High school students with mentors have a better chance at graduating. Source:

We are passionate about ‘Designing the Next Generation’ at the Over My Shoulder Foundation and feel that you can never start mentoring too young. In fact, in our recent post about interesting pairs of famous mentors, many of the successful celebrities mentioned attribute many of their accomplishments to an influential figure that was present early in life.

Outlined below are some of the key benefits of mentoring for students and young people:

  • Students that are mentored are more likely to graduate from high school.
  • Schools that are involved in some type of mentorship program generally have lower dropout rates.
  • Students that have a mentor in their lives typically have a better attitude about school, which leads to higher college enrollment rates.
  • Young people with an active mentor will usually have healthier relationships with parents, teachers, and peers and stronger interpersonal skills.
  • Youth that are involved in a strong mentoring program make better lifestyle choices are less likely to engage in drug and alcohol use.
  • Students with a mentor are likely to have improved school attendance with fewer unexcused absences.
  • Young students involved in a mentoring program are less likely to participate in violent behavior. According to a study completed by the Big Brother Big Sisters program, youth with a mentor are 32 percent less likely to hit another person.

To learn more about the benefits of mentoring for students, please contact us at the Over My Shoulder Foundation.



Feedback from your mentee is very important to developing the relationship. Source:

I’ve talked about the impact that a mentoring program within your organization can have, and I’ve shared some of the key benefits of such a program, including building employee loyalty, encouraging growth, and attracting high caliber employees. In order to put a successful program in place, you have to know how to measure how your mentorship program is performing. For this reason, I wanted to share some helpful tips for how to evaluate a mentorship program:

  • Before starting your mentorship program, determine what you hope to accomplish through the program. For example, if you are a sales organization, perhaps your goal is to have all mentees within the top quartile of sales performance rankings within one year of implementing the program.
  • Outline all of the elements that will be comprised in your organization’s mentorship program in order for it to be successful and refer to this regularly. It’s also a good idea to share this information with your organization’s mentees as well so that expectations are clear.
  • Establish clear and realistic goals on a monthly or quarterly basis and regularly check to see how the program is performing in relation to these goals.
  • Ask for feedback from the mentees, mentors, and perhaps other mentoring programs within your community. Sometimes you need constructive criticism to offer a better program for your organization.

To learn more about how to evaluate a mentorship program, please contact us at the Over My Shoulder Foundation. We are passionate about the art of mentorology and can share some best practices from other successful mentorship programs.



Hear compelling stories and successes during Steve Harvey’s program. Source: goarmyphotos

There are many examples of tremendously effective mentoring programs sprouting up all around the country. For those interested in mentoring events in Dallas, check out the recent Steve Harvey Mentoring Program for Young Men. Steve Harvey is a well known comedian, author, television host, and radio host, but many people may not realize that he would not be who he is today without the mentors that he had along the way.

For this reason, he is passionate about mentoring the younger generation and hosted his 5th annual national Steve Harvey Mentoring Program for Young Men in Dallas the week of June 11-16th. Coincidentally, this event was held over Father’s Day weekend, and Harvey put on this mentoring event to reach 100 young men that do not have a father figure in their lives.

Participants took part in physical challenges with the U.S. Army, sport segments such as golf, baseball, football, and basketball, fishing with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and discuss important topics pertaining to the sports industry, education, personal image, relationships, and what it takes to be a man. Motivational speakers in addition to Harvey included Dr. Steve Perry, Dr. Marvin Thompson, Deion Sanders, and several other special guests.

To learn more about upcoming mentoring events in Dallas, please contact us at the Over My Shoulder Foundation.


One of the hallmarks of this American culture is self-reliance. Messages about doing it all on our own, and being strong and tough and persevering abound, not only for men, but also for women. When a woman finds herself in the position of being a single mom raising a son on her own, most people look the other way and tell her to just carry on.


Young boys learn a lot from their Mom, but the value of a male model can’t be understated. Source:

When my son was 4 ½, his dad and I divorced after being separated for about a year and a half.  I was the primary custodial parent, but my son did have contact with his dad.  However, when my son was 12, he and his dad stopped seeing one another.  My son had asked his dad to address some serious issues between them, and his dad responded by pulling away.

Initially, the separation was very good for my son. He and I finally had the space for my son to have a more “normal life.”  Soccer, Red Sox games, movies and leadership conferences all became easier to take part in for my son with his life unencumbered by the issues with his dad.

Realizing that my son needed good male role models in his life, I sought out organizations and activities that allowed my son to interact with male mentors. I found Boys to Men New England when he was 12, and over time, BTMNE became a critical part of the emotional foundation for my son’s life.

One part of Boys to Men is an annual Rites of Passage teen weekend workshop in August.  My son participated in the workshop when he was 13, and staffed it when he was 14, 15 and 16.   When he was 15, it became clear that my son was feeling deep pain from what I have come to call “the father wound.”  Even though he was part of a community of men and boys during the workshop, the absence of his father cut deep.

My son started to ask questions about who his father was and who he might be since his father provided half of his genetic material.  My son wondered why his father might disappear and leave his son. And my son also felt the pain of his parents’ divorce and estrangement.  No matter how hard I tried to support my son’s interests and find resources that also supported his interests, there was a huge void inside of him that I could not fill:  the father wound.

