come.
Early to Mid-Career Employees – You are either just getting started or settling down in your career, and mentoring is a skill you must leverage to connect with executives and the network of people around you. With this skill, you can ensure that you are learning and growing steadily and continuously in your career.
Students – As you complete your education and look to launch your career, you should certainly explore on your own and create something new for yourself and the world. But you also want to be smart and make sure you avoid known mistakes by seeking guidance from others around you and from those who have been in your place. The art of mentoring is a skill that will help you get the best job, find happiness, and launch your career in the right way.
Welcome to the Art of the Mentoring. I have organized this book in such a way that each chapter is self-contained and can be read on its own, independent of the other chapters. My desire is that you will read this book not once, but again and again as you come back to it as a good reference for all your mentoring activities as a mentor and mentee.