“Life most persistent and urgent question is, “WHAT are YOU DOING for OTHERS” Dr Martin Luther King Jr

Last year BILLBOARD magazine published a fabulous list of songs that honored one of our finest mentors, Dr. Martin Luther King. “I Have A Dream” by Will.I.AM and Common” is one of my favorites. They brilliantly weaved my favorite Dr. King speech into the sounds of today. We here at OMSF fuse the worlds of Music-Mentoring and Design because we believe that creative minds will provide the answers to many of our individual and societal issues, that mentoring can be a remedy to the many problems we face in this world. January is National Mentoring Month and we hope you will celebrate with us by sharing your favorite messages of hope-peace-inspiration. Our goal for the New year is to share with you messages that mentor peace, mentor calm. Wishing you the very best in 2016 Dawn Carroll

[box]Life was complicated for me in junior high. Sharing the intimate details of your life was not an option during the 1970s. You hid everything back then, pretended that nothing hurt. You sucked it up and moved on. But I remember my music class, and our teacher Pip Moss, vividly. Under Pip’s direction, we dissected our favorite songs and discussed their meaning. James Taylor’s “Fire and Rain”is the one I recall the best. That song was the first instance I can remember of anyone talking openly about private emotional pain.

On my favorite radio station back then, the songs told stories about every emotion that life could elicit. I knew just about every word of every song. Music has the unique ability to arouse introspection, and it offered me some stability in those turbulent years. If that’s not a kind of mentorship, I don’t know what is.

I’m very excited to feature my old classmate, Peter Downing. With this post, Peter reminds me how important our music teacher Pip Moss was, and how grateful I still am for his guidance and education.

— Dawn Carroll, OMSF Executive Director[/box]

 

I clicked on two video links: “Musician arrested for singing in subway” and “BBC Music – God Only Knows.” The second video is a montage of pop artists singing The Beach Boys’ masterpiece,“God only Knows.” An eighty-piece orchestra backs twenty-seven hugely famous and talented singers, who take turns singing one line of Brian Wilson and Tony Asher’s classic love song each. Brian himself is in the video. By the time it got around to Dave Grohl, however, the meaning of the song had changed.

I was primed by the video of that brave New York City subway musician being wrongfully arrested for plying his trade. I’ve been a busker, you see—not out of fiscal necessity but rather out of spiritual need. Holding court in The Pit, in Harvard Square, with my old band, The Peasants, is a cherished memory. For me, it was the only outlet that beat the skull-busting rush of shooting cocaine.

Watching the young man in the first video being taken away in handcuffs—for what? For being the most alive one can be? It affected me. It hurt my soul.

I no longer imagined the musicians singing “God only knows” to a loved one; instead, the song become a paean to music itself. I didn’t see Elton John the mega star. I saw the awkward little boy, the target of ridicule, then a tortured artist, finding solace in creativity, now paying tribute to the thing that saved him.

Not every musician is “tortured,” obviously. But there is a certain madness required in mastering an instrument. It takes hundreds of hours alone in room, repeating the same work over and over with single-minded focus. God only knows what Brian Wilson and this distinguished band of merry misfits would be without music as an outlet.

Without it, I know, I’d be incarcerated or interred.

My story is a familiar one: alcoholism, broken home, latchkey kid. I was a good reader, but most of the other subjects confounded me. I couldn’t seem to pay enough attention.

Enter a young, long-haired, energetic, and very knowledgeable music teacher named Pip Moss. He had soft shoes, John Lennon glasses, and a corduroy blazer. Despite the hip style, Pip was the son of the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s first violinist and Concert Master. His intention, according to my classmate Warren, was to turn kids on to classical pieces in his first year teaching the class “Music Listening.” But the kids rebelled.“We want rock,” they demanded. And Pip—maybe realizing the futility of his campaign—turned on a dime. He got a Fender Stratocaster and some Hendrix records, and by the time my class showed up the following year he had whole new curriculum.

He led off with Cream. My older sister liked the band so I already knew them. I was able to answer some questions intelligently. Pip took notice. During a quiz he played an obscure track. It was our job to identify the musician.

I knew instantly, raised my hand, and said, “It’s Cream.”

Pip smiled broadly and said, “Correct! How did you know?”

“Clapton’s voice.”I said.”

“Mmm. Good ear,” he said, “except it’s actually Jack Bruce who’s singing.”

It was an imperfect victory (something I’d have to get used to) but a victory nonetheless. I was suddenly engaged, scored well on quizzes, and in no time I was even teaching my classmates guitar. It was a sea-change.

Pip’s support may have been a small gesture, but it grew exponentially, the way a tiny adjustment at the start of a tee shot becomes a quantum leap three hundred yards down the fairway. A metric expansion of space began that day, and forty years later his words are still helping me as I strive to be more patient, kind, and generous. Where would I be without him as a mentor? God only knows.

[box]About the Author

Peter Downing graduated from Tufts University. He is a musician, father, and Managing Partner of Cerberus Life Management, an addiction recovery services firm.[/box]

Mitchell-Gold-Recap

Happy Mentoring Month! The beginning of each new year not only gives us a chance to set goals for the future, it also offers an opportunity to reflect on the past. We’re delighted to report that 2014 was a banner year here at the Over My Shoulder Foundation. Here are just a few highlights, from awards and events to media sponsorships and emotional mentorship stories.

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peace-sign-39484_640The world witnessed its share of sadness in 2014. The cycle of senseless violence made us question our selves and our place in the world. Now, the start of a new year brings the promise of a new leaf. But the world isn’t cooperating. These past weeks have seen a violent attack in France, continued turmoil in the Middle East, and civil war in Eastern Europe. Misunderstanding blinds us to the right course of action, and stops us from peacefully seeking the route to understanding.

At the Over My Shoulder Foundation, we have been searching for a way to make a positive impact, however modest. So in 2015, we’re going to Mentor Peace.

We mentor peace by opening our minds to new concepts. We mentor peace by fighting ignorance with education. Above all, we mentor peace by treating every person with care and respect we would show to a member of our families. Over the past few weeks, I interviewed a number of magnificent young people, from all corners of the globe, asking a simple question: “How will you mentor peace in 2015? What do you hope for in your country regarding peace?”

