Why I always wanted a Mentor

Why I always wanted a Mentor

It is highly unlikely that any career guidance counselor would have even conceived of the path my working life has taken.  For a year and a half after graduating from college I did follow the well-trodden path of an articled clerk working his way to qualification as a Chartered Accountant.  This provided a wonderful insight into the spectrum of client businesses typical of a small town firm.  While I learned the financial essence about what businesses need in order to be successful, and avoid failure accountancy itself was not for me.  I preferred doing to observing.

Life took a sharp left turn. I had the opportunity to leave England, with my best friend, for a month to introduce the sport of kayaking to a core team of Phys. Ed teachers in Taipei’s leading universities.  I was “doing”! The entrepreneurial spirit of the whole country was infectious.  I caught it!  I had the chance to continue what we had started even though, sadly, my best friend had to go back as planned to his family and job in England.

Wrapped up in the excitement of staying on this remarkable island I embarked on developing the sport. I taught more people.  Taught them to teach others.  Started building the kayaks. Explored rivers, estuaries and lakes that, to our knowledge, no one had ever kayaked before.

But there was the rub.  No one had done it before. Not here.  Not like this. There was no one to ask.  I had to make it up as I went along gleaning what I could, from wherever I could.  A mentor would have been so welcome.  Someone to show me the ropes.  Someone to run ideas by.  Someone who knew what worked and what probably wouldn’t.

In copyright averse Taiwan in the 70’s and early 80’s books were cheap.  Mostly best sellers and classics, but also a number of business books and university course-required tomes. In case studies and biographies a mentor, I read, was a common feature of the successful.  Where was my mentor?

Essentially I had to piece my mentor together from everyone else’s.  It took a while.
When I transitioned from kayaks to yachts I was, for the most part, figuring out how to do things myself.  I was driven by the need to make things better than they were before or create them if they did not exist but were needed.

Then, as a sideline, I opened one of the first delicatessens selling authentic, imported European food in Taipei.  This time, I had a as a partner, a Swiss sous-chef from the Hilton.  It was wonderful to have a mentor for a while.  Learning curves were steep.  Putting advice into action produced results. It was as great as I had hoped.   We established a business that still runs today, I’m proud to say, even though we sold it decades ago.

After that success I had the chance to move to Hong Kong, work in China, then the UK and now Canada.  Most of the time I was starting new businesses, in new areas and figuring things out myself.  While some of the companies were large I often ran remote offices for them.  I love starting new things and getting them to a point where they are self-sustaining successes.  But a good mentor would have eased the solitude and produced results more quickly.

We would like to make it quicker and easier for you to cut through the surfeit of information and clamour of would-be mentors and coaches offerings out there.  Our objective is to help you to focus on, and find, the mentor, or mentors, that are right for you.  They may be your boss, a parent or a leader who takes you under their wing if you are lucky.  They may be people you have to engage who offers a mentoring program privately or as part of an institution.  Or a personal life coach. Or you could find the inspiration and guidance from amongst the host of teachers, speakers, thinkers, bloggers and published authors..


Robert Glesinger
Assistant Editor for

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