The need for good advice never goes away, no matter how long or successful a career may be.
The concept of mentoring has been around since the days of the ancient Greeks, when Mentor, a friend of Odysseus, served as a guide and teacher to Odysseus’s son while Odysseus sailed the globe. There is a reason mentoring has persisted for thousands of years: it works. Individuals have benefited from giving and receiving wise counsel for as long as unanswered questions and unresolved problems have existed.
Making connections happen
For YPO members, YPO Mentoring connects mentors and mentees by facilitating introductions between members who need guidance on a specific topic and members with relevant expertise to share. Two such individuals who recently began a mentoring relationship are Chris Tsakalakis, former President of StubHub, who served as mentor, and Cristian Rodriguez Chairman and CEO of IMERCA/EDISA, the mentee.
Tsakalakis was drawn to becoming a mentor because he likes giving back and was especially interested in helping a fellow YPO member. “I’ve been lucky to have been helped by many people during my career and I wanted to return the favor to someone who needed it,” Tsakalakis notes.
For his part, Rodriguez’s recent investment in an e-commerce startup company and introduction of an e-commerce channel for his current business drove him to seek help in e-commerce and digital marketing. “I chose Chris because of his extensive experience in eBay and other companies that rely on digital transactions, StubHub being one of them,” he explains. Tsakalakis was happy to share what he has learned in the e-commerce trenches and, as a result, Rodriguez reports that he has been more constructive in his interaction with the founders of his e-commerce startup company and with his manager in charge of the project.
But mentoring is not a one-way street. Mentors benefit from the relationship as much as the mentees. Tsakalakis agrees: “I got to meet and learn from an entrepreneur and CEO who is much more experienced than I am. I am awed by Cristian’s success with multiple businesses.”
Switching up the paradigm
Tsakalakis’ comment underscores that mentoring is no longer restricted to the traditional model of an older, experienced person guiding a younger person just beginning a career. Good advice is valuable regardless of who provides it to whom and where they are in their career paths. Rodriguez counsels against seasoned business leaders believing that, because they have successful careers, they cannot benefit from the wisdom, experience and suggestions of others. He points out that mentoring does not need to be restricted to professional issues only; it can be applied to family issues, hobbies and other aspects of a well-rounded life. “There is nothing to lose and lots to be gained in a new friendship,” he adds.
When asked about the perception that mentors are beneficial solely at the beginning of a career, Tsakalakis disagrees, “Having a mentor means having an expert who can help you quickly learn. I’m a firm believer in lifelong learning and that means never running out of a need for mentors.”
Both men speak highly of YPO Mentoring and they encourage YPO members to participate. In Tsakalakis’s view, the list of individuals who could find no benefit in YPO Mentoring is infinitesimally small, consisting solely of the person “who knows everything.”