Fahad, Age 23, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
“I want to mentor peace by showing that world that regardless of what they see on the media, there are good people in all corners of the country.”

Kylie, Age 22, Ferguson, Missouri
“I will mentor peace by showing people that people should not be judged by the color of their skin, but by their character. I will do this by showing the world how successful people of color can be, regardless of stereotype.”

Lucy, Age 19, Paris, France
“I want to mentor peace by showing the world that together, non violent acts of protest can speak to millions in silence.”

Fatima, Age 25, Islamabad, Pakistan
“I want to show the world that violence is never right. I want to show the world that people who are violent will not win. The only way to fight violence is with peace. The only way to remember the lives of the innocent is with positivity. I want the world to know that the lives of the innocent children killed in my country will always be remembered. I will be peaceful for them.”

Mira, Age 22, Beirut, Lebanon
“My wish for peace in 2015 is for my country to see the beauty in all people. God has given us the ability to live in a beautiful country. We must also show that beauty through our actions.”

Mohammad, Age 29, United Arab Emirates
“I want to mentor peace by telling people to love all religions and respect everyone’s belief. We can do this by educating and really listening to each others point of view respectfully. Didn’t our prophets do the same?”

Tyrese, Age 8, Boston, Massachusetts
“I want to mentor peace by showing my friends books about all different cultures. This way, we can all be friends and get along.”

Martin, Age 26, Dublin, Ireland
“I want peace to be mentored through every step I take. I want peace to be mentored through the kind words I speak to people. I want peace to be mentored through politicians, because people pay attention when people in power practice peace.”

Miranda, London, UK
“I love people of all race religions and backgrounds. I want to take my knowledge and spread it like wildfire —that underneath our skin we are all the same!”

Carlo, Madrid, Spain
“I want the people of my country to have empathy on those who are poor, and mentor them into better health. I want to mentor and inspire people to help the less fortunate.”

Bahir, Damascus, Syria
“I want to mentor the world. I want to tell people; My country is beautiful. Even under violence, we still dance and love. If we can mentor dancing and love through hard times, we can help anyone get through a hard time.”

Let us mentor the world with powerful actions, showing that peace is greater than hatred and violence. Let us mentor society by demonstrating that peace can be found everywhere on earth. Let us mentor each other on the path to peace.

 

[box]About the Author

OMSF team member Marissa Ranahan is a student at the University of Hartford and hopes to pursue a career in writing.[/box]

New-Year_Resolutions_list

Every year, millions of people around the globe make New Year’s resolutions to better their lives.

Some of the most common goals are to lose weight, quit smoking, get a new job, learn a second language, and save money. These are all perfectly worthwhile ambitions. But there’s another resolution that should be added to the top of your list: to become a better mentor.

January is National Mentoring Month in the United States, and that’s a perfect way to kick off each new year. It’s a reminder that everyone needs the support of their friends and loved ones to succeed, and that each of us can become a better mentor to the people in our lives.

Becoming a mentor doesn’t necessarily mean working with a charity (although there are many fantastic volunteer mentorship opportunities). It doesn’t require a long-term commitment. Coworkers, family members, and friends can all use the support of a mentor from time to time. Opportunities arise daily—as long as we’re looking for them—to lend support and guidance, to bolster the best parts of each other.

This year, commit yourself to a new New Year’s resolution. And stay on track by staying in touch:

· Check out the OMSF archive and subscribe to the blog

· Become a fan of OMSF on Facebook

· Contact us about sharing your own mentorship story!

[box]I get so excited when I discover a unique mentoring story, whether it’s in the form of a book, song, show or film. Today OMSF is thrilled to feature Kay Goldstein, author of Star Child. It’s a fabulous adult/YA book that takes us on a journey of Terra and Marius—two star children trying to fit in. It’s a story is about confidence and loneliness, fears and obsessions.

January is National Mentoring Month so we are particularly glad to have this tale, which uses mentoring to counter the alienation and negative feelings that diminish the possibility of hope. We all need more hope, and we all need a mentor. I’d like to thank Kay for taking the time to write this piece for the OMSF blog, and I hope you’ll buy a copy of her book!

—Dawn Carroll, OMSF Executive Director[/box]

As we begin the New Year and many of us think about making resolutions, I am reminded that all of us can use a little help achieving our goals. And one thing I learned from writing Star Child is that there is only one resolution that we really need: to be true to our selves. For if we know who we are and can nurture the very best and most unique parts of ourselves, then we will find a great satisfaction in our lives, our relationships, and our work. Any resolution that is not based in this truth is bound to fail, especially if it is designed just to please others.

The story of the star children offers inspiration as well as examples of how to get through difficult times, and how to realize one’s unique self. Both children recognized that they were different from the others. Both felt the pain of their “differentness,” even though they had caring adults and family around them. In fact, they were often pressured and even bullied to conform to the “norm.”

But each found a mentor who provided some special guidance. For Terra, it was the Ancient Mother; for Marius, it was the Baker: both appeared just when the characters most needed guidance. While different in their approaches and support, each provided similar assistance:

  • They were non-judging—that is, they were accepting of the young man and woman. The goal was not to change them into something more socially acceptable, but to help them develop their unique abilities so that they could share them with others.
  • They shared something of their own stories and experience, not all of which they were proud. In other words, they shared their common humanity.
  • Each encouraged Terra and Marius to trust themselves and to seek what they most desired.
  • Each had skills that they shared with Terra and Marius.
  • And finally, both the Ancient Mother and The Baker had great wisdom that allowed them to intervene in the lives of their community and those they mentored at critical times. Neither expected Marius or Terra to follow exactly in their footsteps but allowed them to find their own way with their guidance and support.

Kay Goldstein

Kay Goldstein

As the author of this story, I felt those characters help me understand how to write a book that was true to my own voice and self. When faced with the task of editing the final version of the story, I often imagined what the Ancient Mother or the Baker or even Terra might want to do or say. They ended up being my mentors too. It was only when the book was published that I realized that I was learning, at a much older age, many of the same lessons that Terra and Marius had learned.

