Matching Mentors

I used to travel extensively and spoke at various conferences about mentoring. Since many of the participants were new to mentoring, I would often accompany my talk with a slide show or movie about mentoring relationships of well-known personalities, celebrities, sports figures, or politicians.

This goal had three outcomes. One, I discovered how much more popular informal mentoring has been over the ages than I had realized; two, audience members were often inspired to take action towards mentoring based on their admiration for the people, heroes, or role models they saw in the examples; and third, over time I compiled a list of thousands of mentoring relationships.

I divided the mentoring relationships into a number of categories to make the connections easier to find. However, as hundreds of examples were added to each category, even I had difficulty recalling who was where. As a result, I’ve created a database that now has all the mentoring relationships listed in one place. It’s still possible to scroll through the list in any one category, but now it’s possible to just type in a person’s name, and all their connections will be displayed.

Here is a list of the ten categories, and a few examples from selected categories. At the end of the examples is the link to the database where you can search away.

  • Actors, Comedians, Producers and Directors (Stage, Screen, and TV)
  • Mentoring relationships depicted in motion pictures and television
  • Musicians, Songwriters, and Singers
  • Classical and Broadway Musicians, Composers, Conductors, Ballet, and Modern Dancers
  • Fashion, Media, and Celebrities
  • Artists, Writers, Photographers, Publishers, Novelists, Poets
  • Mentoring relationships depicted in print (novels stories, fiction)
  • Sports Figures, Athletes, and Coaches
  • Historical, Political, Spiritual and Civic Leaders
  • Business, Industry, Education, Science, and Medical Leaders








To search through the database of mentoring relationships, go to




Dream Keepers Needed

s2020137.jpgProtecting our dreams has become one of the most difficult tasks in our contemporary world. Almost every dream I’ve had has been accompanied by external assaults and self-sabotage. Many of my dreams have simply become compromises. Keeping focused on what matters most, as coach Bruce Elkin has called our dream quest, requires a moral and ethical courage of significant proportion.

Media remind us continuously about the horrors, terrors, and crimes which touch on almost everyone’s day to day life. “Our senses are bombarded with aggression,” warns Margaret Wheatley, acclaimed speaker and author of “Finding Our Way: Leadership for an Uncertain Time.” Violence, moral challenges, political shenanigans, and the unprecedented examples of leaders engaging in deceit, lying and cheating appear to be eradicating the positive stories and role models we have for engaging in the activities necessary to achieve our dreams.

Accountability Can Block Dream Fulfillment
Are we also noticing a significant increase in aggressive demands for retribution, punishment, or vengeance when another person or official makes a mistake and strays from his or her own dream path? Has the use of derogatory, demeaning, and disrespectful terms increased when describing someone who does not share our values and dreams? Has righteousness replaced forgiveness and compassion? Are those who have let their dream falter to be despised? Are their mistakes, errors in judgment, and immoral acts so large that retribution rather than justice is the only alternative? Has Western society exaggerated the meaning of accountability so that someone always has to pay? Has assigning blame outstripped identifying and fixing problems as a full-time pursuit?

Recent business news provides two strikingly different examples of blame and accountability. Millions of dollars have been spent identifying, prosecuting, and convicting executives associated with the Enron disaster in the United States. Thousands of employees lost their jobs and pensions; thousands of investors were bilked out of their savings. One of the executives associated with this mess received a 24-year prison sentence; another died from the stress, and still others received assorted prison sentences and punishments. “Heads must roll,” was the catch phrase of former employees, government officials, and the general public.

Contrast this with the actions taken by the Sony Corporation when it was discovered their laptop batteries, which are used by almost every major computer maker, had the potential to overheat and catch fire. Sony recalled the batteries and initiated a global replacement system. Such a defect clearly tarnished the Sony brand reputation, and the recall program alone cost Sony more than $430-million (U.S.). When Sony announced they had discovered the technical reasons for the defect, they issued an apology to the public and did not fire a single employee. “Take responsibility;  identify and fix the problem,” was the catch phrase that went through Sony.

