They believe in honesty. They believe in challenge. They believe in tough love. They are mentors. In a world that seems to be filled with closed doors and inaccessible groups, guidance can be hard to come by. Business can be very competitive and cut-throat but not everyone is looking to take advantage of you. There are people who want to share their expertise and prove to be one of the most valuable resources available to a young professional who is trying to make it in the business world.
From the CEO of TD Bank to the founder of Tim Horton’s there are many high-profile, successful businessmen who have become mentors. Andrew Carnegie, America’s steel baron and business tycoon, mentored Charles Schwab who became equally successful having ushered in the age of the skyscraper with his now ubiquitous I-beam steel bar. Advice that is now famous and used as common nuggets of wisdom have their origins in discussions between mentors and their protégés, most notably “surround yourself with people who are smarter than you” which was told to George Steinbrenner, owner of The New York Yankees (which people have joked was very easy for Steinbrenner to do).
The reasons for becoming a mentor may not be obvious but there are many. It helps bridge a generational gap that may seem elusive to someone higher up in an industry. Having a protégé allows a mentor to understand the new generation’s motives, goals and ambitions and improve his own career with these insights. An experienced person can identify the stars of the next generation and show them how to handle tough situations and help them grow into an employee that has both professional and personal standards. Most importantly it carries on a tradition that dates back to the ancient Greeks and fulfills a fundamental desire to form meaningful, productive relationships.
A protégé has the distinct advantage of learning first hand. Most people learn through a process of trial and error which takes time and produces results that are sometimes harmful to their self-confidence, drive and ambition. Having a mentor will shorten the learning curve and give a boost to the lessons learned in any experience. In all aspects of life it is good to have someone to talk through issues. Sometimes just stating an issue out loud helps make a problem clearer in our minds. Having a mentor enables you to do this on a regular basis and receive feedback from an experienced source that can be trusted to represent your interests.
Here at IntuuChina we have found this relationship produces results that go beyond the office and create some of the most well rounded professionals in the workplace. Our partners at CWCC Latin Department have found it to be equally valuable especially between two people of different cultural backgrounds. The following link is a story of a man from Colombia who was fortunate to find a mentor in Hong Kong who helped bridge cultural gaps and achieve a greater potential than he thought possible.