Over time, I came to realize that no matter how good a mom I was, no matter how hard I tried to find resources to help my son and to help him learn to help himself, because I was his mom and not his dad, there were many things I just could not do.

A teenage boy looks to men in his quest to determine what it means to be a man. I was not a man. A teenage boy needs to hear the story of other men’s journey to manhood.  I did not take that journey as a woman.


Young boys can benefit from the stories of successful male mentors. Source:

The mentors in Boys to Men had something to offer my son that I could never give him:  the experience of growing up male in this culture, and coming to define the men they wanted to be through their experiences growing up—with and without the support and involvement of other men.

As my son’s struggle deepened, I realized it was the other men he needed to talk to, not just his mom.  Having a support group of  men who knew him became invaluable as he started to face some increasingly difficult and painful passages in his own personal journey towards manhood, a journey that is still underway.

It takes a village to raise a child, and the village must include male mentors and role models deeply committed to the best interests of each male child.  When my son feels connected to other men who care, his spirit grows.  When my son feels isolated and alone, especially from other men, his pain grows.

I am very clear I cannot do it alone, and I cannot successfully guide my son to manhood without the care, commitment and involvement of other good men. If you are a man who cares about boys in their transition to manhood, become a mentor with Boys to Men. There are many other boys like my son out there counting on you. And even boys who have two parent homes need a village that includes emotionally available men.

Opening your heart to a teenage boy can be the difference between helping a young man learn to fly, and watching someone with great potential crash as his pain weighs down his wings.

If you enjoy the content provided by Over My Shoulder Foundation, contact us! SHARE your mentoring stories, consider donating to our non-profit, and don’t forget to follow Over My Shoulder Foundation on Facebook, too!



Pool your abilities to find the Street Seats exhibit.

Spending quality time with your mentee is one of the biggest keys to success for a well established mentor/mentee relationship. While touching base over a cup of coffee is one way to strengthen the relationship, you may want to consider attending an event together that your mentee is passionate about. For those in the design world, one of the potential activities for mentors and mentees could be to visit the Design Museum Boston.

The Design Museum Boston is the region’s first of its kind as the museum is solely dedicated to design. The mission of the museum is to not only educate its visitors about how design fits into their world, but to also unite the Massachusetts design community.

The museum puts on a number of events throughout the year, which could provide you and your mentee the perfect introduction to the museum. Once a month, the museum hosts CreativeMornings, which includes a twenty minute lecture typically given by a local designer and is followed by a 20 minute group discussion.

This event is free of charge and provides the ideal opportunity to network with other members of the design community. Another exciting upcoming event is the dParty, which takes place on June 1 from 6 – 11 pm and will include music, food, drinking, and dancing. This event provides patrons with a fun and unique way to celebrate the Boston design community and make new contacts.

To find out about more activities for mentors and mentees, please contact us at the Over My Shoulder Foundation!

Image Source: AnubisAbyss



A mediator can help solve conflicts.

As with any relationship, there may come a time where emotions are kicked into high gear due to an issue that has evolved. Addressing and resolving the issue as soon as possible is essential to maintaining a strong mentor-mentee relationship. Here are some useful conflict resolution tips to help aid you in your discussion:

  • Ideally, issues should be discussed in person as they are important and merit a face-to-face meeting. This allows both people to address the issue in “real time” and increases the chances that it can be resolved at a faster pace. Written communication all too often can be misinterpreted and lead to further escalation of the issue.
  • If an issue can not be easily resolved, one idea is to consider introducing an unbiased mediator to the situation. Sometimes having a third party hear both sides of the story can help in making headway with the issue.
  • Once the issue has been resolved, both parties should look back on it as a learning experience. Sometimes a conflict provides the perfect opportunity to reintroduce ground rules and clearly discuss expectations and outcomes of the relationship.

While many people try to avoid conflict at all costs, dealing with an issue between a mentor and mentee can sometimes help to strengthen and solidify the relationship if the issue is rectified in a positive manner.

We like to share mentoring success stories at the Over My Shoulder Foundation, and you will often hear them address conflict resolution within their relationships. Please contact us to learn more about our organization and our passion for the mentoring relationship.

Image Source:



Group mentoring can take your company to new heights.

At the Over My Shoulder Foundation, we are constantly looking for ways to raise the awareness of the positive impact that mentoring can make, especially within organizations. If your organization is currently considering implementing an employee mentor program, one option to consider is group mentoring. This unique concept pairs one mentor with five or more mentees that get together periodically throughout the year. This is an ideal option to consider if you do not have many mentors within your organization, but have several mentees looking for guidance.

Management Mentors offers several reasons why group mentoring could benefit your organization:

  • The mentee will not only benefit from building a relationship with a mentor, but will also grow through the relationship that he or she builds with fellow mentees in the group.
  • Mentoring through a group provides strength in numbers, offering a diverse range of viewpoints, approaches, and outlooks.
  • Mentoring a collective group of people helps to build camaraderie within the organization and within the group itself.
  • A group setting can provide a more comfortable environment for a mentee that may be intimidated to meet one-on-one with a senior leader within the organization.
  • Additional learning opportunities such as group projects or activities can be created through a group mentoring setting.

To learn more about mentoring and how it can benefit your organization, please contact us at the Over My Shoulder Foundation.

