The Power of Mentoring

Paying Back by Paying It Forward

There are all kinds of reasons to mentor people in business.

It feels good to invest in the next generation.

You get back more than you give.

You’d want someone to help your own kids.

But it’s also good business and it pays forward more than you can ever possibly imagine — especially if you are (or aspire to be) an entrepreneur.

That’s why I’m psyched to be participating in a Fireside Chat on Mentorship at the Greener Ventures Conference at the Tuck School of Business this Saturday, April 14. Joining me will be my long-time friend and colleague Dave Girouard (Dartmouth ’88, Thayer School of Engineering ’89), founder and CEO of Upstart. Along with a number of other great folks, we will be judging the Greener Ventures Entrepreneurship Contest. We are psyched to be sponsoring the first-ever business plan competition at Dartmouth/Thayer/Tuck and are looking forward to a weekend in Hanover.

I’ve been blessed over the past 20 years to have a fantastic series of mentors who have all given more to me than I can ever possibly describe or repay.

In particular, Peter Barris (who I met in 1993 while a second-year student at Tuck) has been both consistent and thoughtful in his advice and support over the past 18+ years. One of the unique aspects of Peter’s advice over the years was that — consistently — he gave me advice that was as objective as possible. Peter was always able to abstract his own interests out from the situation. He gave me feedback and advice on my own professional development, and ideas that were the best for me in the long term — regardless of the short-term benefit or cost to himself. This ability to focus on my long-term development regardless of short-term interests was more valuable for me than I can describe.

Also, my friend Frank Moss has been an incredibly powerful influence on my professional development. Through a very critical time in my career, Frank taught me that — no matter what the reward — compromising your personal values in business is never worthwhile and that true leadership in business is not about making money, but rather it is about being mission-driven, building valuable things and helping people.

I’ve been working with Dave Girouard on his new company, Upstart, which is focused on empowering young, smart and innovative people who are just beginning their careers and are interested in taking paths other than the traditional or conservative.

Originally published: Apr 13, 2012

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Located in the heart of Harvard Square, Koa Labs is a Seed Fund for promising start-ups.

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