Even Oprah has benefited from having a mentor.

If you take a closer look at some of the most successful people throughout history, I bet you would find that the majority had a mentor or two along the way that made a positive impact on their lives. Harvard recently released a list of some of the most powerful people in the world, and I found it particularly interesting to see who some of these listed as their mentors. Read through this list of famous mentors yourself and see if you have the same feeling:

  • Oprah Winfrey: Mentored by Mrs. Duncan, her 4th grade teacher.
  • General Colin Powell: Mentored by his father, Luther Powell.
  • Dr. Martin Luther King: Mentored by Benjamin E. Mays
  • Henry David Thoreau: Mentored by Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Quincy Jones: Mentored by Ray Charles
  • Mitch Albom: Mentored by Morrie Schwartz (Tuesdays with Morrie)

And while the following mentoring relationships are fictional, Hollywood can’t help but demonstrate how a strong mentor can positively shape a person:

  • Luke Skywalker: Mentored by Obi-Wan Ben Kenobi (Star Wars)
  • Harry Potter: Mentored by Professor Dumbledore
  • US President Josiah Bartlet: Mentored by Dr. Benjamin E. Mays (West Wing)

As you can see, this list of famous mentors includes interesting pairs that bring together diverse backgrounds, both across differing generations and areas of expertise. At the Over My Shoulder Foundation, we believe that this type of mentoring relationship can be mutually beneficial to both the mentor and mentee and therefore strive to raise the awareness of “Mentorology.” Please contact us to learn more about our organization and how you can become involved.

Image Source:  Alan Light


Boston’s Berklee College of Music has taken inspiration from the famed Bluebird Cafe in Nashville and created two events that epitomize the spirit of mentoring and community engagement. As we mentioned on our blog when we highlighted Amy Kurland’s influence on musicians at the Bluebird Cafe, aspiring musicians and songwriters are able to perform to audiences that often include movers and shakers in the music industry. Thus begins a connection between those looking to break into the music industry and musicians who have already done so. This connection is very much like the relationship between mentors and mentees. Berklee has taken that concept and built upon it with two unique music mentoring programs.


Source: Wikimedia Commons

Berklee in the Round is an event that takes place the first Tuesday of the month during its school sessions. Students, alumni, faculty and special guests gather to perform songs and connect with each other. Among the group, one chair is set aside for that week’s special mystery guest. The guest might be a touring performer, a local songwriter, or an industry insider! This mixer brings together people with different musical backgrounds, which fosters community and provides opportunities for all.

It’s true that you are never too young to begin the mentorshop process! Boston’s elementary school students will have the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of songwriting when the Berklee College of Music hosts a songwriting clinic, on January 27, 2014 at Cafe 939 in Boston. Not only will they write a song, these mentored students will also perform their song!

Are you interested in learning more about music mentoring programs? Over My Shoulder Foundation has some excellent information to get you started!



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Under the leadership of John F. Fish, Suffolk Construction Company Inc. has achieved many positive distinctions. It is the largest builder in New England, earns two billion dollars per year in revenue, and is one of the country’s most successful building contracting companies. At the same time he has grown the company, Mr. Fish has, through his own example, instilled the values of mentorship and engagement in his company.

Someone who guides a company so successfully certainly learns much along the way, and Mr. Fish has chosen to pass on his experience and wisdom in the form of mentoring. Suffolk’s own Red & Blue Foundation supports groups that seek to better individuals and society, through support of mentoring programs for youth, education, the arts and healthcare.

Mr. Fish and Suffolk Construction recently reached out to young people in a pragmatic and motivational way, through the Youth Mentoring Partnership program. The company partnered with Madison Park Technical Vocational High School and YouthBuild Boston to give technical-vocational students the opportunity to be mentored on-site with Suffolk, and with other leaders in the subcontracting field. This unique symbiosis gave students a head start in the job market, while allowing company representatives to spot talented individuals early on. Truly a win-win situation!