Image Source: IntelFreePress



Establish a mentoring program, empower your employees and watch your bottom line head towards the sky.

We’ve recently discussed the positive impact that creating a mentoring program within your organization can have, and the perfect example of a company that has executed this well is CUMAR Marble and Granite. According to Management Mentors, approximately 70 percent of Fortune 500 companies offer some type of employee mentoring program.

For those that want to create a mentoring program within their own organization, here are three key factors to consider to implement this effectively:

  1. Determine what your organization plans to accomplish through a mentoring program. For example, while it may be expensive to offer a strong employee benefits package, differentiating yourself by offering a mentoring program to help employees excel in their careers with your company can help to attract, retain, and develop talent.
  2. What will be your strategy for holding employees accountable to the mentoring program? Designating someone within your organization to serve as the manager of the mentoring program can assist with matching up mentor/mentee pairs as well as providing support for the relationships when necessary. Generally, employees within the HR realm of your organization already have the necessary people skills to handle such a task.
  3. Training is necessary in order for the program participants to understand what a mentoring relationship is all about. Make sure that participants understand that mentoring is about building a relationship, not coaching.

To learn more about the value of mentoring and creating a mentoring program within your organization, please contact us at the Over My Shoulder Foundation.

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Once you have taken the initiative to find a mentor that can add value and provide guidance in either your personal or professional life, the second step is establishing goals to clearly define your intended outcomes of the mentoring relationship.

To help simplify this process, we wanted to provide you with some useful tips for how to set goals and keep them.


Accomplishing your goals is easier with guidance from a strong mentor.

Georgia Tech Mentor Jackets suggests setting S.M.A.R.T goals:

S=Strategic and Specific
The intention of each goal should be specific and work towards the overall performance challenge being managed.


Every goal should have clearly defined action items that will indicate how the goal will be achieved.

While goals should be challenging, it’s important to establish goals that could be realistically met with hard work.

Each goal that you put in place should better position you accomplish the “big picture” achievement.

Establish a deadline for each goal to be accomplished without allocating too much time.

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association suggests writing down your mentoring goals and objectives. Not only will this help you to better remember your goals, but it can also serve as a constant reminder for what you are trying to accomplish. Reviewing your goals on a daily basis as well as regularly discussing your goal progress with a mentor can help to keep you motivated.

For more effective ways for how to set goals, please contact us at the Over My Shoulder Foundation.

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There’s a lot we can learn from Kenneth Cole’s example.

We recently talked about some of the biggest names in Hollywood and who they credit as their mentors along the way. To add to this list of famous mentors, we wanted to take a moment to share Kenneth Cole’s story.

Successful footwear and accessory designer Kenneth Cole did not always plan to be in the shoe business. In fact, he pursued an undergraduate degree at Emory University in Atlanta with the intent of attending law school; however, upon graduation from college, his father needed his help at his shoe factory after his right hand man left to start a competitive business. Kenneth’s father taught him the value of hard work and began bringing him to the shoe factory when he was just ten years old.

His father has proved to be one of the most influential mentors in his life, teaching him the important lesson that if he wanted to succeed, he would need the support and respect of everyone within the company. Early in his career, Kenneth realized that he may not have the experience to impress his peers with knowledge, but he could make a lasting impression on others with the quality of his work. For example, if he knew the first employee arrived at 6:30 a.m. each day, he would arrive at 6:15.

Because Kenneth’s father was such a great role model early in his career, he had the confidence and support to eventually start his own business. These basic principles learned from his father have stuck with him to this day and have become a vital part of his company’s philosophy.

To learn more about success stories from famous mentors, please be sure to visit the Over My Shoulder Foundation online.

Image Source:  Be the Change, Inc.



It’s important to remember that both sides of the mentorship have knowledge to impart to the other.

At the Over My Shoulder Foundation, we spend a lot of time talking about the powerful impact that a mentoring relationship can have, both cross-generationally and cross-culturally. Often when people think of a mentor/mentee relationship, they think that the mentee is the primary beneficiary of the relationship as he or she is learning new skills and knowledge from his or her elder, the mentor. However, it’s no surprise that the younger generation also has a lot of useful experiences and skill sets to pass along to the older generation. This increasingly popular concept is known as reverse mentoring.

This unique concept was most famously introduced to Corporate America more than a decade ago by former General Electric Chairman Jack Welch, and it has continued to gain momentum as advances in technology have  further widened the gap between generations. For example, a business owner in his 50’s knows that he needs to have an active presence on social media, so he partners with a 20-something to help him learn the skills for more effective marketing.

The three main requirements for a successful reverse mentoring relationship include formalizing the relationship in some way, building mutual trust, and being open with each other about new ideas. A few of the benefits to establishing this type of relationship include shortening the learning curve, building morale, increasing productivity, and cultivating future leaders.

To learn more about reverse mentoring and how you can benefit from such a relationship, please contact us at the Over My Shoulder Foundation.

Image Source: bujiie



Follow the tips in these resources and you’ll start a successful mentoring program.

One of the most effective ways to build loyalty within your company, encourage employee growth, and attract high caliber employees is to offer a company mentoring program. While we’re currently in an environment where offering employee benefits can be pricey, implementing an institution-wide mentoring program can help to set your company a notch above your competition.

