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« Have a Nice Boss's Day ("Good Employees Are Hard to Find") | Main | Circle of Thanks »

October 17, 2013



Wonderful. I did not see this latest iteration of Batman films in the cinema, but I remember growing up with the wonderful TV show and also the comic books that evolved into artistic masterpiece graphic novels like Frank Miller's "Batman Dark Night Returns" (1986).

The character of Alfred is as mysterious as that of Batman himself. I hadn't thought of him as a mentor before, but yes.

In such case, the comic character of Daredevil (created by Stan Lee, and further developed by the same Frank Miller) also has a powerful and mysterious mentor named "Stick". Daredevil (as far as I know) is the only comicbook superhero who is actually handicapped (he is blind) and Stick helps him to train to overcome his difficulties and develop his skills. (There was a movie of Daredevil, but not a very good one and Stick does not appear).

The role of mentor is still in this comic-book fantasy world for me. I don't think I have every had a good mentor. In trying to understand who could be a mentor to me and how to approach them, I am thus far unable to imagine is a sustainable mentor-mentee relationship. It is neither one of parent-child, nor one of siblings, nor of boss-subordinate, nor casual friends.

Inspired by these Batman excepts above, and Anand's story last week, I am curious to know how others have encountered and engaged mentors in their lives and careers.


Nice one & very nicely written.


This is very educational. Key ideas supported by scenes from a well known movie. Well Done.

Professor and Gentleman from Taiwan (posted by Anand)

It is good to know that you have a good boss. The best boss that I met is my Ph.D. advisor. With his help, I got graduated, which made my life a great difference. I would like to thank him again.


Sometime back I shared in FR, the story of my sister whose life got transformed for ever when her teacher took an interest in using her strengths in one area to make an overall difference in her life. I believe mentors play the same role as they can see the strengths in you even if you don't see it. Looking back in my professional life, all of my growth has to attributed to a handful of folks who have believed in me even when I did not. They gave me advice and I took it upon myself to value that even though at times it was outside my comfort zone.

One such instance was when I shared a story with Anand and he mentioned that I could share with the world through FR. I had never written anything before, but I took that advice. That opportunity led me to share a few more stories and my hope is that it has benefitted someone somewhere. Here is the beauty of these relationships. If done well, the impact of these relationships goes well beyond both of you.

The key for a mentee is to trust the advice and do the action recommended. Also, sharing your progress with them is key. I can look back and say unequivocally that without my mentors, my life would have been very different. If nothing else, the fact that they were in the same place as you are in life and have progressed well, gives you the confidence to work through life's challenges.

The final thing I can think is that we have to have realistic expectations from a mentor. They are not ultimately responsible for your success. It comes back to us in terms of our internal motivation to meet the challenges head on. My sense is that the mentors spend time with others as a way to "pay it forward" and for all of us who have benefitted out of these, we need to be mentors for future.

As I write this today, I am meeting with a lady later today who is passionate about enabling kids with hearing loss to be successful in school. She is taking a long drive on a weekend to meet us and give us advice on the challenges parents face and how to overcome it. I am sure this will have a transformative experience for my daughter and that is the power of mentorship.

I thank Anand for all his years of advice to us both personally and through FR! Knowledge shared is knowledge gained!

Studen of Yours

Great write up. In Batman stories, Bruce is lucky to have Alfred as "mentor" who has been very patient and persistently supported and coached Bruce.

Reflecting my life and career, i am lucky too for having few great mentors who had helped me to grow and transition from individual contributor to manager and as a leader. Things i learned are plenty and if i have to list down, i am afraid i will end up writing a book :). Just to name few of my learning through their coaching for sharing: 1. Managing complex issue/project involving cross organization, 2. Push my limit and dream, as Alchemist said: if you have a dream, the universe will conspire to help you achieve your dream, 3. Reading (this is one of the best habit i have picked up in the last 6 years) as there is a quote: To lead you must Read, 4. Build networks - as business is all about relationship, this is important as you grow in seniority. I have personally invested a lot of time in building networks/relationship in past few years 5. Lead with HEART (this has essentially becomes my leadership principle) etc...

Well, to me the common attributes for these mentors are: they are sincere, experience (both in tactical and strategic), lead with heart and most importantly do not expect return for their efforts.

So, i agree and believe we all need mentor/mentors (an Alfred). I have found mine and i may find new mentor as my life/career progresses - it is a journey. My final thought for mentoring is we all should one day become a mentor (i believe most of you that are mentees also as mentors at the same time), so we can pass on our great learning to others...

Happy Learning!


I was one of those kids that never had kindergarden (they did not exist in the rural area where I grew up) and I never had a mentor (I guess I showed little promise). Fortunately, "I married up."


What is a mentor-
A person who helps you see things in a different light; One who guides you through whatever it is that you are working thru at that point;One who helps you see the bigger picture – based on their experience; One who is not afraid to be “ critical” of you ;One who does this- without any ‘vested Interest’. Wait- isn't that what a true friend does also?