January is National Mentoring Month. If you seek support, guidance, and good examples—no matter what your age—then seek out a mentor! You’d be surprised: they sometimes appear only once you have decided you need one. And consider offering your own gifts and skills to those around you. Everyone will benefit!

[box] About the Author

Kay Goldstein is the author of Star Child (Vineyard Stories), a spiritual fairy tale for adults and young adults and recipient of a 2013 Nautilus Book Award, as well as A Book Of Feasts, Stories and Recipes from American Celebrations, a James Beard Award nominee. Kay was formerly an editor for Zagat Restaurant Guides and founder of award-winning Proof of the Pudding, Atlanta’s first gourmet takeout store/restaurant and catering business offering innovative American and fusion foods. She is married to Buck Goldstein and has two grown children, dividing her time between Chapel Hill, NC, and Martha’s Vineyard, MA.[/box]

 


100814neh139

A glamorous reception last Wednesday night kicked-off the “Home for the Holidays” exhibit at Neiman Marcus’ fabulous Copley Place location.

“I never thought in a million years that our little gift gallery could be transformed into three amazing royal residences,” said Daniel Kramer, Vice President and General Manager of Neiman Marcus Boston, in his opening remarks. New England Home publisher Kathy Bush-Dutton spoke next, echoing Kramer’s sentiment and crediting the three designers and their teams.

Tony Fusco, co-producer of “Home for the Holidays,” announced the schedule for Boston Design Week 2015, which takes place March 19–29 in Boston. He then put the spotlight squarely on OMSF Executive Director Dawn Carroll, who took the microphone to emphasize the vital importance of mentorship in the world of design and in this exhibit especially.

“There’s no school for stone design,” Carroll said. “That’s why mentorship is so important to Cumar, and that was part of the reason I founded the Over My Shoulder Foundation. In mentorship, we act as good stewards for our industry and our society.”

To produce “Home for the Holidays,” three Boston designers were invited to re-imagine famous royal palaces, and each were asked to allow a mentee to contribute significantly to the vision and project.

The Versailles room, designed by Paula Daher and mentee Virginia Seherr-Thoss, offers the classic gold trim in perfect balance with the decidedly modern furniture. The finishing touch? A pair of Christmas trees that sparkle with silver and gold ornaments.

Intoxicating in its blend of comfort and style, Gerald Pomeroy and mentee Lauren Cozzi’s Balmoral room boasts green-and-white wall panels of British country scenes, tweedy wall-to-wall carpet, and a rustic lantern chandelier above the table.

In the Winter Palace, Eric Roseff and mentee Evie Hickey dazzle with deep blue walls, a mélange of richly-textured furniture—including green leather chairs and a lush blue sofa-in-the-round—as well as faux windows that face an array of mesmerizing portraits.

Cumar Marble and Granite provided magnificent pieces of stone art for each space, carved fireplaces, framed pieces of semi-precious stones—and something special in the Winter Palace: two gorgeous white natural quartzite columns, both back-lit for ambiance, resembling floor-to-ceiling icicles. Each piece is a stunning work of art.

“Home for the Holidays” can be visited in the home section of the Neiman Marcus store in Copley Place, Boston. The event will close in January 2015 with a mentoring gala sponsored by Cumar and the Over My Shoulder Foundation.

 

On Friday evening, September 5, Over My Shoulder Foundation Executive Director Dawn Carroll was thrilled to present Boston design legend Yolanda Cellucci with the second annual “Designing the Next Generation Award” during a VIP reception at the Charles River Museum of Industry and Innovation.

The “Designing the Next Generation Award” spotlights the importance of mentoring across generations and cultural barriers—not only to the field of design, where it is vital, but also to the work of creating a better society. Founded by OMSF in 2013, in partnership with the Cumar Marble and Granite, the award’s inaugural recipient was Governor Michael Dukakis.

For more than four decades, Yolanda Cellucci has worked tirelessly to translate movie-star glamour from the runway and the red carpet to the streets of America. In that time, she has mentored more than her share of young women and men: fashion designers, interior designers, and local media fixtures—as well as a familiar face.

“Like so many young women, I launched my career at her store,” explains Dawn Carroll. “She ignited confidence in me that women could be powerful business leaders, glamorous wives, and nurturing mothers. Yolanda was a wonderful mentor.”

Friday night also marked the opening of “Yolanda: Innovative Fashion Icon; 50 Years of High Heels, Headpieces, and Haute Couture” an exhibit of high-fashion gowns that features an all-star lineup of twentieth century designers. Curated by Cellucci herself, the exhibit includes several items from her private collection.

Here are just a few scenes from the event, courtesy of photographer Jim Canole:

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OMSF Executive Director Dawn Carroll and Yolanda Celluci
Yolanda Cellucci (L) with OMSF Executive Director Dawn Carroll (R)

Waltham, MA – Featuring the designs of Oscar de la Renta, Bob Mackie, Stephen Yearick, Givenchy, and other fashion visionaries of the twentieth century, “Yolanda: Innovative Fashion Icon; 50 Years of High Heels, Headpieces, and Haute Couture” opens to the public on September 8. Hosted by The Charles River Museum of Industry & Innovation, this special exhibit is curated by Boston icon Yolanda Cellucci.

On Friday, September 5, Dawn Carroll, Over My Shoulder Foundation (OMSF) Executive Director, will present Yolanda Cellucci with the second annual “Designing the Next Generation” award during a VIP preview of the exhibit. The award, co-sponsored by OMSF and Cumar Marble & Granite, honors those who cross generations and cultures to mentor the leaders of tomorrow, and was last presented to Governor Michael Dukakis.

“Like so many young women, I launched my career at her store,” explains Dawn Carroll. “I learned show production and how to navigate the world of glamorous luxury brands. Under her guidance, I learned how to work with political figures, newscasters, and celebrities. We all learned how to be ladies, how to be professional, how to work with all kinds of people. She ignited confidence in me that women could be powerful business leaders, glamorous wives, and nurturing mothers. She demanded that you respect yourself and be the very best that you could be. Yolanda was a wonderful mentor.”