Cumar Marble and Granite is a shining example of how to design a mentoring program. As a design stone specialist with Cumar, I can personally say that mentoring is a core value within our organization. Embracing the power of the mentoring relationship has allowed our organization to grow strong for eight generations and counting, allowing our unique craftsmanship to live on.

For those that want to learn how to design a mentoring program within their own companies, Designing Workplace Mentoring Programs: An Evidence-Based Approach is a book that provides readers with some practical tools such as training exercises, employee development plans, and sample mentor/mentee contracts that can be used to help establish a formal mentoring program within an organization.

The book also shares some helpful case studies of companies that were successful in implementing such a program and how the outcome affected their organizations. Mariangela Battista, Ph.D, a Vice President of Organizational Culture and Effectiveness with Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, says, “For any HR Professional considering implementing such a program, this [book] should be their blueprint.”

To learn more about the power of “Mentorology” and how it can help to positively shape your organization, please contact us at the Over My Shoulder Foundation.

Image Source:  Merrimack College




Join one of these programs to see what a mentor can do for you.

At the Over My Shoulder Foundation, we are advocates of “Designing the Next Generation,” which is our national conversation about mentoring in the world of design. If you really think about it, there are a lot of similarities between designing a room and “designing” healthy and productive people. By looking over your shoulder to the rising generation and offering a guiding hand, you can make a positive impact in that person’s life.

The International Interior Design Association understands how important a mentoring relationship can be for an aspiring designer and therefore spearheads mentoring programs for students that are currently enrolled in design school.

Each year, the organization puts together Student Mentoring Week, which pairs International Interior Design Association student members with local design professionals to offer them a hands-on taste of what a true day-in-the-life of an interior designer looks like. This invaluable experience not only helps to give students a brief look at their future, but also helps to foster long-lasting mentoring relationships.

Participating students also have the opportunity to partake in the Lloy Hack Essay Competition for a chance to win $1,000. Each contestant is to write a two to three page essay about his or her experience during Student Mentoring Week and the impact that this important mentoring relationship has created.

To learn more about Student Mentoring Week and how you can become a part of it, please be sure to visit the International Interior Design Association webpage.

Image Source:  bujiie


Take time to get to know your mentee.

At the Over My Shoulder Foundation, our mission is to raise the awareness of the positive impact that mentoring can have, both cross-generationally and cross-culturally. If you are interested in helping guide a younger person to success, we wanted to share some helpful tips for how to become a mentor courtesy of Management Mentors:

  • In order to build a strong relationship, you need to first take the time to get to know each other. While it’s important to share your wisdom, it’s even more important to listen to what your mentee has to say.
  • Discuss what each of you expects to gain out of this mentoring relationship and outline goals that you would like to achieve.
  • Be open about your ideas, thoughts, and feelings about the mentoring relationship and encourage your mentee to do the same.
  • Determine up front how often the two of you will meet and the preferred type of communication, whether it be in person or on the phone.
  • To be most efficient, come up with a rough plan of what you plan to talk about with your mentee prior to your meetings, and be ready to adjust your agenda as necessary.

It’s always important to keep in mind that it takes two people to build a strong mentoring relationship, and establishing expectations of each other up front can help the relationship to be mutually beneficial.

To learn more about how to become a mentor, please contact us at the Over My Shoulder Foundation.

Image Source:  U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Northeast Region


The most important part of being a mentor is to simply be available.

We’ve already shared some helpful tips for how to be an effective mentor. Part of building a strong mentor-mentee relationship is to establish your goals and expectations of the relationship up front. All too often, mentoring relationships begin on the right foot and fall apart over time due to a lack of commitment by either party. For this reason, we wanted to offer some tips on how to maintain the mentor-mentee relationship courtesy of Management Mentors:

  • Keep the communication channel open. As the mentor, you need to be responsive to your mentee’s emails, texts, and phone calls. If you establish upfront how often the two of you will be in communication, work hard to stick to your commitment.
  • Come up with fun and creative activities that the two of you can do together. For example, attending a trade show related to the industry that your mentee would like to work in could offer a beneficial learning experience.
  • Be reliable and consistent. This can help to build trust for the mentor-mentee relationship.
  • Take time to get to know each other. Showing an interest in your mentee and learning about what motivates and inspires him or her can lead to a successful, longterm mentor-mentee relationship.
  • Actively participate. Ask your mentee if you can observe him or her give a presentation or see what a typical day of work looks like.

To hear about some successful mentoring relationships and the positive impact that they have made, please be sure to check out the Over My Shoulder Foundation website.

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Dawn Carroll (right) has been Patti Austin’s (left) guiding light in her design goals.

In an effort to spread the message globally about the importance of mentoring, the Over My Shoulder Foundation founding members Patti Austin and Dawn Carroll went to Germany to attend the Leaders of Design Council Conference, which was held April 3-5, 2013, at the Hotel de Rome. The event was sponsored by CUMAR Marble and Granite, and the company in conjunction with the Over My Shoulder Foundation used this opportunity to share their collaborative mentoring mission known as “Designing the Next Generation” to inspire others in the industry to share their experiences and knowledge with the rising generation of designers.