We congratulate and thank Suffolk Construction for supporting Over My Shoulder Foundation’s first annual Designing the Next Generation Extravaganza, which took place on June 18, 2012. This inspiring event brought together speakers from many backgrounds, who shared personal stories of their own mentoring experiences.

John F. Fish’s commitment to mentoring programs for youth has had a positive effect on the lives of many mentees, and he has been a shining example within his own company. You, too, can make a difference in a young person’s life! To learn how, please visit our website for the Over My Shoulder Foundation.



Source: Craig Janson via Pinterest

If you aspire to have a successful career in the design industry, one of the first steps that you should take is to find a mentor. For some, the thought of finding a mentor can be overwhelming, which is why Designing the Next Generation is our mission at the Over My Shoulder Foundation. Founded on the belief that we can make our rising generation better prepared and passionate about pursuing careers in creative fields through mentoring, we make it our goal to raise the awareness of positive mentoring relationships and the significant impact that they can make.

One mentoring success story that we wanted to share is between David Laufer, visual designer and author, and George Nelson, architect and industrial designer.

When Laufer was young in his career, he knew that he wanted to find a mentor and attempted to set up phone interviews with several of his design idols in hope of developing mentoring relationships. One of his those idols was George Nelson, and Laufer’s manager made him aware of an evening class that he was teaching at the Pratt Institute. After pulling some strings, Laufer was able to sit in on Nelson’s lectures and have an opportunity to build a relationship with him.

Some of the most valuable advice that Laufer learned from Nelson related to public speaking. In one of Laufer’s first one-on-one encounters with Nelson, he was told that anyone can speak eloquently in a public setting with plenty of practice. To this day, per Nelson’s advice, Laufer is constantly putting himself in situations where he is required to speak publicly. The two stayed in touch throughout the years, and Laufer credits Nelson as being one of his greatest and most influential mentors.

For more success stories about mentoring relationships, please contact me, Dawn Carroll.


Most of us know Linda Perry as the lead singer and primary songwriter of 4 Non Blondes, but throughout her 25 year career in the music industry, she has also composed and produced songs for Pink, Gwen Stefani and Alicia Keys, to name a few. Perry also has her own record label and has signed up and coming artists such as James Blunt. Now her latest venture is “The Linda Perry Project,” which will be a reality series that will premier on VH1 in the summer of 2014. It will consist of the re-launching of her record label and finding up-and-coming talent to sign and mentor.


Source: Wikimedia Commons

Through Perry’s new show, aspiring musicians will receive a one-of-a-kind opportunity to work directly with Perry and learn the valuable lessons that she has been taught throughout her diverse career in the music industry.

Understanding Perry’s passion for mentoring, I, alongside Creative Director Russ Mezikofsky,  recently had an opportunity to meet with her to see if she would be interested in becoming the Over My Shoulder Foundation’s next “Mentorologist.” Throughout Perry’s career, she has benefited from cross-mentoring relationships with Pink, Christina Aguilera, and a number of other musicians, which demonstrates that she too is passionate about the concept of Mentorology. Fortunately, Perry agreed to take on the role as our next Mentorologist, and we look forward to the great insight and knowledge that she will bestow on our organization.

In the meantime, we wanted to congratulate Perry for using her new show, “The Linda Perry Project” as a way to serve as a valuable mentor to a number of musicians.

To learn more about the concept of Mentorology and what you can do to become involved, contact us at the Over My Shoulder Foundation.

All of our youth deserve the opportunity to develop into successful adults that contribute to society in a positive way. However, this is unfortunately not always the case as many of our youth lack a support system at home. One statistic that I found astounding is that only 25 percent of our youth population is actually making it through K-12 and college to achieve an academic degree.


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To demonstrate the benefits of mentoring under-served or at-risk youth, we wanted to share some of the powerful roles that these positive relationships can play in a student’s education:

  • Youth involved in a mentoring relationship are more likely to stay in school. All too often, students that lack positive role models in their lives are less engaged in school and eventually drop out of high school before graduation.
  • A study completed by the Big Brothers Big Sisters Foundation indicated that students that see their mentors regularly are 46 percent less likely to skip an entire day of school and 37 percent less likely to skip a class.
  • While many youth may not have the support system at home to assist with homework and instill good study habits, many mentoring programs are focused on enhancing students’ academic skills.
  • One of the major benefits of mentoring is that students are more likely to make better grades in school.