So- Don’t be too hung up on finding “ The Alfred”. Those who have- are very fortunate. But you don't have to think “where have such people gone”? Look around carefully- and you will realize that it may not be just one person- there may have been several ‘Alfred’s” along the way. Learn from them- and maybe –you can be a partial Alfred to someone.

Green Vibrance

Thank you for sharing your story about Joe Z and Alfred in the recent Friday Reflections. The truly great mentors are indeed "one in a million", and I count myself to be truly blessed to have had one throughout almost all of my career (14 years and counting).

From day one, this mentor gave me a chance when others might not have. When I first started out, I didn't necessarily have all the top credentials nor the "polish" that one might expect, but he saw beyond that to something else - and his willingness to take a risk on me, and his confidence in me, totally transformed the confidence I had in myself.

The fact that someone with such knowledge and experience believed in me made me feel like anything was possible, and in the relatively short time while I worked with him, anything *was* possible. During that time, he built a small team where everyone's strengths and passions were utilized to their fullest, a team that was able to achieve incredible performance and results. Everyone, me included, grew tremendously during that time.

Observing this process, observing his daily actions, his huge heart, and all of his coaching (on everything from Learning Organizations to the proper diet) not only taught me everything I could possibly need to build and run a business, but also hopefully on how to be a better person and live a better life - these are lessons I'll never forget.

Perhaps more importantly, he also helped me understand when I needed to take a leap and follow my own dreams (it's hard to leave such a high performing team) -- but, thank goodness, since leaving the relationship has continued. I'm proud to count him as one of the very few closest friends who I absolutely trust - someone who still teaches me something new every time we meet, and goes out of his way to help me learn, travel and expand my horizons.

I know how lucky I am - mentors like this are hard to find - I didn't start out by intentionally looking for one, and I certainly couldn't advise anyone on the best way to find one. The best I could do is hope that one day I'll have 1/10th the ability to help someone else in a similar way, and share some of the lessons I've learned.


My real mentorship started when I just joined a new organization, I still remembered the scene where i was travelling all the way from China and looking for the big boss – “The Man in Charge” in the big US headquarter office feeling a big nervous of what I should say properly. And there came the big boss, smiling, asking me to sit down relaxing in the café and told me that HE would be my MENTOR! WOW, how lucky I am! That kindness and attitude to make himself available was so touching and moving so it immediately remove the spiritual barriers that is usually very strong in a society of hierarchy, that itself, the leader himself offering to be my mentor is the most powerful motivation for my eagerness to integrate into the team!!! Along the journey of mentorship, no matter how busy my mentor were, he always made himself available for me to openly listen to me, give wise advice to my problem/frustration w/o offering the direct solutions to the specific problem, but use of magic approaches/analogies to bring me up one level higher so I could view the problem from some different angles and where path to resolution is no longer buried in the low clouds. For someone easily trapped in the tactical thinking, I truly appreciated the helicopter ride from my mentor to understand and appreciate things from different perspectives and be big picture thinking. 


For one to have found an Alfred is one who is very blessed. And if you have found many Alfreds then you are super blessed.

I believe in having more than one mentor in my lifetime. People walk in and out of our lives so often that everyone has something to teach us something. I would call myself lucky to have a few mentors so far. Each has something to teach me about life and to guide me through my career these few years. I believe I have grown over the years, learning to approach a situation in a more matured manner vs the emotional method.

I believe that there is one Alfred for everyone. Just because you don't have an Alfred now does not mean you are not blessed. Mentors come in different shapes and sizes (and different ages too). Maybe he/she is standing right next to you this very instance.

Mike Goodner

I've been fortunate to have many positive experiences as both a mentor and a mentee. As a mentee, I've had mentors willing to point out areas where I need to improve as well as recognize the strengths I have, even those that I don't realize that I have. I've also had mentors that are willing to point out disconnects - when minor projects and tasks have become temporarily more important than much more important priorities (family, colleagues, team mission) so that I can make the best decision which considers both the short term and the long term impacts. Only through this ongoing feedback am I able to truly step back and make an objective assessment of the impact that I have had, am having and am planning to have (or may unintentionally have) in the future. And as for the future, some far sighted mentors have helped prepare me for roles that seemed far off (like making the transition from individual contributor to leading a strong team) so that when the challenge finally presents itself, I am ready.

Mentoring others has also provided a number of benefits, just proving that mentoring is a two-way exchange, not a mentor to mentee download. Mentees provide me a second perspective that helps me understand how others view me, and how they view the organizations and situations we find ourselves in. Having mentors from other countries has helped me to become less US-centric and truly appreciate the diversity among cultures and the benefits that diversity can bring. And seeing a mentor grow based upon guidance and feedback that I have given them helps reassure me that I am making a difference in people's lives, not just in the organization's bottom line.

Being able to be a mentor to others and being mentored by some truly wonderful mentors is indeed a blessing in many different ways.

rebecca shia

i agree 100% with Chiaoju's comment that mentor comes in/out of our lives. i find that they share personal experience/knowledge, provide different perspectives to see things and become my role models in life and work place. so, I think i am very lucky.

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