The Enduring Values of Traditional Mentorship: 5 Famous Mentor Pairs

Advising, advocating, leaning in – no matter the name, the concept of mentorship has withstood the test of time. We saw just a few weeks ago the value of Aly Raisman’s mentorship of her fellow Final Five gymnasts as the team went on to secure gold and supported each other throughout the Rio competition.

Though recent articles tout the importance of advocacy, or sponsorship – someone who may not be there to teach you along the way, but who will “pull from the top” and speak up on your behalf – mentorship still serves a vital purpose across industries and ages. Advocacy is undoubtedly important and beneficial, but it’s most powerful when used in conjunction with a nurturing, didactic mentor. Continuing to learn throughout one’s career – and not only for the express purposes of a promotion or pay raise – is imperative to individual and corporate success. Below are five pairs for whom the long term personal and professional benefits of mentorship are clear.

Maya Angelou and Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey, who has been quoted saying, “A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself… I think mentors are important and I don’t think anybody makes it in the world without some form of mentorship,” considers author Maya Angelou an important mentor figure. Oprah remembers how Angelou’s books shaped her childhood, and says that Angelou was “one of the greatest influences in [her] entire life,” suggesting she would not have become who she is today without the legendary author and poet. Oprah frequently quotes Angelou, saying, “When you know better, you do better,” claiming this lesson has changed her life. Oprah describes her relationship with Angelou as, “not just friends: sister, daughter, mentor.”

Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg openly acknowledges the great influence that fellow Silicon Valley entrepreneur Steve Jobs had on his success, saying at the time of Jobs’ death, “Steve, thank you for being a mentor and a friend. Thanks for showing that what you build can change the world.” Zuckerberg says that he turned to Jobs for support early in his career, as a young CEO. Facebook was struggling and he was considering selling, but Jobs suggested that Zuckerberg take a trip to India; a trip that now holds great significance for both Zuckerberg and Facebook as a company.

William R. Salomon and Michael Bloomberg

William R. Salomon was a managing partner at Salomon Brothers, which was co-founded by his father, when Michael Bloomberg started working there right out of college. In an article he wrote about “Billy” Salomon’s passing, Bloomberg says, “…Billy was more than a mentor. He was almost like a second father to me.” He adds, “[Salomon] taught by leading, and he led by example.” Bloomberg even says, “I learned more about management from Billy than I did at Harvard.” Bloomberg was eventually fired from Salomon Brothers – which freed and inspired him to launch his eponymous empire.

Michelle and Barack Obama

Michelle and Barack Obama are now a world-renowned pair, but before they were a couple, Michelle was assigned to be Barack’s mentor at the law firm Sidley Austin, where they both worked. Barack may be the one currently finishing his second term as President of the United States, but he openly credits his success to the guidance of his wife and mentor, Michelle, which began long before they were married.

Benjamin Graham and Warren Buffett

Buffett was a student of Graham’s at Columbia Business School. However, Graham’s influence on him began before he entered the classroom, when Buffett first read his book The Intelligent Investor. One of Buffett’s roommates has said that when Buffett first picked up Graham’s book, “it was almost like he found a god.” Buffett took every opportunity to learn from Graham, and feels that his mentor’s guidance provided him with many of the core values he relies on in his investments today.

Mentorship Today

Don’t allow apparent obstacles of age or time to hinder your ability to develop such relationships. A mentor does not have to be perfect in order to help guide the less experienced. Some mentorships last a lifetime, but, sometimes even just one year of mentorship or one guiding experience can be extremely influential. Making room in your schedule for seeking mentors or mentoring others, and remaining open to learning from all different types of people and experiences, can expand your horizons in ways you can’t imagine.

At Hill+Knowlton Strategies, more than half of the 80-plus offices around the globe participate in a Global Virtual Mentoring program. Each engagement lasts for six months, and employees are also encouraged to reach beyond their offices to find mentors.

What is there to lose?

posted by Magnify Team | September 23, 2016@

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