Character Lapses Can Obscure the Dream Path
While assigning blame appears to have become an obsession in western culture, it has also been accompanied an unprecedented number of challenges to moral character. Television, newspapers, magazines, and the Internet are crammed with stories about people who were pillars of the community one day, and felons, predators, killers, or untrustworthy the next. In most cases these reports are about normal, everyday people who started off with a dream, but wound-up getting severely side-tracked.

Unfortunately, such detours are not just a case of increased reporting. Instead, there is evidence that many people are engaged in detours from their dreams. A recent study of 36,000 U.S. teens by the Josephson Institute of Ethics sadly revealed that 82% of the teens polled admitted they lied to a parent in the last 12 months about something significant; 57% said they lied two or more times; 62% admitted they lied to a teacher in the last 12 months about something significant; 60% cheated on a test at school within the last 12 months, including 27% who said they lied of the survey itself; and 28% stole something from a store in the past 12 months.

The Josephson study also found that 59% of the students agreed that “in the real world, successful people do what they have to do to win, even if others consider it cheating;” and 42% believed that “A person has to lie or cheat sometimes in order to succeed.”

Michael Josephson, the founder of the Josephson Institute, describes this disturbing set of statistics about American youth as a “hole in the moral ozone.” The results of the Institute’s study are consistent with other surveys conducted previously by the Institute. “It is clear,” Mr. Josephson concludes, “that dishonest habits and values have become deeply entrenched in the next generation of corporate executives, cops, politicians, journalists, generals, and parents.”

Dreams Are Always Present and Can Be Reborn
But there is hope. There is an opportunity to turn this situation around. The Josephson study also found that:

• 98% of all students polled said, “It’s important for me to be a person with good character.”
• 98% reported that “honesty and trust are essential in personal relationships.”
• 97% of the 36,000 young people polled said: “It’s important to me that people trust me.”
• 83% said: “It’s not worth it to lie or cheat because it hurts your character.”
• 94% said: “In business and the workplace, trust and honesty are essential.”
• 90% said: “Most adults in my life consistently set a good example of ethics and character.”

This discrepancy between the real world behavior (actions and cynical attitudes) of the young people polled in this survey, and their desire or “dream” about what is truly important in life, is one of the key reasons why coaches, mentors, and peer assistants are essential in today’s society. It is just too easy today for young people to become sidetracked from pursuing their dreams. There are no short cuts for the hard work and character building activities necessary for a dream to become a reality.

Coaches, mentors, and peer assistants are in the best position to help people to articulate their dreams, to recognize the detours that interfere with dream progress, and to learn from their detours. Young people particularly need opportunities to learn how to make better choices to stay true to their path. Our willingness to listen, to express curiosity, and to encourage the expression of passion enables us to join with others to reconnect with their true path.

No one is completely immune from lapses in moral fibre or character. We all have events or actions in our lives that carry forward regret, shame, or guilt. But having a peer coach or mentor in our lives enables us to accept and use a lapse as a way to illuminate more clearly where we desire to be and how we can move toward that destination.

Coaches, mentors, and peer assistants are more often than not role models as well as skilled practitioners. This doesn’t mean they haven’t experienced their share of troubles, difficulties, and detours. What it does mean is that coaches, mentors, and peer assistants are more likely to have turned such life experiences into growth opportunities. Their ability to share their lives and connect in a supportive, non-judgmental, appreciative manner with their clients, partners, networks and communities contributes greatly to helping others reduce the gap between their current reality and the dreams they hope to achieve.

Everyone deserves to have their dreams protected. Everyone deserves to have someone in their life to help them rekindle the flame that powers their dream. I’m glad to be part of that dream protection team and grateful that so many others have had that impact on me.

de Zulueta, F. (2007). From pain to violence: The traumatic roots of destructiveness. New York: Wiley.

