Although written for last year’s celebration of the 150th Canada Day, my book on mentoring includes details about more than 150 mentoring relationships as well as ideas about mentoring. It’s available in Amazon’s Kindle Collection: https://goo.gl/vMmNEM
My fascination with, commitment to, and 60+ year involvement in mentoring started when I entered high school and became connected to an older student who was assigned to be my mentor. I was to learn that the relationship I had with my mentor would last a lifetime even after he died in an auto crash.
Since that time I’ve been blessed with a number of mentoring relationships all of which taught me life lessons that I hope will enable me to leave a similar legacy to those I have mentored.
I’ve learned that in many cases I didn’t know I was being mentored or was acting as a mentor to someone else. That is, at the time, I wasn’t aware of the life-long impact the thoughts, ideas, and actions of another would have on me or how my actions, thoughts, and ideas would leave a legacy for another person. I also learned that distance from another did not act as a barrier to mentoring. In addition, I learned something about mentoring that surprised me: mentoring can occur through literature, music, art, and the physical elements of our planet such as a glorious sunset or a majestic forest.
I think that a mentoring relationship is a primary way our culture is transmitted and transformed. Mentoring has been with us always whether it was elders sharing stories around a fire or modern business leaders considering how best to manage succession.
Recognition of the power of mentoring has prompted thousands of formal mentoring programs in schools, governments, colleges, universities, community agencies, hospitals, professional associations, and the business world.
At Peer Resources we started curating a list of a few well-known persons who were mentors or had been mentored. That list grew exponentially and is now the foundation of our Mentor Hall of Fame.* More than 5,000 mentoring relationships are included in the Mentor Hall of Fame database.
To help celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday, I selected more than a 150 mentoring relationships of well-known (and lesser known) Canadians; combined details about their relationships with ideas about mentoring and added examples of how those mentoring ideas were demonstrated in my own mentoring relationships.
The result is my current book on mentoring. The book provides information about the Four Pillars of Mentoring as a way of helping readers understand what mentoring is and isn’t. It includes several examples of the Four Pillars drawn from my life experience. The majority of the book lists mentor pairings of Canadians, mostly well-known from many walks of life including history, leadership, education, sports, business, medicine, the arts, writing, journalism, music, and the motion picture industry. Non-Canadians are also included when they were mentored by a Canadian or acted as a mentor to a Canadian. A name index is included to make it easier to search for particular individuals.
Where to Get This Book: This book is available as an e-book and is free to members of the Peer Resources Network. The e-book version is also available online from Amazon, local bookstores in the Victoria, British Columbia area, and the Greater Victoria Public Library. (GVPL)
* The Mentor Hall of Fame database includes mentors from all over the world, from all walks of life, and from history. If you’d like to be considered for inclusion in the Hall of Fame, leave a comment here with your mentoring details. If you want to know if you are already in the Mentor Hall of Fame or who else is currently listed, visit our database here.
“It’s impossible for me to talk about popular music without mentioning probably my greatest mentor, John Lennon. I guess he defined for me, at any rate, how one could twist and turn the fabric of pop and imbue it with elements from other art forms, often producing something extremely beautiful, very powerful and imbued with strangeness.
Also, uninvited, John would wax on endlessly about any topic under the sun and was over-endowed with opinions. I immediately felt empathy with that. Whenever the two of us got together it started to resemble Beavis and Butthead on Crossfire.
The seductive thing about John was his sense of humor. Surrealistically enough, we were first introduced in about 1974 by Elizabeth Taylor. Miss Taylor had been trying to get me to make a movie with her. It involved going to Russia and wearing something red, gold and diaphanous. Not terribly encouraging, really. I can’t remember what it was called—it wasn’t On the Waterfront, anyway, I know that.
We were in LA, and one night she had a party to which both John and I had been invited. I think we were polite with each other, in that kind of older- younger way. Although there were only a few years between us, in rock and roll that’s a generation, you know? Oh boy, is it ever.
So John was sort of [in Liverpool accent] ‘Oh, here comes another new one.’ And I was sort of, “It’s John Lennon! I don’t know what to say. Don’t mention the Beatles, you’ll look really stupid.”