Yolanda Cellucci founded her famed bridal salon with just a handful of dresses in 1968 and built it into a local institution. She brought couture fashion to the conservative streets of Boston. Forward thinkers like Yolanda sparked the imaginations of designers of all kinds to explore couture, bringing the glitz of Cher and glam of Bob Mackie to the woman on the street.

By the time Yolanda Cellucci closed her shop in 2009, the business included a bridal salon, bridesmaid and couture boutiques, children’s wear, and a full-service beauty salon and spa.

 

[box]More Details

September 5: VIP opening reception, 6 p.m., at the Charles River Museum of Industry & Innovation, $25.
The reception includes cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and the “Designing the Next Generation” award ceremony. To purchase tickets, visit yolandavip.eventbrite.com.

September 8: Public opening of the exhibit. There is a suggested donation of $10.

October 16: Special exhibit talk with Cellucci at the Charles River Museum of Industry & Innovation, 6 p.m., $25. To purchase tickets, visit yolandatalkcrmi.eventbrite.com.

November 20: Special exhibit talk with Sondra Celli at the Charles River Museum of Industry & Innovation, 6 p.m., $25. To purchase tickets, visit sondracellicrmi.eventbrite.com.

For more information, visit crmi.org.[/box]

 

Having It All

6267365751_bb19f7fc47_oAnne-Marie Slaughter, photo © PopTech

[box]When women are asked if they think they can “have it all,” many will say yes. A few usually say, maybe not. It’s still so hard for women to juggle high-pressure careers, family, mental health, friends, and hobbies. They have to stay emotionally stable, stay physically fit, nourish a marriage—oh yeah, then there’s soccer, gymnastics, hockey games…. Can you do it without a team of experts, a house manager, a Nanny, a stay-at-home dad? I personally side with those that say Nope! I could not do it—though maybe I could pretend. But inevitably, something would break. Something would be compromised. When I watch brave women trying to have it all, I can’t help but wonder…

Reading the now-infamous Atlantic article by Anne-Marie Slaughter, I was so relieved: here was a very successful woman admitting that there was a problem. I stopped feeling weak, stopped wondering if the grass really was greener. I asked today’s writer, Erica Korff, to give me her view because, when I was her age, there was no stopping me. I was determined to destroy the glass ceiling. Sliding comfortably into my 50s, I wonder whether I should have done things a little differently.

Join the conversation and let us know what you think!

—Dawn Carroll, Executive Director[/box]

“You’ve got the power.” It’s a simple motivational quote one hears throughout their lifetime. “You can be anything you want to be.” It’s what young adults today heard from their parents. But did every kid really grow up with these ubiquitous sayings?

Indra K. Nooyi, the CEO of PepsiCo, grew up in a family whose beliefs were rather different. Her experience shines light on the realities of women and the struggle for equality.

In an interview, Indra talked about her mother’s reaction to her becoming the CEO of Pepsi. One would think that such a high position would garner praise and celebration. “Let the news wait,” Indra’s mother said. “Can you go out and get some milk?” That was her reaction to this life-changing news. “Let me explain something to you,” her mother said. “You might be president of PepsiCo. You might be on the board of directors. But when you enter this house, you’re the wife, you’re the daughter, you’re the daughter-in-law, you’re the mother. You’re all of that. Nobody else can take that place. So leave that damned crown in the garage. And don’t bring it into the house. You know I’ve never seen that crown.”

When Indra was asked in a more recent interview if women can “have it all,” her response reflected her mother’s beliefs and perspective. “I don’t think women can have it all. I just don’t think so. We pretend we have it all. We pretend we can have it all.”

Indra went into further detail, explaining the challenges of balancing work with her personal life. To her way of thinking, one must choose what they are going to be at a certain time—a mother, a daughter, a wife, or a worker. One cannot be all of those things in a single moment. Perhaps this is true. But does it really mean that women can’t have it all?

“Having it all” may mean something different for each person, but that fact doesn’t mean it can’t be achieved. Indra’s mother told her that she never had a crown to take home—but Indra did have that crown. It’s a sign that the times are changing. Still, “having it all” does not necessarily mean taking on multiple roles at the same time. One chooses, as from a basket. In Indra’s basket were a husband, two daughters, and a rewarding job. Indra may have to pick and choose at times. But that doesn’t mean Indra hasn’t succeeded; it only means she picks one role at a time, depending on the moment. In the end, she carries them all together.

I decided to ask my mother if she thinks that women can have it all. She has been extremely successful in her career, acting as the Executive Sales Manager for New England Home Magazine. I asked whether she had a mentor. She said she did not. Despite that, her views on the question are rather positive.

“I think that women can have it all,” she said. “I think everyone’s definition can be different. I think having it all can be hopefully having a loving relationship, a family, a job, and friends, and making it all work. It’s harder for women because that’s just the way it is; men don’t have to have that added pressure of ‘Oh I have to take care of the kids,’ so it’s a lot on a woman. I do think women can have it all but it is challenging.”

Next I interviewed my great-grandmother, who turns 102 this September. She’s an amazing woman: intelligent, funny, and very with it. She became a widow at a young age, and had to support the family on her own. An extremely hard worker, she now writes stories to share her successes and accomplishments. When I asked her about having a mentor, and what she thought about women having it all, she told me:

“I had Rabbi Zigmond who sponsored me when I worked at Harvard years ago. He supported me and motivated me. Having a job and having a family are two separate loves. Women can raise a family and have a good job, because it’s not the same kind of love for the work and for the family, but they both can get along.”

The women in my family seem to believe that women can have it all, but they recognize the same difficulties that Indra Nooyi described. It may not be easy, and it may require balance and a plan—but if you believe in yourself and work hard, it can all work out. You’ve got the power!

This is the time of year when I flash back to 1975 and start singing “Summer Breeze” by Seals & Crofts non-stop. In the summer, I stock up on new books and music, searching for story-tellers with muscular, mind-blowing, mentor-centric tales to feature on the OMSF blog. Thanks to my wonderful boyfriend and his parents, Martha’s Vineyard has become my creative retreat. The island has its own natural philosophy, and the very first edict is to slow the &#^*@ down, soften up, and unburden yourself. The Vineyard has a way of tranquilizing even the busiest of minds.

