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Mentor Magic

The phone rings.

Me: Hello? This is Brian.

Tony: Brian, this is Tony(not his real name). Let’s do lunch this Wednesday. I have some things I want to talk to you about.

Me: Okay. See you then.

It’s rare that I take a meeting not knowing what is on the agenda, but Tony is a good business contact of mine, and a good guy. I’m interested in developing our professional relationship. I showed up at the predetermined meeting point not knowing exactly what to expect. I have learned from experience that I may be walking into a multi–level marketing pitch – or worse.

Not so on this meeting, however. We chatted a bit about the business we have done together and the conversation quickly turned more personal.

“Do you have a mentor?” he asked. “It sure would be nice to confide in someone I trust with career, and maybe family issues.”

His comments stopped me in my tracks and made me think how many of us could use a significant relationship like this. He probably isn’t alone. Tony is well respected in our community and is directly responsible for hundreds of employees. He is also smart enough to know he could use some support.

It makes perfect sense, of course. Who wouldn’t want to get guidance from someone who has been there and done that? Yet, maybe too many times, we drudge forward thinking we have all the answers and doom ourselves to make the same mistakes others before us have made.  This doesn’t seem so smart to me.

“Well,” I thought, “what better way to lead, than by example?” I reached out to the University of North Florida and Jacksonville University to throw my hat in the ring to be a mentor in case an ambitious student might find my experiences valuable.

Just like that, I had new relationships with three of the brightest students our universities can produce. It has been a fun and rewarding experience thus far. To make a positive impact on young people helps me sleep better at night. I give it my all and hope that I can be an active participant in the success of MaryAlice, Celia, and Ana, for many years to come.

As for Tony, and even myself, the search continues. I find that the best mentor-mentee relationships happen organically. Nothing should be forced or paid for. It just works between two people. It shouldn’t be anyone with any type of agenda. They shouldn’t sell you anything or have any mission, other than to pass along some guidance and things they’ve learned along the way.

I would like to know your thoughts on the topic. Let’s move this conversation to the ADVANTAGE BizMag Facebook page.

Until next time,

Brian Barquilla