And he said, ‘Hello, Dave.’ And I said, ‘I’ve got everything you’ve made—except the Beatles.’
A couple of nights later we found ourselves backstage at the Grammys where I had to present ‘the thing’ to Aretha Franklin. Before the show, I’d been telling John that I didn’t think America really got what I did, that I was misunderstood. Remember that I was in my 20s and out of my head. So the big moment came and I ripped open the envelope and announced, ‘The winner is Aretha Franklin.’ Aretha steps forward, and with not so much as a glance in my direction, snatches the trophy out of my hands and says, ‘Thank you everybody. I’m so happy I could even kiss David Bowie.’ Which she didn’t! And she promptly spun around swanned off stage right. So I slunk off stage left.
And John bounds over and gives me a theatrical kiss and a hug and says ‘See, Dave. America loves ya.’
We pretty much got on like a house on fire after that.
He once famously described glam rock as just rock and roll with lipstick on. He was wrong of course, but it was very funny.
Towards the end of the 70s, a group of us went off to Hong Kong on a holiday and John was in, sort of, house-husband mode and wanted to show Sean the world. And during one of our expeditions on the back streets a kid comes running up to him and says, ‘Are you John Lennon?’ And he said, ‘No but I wish I had his money.’ Which I promptly stole for myself.
It’s brilliant. It was such a wonderful thing to say. The kid said, ‘Oh, sorry. Of course you aren’t,’ and ran off. I thought, ‘This is the most effective device I’ve heard.’
I was back in New York a couple of months later in Soho, downtown, and a voice pipes up in my ear, ‘Are you David Bowie?’ And I said, ‘No, but I wish I had his money.’
‘You lying bastard. You wish you had my money.’ It was John Lennon.”
While professionals often use research to support the value of peers helping peers, certain topics that provide a foundation for peer work ignite the interest of the general public. Information about these popular themes appears frequently in magazines, newspapers and talk shows, but they are often presented as great ideas without anchoring them to something as practical as a peer program.
Volunteerism is one of the four current themes that is gaining interest across North America. Virtually all peer programs are examples of involving volunteers in a meaningful way. The Canadian response of volunteers to assist refugees from war-torn countries is an example of peer-to-peer volunteerism. From more about this type of activity, contact Volunteer.ca.
Character Education is a trend which has seen a resurgence as schools and communities seek ways to help young people become more connected to appropriate values, models, and behaviour. Often devised as a curriculum, character education teaches skills and attitudes that parallel most of the training programs associated with peer assistance. Learning how to listen, expressing empathy toward others, and making good choices are often at the core of the character education approach. For more information about this trend visit the Character Counts website.
A third contemporary topic that acts as a foundation for peer assistance is Emotional Intelligence. Learning how to deal with feelings (awareness, expression, recognition understanding, and using) typically is the primary topic of most peer assistance interactions. Therefore, peers are often in a position to not only strengthen their own emotional intelligence but to also help others do the same. One of the best books for school-based peer programs on this topic is Developing Emotional Intelligence: A Guide to Behavior Management and Conflict Resolution in Schools, written by Richard Bodine and Donna Crawford.
One of the most popular topics discussed at many professional conferences is Resiliency. How do we bounce back from traumatic or adverse events? Resiliency was originally identified as that set of characteristics that distinguished young people who were subjected to toxic early life experiences and were debilitated by them in later life from young people who had the same toxic experiences yet overcame such conditions when they grew older.
Resiliency experts have identified a number of “protective” factors that help people deal more effectively with adversity and they have organized these factors into principles that can be learned and applied on both an individual and community basis. Many of these factors are identical to the principles associated with peer assistance. For more information on resiliency, visit Resiliency in Action or go to Peer Resources’ Top Books on Mentoring web page to read a review of the book, Resiliency in Action.
Virtually anyone can benefit from having a mentor. And most well-known, accomplished and successful people can identify people in their lives who acted as mentors. The mentor pairings that are described in this section of the Peer Bulletin were identified from a variety of sources including autobiographies, biographies, newspaper articles, personal interviews, and diligent historical research.