CUMAR is a natural fit to sponsor the event, as the company attributes its eight generations of leadership to embracing mentoring within the company. Dawn Carroll is an award-winning stone designer at CUMAR and has benefited from learning special craftsmanship that has been passed down to her from mentors within the company. Today Dawn serves at Patti Austin’s guiding light, helping her to make the transition from a successful music career to her dream of becoming an interior designer. Both women have been positively impacted by strong mentoring relationships in their lives and, therefore, want to encourage others within the design community to assist with “Designing the Next Generation”.

Prior to the Leaders of Design Council Conference in Germany, the two women had a speaking engagement at the Design Bloggers Conference in L.A. regarding their passion for the mentor-mentee relationship. They were also recently recognized by the American Society of Interior Decorators with an Excellence in Design Award in Boston.

For more information about the Over My Shoulder Foundation and our mission of “Designing the Next Generation”, please contact us today.


Mentor mentee relationships are good for all parties involved. Get more info with these resources.

A successful mentoring relationship can make a positive impact for both the mentor and mentee involved. Whether you would like to share your wisdom and experience with the younger generation or are looking for some guidance for both professional and personal growth, mentoring can provide the ideal solution. If you’re not sure where to get started, we wanted to share some local organizations that offer mentoring in Boston:

At the Over My Shoulder Foundation, we want to spread the word about the power of mentorship both cross-culturally and cross-generationally. Through our unique approach of offering entertainment-driven events and products, we will share how the art of mentoring, otherwise known as “Mentorology”, can lead to positive outcomes in the lives of all of those involved in the process. For more information about how you can become involved with mentoring in Boston, please contact us today.

Image Source: srharris


Dawn Carroll knows first hand the benefits of mentoring relationships.


One of the most effective ways to cultivate a work environment that boosts employee morale, encourages growth, and builds loyalty is to offer a mentoring program within the organization.  An excellent example of a company that does this extremely well is Boston’s own CUMAR Marble & Granite. By taking a genuine interest in their employees and helping to guide them to achieve their career aspirations, CUMAR has been growing strong for the past eight generations.

Dawn Carroll, an award-winning stone designer at CUMAR and a founding member of the Over My Shoulder Foundation, partnered with Design New England to sponsor the MIDDIES (Mentors In Design). Each year, this awards ceremony recognizes design professionals that have offered profound wisdom to the next generation. Valuing the concept of employee mentoring, it was a natural fit for CUMAR to be a part of these awards.

CUMAR shows its passion for employee mentoring in other ways as well. In honor of “Thank Your Mentor Day“, CUMAR recently hosted a reception that was filled with powerful mentoring stories shared by several members of the design community. In an effort to thank all of her new and former mentors along the way, Grammy Award winner Patti Austin offered a $10,000 scholarship to her mentee, Santana Roberts. While she has had a very successful career in music, Patti is now benefiting from the help of mentors in the design world as she grows in her career as an interior designer.

To learn more about the positive impact that mentorship can have both cross-generationally and cross-culturally, please keep visiting  Over My Shoulder Foundation online.


[box]If you like Over My Shoulder Foundation, please SHARE your mentoring stories, consider donating to our non-profit and don’t forget to follow Over My Shoulder Foundation on Facebook too.[/box]


It can be hard to get the conversation started. Use our tips.

Sometimes the idea of mentoring relationship can be intimidating, whether you are the mentor or the mentee. To help break the ice and ease into this relationship, we wanted to share some helpful tips for how to talk to a mentee, courtesy of the Center for Mentoring Excellence:

Just as you would with any other relationship, begin the conversation by warming up and building trust
. Ideally, you will want to make yourself familiar with your mentee’s background before the initial meeting, as this will help the two of you to find commonalities. Taking the time to first warm up the conversation will make the whole concept of a mentor/mentee relationship less rigid.

After the two of you have connected on common interests, here are some helpful questions that will help aid you on how to talk to a mentee to be most effective in your role:

  1. What are you passionate about?
  2. What values do you live your life by?
  3. What are some life experiences that have made the biggest impact on you?
  4. What would you say your strongest quality is?
  5. What are some unique skills and capabilities that set you apart from everyone else?

Most importantly, you need to actively listen to your mentee’s responses to these questions. Your eye contact and body language will communicate that you truly care about helping your mentee achieve his or her goals. Make a mental note of feelings of confusion or frustration from your mentee, and do not interrupt him or her unless it is completely necessary.

For more information about the powerful impact that a mentoring relationship can have, please contact us at the Over My Shoulder Foundation.

© Duey | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

Our mission at the Over My Shoulder Foundation is to spread the word on the power of mentoring, both cross-culturally and cross-generationally. Unfortunately, the art of mentoring is not embraced enough, which typically affects the younger generation. We all have useful skills and experiences to pass along to others that could prove to be extremely beneficial in guiding a young person in his or her career path or personal development.


Dawn Caroll and Patti Austin want to show you the power of mentoring.

Whether you have been asked to be a mentor or would like to see a younger person reach his or her highest potential, here are five ways on how to be an effective mentor:

  1. Know what your “super power” is and use your skill to teach others. By leveraging your expertise in a particular area, you can offer your knowledge and skills to others, without being condescending.
  2. Be respectful of others’ time. While your time is very important and often limited, the same is true for others that you are mentoring as well. Arrive for meetings on time. Share your wisdom, but be careful to not monopolize the conversation.
  3. It’s not just about you. Your goal as a mentor is to help others. By listening to what they need and guiding them along the way, it can be a very rewarding process for you as well.
  4. Introduce influencers that can positively impact the person you are mentoring. We have all benefited along the way from being introduced to a center of influence in our industries.
  5. Check in regularly. All too often a mentoring relationship is established, but several months go by between conversations. If you can’t meet in person, try using Skype or FaceTime.