Through the snarl of the city, against my workaholic inner voice, I curse and argue, knuckles white on the steering wheel, and aim my car towards the Cape. Once I sense the salt air and drive into the belly of the Vineyard ferry, my nerves start to unwind. On this road trip, the workaholic loses; my artsy self wins. When I reach the secluded island I am a world away—swapping my suit for shorts, my painful high-heels for sandals, unapologetically stripping in the front seat of my car. I’m ready to be surrounded by water, to lose myself on country roads, to sink my teeth into something freshly retrieved from the earth—to be mentored by this amazing earthy way of life. Sun, sand, and salt-spray release the tension in my over-worked mind. The ebb and flow of the surf mentors me to calm, and calm feels so good.

Before I get to the beaches, I stop to grab a bunch of books at Bunch of Grapes Bookstore or Edgartown Books. To become fully intoxicated by my surroundings, I always kick off the read-fest with an island author. These titles almost always come from the local publisher Jan Pogue and her Vineyard Stories. I always—without any research or hesitiation—see films produced by the Weinstein Company, and buy music released by Virgin Records or Geffen Records. That’s how it is with Vineyard Stories. I’m drawn to their artistic taste, and they never let me down. I was delighted when Jan was also able to find time in her crazy schedule to meet me; we’ve become friends since I featured one of her books, Star Child by Kay Goldstein, here at the blog. I admire Jan for her ability to discover a great story as well as her brave, entrepreneurial spirit. I knew that she would become a prized mentor in my fabulous mentor collection.

Lucky cover, lo res jpegOne of the books released this year by Vineyard Stories is Some Kind of Lucky. It was my first summer read of 2014. I completely adore this book. The author, Joan Cowen Bowman, has been coming to the island for fifty years for the same reason I go there: because it offers a simpler existence. Like Joan, I find the mysterious secrets of the island nurturing and healing. Like her, I drift into this magical place and become a better version of myself.

In the book, Joan recounts her life as a divorced woman in the 1960s struggling to raise four children. As a person who watched my parents’ marriage crumble during the 1970s, I know first-hand how unusual that was. A decade after Joan’s divorce, my parents were among the first divorces in our small town. When the news became public, my life changed dramatically. Other families thought we were contagious. We were socially quarantined.

Some Kind of Lucky is like the ocean around the Vineyard: serene, fascinating, and turbulent in turns. Joan and I both return to the island year after year for the star-filled, whisper-soft nights; for the sun-kissed days, the moody early mornings, and the mysterious foggy nights; for the fire-fly ballets and the crumbling stone walls. We have both felt loss at sea in our lives, and both crave for the simpler existence the island presents.

Martha’s Vineyard allows you to lose the signal of the mainland and be still. It absorbs all that you bring to its shores, and then tenderly washes away all the confusion, pain, tension, and toxins. It’s a kind of magic. As the jacket of Some Kind of Lucky reads:“sunrise and moonrise, birdsong at dawn or dusk, the lullaby of the tides as we sleep-all this remind us throughout our days and nights that there is some kind of law and order in the universe.”

 

[box]About the Author

As the co-founder of the Over My Shoulder Foundation, Dawn Carroll is leading the way in what she calls “mentorology.” OMSF is a unique media-based project on a mission to raise awareness about the lifelong benefits of mentorship. An award-winning stone designer, writer, producer, songwriter, and mentor collector, Dawn believes that mentoring stimulates the creative mind and that creative minds will find the answers to many problems we face today. Mentoring creates leadership skills and stronger, more compassionate leaders.[/box]

[box] Pure bliss is the only way I can describe the feeling when I get to thank the people who helped me in my career and life. So many people have shared and invested their time, wisdom, and expertise. Prior to starting this foundation, I spent most of my time tucked away in my office, writing. Then, without warning, something awful snuck up and polluted my creative ecosystem. The plug was suddenly pulled on my creative energy, and I hadn’t even completed my project. It was a ridiculous case of writers block! Desperate to get back the fire, I signed up for a class at Boston’s Pine Manor College MFA Program (founded by writer Dennis Lehane). The class was taught by a charming man named Michael Steinberg, who reviewed my writing, giggled at my frustrations and my plans, and told me that one of the “many” reasons my memoir wasn’t working “just yet” was—the end hadn’t taken place!

He told me to put my notebooks away and write something else for a while. He said that I couldn’t force my pages to fall into perfect alignment if I wanted any kind of authenticity, and that I could not cheat this project by crafting a quick (fictional)  resolution. It was the hardest, most honest advice I ever got. I had to wait—patiently—for the story of my life to develop. To a control freak like me, this wasn’t easy. I nearly threw the manuscript off the cliffs of Zuma Beach. But I didn’t. Instead, I packed it away and fiddled with some lyrics, which eventually became songs, which inspired the founding of the Over My Shoulder Foundation.

It has been years since I looked at that manuscript. Last weekend, curiosity started to burn. I rummaged through the antique chest, that premature coffin to my thousands of pages of notes. A lot has happened since I last tried to write my ending, though. So now I’m searching for a completely different one, inspired by OMSF! Then, after dusting off the manuscript, a funny thing happened—I got an email from Mike. Since I started the Foundation, I have been begging him to share his story on our blog. And now, finally, ladies and gentleman, I am so pleased to introduce one of my most important mentors, Michael Steinberg!

—Dawn Carroll, Executive Director [/box]

MJSWe encounter our most influential mentors, it seems, when we’re ready to receive them. In my case, it happened shortly after I began teaching freshman composition. In the late 60’s, all comp teachers were required to plan their courses according to an outmoded, prescriptive syllabus, one that required teachers to assign their writing students to produce a series of papers. Among them were a narrative, a descriptive essay, an argument, an expository essay, a piece of literary analysis, and a final term paper based solely on library research. This methodology had been in place since the late nineteenth century. It is a narrow, wrong-headed view of what writing is all about. But back then, there was no other option.