An extensive list of additional well-known mentor pairings, including those from TV, motion pictures and fiction, can be found on the Peer Resources website at www.mentors.ca/mentorpairs.html. In addition to the list of mentor pairs from the world of entertainment, business, creative arts, sports, politics, history, and science available in the Peer Resources listings, a few historical facts or humorous references to the term mentor are also included.
Many well-known artists are revered for their talent and creativity, and those two characteristics are often considered as solitary or individualistic activities. However, in his recent book, Keith Sawyer, Associate Professor of Education and Psychology at Washington University of St. Louis, advances the idea that almost all creative endeavours are based on collaboration with others.
In examining the biographies of people in the music business, they often make reference to those individuals who inspired them or assisted them in some practical way to become the creative and successful artist they are today. Here are just two examples.
John Wilfred Pepper (1919-2009), born in Saskatchewan, left school in grade nine to support his parents during the Depression. Although he didn’t finish school, he had a life-long passion for music. He received a violin when he was a boy and fell in love with classical music. He was also an expert with his hands as he learned to do many repairs on his parent’s farm. He also started to craft violas and violins.
He moved to Victoria, British Columbia and played with the Victoria Symphony and local chamber groups. Like many other musicians, he needed to supplement his love of music with paid employment from another area. He used his Saskatchewan farm experience to establish a career in the grocery store business.
Mr. Pepper’s determination and compassion touched everyone who came into contact with him; and according to a story in the Victoria Times Colonist, one young boy who was strongly influenced by Mr. Pepper was Canadian and Grammy-award winning music producer David Foster (born in 1949), who lived next door to Mr. Pepper.
Mr. Foster recalls, “This was a guy that was so dedicated to practicing. I was just a kid, practicing classical piano, and he had that work ethic that just filtered down to me. I remember thinking, ‘Wow, so that’s what you’ve got to do to be good.'” While Mr. Foster acknowledges the influence of Mr. Pepper’s musical mind, what he remembers most is the “gentleness of the musician.” Mr. Pepper died peacefully in his sleep with his family at his side at age 90.
Mr. Foster has gone on to be a mentor to Celine Dion, Michael Buble, Philippine singing sensation Charice Pempengco, Josh Groban, Whitney Houston, Faith Hill, Christina Aguilera, and dozens of other highly successful artists.
Townes Van Zandt (1944-1997), a Texas poet, songwriter and folk hero, was a mentor to a wide variety of recording artists. Although Mr. Van Zandt struggled with bipolar disorder and died from alcohol addiction at age 52, his power as a songwriter attracted singer-songwriters from Bob Dylan to Willie Nelson as part of his legacy. He was a mentor to many other musicians including Steve Earle, who, according to online biography, said Van Zandt was ‘the best songwriter in the whole world and I’ll stand on Bob Dylan’s coffee table in my cowboy boots and say that.’ Van Zandt responded, the online bio continues, saying: “I’ve met Bob Dylan’s bodyguards and if Steve Earle thinks he can stand on Bob Dylan’s coffee table, he’s sadly mistaken.’
Some of the other artists who described Townes Van Zandt as a mentor (and the songs he wrote that they sang) include: Mickey Newbury (“For the Sake of the Song”), Guy Clark (“Old No. 1”), Cowboy Junkies (“Black Eyed Man”), Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard (“Pancho and Lefty”), Emmylou Harris (many different hit songs), Lyle Lovett (“Step Inside This House”), the Flatlanders (pioneered the Texas brand of country-folk created by Van Zandt), Norah Jones (“Feels Like Love”), and Neil Young (“Harvest”).
Sawyer, K. (2010). Group genius: The creative power of collaboration. New York: Basic Books.
(Virtually anyone can benefit from having a mentor. And most well-known, accomplished and successful people can identify people in their lives who acted as mentors. The mentor pairings that are described at Famous Mentor Pairings were identified from a variety of sources including autobiographies, biographies, newspaper articles, personal interviews, and diligent historical research. In addition to the list of mentor pairs from the world of entertainment, business, creative arts, sports, politics, history, and science available in the Peer Resources listings, a few historical facts or humorous references to the term mentor are also included.)
