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Business Beat: Mentorship Can Be a Contributor to Success and Achievement

What do you think you might have in common with Mark Zuckerberg or Oprah Winfrey? Maybe you are a creative entrepreneur with bulldog tenacity. You believe you can accomplish great things, so you press forward to rise above the crowd. Or perhaps you are a “pro” at what it is that you do, and you expect to be noticed because of your talent and skills. There is no doubt that Oprah and Zuckerberg are talented. They both stepped into opportunities when they encountered them, sometimes taking significant risks along the way. Some might even say that they were simply in the right place at the right time. Were they just lucky?

There is an ancient saying attributed to the Roman philosopher Seneca that “luck is simply what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” It would be difficult to argue that both Oprah and Zuckerberg were both prepared when opportunity knocked. One thing that both have attributed to their success is having been under the guidance of a good mentor.

From the time we are born, we learn most everything we know from someone else.

Who taught you how to use a fork? Or ride a bike? Or say your ABC’s?

Do you remember the first time you cooked a meal on your own? When did you learn to boil water or pre-heat the oven?

If you have ever learned to drive a car with a manual transmission, I bet someone sat in the passenger’s seat right next to you and talked you through it.

There are many things that we might learn in life as a result of time in the classroom or reading a book. But many of the greatest lessons we learn in life, the most powerful transformation opportunities, come as a result of someone sitting in the seat next to us; someone who encourages us, speaks into our lives and shows us a better way.

Oprah once said, “A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.”

And isn’t that something that we all long for? Hope. Hope for a future. Hope for success. Hope to reach the full potential with our talents and abilities.

Oprah was personally mentored by the great American poet and civil rights activist, Maya Angelou. She often recounts the first great advice she ever received from her mentor.

“When you know better, you do better.”

Out of context, a simple statement like that may not seem terribly profound, or impactful. But in the context of a personal mentoring relationship, it became counsel to Oprah that changed her approach to life and set her career in motion to the success we see today.

The late Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple served as a mentor to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The two developed a relationship in the early days of Facebook. In 2011 when Jobs passed away, Zuckerberg posted on his own Facebook page, “Steve, thank you for being a mentor and a friend. Thanks for showing that what you build can change the world. I will miss you.”

David McMillan, Chairman of Big Brothers Big Sisters Alumni Association cites three powerful reasons why you should become a mentor:

1. You have the potential to change someone’s life.

2. It will get you to stop thinking about yourself all the time.

3. The life you end up changing could be your own.

Whether you are starting a business or currently a business owner, mentorship provided or received can lead to growth and success.

APEX, the Regional Innovation Network (RIN) collaborates to put their collective resources together to support and improve the development of innovation and technology among small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) in our region.

Elizabeth Blair is the Regional Innovation Network Coordinator for APEX Alberta. APEX Alberta supports the growth of innovative and technologically-oriented businesses in Southeast Alberta. APEX Alberta is a collaborative initiative between three core service providers: Community Futures Entre-Corp, Medicine Hat College and Alberta Innovates.

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