If we continue to live in a world where our youth do not have positive role models, you can only imagine what our country will look like in 15 years. Understanding the benefits of mentoring, there are organizations, such as The Right to Succeed, that are doing their best to fix this problem, but we still need more mentors. To learn more about becoming a mentor, please contact me, Dawn Carroll, at the Over My Shoulder Foundation.



Source: Julie Heu via Pinterest

If your lifelong dream is to become a fashion designer, it can sometimes be difficult to know where to get started. All too often, our youth that aspire to “make it” in the fashion industry end up settling for jobs in retail and merchandising instead of working towards a higher level career. However, individuals that enter into a mentoring relationship with someone that has already gone through the challenges that are presented early on in the fashion industry are more likely to have successful careers in this field.

Since we are passionate about Designing the Next Generation and the concept of Mentorology at the Over My Shoulder Foundation, we like to use our blog to share fashion and design opportunities with those that have a deep interest in pursuing a career in this area.

Any young women (of at least 18 years of age) that are interested in modeling, fashion design, fashion buying, graphic design, and fashion photography need to know about the Fashion Apprentice Program offered by the Pretty Academy Ambassador Mentorship Program in Atlanta. This newly launched program will provide 20 women that fit this criteria with hands-on experience in their field of interest.

The goal of this program is not only to provide a first-hand account of how the fashion industry works, but to also instill the confidence and courage that the participants will need to be successful in the fashion industry. By taking part in this unique program, the participants will be able to make valuable connections and learn about available fashion and design opportunities.

To learn more about how you can get involved in our Designing the Next Generation initiative, please contact us at the Over My Shoulder Foundation.


Youth that are involved in an extracurricular activity such as sports, art or music are more likely to stay in school and develop a positive self-image. The Charity Music Mentoring Program was founded with the understanding that all youth have the potential to succeed in life if they have access to a solid role model that offers support and encouragement along the way. This program is aimed at serving disadvantaged youth in Michigan that are currently enrolled in the Macomb Intermediate School District and have an interest in music.


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This unique youth mentoring program utilizes music to inspire their students to explore their creative sides, often helping youth to uncover hidden musical talents. In addition to providing free music education to program participants, the students also have the ability to borrow a variety of instruments to determine which one best suits them.

If you have ever expressed an interest in becoming a music mentor, the Charity Music Mentoring Program is currently searching for mentors to serve as music instructors with expertise in the flute, clarinet, drums, voice, and other instruments. To learn more about how you can make a difference with this wonderful program, please contact Music Mentors of Michigan at 586-808-7445.

We, too, are passionate about Designing the Next Generation at the Over My Shoulder Foundation. We recently shared the inspirational story about how Amy Kurland, founder of the Bluebird Cafe, served as one of the greatest music mentors as her Nashville cafe launched the careers of several singers and songwriters such as Garth Brooks and Taylor Swift.

I, Dawn Carroll, have personally benefited from a music mentor in my life, which ultimately inspired me to found the Over My Shoulder Foundation along with Grammy winner Patti Austin. To learn more about our organization and becoming a music mentor, please contact us!



Effective mentors can make a difference in the lives of at-risk youths. Source: Lisa Dabbs via Pinterest

Unfortunately, we are seeing a rise of at-risk youth in our communities. An at-risk youth student is best defined as someone that is statistically more likely to do poorly in school due to a low socioeconomic status, disability, and/or little to no parental guidance in the home. One of the best ways to correct this problem is to expose these at-risk youth to positive role models, which is why we are now seeing a number of mentoring programs appearing to help address this issue.