Elkin, B. (April 11, 2006). Coaching for creating what matters MOST. Simplicity and Success: A Life Coaching Newsletter about Creating What Matters Most, 4, 5. (Retrieved June 25, 2006 from )

Gray, A., Stephens, S., and Van Diest, J. (2006). Simple living for the worn out woman (Lists to live by). Sisters, Oregon: Multnomah Publishers.

Josephson Institute of Ethics (October 15, 2006). The biennial report card – 2006: The ethics of American youth. Los Angeles, California: Author. (Retrieved October 15, 2006 from )

Merrill, R.R., Covey, S.R. (2006). The SPEED of trust: The one thing that changes everything. New York: Free Press.

Renard, G. (2004). The disappearance of the universe: Straight talk about illusions, past lives, religion, sex, politics, and the miracles of forgiveness. Carlsbad, California: Hay House.

Roehlkepartain, E.C., Ebstyne King, P., Wagener, L., and Benson, P.L. (Eds.) (2006). The handbook of spiritual development in childhood and adolescence. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage.

Tolle, E. (2004). The power of now: A guide to spiritual enlightenment. Novato, California: New World Library.

Wheatley, M. (2004). Solving, not attacking complex problems. A five-state approach based on ancient practice. (Retrieved October 10, 2006 from )

Wheatley, M. (2005). Finding our way: Leadership for an uncertain time. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

Wolfe, D.A., Jaffe, P.G., and Crooks, C.V. (2006). Adolescent risk behaviors: Why teens experiment and strategies to keep them safe. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press.

Friends Influence Health, Happiness and Productivity

The value of friendships in our society across both our private and our public lives has been completely under-rated, according to New York Times best-selling author Tom Rath. Drawing on more than five million interviews conducted by The Gallup Organization as well as the work of several leading researchers, Mr. Rath uncovered some startling truths about the bonds we form and how they affect everything from our attitude to our productivity. The results are provocative and certain to change the way we look at friendships. Mr. Rath details all in his latest book: Vital Friends: The People You Can’t Afford to Live Without.

Among the author’s discoveries:

• People who have a “best friend” at work are seven times more likely to be engaged in their work. They also have fewer accidents, more engaged customers, and are more likely to innovate and share new ideas.

• Although most companies don’t encourage, and some outright forbid, close relationships between workers, Gallup research shows that close friendships at work boosts employee satisfaction by almost 50%.

• The research overall shows that the quality of the friendships in life are the best predictors of daily happiness and life satisfaction, and have profound implications for physical health and longevity.

• People with at least three close friends at work were 46% more likely to be extremely satisfied with their job and 88% more likely to be satisfied with their lives.

• Friendship is the silver lining in a marriage, accounting for approximately 70% of overall marital satisfaction, and was found to be more than five times as many people ranking it as more important than sex or “intimate relations.”

• Spending time with the boss was rated as the least pleasurable time of the day. However, when employees have a close friendship with a boss, they are more than twice as likely to be satisfied with their jobs.

• The water-cooler effect: Employees are three times as likely to have a close-knit work group if the physical environment makes it easy to socialize. Unfortunately, only one-third of the people studied report working in such an environment.

• Do friends shape your waistline? If a best friend has a very healthy diet, you are more than five times as likely to have a very healthy diet yourself.

• Successful friendships are the ones in which friends play a specific role in your life. There are eight roles of friends defined in the book (see below). The fatal mistake in friendships is forcing one person to fill every role.

The studies that the book is based on reveal that people have significantly better friendships if they can easily describe what each friend contributes to the relationship. To make that possible, Gallup built an assessment to help people determine the roles friends play and to give both participants the language to talk about those roles and how to make them better. Each copy of Vital Friends has a unique code that allows readers to take the assessment that identifies what role a friend plays in his or her life.