Around that same time, I happened to come across a book, A Writer Teaches Writing, by Donald Murray, someone of whom I’d never heard. Murray’s book advocates an inside/out approach to teaching composition. I was immediately drawn to his philosophy. And it kick-started what would over time become my transformation from writing teacher to teaching writer.

Donald Murray was one of the first writing teachers in this country to suggest that the teaching of writing (and literature) had been, for far too long, the exclusive territory of professional critics, researchers, and literature teachers—many of whom, though they might admire writing and literature, do not themselves write.

We didn’t know it back then, but this was the beginning of what would evolve into both the writing process and teacher-as-writer movements. From the late 60’s to the early 90’s these movements changed the way that introductory college writing was taught. In addition, Murray’s work sparked a renewed interest in the teaching of the personal essay, which helped foster the rise of what we’re now calling creative or literary nonfiction.

But now I’m getting ahead of myself.

Continue Reading…

 

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[box]Over My Shoulder is thrilled to introduce a new writer, Erica Korff. Erica attends the University of New Hampshire and will be graduating in the Spring of 2015 with a Bachelors Degree in communications and writing. Her interests include journalism, blogging, and broadcasting. Living in Boston for the summer, Erica will be offering positive and uplifting stories for mentees and mentors. Today writes about mentorship, business, and mental health. Please help us welcome Erica, and check out her personal blog!

Dawn Carroll, OMSF Executive Director [/box]

mental health: noun 1. a person’s condition with regard to their psychological and emotional well-being.

What can you say about your mental health? Do you consider it to be strong and positive? Do you consider it to be healthy?

Whether you’re a young entrepreneur or an experienced business owner, it’s important to sustain good mental health. Carrying all that pressure on your shoulders can be tiring and stressful. It’s important to balance that weight in order to maintain your peace of mind—and, most importantly, to be happy.

Breathing exercises and exercise are good for your all-around health, but having a mentor by your side will also strengthen and stabilize your mental health, in and out of the workplace.

A confident, independent person might be thinking: why would I consider having a mentor? Owning a business, founding an organization, or simply putting yourself to work can stress the mind and body. It isn’t a bad thing to spend time working hard—not necessarily. But it’s important to manage your mental health in the process. That’s where mentorship comes in. Here are three mental health benefits of having a mentor:

1. Advice In Any Situation
A mentor isn’t a manager, someone above who tells you what to do. A mentor provides an outlet to lessen the pressure. Whether it’s an issue with a project or with a fellow colleague, a mentor can advise you to help solve these problems. Having an independent yet experienced perspective can help you sort out obstacles in the workplace. Being able to share your problems and brainstorm solutions with an experienced mentor will strengthen your resolve, ease the pressure, and clear your mind of undue negativity.

2. Someone You Can Trust
Having a mentor with similar interests and a compatible personality builds a sense of trust. With a carefully-chosen mentor, there exists a bond of support. Sometimes it’s difficult to take orders; sometimes it’s difficult to give them. With a mentor offering suggestions and guidance, it can be easier to recognize good advice. A trusted mentor helps you listen, digest, and take action. This strengthens your mental health by lessening the stress of ongoing projects.

3. A Port in the (Entrepeneurial) Storm
Starting a company can be exhilarating. Will your idea sell? Will people visit your site? Will you be able to live on what you earn? Despite the fact that you’re starting a business on your own, however, you don’t have to be on your own. A mentor who is experienced in building great ideas can calm the nerves. They can review your ideas and processes, give feedback, and dole out the “tough love” when needed. A mentor can guide you through the storm of entrepreneurship, settling your mind as well as your emotions.

[box]About the Author

Erica Korff attends the University of New Hampshire and will be graduating in the Spring of 2015 with a major in Communications and a minor in writing. Her interests include news writing, blogging, and broadcasting. Living in Boston for the summer, Erica will be blogging positive and uplifting messages for mentees and mentors. [/box]

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[box] “All alone, on my knees I pray / For the strength to stay away / In and out, out and in you go / I feel your fire / Then I lose my self control /How can I ease the pain / When I know your coming back again / And how can I ease the pain in my heart.”

I am so excited to be have the opportunity to share singer Lisa Fischer’s mentoring story with you today.

Lisa is one of my music heros and it is an honor to feature her at the Over My Shoulder Foundation. Her hit song, “How Can I Ease the Pain,” was the soundtrack to my life during a tricky break-up while I was living in Los Angeles. I listened to it over and over while I re-grounded myself. I knew and felt every word, and wished that I could write beautiful lyrics for Lisa to one day sing. With eloquence and ease, her voice soars, an takes you away from your worried world. Her gift has been a sanctuary for me.

Many years ago, in Boston, Lisa and I briefly met. She was touring with the Rolling Stones, and had just gotten off stage and come back to her hotel. I happened to be in the Lobby. Lisa and I had mutual friends, so she came over to the table to say hello. I was completely star-struck but managed to blurt out, “ Your singing saved me. One day I want to write a song for you to sing!” She smiled and said, “Well then do it!” I doubt she remembers that night, and while this post may not be a song written for, her story is one you soon won’t forget. If you have seen Lisa on tour with the Stones or in the film “20 Feet From Stardom,” then you know what an unforgettable spirit she is!

Dawn Carroll, OMSF Executive Director[/box]

 

Lisa Fischer has spent most of her life standing “20 Feet From Stardom,” as the title of this year’s Oscar-winning documentary film puts it. Most of her fellow-background singers in the film ached for the spotlight to shine on them. But not Fischer.

“I never feel like I’m relegated to the background,” she said by phone from her home in New York City during a break from the Rolling Stones current world tour. “I don’t know how other singers feel, but for me, I just love background so much. I really enjoy watching artists who love what they do and need someone to support them. So for me it’s a beautiful journey. I’ve been really lucky and blessed to be with amazing artists who I love and respect.”

LisaFischerHeadshotFischer has had her taste of chart success, awards and, yes, the spotlight. Her rendition of “How Can I Ease the Pain,” a song she also co-wrote, was a smash hit that won her a Grammy for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance in 1992. Rolling Stones concerts feature a rendition of “Gimme Shelter” where Mick Jagger moves over and “backup singer” Lisa takes over with houseshaking effect. She also moves to the front of the stage when she tours with Tina Turner: after going toe to toe with the volcanic Tina on “It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll,” the duet turns into a solo showcase for Lisa’s powerhouse pipes.