What advice do you have for how to be an effective mentor?



Don’t let money stop you from achieving your dreams. Look up these interior design scholarships.

If your lifelong dream is to become an interior designer, don’t let your finances stand in the way. There are a number of scholarship programs available to aspiring interior designers, and we wanted to make you aware of four interior design scholarships that are currently accepting applications:

  1. American Society of Interior Designers: Interior design students and design professionals are invited to apply for five awards and scholarships that total $23,000 in funding. The deadline for this application is April 15, 2013.
  2. International Furnishings and Design Association: Undergraduate students majoring in interior design or a related design/furnishing program are eligible to apply for six different scholarships ranging from $1,500 to $3,000.
  3. International Interior Design Association: The following chapters have set aside funds to financially assist students pursing an interior design degree: Georgia, Northern Pacific, Northland, Oregon, Rocky Mountain, Southern California, Texas Oklahoma, and Wisconsin. To learn more about the scholarships available, please contact Dennis Krause, Senior Vice President of IIDA.
  4. Design Sponge: This organization is offering a total of $10,500 in awards for artists and designers. Anyone who is currently enrolled in high school is welcome to apply, and undergraduate and graduate art/design students are eligible as well.

As you begin your journey to becoming an interior designer, finding a mentor that is already in the field can help you tremendously to reach your goal. To learn more about the power of mentoring and how these relationships have been beneficial for others, please visit the webpage for the Over My Shoulder Foundation.

If you have been the recipient of an award or scholarship in the past, what advice can you offer to those who are currently applying for interior design scholarships?

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Nate Berkus will host NBC’s ‘Renovation Nation’.

For all of us HGTV addicts, we will soon have a new source for home improvement entertainment: NBC’s Renovation Nation. This brand-new series has yet to set a premier date, but will consist of 10 episodes hosted by interior and product designer Nate Berkus. The series will feature a home makeover competition between builders and designers for a huge cash prize, and the final episode will determine who will be crowned King of Renovation Nation. The show will engage the audience, as America will be the judge of who stays and who goes. Also, two incredibly lucky viewers will be awarded with dream homes on the show’s finale!

Nate Berkus will not only host and serve as executive producer of the show, but will also guide the audience through the process while mentoring the show’s contestants from week to week. Just like the Over My Shoulder Foundation aims to aid in “designing the next generation” through the art of mentoring, Nate Berkus will play a valuable role for both the show’s contestants and audience in demonstrating his passion and experience when it comes to the world of design. The show will also help to empower homeowners to redesign their own spaces to add value and increase the quality of their lives.

As a protege of Oprah Winfrey, Nate Berkus embraces the power of mentorship and prides himself on sharing valuable skills and advice that he has learned along the way with those that can benefit from this knowledge.

Be sure to stay tuned for more information about this exciting new design series!

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Dr. David Dubois will speak at the conference.

Embracing the art of mentoring ourselves, the Over My Shoulder Foundation would like to make you aware of an exciting upcoming event: the 14th Annual Mentoring Conference. This annual mentoring conference will take place on Thursday, April 18th and Friday, April 19th at the Oracle Conference Center in Santa Clara.

While many people believe that mentoring is an effective way to positively impact the younger generations in our communities, few have what it takes to be consistent with sustaining these efforts. For this reason, this year’s conference theme is Making the Most of Mentoring, and it will focus on addressing strategies and teaching skills to help build successful mentoring relationships.

Conference participants should leave the event with valuable information and knowledge to implement into their new or existing mentoring programs. Attendees will benefit from hearing guest speakers David DuBois, Ph.D., and Michael Karcher, Ed.D, Ph.D., talk about the value of mentoring. In addition, participants can take part in 10 pre-conference courses on Thursday and 15 short workshops on Friday to dig deeper into the subject. To learn more about this exciting mentoring conference brought to you by Friends For Youth, please visit the website for additional details.

If you’re unable to attend the annual mentoring conference, the Over My Shoulder Foundation offers a number of events throughout the year to raise the awareness of the positive impact that mentoring can have both cross-culturally and cross-generationally. Please be sure to “like” our Facebook page to stay up-to-date with our upcoming events.

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If you ask successful people what they attribute most to their career growth, many of them will tie their accomplishments back to having strong mentors along the way. The same could be said for Sheryl Sandberg, the current COO of Facebook. Throughout her professional career, she played a hand in the IPOs for both Facebook and Google, and served as the chief of staff for the United States Department of Treasury. She was recently named the fifth most powerful woman in the world by Forbes magazine.

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg

Sheryl Sandberg contributes much of her success to strong mentoring relationships

When it comes to mentors in the business world, Sheryl Sandberg mentions in this CBS News piece that we often think of a man-to-man mentoring relationship versus one that is comprised of a man and woman. She shares that it’s natural for two men to share a beer and have this type of camaraderie in a hotel lobby while traveling for business, but may send out the wrong signals if a man and woman were to have a drink in the same environment. For this reason, she explains the importance of more senior and tenured professional women taking on younger women as mentees to help guide them along the way in their careers.