Here’s a look at the top eight friendship roles that research uncovered:

Builders are friends who motivate you, invest in your development, and truly want you to succeed — even if it means they’ll go out on a limb for you. These friends help you see your strengths and advise you on how best to use them. They are generous with their time and encourage you to accomplish more. They’ll never compete with you and will always be standing at the finish line to cheer you on.

Champions stand up for you and your beliefs and they praise you to everyone else they know. They are the friends who “have your back” and will advocate for you when you’re not around to defend yourself. Champions are your strongest supporters who thrive on your accomplishments and happiness.

Collaborators are friends with similar interests, those who share your passion for sports, hobbies, religion, work, politics, food, movies, music, or books. Shared interests are what often make collaborators lifelong friends and those with whom you are most likely to spend your time.

Companions are always there for you, whatever the circumstances. You share a bound that is virtually unbreakable and when something big happens in your life, good or bad, this is the person you call first. These friends are always giving you meaningful gifts and they will sacrifice for your benefit.

Connectors are the bridge builders who help you get what you want. These friends get to know you and then instantly work to connect you with others who will share your interests or goals. They extend your network dramatically and give you access to new resources. If you need a job, a doctor, a friend, or a date, call a connector.

Energizers are fun friends who are always there to boost your spirits and create more positive moments in your life. They pick you up when you’re down and can turn a good day into an even better one. Energizers are those to call on when you need a laugh, a smile, or a bit of relaxation in your day.

Mind Openers are the friends who stretch your viewpoint, introduce you to new ideas, opportunities, cultures, and people. They help you to expand your vision and create positive change in your life. These are the friends who challenge conventional wisdom and come up with creative solutions to whatever problems or obstacles you face. They are stimulating and motivating and allow you to express opinions that you might be uncomfortable articulating to others.

Navigators are friends who give advice and direction. You seek them out when you need guidance and counsel — they’re great at talking through your options. Navigators are best at hearing your dreams and goals and then helping you find the path to achieve them.

Having the right expectation of your friends is everything, writes Tom Rath in Vital Friends. If your expectations of a friend are in line with what they contribute to your friendship, the relationship is poised to thrive and make both of you better off in the process.

In the foreword to the book, Tom Rath provides some fascinating insight into his own interest in the concept of friendships and their value. “The energy between two people is what creates great marriages, families, teams and organizations,” writes Mr. Rath. “Yet when we think consciously about improving our lives, we put almost all of our effort into self-development. As I look back on my formal education, it was based almost entirely on mastery of a topic or building my knowledge base. In grade school, I learned how to read, multiply, and write, and I attempted to learn a foreign language. During college and graduate school, I had the opportunity to focus on even more specific topics that piqued my interest. Throughout my professional life, I have attended countless development programs that aimed to make me more productive. Even when I have dedicated time to developing others, my attention has focused on each person’s self-development. I had it all wrong. The potential was hiding within each relationship in my life.”

The book shines a potent and provocative new light on the value of friendships throughout our lives and gives us each the tools to make the most of each and every one of these connections.

About the Book Author:
Tom Rath is the coauthor of the #1 New York Times and #1 BusinessWeek bestseller, How Full Is Your Bucket? With more than 500,000 copies in print within its first year of publication, his book has spent 15 months on the domestic bestseller list. Now available in more than ten languages, Mr. Rath’s book has also been an international bestseller. After 12 years with The Gallup Organization, Mr. Rath now leads Gallup’s Workplace Research and Leadership Consulting worldwide. He also serves on the board of, an organization dedicated to cancer research and patient support. Mr. Rath earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Michigan. He is currently pursuing graduate degrees at Johns Hopkins University and the University of Pennsylvania. He lives in Washington, D.C.

Book Purchase Details:
The book, Vital Friends: The People You Can’t Afford to Live Without, can be purchased from (for Canadian orders), (for US orders), or for international orders.