A frequently discussed topic in the professional literature is “What’s the difference between a mentor, personal coach, sports coach and teacher?” While many have tackled this question, a realistic answer is much more difficult when all these roles are superbly combined in one person. And no one combined them with more skill, elegance, and success than American Basketball Hall of Fame player and coach John Wooden, who died at age 99 on June 4, 2010 in Los Angeles California.
One of the advantages of attending the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) during the late 1950’s and early 1960’s was going to their basketball games in the Men’s Gym and watching the team set records for the most consecutive games won (88) and the number of NCAA championship seasons.
When I graduated from UCLA in 1964, the team won every game they played, including the NCAA championship (and nine more NCAA championships after that). And while the Shah of Iran was the controversial commencement speaker at my graduation ceremony, the most well-known and revered person on campus was John Wooden (1910-2010), the coach of the UCLA basketball team, known to everyone on the Westwood (Los Angeles) campus of UCLA as “The Wizard of Westwood.”
Coach Wooden, known simply as “Coach,” was not just a hero to students, he was loved and revered by all his players and was a mentor to virtually every player he coached during the 27 years he was at UCLA.
Jamaal Wilkes described Coach as “one in a billion as a coach, mentor and friend. As a friend, whenever you reached out to him he always reached back unconditionally.”
The reciprocity or mutuality we often mention as part of a relationship-based mentoring connection was demonstrated when Coach Wooden was asked to describe his ideal player, he told the New York Post in 1985: “I would have the player be a good student, polite, courteous, a good team player, a good defensive player and rebounder, a good inside player and outside shooter. “Why not just take Jamaal Wilkes and let it go at that.” Kareem Abdul-Jabaar (known as Lew Alcindor when he played during my student days), the all-time leading point scorer in the National Basketball Association, said, “Many people have asked me if Coach Wooden was for real. They wanted to know if he really didn’t use foul language or really didn’t tell his teams they had to win a specific game. Coach’s value system was from another era, it was developed in an America that has passed on. The one thing that impressed me about coach was that he never stopped being curious, understanding he hadn’t learned everything that was possible to know.”
“Coach Wooden’s legacy transcends athletics, what he did was produce leaders,” UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said in a statement released by the school. “Through his work and his life, he imparted his phenomenal understanding of leadership and his unwavering sense of integrity to so many people.”
Former University of Louisville basketball coach Denny Crum, who was an assistant coach to John Wooden for 10 years at UCLA, said that Coach was “a ‘life coach’ before such a thing existed. Coach walked the talk; doing the right thing and living like basketball was incidental to his family and life.”
Another one of the players he coached, Bill Walton, who went on to an outstanding career in the National Basketball Association, recognized Coach as his most cherished mentor, saying that his own family’s home is “a shrine to John Wooden.”
“Coach Wooden never talked about winning and losing, basketball Hall of Fame player Walton, recalled in a statement released after Coach’s passing, “but rather about the effort to win. He rarely talked about basketball, but generally about life. He never talked about strategy, statistics or plays, but rather about people and character. Coach Wooden never tired of telling us that once you become a good person, then you have a chance of becoming a good basketball player.”
When Coach wanted to renew his driver’s license at age 95, one of his former players, Michael Warren, drove him to the licensing office. He recalled the event saying, “It’s like walking around with Jesus or Mother Teresa. It may sound outlandish, but in all sincerity, when you think about the things he accomplished and how humble he remained, he’s one of those figures who transcends everything – ethnicity, gender, and race.”
I was fortunate to meet Coach when I was dating a coed who was a UCLA cheerleader, and we often attended events to support the basketball team. She introduced me to Coach, and despite his fame, reputation, and commitment and engagement with his players, he wanted to know what I was studying, what sports I enjoyed, and what I was planning on doing when I graduated.
