I was very pleased to read about the extensive male mentorship program Esquire magazine has just created in partnership with three agencies (link). Its mantra? To encourage more adult men to mentor boys and young men.
This may show a little gender bias on my part, but it’s nice to finally read a positive piece in the press of, by and for men.
I’m a big believer in mentorship (with no bias towards race, creed, culture or gender, btw). It really does make a difference in life. I, for example, would never have achieved whatever success I have without the mentorship of three gentlemen:
– Don Levin, my very first boss at Hill and Knowlton.
– Howard Geltzer, who really schooled me on media relations strategies (and the cold, hard realities of running one’s own firm)
– Mitch Kozikowski, who forced me to open my mind and accept a new force sweeping the country at the time known as the WorldWideWeb.
I, in turn, have mentored dozens of students over the years.
My proteges have come mainly from Northeastern University, my alma mater, and the College of Charleston, a great school I’ve helped advise over the years.
As is the case everywhere, some proteges were outstanding, some merely went through the motions and others qualified as just plain bogus.
Three young people in particular, though, really stood out:
– Chris Piedmont of the CofC, who is now a full-time employee at Peppercomm.
– Krystal Grube of N.U., who is chasing her dream at a Boston-based sports marketing firm.
– Nina Rose, another CofC grad, who is head of PR at a Charleston-based non-profit.
I cannot tell how proud I am of these three mentees. I also cannot tell you how satisfying it is to mentor a young, developing professional.
What surprises me most about mentorship, though, is the dearth of mentors among my peer group (hence the need for the Esquire program).
One exception to that rule is Peppercomm’s president, Ted Birkhahn. Ted’s been mentoring disadvantaged high schools kids from around the country through a program known as Youth About Business (www.youthaboutbusiness.org).
YAB connects successful business executives like Ted with 15 and 16-year-old over achievers. Sometimes the partnership is merely a mentorship. Other times, groups of YAB students are placed in week-long boot camps in which they learn to create, and present, a sophisticated business plan for a fictitious merger-and-acquisition. That’s pretty heady stuff for an adolescent.
So, here’s a shoutout to those executives who DO mentor as well as to Esquire for its novel program.
And, here’s a call to action to any business executive reading this blog. If you really want to make a difference in this world, forget about the bottom-line for just one minute and think about helping a young high school or college kid make his or her way through this crazy world of ours. If you do get involved, you’ll find it to be one of the most rewarding things you’ll ever do.
Looking back, I wish I had been more accepting of mentorship when it was offered. Recently I have begun mentoring an early teen boy through a local church group. It is, I think, extremely rewarding for both of us.