I was delighted to be invited to speak on The Importance of Mentoring at the Women’s Leadership Summit at Bennett College last week. The subject is at the heart of who I am because I desire nothing more – or less – than to be a catalyst to help others (people or organizations) discover and develop all their abilities. Over the years, I have had the good fortune to be in many professional and personal mentoring roles. Creating strategic marketing programs for BKI clients also fulfills my personal mission to help companies maximize their opportunities.

Mentoring has long been accepted as an effective method for developing talent. We are all familiar with the ancient Greek philosophers who are the benchmarks of our thought systems today. Socrates mentored Plato, who mentored Aristotle who mentored Alexander the Great. In the arts, TS Eliot was the mentee, or protégé, of Ezra Pound, Pissaro mentored Cezanne, and so on. The term dates back to Homer’s Odyssey in which a man named Mentor was an advisor to the king. Later, the Goddess Athena is said to have taken on the form of Mentor in order to teach young men the art of war.

Now there are formalized mentoring programs in virtually every profession and many organizations. One of the best guides to mentoring in my opinion is related to science careers. (Read The Top Ten Tips for Mentors in Science magazine here.) In the enthusiastic discussion following my talk at the Summit (organized by the Junior League), the consensus was that informal mentoring relationships are often more satisfying than formalized ones. So you don’t have to wait for a program. I encourage everyone who has the heart for it to identify an opportunity to be a mentor and/or a mentee. Both roles are highly gratifying!

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