What do Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Warren Buffett and Mark Zuckerberg have in common?
Yes, they’re certainly game changers, thought leaders and power players. They’re all hugely successful in their own fields and, as a result, are worth billions (US$226.8 billion collectively in case you’re wondering). It’s also well-documented that each of them practises the ‘five-hour rule’, where they spend five hours per week doing deliberate learning. However, here’s something you may not know. At some point in their career (and for some throughout their career) each has looked for seasoned counsel courtesy of a mentor.
Bill turned to Warren, Warren to his Columbia Business School professor Benjamin Graham. Mark asked for advice from Steve Jobs while Oprah called Maya Angelou her “mentor, mother/sister and friend”. Each credits their mentor in providing them with timely, context-specific advice drawn from much experience and wisdom. I was incredibly fortunate to find myself tucked firmly under the wing of a seasoned publishing professional at the start of my career as an editor. Not only was she a sounding board, a trusted adviser, and an immense source of inspiration, but her constant guidance and her wealth of knowledge were invaluable – she had a large hand in making me the editor I am today.
As Benjamin Franklin said, “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” It can be lonely at the top of the proverbial pyramid, and as CEO you must keep raising your game for the good of the company, so it makes sense that you should look for help from an experienced leader rather than believe that yours is a burden that should be shouldered alone. Still think you’re too long in the tooth/far up the ladder to need a mentor?