Yet somehow these small samplings of the limelight have not instilled a gnawing hunger in Fischer for more fame, more money, more of everything. She has found joy and contentment helping others shine.

Fischer’s story begins in the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn, where she started on her musical path as a child. “My mom sang a lot at home,” she recalled. “My dad sang a lot at home, too. My grandparents bought us a piano and we would just sing. It was part of life. And I’d sing at school, elementary school, high school, college. It was just an extension of the life they started for me.”

By the time she finished junior high school she was dreaming of a career in music, thanks to the guidance of an educator who recognized her talent.

“There was a teacher named Dennis Moore,” Fischer said. “He’s the brother of Melba Moore. He was really kind and was interested in knowing what I wanted to do with my music. I was, ‘Oh, I don’t know.’ And he gave me the idea of auditioning for [New York City’s] Music & Art High School.  He helped me choose songs for the audition. He gave me piano lessons and didn’t charge me. He was just patient because I was just a kid, insane, and didn’t know what I wanted to do. He was just lovely. He could see me so clearly. That was just beautiful. And so I went on to Music & Art and then Queens College and just started working in clubs after that.”

Enter the man who would become Fischer’s mentor: Luther Vandross, who spent years touring and recording as a background singer before breaking out as a solo star. 

Continue Reading…

 

mentor-tips

Most importantly, make good use of both your and their time.

We’ve used our Over My Shoulder Foundation blog to share some helpful tips for how to be a good mentor, but we haven’t really discussed the other part of this important relationship: how to be a good mentee. To get the most out of your mentor/mentee relationship, we wanted to share some helpful tips for mentees:

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Your mentor has willingly entered into this relationship and is more than happy to help you in any way that he can; however, your mentor will not know how he can help you unless you ask.
  • Touch base on a regular basis. Even if you have nothing new or exciting to report, keeping the channel of communication open is essential. This could be as simple as dropping your mentor a note to keep her in the loop about an upcoming seminar that you plan to attend or sharing a news article where your business was mentioned.
  • Be focused and prepared for your meetings. Since both your time and your mentor’s is precious, plan to get the most out of your meetings by being focused on the task at hand and prepared when getting together.
  • Retain confidentiality. Sometimes your mentor will share information with you that is only for your ears to hear, so keep his trust by keeping this information confidential.
  • Follow-up with your mentor on her suggestions. This will help your mentor to see that you appreciate the knowledge and wisdom that she is sharing with you and that you are executing on these shared strategies.

To learn more tips for mentees and the powerful impact that a strong mentor/mentee relationship can have, please contact us the Over My Shoulder Foundation.

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Forgiveness

13328459305_198b4641c1_zImage © Craig Sunter

“I thought forgiveness was important for anyone to move forward in life. But most importantly, forgiveness is for ourselves! Just like many spiritual teachers stress. Oprah, in one of her life classes, taught about the art of forgiveness and how its practice enriches the mind, body, and soul. Freedom and forgiveness go hand in hand. When it’s in full swing, you can now put the past behind you. As someone once said; “When the past comes knocking, don’t answer, it doesn’t have anything new to say.”

So true! Here are two quotes I found on Oprah’s Life Class website, and incorporated my own words, enjoy.

“The knowledge of the past stays with us. To let go is to release the emotions, the grudges, the pain and sorrow that hold us back. Forgiveness is not something you do for someone else, it’s something you do for yourself. And once you forgive, you feel free.”   [box] About the Author Marissa Ranahan is a student at the University of Hartford. She hopes to pursue a career in writing.[/box] Marissa Ranahan

 

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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

 

[box] We are thrilled to feature this inspirational interview between Larry Katz and Sam Polk. It’s incredible the way a mentor at the right time can pry us open, leaving just enough space for the light to shine in, providing enough leverage for the next unexpected mentor to step up. Enjoy![/box]

 

Sam Polk

Sam. Photography courtesy of Sam Polk.

Would you walk away from a job that paid millions?

Sam Polk did.

Four years ago Polk was working for a Wall Street hedge fund. When he received a $3.8 million bonus on top of a $1.5 million salary, Polk reacted with anger. He demanded that his bosses increase his bonus to $8 million. They raised their offer, but only if he agreed to stay with the firm for several more years.

Polk refused. He said he didn’t want to make the commitment.

But the bonus amount wasn’t the reason Polk quit his job. He had come to believe he was an addict hooked on making money—and it didn’t feel good.

Polk tells his compelling story in “For the Love of Money,” an essay published in January on the front page of the New York Times’ Sunday Review. It attracted far more notice than he expected.

“I had no idea of the impact it would have,” Polk said from Los Angeles, where he has launched Groceryships, a non-profit he has co-founded with his wife to provide needy families with “scholarships for groceries.”

“I’ve gotten over 10,000 emails,” he said. “I’ve been interviewed and been on all these radio and TV shows. It’s been overwhelming and shocking.”

In his New York Times story, Polk outlines how he came to understand the wisdom of that old saying, “Money can’t buy happiness.” It wasn’t an easy lesson, especially since he grew up being told the exact opposite. Polk’s salesman father, he writes, “believed money would solve all his problems.” Then, while attending Columbia University, Polk read in “Liar’s Poker” how a young Michael Lewis made hundreds of thousands as a Wall Street bond trader. He somehow missed the book’s dark side.

“My heroes,” Polk said, “were people who had made billions of dollars and risen to the top of Wall Street.”

A very different set of heroes would emerge later in Polk’s life—unexpected mentors who would profoundly alter his definition of success and a well-lived life. We wanted to know more about these influences and Sam Polk was happy for the opportunity to tell us about them.