Just like Sheryl Sandberg, Patti Austin and Dawn Carroll attribute much of their success to the strong mentoring relationships that they have developed throughout their careers. Wanting to spread the word on the power of “Mentorology,” they founded the Over My Shoulder Foundation. The goal of this non-profit organization is to raise the awareness of what a positive impact mentoring can have across generations and cultures.

For more information about the Over My Shoulder Foundation and our mission, please contact us today!


Photo Credit: Drew Altizer Financial Times


Rosemary Porto, a well-respected interior designer at Poggenpohl Boston, attributes the many successes that she has experienced throughout her career to the mentoring relationships that she has developed along the way. Working for a company that has embraced the power of mentorship for the past 100 years, Rosemary discusses how these relationships have impacted her life and the way that she approaches her profession as an interior designer:


Patti Austin, Dawn Carroll, and Rosemary Porto believe in the power of mentorship. Let them show you how it can help your career.

1. Who was your mentor?

I had two mentors in my early career. Each one gave me gifts of knowledge that I treasure today. Jean Wentz was my first mentor when I was in my early 20s. Her taste was impeccable. By watching her shop and specify, my taste level was elevated. Henry Bogdan was my second mentor in my mid-to-late 20s. Henry guided my behavior as I became successful. His best advice which has kept me humble all these years was: “Rosie, don’t believe your own BS.” Thanks to Jean and Henry, now long deceased, I have navigated 40 years in the business world with a clear perspective on myself and my talent.

2. You work for a company that is generations old. How does your company mentor and pass along the 100-year-old mission?


Poggenpohl is devoted to mentoring. In our factory in Herford, Germany, there is an apprentice school where 20 students spend three years learning cabinetmaking from the master cabinetmakers. When the students graduate, the best ones are invited to join the company.

3. When you design for clients, you are mentoring their spaces. What is your favorite space you created for a client?

This is a tough one to answer. I have had so many wonderful clients over the last 10+ years at Poggenpohl that it is hard to pick just one. I guess if I have to pick one, it is the kitchen I designed in Colchester, VT, where we took down walls and opened the kitchen to view Lake Champlain. Now the space is filled with natural light, and it felt like the room could breathe deeply. My clients cook every day together with the girls learning from their mother. Recently, the Girl Scout group made cookies for the troops in the kitchen. It’s my favorite because it is used and loved everyday by a wonderful family.

4. What mentoring advice do you have for young designers?

I advise to be present and open to everything your mentor does and says. The learning in the field to design, sell and grow comes from focused observation. I advise to soak up the experience with an open heart and mind. That is when the learning happens.

5. What does mentoring mean to you?

To teach is to learn twice — wisdom from a fortune cookie. Really! I learn what I know by sharing it with my intern. Her youthful enthusiasm recharges my battery. It is a true give-and-take as we grow together.

Much like Rosemary Porto, Patti Austin and Dawn Carroll have also experienced much success in their careers due to the strong mentoring relationships that they have built throughout the years. Understanding how these relationships have impacted their lives, they established the Over My Shoulder Foundation in an effort to raise the awareness of how mentoring both cross-culturally and cross-generationally can result in positive outcomes for all involved parties. Through entertainment-driven products and events, this non-profit organization spreads the word on the art of mentoring, or “Mentorology” as the foundation prefers.

Have you benefited from a strong mentoring relationship in your life? If so, we’d like to hear from you! Share your story with us on our Over My Should Foundation Facebook page, and be sure to “like” us, too!



Let Patti prove what mentoring can do for you!

Even while having a successful career as an entertainer, Patti Austin, co-founder of the Over My Shoulder Foundation, reveals that her first love was interior design. An avid believer in the power of mentorship, Patti discusses her first mentor in the design world – her mother. “My earliest design mentor was my stunning mother, Edna. Edna would wait until my father left for his night job, then she would re-arrange the house. Frequently! It was hilarious hearing my father come home early in the morning after his shift was done and bump into a newly designed furniture layout. My dad got used to it because my mother was constantly ‘rejuvenating her nest.’

It’s a habit Patti picked up.  “Design has been a part of my life forever. Music and design are akin to one another. You compose a room just like you compose music; you arrange. I am always creating interesting and effective ‘nests.’ When I was a child, we lived on a very frugal budget, and my parents often would take on more work by cleaning the opulent homes in Fire Island, New York. At 4 years old, I thought these were our homes and I developed a lifelong appreciation for exquisite spaces and objects.

I admit that upon first glance, few places ever get it right for me. One of the first things I do to my space is “Patti-ize” the room. I’ll even do it in a hotel, move the chair a bit to the left, place the lamp where it feels right to me. So, I guess I can say I have arranged thousands of spaces. And I’ve got my personal mentor, my mom, to thank for that.”

To learn more about Patti Austin and the mission of the Over My Shoulder Foundation, please contact us today!



The event will take place at One Financial Center.

For the past ten years, Root Causes’s Social Innovation Forum has been recognizing results-oriented non-profit organizations that are dedicated to effectively solving social problems faced today., a Boston-based non-profit organization, has been selected as one of the five 2013 Social Innovators and will be awarded over $115,000 in cash and resources from Root Cause and its partners over the next 18 months. The mission for is promote education, economic opportunity, and self-sufficiency for women and girls living in Boston.

