Last night I attended a Jeffersonian style dinner hosted by a couple of friends Nick Karas and Matt Conforti who both work at Flux here in Boulder. The idea of a Jeffersonian dinner is that the dinner conversation has a preset topic that everyone should come prepared to talk about. The topic for last night's dinner was "Who has been the most effective teacher/mentor in your life? Why did they leave a lasting impact?"
There was a wide range of answers. From, basically not having any specific mentors rather considering a friend group as the closest thing. To having very deliberate mentors where the relationship of mentor to mentee was verbally discussed. Also, through the course of the evening, we were able to hone in on a more specific definition of what a mentor is.
We discussed the distinction between a mentor, role model, and a teacher. A teacher is the easiest to define, someone you learn from either with direct contact or not. A role model is someone you look up to and want to become similar to in some or many ways. Finally, a mentor can be both a teacher and a role model. The difference is basically the element of friendship and a good mentor takes some ownership / responsibility in the growth of the mentee. A word that kept coming up around mentors was human. Many people in the group described that their mentors first saw them as a human. Meaning they were much more tolerant of mistakes and treated them with kindness.
Over the past few years since graduating college, I have been very lucky to have had many great mentors. Including Ted Serbinski who taught me the value of giving time to others, a value embodied by Techstars slogan: Give First. And Jason Mendelson whom I picked up the importance of being as kind as possible regardless of who that person is and how busy my own life might be. Those mentors, among many others, have been highly influential in my life over the past few years. However, I would be completely wrong if I had picked any of them as my most influential mentor overall. My answer to that question is indisputably my father. While I was growing up my father was always an entrepreneur. In the late 90s, he started a tech company. And after that, he has run a commercial bakery and been very involved in charitable work. He has always advocated working hard, building things, and that no problem was too difficult or impossible to solve. In addition to being a great teacher and role model, my dad has certainly been the mentor that has left the biggest lasting impact in my life. Thanks, dad!
Finally, thank you again Nick and Matt for hosting all of us for dinner. Hope to do it again!Share on Twitter Share on Facebook