There is a great article that was recently written by Edutopia that discussed the four basic ingredients that a program targeted to mentoring at-risk youth should have. I found this article to be very impressionable and thought that anyone that has ever considered serving as a mentor should take note of these four points highlighted below:

  1. Caring and Stable Relationships: Teachers are often some of the first mentors that our youth have, and a major challenge that we face with our education system is retaining teachers. In addition to a mentor being trusting and caring, it is imperative that they are a stable and reliable figure for our youth.
  2. Help Set Attainable Goals: Students often look up to celebrities and athletes in our society and set goals based on what these individuals have achieved. Sometimes these goals are not always realistic, and a good mentor should help guide his or her mentee towards more reachable goals.
  3. Offer Guidance: Our youth need mentors that can help to guide them towards achieving their goals and overcome obstacles along the way.
  4. Create Engagement in Both School and the Community: You can help your mentee to become engaged by recognizing his or her positive contributions in these areas.

For more about mentoring at-risk youth, please contact us at OMSF.



Patti Austin and Designer Dawn Carroll

As I continue to learn more about the cutting edge designers, builders, and architects out there, I am amazed by what I find. My partner and co-founder Dawn Carroll just introduced me to the bio of super star architect Zaha Hadid. Oh how I would love to be mentored by her!

She was most recently recognized at the international level for her incredible design of the Olympic Aquatic Centre, which houses two swimming pools and 22,500 seats. Other notable designs include the Bridge Pavilion in Spain, the Bergisel Ski Jump in Austria, and the Vitra Fire Station in Germany. She has also begun planning for an 11-story condo building on NYC’s High Line. Her successful career in architecture has earned her the Pritzker Prize and the label of one of CNN’s ‘Leading Women’ among many other accolades.

Surprisingly, there are very few leading women architects in the industry, which makes me wonder why this is the case. The RIBA Future Trends Survey indicated a 7 percent decline in the number of female architects over the past two years.

According to Zaha, she thinks that it is because many women struggle with the work/life balance and often feel overwhelmed trying to be the best at everything: career woman, homemaker, mother, and wife. By trying to juggle all of the tasks related to their personal lives, they may feel as though they don’t have the focus or drive to become successful architects.


Mentor Architect Alex Zaras of Zaras & Neudorfer Architects- Mentee Patti A and Mentor builder Bryan Beaver of Thoughtforms Corporation

To help create more successful women architects in the future, Zaha is a believer in women in mentoring relationships. In fact, while she used to not like being labeled a ‘woman architect’, she now knows that her role as a leader in the industry can be inspirational for other aspiring women architects and help to reassure them that it can be done.

I, along with my mentor in design, Dawn Carroll, have started the Over My Shoulder Foundation in an effort to start an international conversation on mentoring through our Designing the Next Generation series. Please contact us to learn more about women in mentoring and the powerful effect it can have.


We’ve talked about the positive impact that an internal mentorship program can make for your company; however, in order to create a successful mentorship program for your company, you need to know how to recruit the right mentors and provide them with thorough training. Therefore, the Over My Shoulder Foundation wanted to share some helpful tips for training and supporting mentors. Outlined below are some steps that your company should take to recruit and train mentors for your mentorship program:


Have clear cut guidelines for your mentors and their training requirements. Source:

  1. Recruitment: In order to attract the strongest mentors for your program, you should realistically portray the benefits and challenges that will be associated with the program. You should also outline the expectations of what your ideal mentor/mentee relationship will look like in this program. When recruiting, be sure to look for mentors that will fit in well with your program’s culture and the mentees that are enrolled in the program. The following should be considered for mentor applicants at a minimum: the written application, the time commitment, a face-to-face interview, a reference check, and a criminal background check.
  2.  Training: At a minimum, you should offer two hours of in-person training to your program mentors, which will cover the program rules, expectation of the mentor/mentee relationship, ethical issues, and resources available to help strengthen the mentor/mentee relationship.
  3. Ongoing Support: To ensure that the mentor/mentee relationship is successful from the start, it’s a good idea to reach out to the mentor and mentee twice individually during the first month of the relationship and once a month going forward. This allows for the relationship to be tweaked when necessary and additional support to be offered when needed.

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!


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.




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


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.



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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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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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!


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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