The Social Innovation Forum will host a series of events throughout the month of March to help us all think more broadly about the fields that we work in and ways that we can add value to others. will be featured at an event that focuses its discussion on women and girls on Thursday, March 21st, from 8:30 am to 10:00 am at Brown Rudnick, One Financial Center in downtown Boston.

The event at Brown Rudnick will be a precursor for the Social Innovator Showcase, which will take place on Thursday, May 9th, at the Microsoft New England Research & Development Center in Cambridge. At the Social Innovator Showcase, will be introduced to over 300 leaders from the business, government, and philanthropic sectors of Boston to share its unique mission and ways that it has helped to provide new opportunities and better lives for young women living in Boston.

The Over My Shoulder Foundation is another Boston-based non-profit organization that also uses a unique approach to mentoring. By focusing on “Designing the Next Generation“, the Over My Shoulder Foundation shows how powerful the art of mentoring can be, most specifically in the world of interior design. For more information about our organization and how you can become a part of this cause, please contact us today!

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Sofia Vergara is just one celebrity who has made the transition.

When Grammy Award winner Patti Austin made the decision to pursue her dream as an interior designer, songwriter and designer Dawn Carroll mentored her to make this dream become a reality. This successful mentor/mentee relationship helped to inspire the two women to establish the Over My Shoulder Foundation, which aims to raise the awareness of the positive impact that mentoring can have both cross-culturally and cross-generationally.

Patti Austin is not the first entertainer to cross over to the world of interior design. Listed below are several other celebrity interior designers that have successfully made this transition:

  • Justin Timberlake: First a singer, then an actor, and now a designer, Justin Timberlake is a co-curator for HomeMint, which offers high-end home furnishings, decor, and art.
  • P. Diddy: In addition to his music and acting career, P. Diddy also has his own clothing line and home collection known as Sean John.
  • Cindy Crawford: Aside from being one of the world’s most recognized supermodels, Cindy Crawford has her own home decor line called Cindy Crawford Style.
  • Sofia Vergara: This actress has not only come into her own in her role on Modern Family, but recently launched an affordable home furnishing line for the bedroom and bathroom called Sofia by Sofia Vergara.
  • Lenny Kravitz: This rock star has also created his own upscale home design collection called Kravitz Design, which includes custom-made furniture, crystal lighting fixtures, and bold wallpaper designs.
  • Brad Pitt: This actor turned his passion for design into a partnership with furniture maker Frank Pollaro to offer high-quality inventive designs.

Who are some of your favorite celebrity interior designers that have had successful careers in a variety of industries? Do you think the benefited from a mentor relationship while they made this transition?



Come hear their mentoring ideas at the conference!



The 2013 Design Bloggers Conference will take place March 3-5 at the Hilton Los Angeles in Universal City, California. This highly anticipated event is the premier new media conference for the interior design industry and will focus on the numerous benefits and opportunities that interior designers can gain from blogging, social media, and more.

The Over My Shoulder Foundation‘s own Patti Austin and Dawn Carroll will be featured as guest speakers at this conference, sharing their mission of Designing the Next Generation through the power of mentorship. Just like a designer sees the possibilities of an empty room, a mentor can help bring out a mentee’s full potential. Designing a space that mirrors yourself can help you to grow into the person that you want to become.

In this way, interior design can function as a mentor of its own. The two women will share their own personal mentoring success story as Patti enlisted the help of Dawn to help guide her in achieving her dream of becoming an interior designer. To learn more about the Over My Shoulder Foundation and the concept of Mentorology, please visit our website or browse through our blog.

In addition to the all-star lineup of guest speakers, conference attendees will have the opportunity to learn about a variety of related topics to assist with their content marketing strategies, from using Houzz and Instagram to promote your brand to creating inspirational content.

Are you planning on attending the Design Bloggers Conference? If so, which topics are you most excited to learn about?



A good mentor is an invaluable resource.


In an effort to break down the barriers that separate generations of people and cultures and raise the awareness of the impact of mentoring, the Over My Shoulder Foundation was born. The organization was founded by Grammy Award winner Patti Austin and songwriter Dawn Carroll, after the two had built a successful mentor-mentee relationship. Patti mentored Dawn early in her music career, and Dawn now mentors Patti as she aspires to become an interior designer.

The two women understand the power of mentorship and the positive effects that it can have on the lives of others. Dawn Carroll, Charlie Farren, Brynn Arens, and Barry Orms wrote the song “Over My Shoulder,” which was performed by Patti Austin and her mentee, Lianna Gutierrez. The song helped to inspire the organization, which was launched to cultivate “mentorology,” the art of mentoring, through entertainment-driven products and events.

The Over My Shoulder Foundation aims to achieve the following:

  • Contribute to mentoring programs such as self-empowerment programs for girls and after school programs for at-risk youths that are currently underfunded due to the government’s cost-cuts in 2009.
  • Develop educational “mentorology” programming to be used in corporations and universities.
  • Establish a “mentorology” speaker series, which will feature mentoring stories and the positive life changes that came from it.
  • Create a documentary about the power of mentoring to distribute along with other mentoring efforts.
  • Design a website to function as a “mentoring umbrella” with up-to-date mentoring resources.

To learn more about our organization and ways that you can make a difference, please contact us today!

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