When he learned that I was a psychology major he wanted to know if I’d be interested in his Pyramid of Success. What impressed me most about this is that he didn’t say I should really know about this, but here was one of the most revered people in sports asking me if I would be interested in a copy. Of course, at the time there was no website to refer to, just actual paper documents. His offer to provide me with a copy and be interested in my future stayed with me for many years.
His Pyramid of Success is used by athletes, coaches, and business leaders around the world, and he is known not only as a great athlete (he was himself a three-time All-American basketball player at Purdue), but as a mentor who believed that learning and practicing the fundamentals of a successful life was the major contributor to being a successful athlete. Coach summed it this way, “Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.”
Coach Wooden is probably the most quoted athlete/coach of all time, and what he has had to say in his many inspirational speeches and talks is widely circulated on the Internet (close to 500,000 websites include his quotes) and catalogued in his many books. An inspiring sample of his ideas about success, their origins, and finding the best in each of us is illustrated in his 2001 TED talk.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but most of the short conversations we had during the time I was at UCLA were filled with things he would say that were inspiring, quotable, and personable. Despite his busy schedule he took the time to be friendly and warm, and when he talked he seemed genuinely interested in what I (as well as my cheerleader girlfriend, Barbara) had to say.
He was the first person I talked with who expressed the view that adversity was a great teacher and a way to get to know yourself. His viewpoint acted as a catalyst to help me make some key changes in how I was coping with my own lack of success in my athletic career. One of his quotes was “Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out,”
I think that he was a mentor, friend, and teacher to almost everyone he came into contact with. Coach said, “You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.” I’m sure that anyone who had a conversation with him realized that the differences between a coach, mentor, or teacher were no where near as relevant as the spectacular way Coach combined them all.
As a member of the New York-based folk group the Weavers, American folk singer Ronnie Gilbert’s voice on the song Goodnight Irene led the group, consisting of Pete Seeger, Lee Hays and Fred Hellerman, to the top of the music charts in 1950.
But the group’s song choices and political sympathies brought them attention from the FBI, and they were blacklisted as a result of the FBI’s relentless anti-communist campaign.
Ms. Gilbert’s joyful contralto voice established a blueprint for folkgroups, encouraging audiences to sing along while Gilbert acted as a mentor for female singers.
Their pursuit by the FBI haunted their performances and the Weavers disbanded in 1953.
But in 1955 they reunited for a sold-out concert at Carnegie Hall in New York. Mary Travers was in the audience. She was inspired by Gilbert’s powerful voice, and with Ronnie Gilbert as her mentor she would go on to sing with one of the greatest folk groups of the century, Peter, Paul and Mary.
After the Weavers, Ms. Gilbert combined solo singing with acting, and in the 1970s she trained as a therapist and gained a degree in psychology.
I would be delighted to receive more quotes. I do the research to verify the source of the quote, then add a link to more details about the source, and, if available, include a photo of the source.
Provide additional quotes and the name of the person who said the quote in the comments section attached to this blog entry.
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Mademoiselle Souvestre was a French feminist educator who founded the girls’ boarding school Allenswood, outside London, where her most famous pupil was Eleanor Roosevelt who went on to become one of the most respected women of the 20th century.
Eleanor’s early life was marked by an alcoholic father and a vain and distant mother (both of whom died before she was ten), and she was sent abroad to boarding school.
Mademoiselle Souvestre was the headmistress of the preparatory school to which young Eleanor was sent. Fortunately, Mademoiselle Souvestre’s goal for her students was to expand their minds and attain intellectual independence. The school used French in many classes. Eleanor turned out to be better prepared than most for Allenswood, due to extensive French tutoring prior to enrolling.
According to Elizabeth Pearce of MentorResources, it was during this period that Eleanor lost her shyness and acquired the self-confidence which would stand her so well in later life. Mademoiselle Souvestre mentored Eleanor, and they made field trips to Venice and Paris, with Eleanor making the arrangements. Mentoring introduced the teenager to the lifestyle of an independent woman. Eleanor always credited Souvestre with forming both her character and her intellectual outlook. The First Lady’s newspaper column on politics and social issues, My Day, was read daily by millions.