Continue Reading…

[box]Bullying wears many disguises and it can cause a life time of ache. Bullies can be found just about anywhere—on the playground, at the dinner table, or even in the office. The harm can be physical or psychological. Today we feature Elayna Hasty, a rising humanitarian star. When we first met Elayna, she was only eleven years old, but she was already mentoring us on how to be confidentgenuinecompassionatesupportive. Elayna is the perfect example of a young woman living her life well. Girls against Bullying (G.A.B.) is her “anti-bullying” support page. Take a look at all she has done since we featured her last, all while managing a full-time schedule at school! [/box]

DSC_0221My name is Elayna Hasty and last year Over My Shoulder helped me by supporting me with my G.A.B. Girls. Girls Against Bullying was started three years ago, and G.A.B. Girls are girls that stand together against bullying. They know that they are uniquely beautiful, inside and out. I started G.A.B. for several reasons. Going into a new school, I was being bullied by kids, but I was also being bullied by and an adult. One of my best friends was also so having issues at her school—and those girls were so mean that she is now being home-schooled, and I hardly ever see her.

I went to my mom for help and advice.  She knew I was hurting and did what she could do to help. She told me to take the negatives and turn them into positives because, she said, every experience can be made into a positive learning experience.  It wasn’t easy, but she was right. I decided that I wanted to help others avoid being bullied and to support my friends, because that’s what friends do.

Mom and I came up with a facebook page and a website. I did a lot a lot of research on how I could help others by giving them support and advice, as well as sharing statics about bullying. I have also been writing to moms and their daughters who reach out to me for advice, and have been giving workshops whenever possible. My mom bought bracelets and t-shirts to help support G.A.B, and workshops help with costs for these projects.

Because of G.A.B. I have helped others and grown a lot in the process. I still believe “Bullying is a real problem but it has very real solutions. Sometimes girls feel down and not always confident in themselves. I want girls to know they are uniquely beautiful both on the inside and out.” I am now trying to help others have enough self-confidence not to be another bystander.

Last year, I was blessed to be part of Kids Are Heroes last year. My hometown paper also did an article and I was able to talk about G.A.B on a Christian radio station, on Super Girls Radio, on the Inspire Me Today site, and in BYOU Magazine. I am now also a mentor in school for kindergartners and help coach the youth team for competitive cheer. I am on a level three competitive cheer team and I feel good knowing that I can help younger girls not only with their cheering, leadership, and team-building skills. My work on G.A.B. has made me want to be a Pediatric Psychologist, so that as an adult I will be able to help girls stand against bullying and be a support system to those who need it. I had a great support system, but not everyone does.

Thanks to OMSF for supporting me. I am very grateful I have had people to pull me up when I was down!

 

[box]OMSF is honored to work with young talented volunteers who are willing to share their experiences and thoughts on mentorship. Today I am particularly proud to feature a story written and designed by our new mentoring friend, Ali Shirazi. Ali is a senior at Northeast Regional Vocational High School in Wakefield, MA. He loves music and hopes someday to be a songwriter-producer. A connoisseur of iconic music talents, he also happens to be an expert on our the career of OMSF co-founder Patti Austin! We couldn’t survive without our altruistic volunteers—people who share their time, wisdom, and expertise to remind us all how much we need each other. Thank you so much, Ali, for sharing this story with us today!

—Dawn Carroll, OMSF Executive Director[/box]

 

OMSF Volunteer Ali Shirazi

OMSF Volunteer Ali Shirazi

Faces upon faces upon faces, all unique and all special in their own particular way. Nothing links these faces except for maybe a few things. They all share similar feelings: of excitement and assumed preparedness, ready to take on the next four years of their lives. They think all will soon be great and each day will be filled with excitement and pure splendor.

The thoughts, for some, are of hope for a NEW BEGINNING. They see the halls them with seemingly infinite doors, thinking hope should lie somewhere. The people around them seem intimidating or friendly. But another feeling they might have is a sense of fear. It’s the fear that keeps each person on edge, causing each step to shake more than the last. Despite the excitement and hope, underneath lies an ugliness. There lies a doubt about all their hopes:

“I’ll make FRIENDS, but, maybe I won’t”

“I’ll join football, but, maybe I’m NOT GOOD enough.

“I’ll join DRAMA, but, what’s if I get stage fright? Or, if I’ll even get on the stage…”

“I’ll get my voice out there for once, but, maybe NO ONE CARES. They never had before…”

Those are the few examples of the hopeful yet frightened thoughts that linger within the young minds.

I had volunteered to stand in front of a group of children with these same ideas—the “maybe I will, maybe I won’t” mindset—hoping I could change that, or at least make them feel less anxious. They sat in front of me, their many questions forming a whirlwind. I had to take on the persona of “Time”, to dissipate the tornadoes oncoming with question marks.

In my role as a Junior Mentor at Northeast Metro Tech, the goal was first to help students by easing them from anxiety into more positive thoughts, from fear to pure excitement. I was also expected to ensure they know all the rules and customs of the school, and answer routine related questions. Lastly, optional yet expected, was to be there for my assigned freshmen, or any freshmen that looked like they needed help. Sometimes, just say hi to them to let them feel welcomed. Not just welcomed to the school, but even welcomed by you, a peer. And I had done just that, exchanging greetings with them and asking them if they need help. They’d smile and say hi and how are you. Then, usually, they’d tell me they’re doing fine or they’d ask a quick question.

There are a few instances in which I felt proud, not so much of myself, but of them. One of the girls I mentored came to me during lunch—she asked to sit with me and I said, of course!—and she began telling me how her year went by so far and how well she’s been doing. I was glad that she felt comfortable enough to tell me, that she knew I would listen—it was very brave of her. In another instance, I greeted a boy in the hallway as usual and then he said, “Guess what?” He told me about getting into the shop class he was excited to take and about signing up for sports, that he’s keeping up his grades and he loves the school so far.

I’m happy I got to help some kids with their transition into high school. When I was a freshman, I needed a guide. The teachers stood around and offered direction, but that was about it. However, a senior girl I was already friends with offered me a place to sit at lunch as well as her advice. She introduced me to one of her friends as well. I was lucky to have had a mentor. I appreciated that more than anything, and now I’m glad I got to do it for a new class of students. To greet the minds filled with questions and the “maybe I will and maybe I wont’s” to see them filled with answers and to hear them say, “I know I will.”

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OMSF Executive Director Dawn Carroll and WBZ host Jordan Rich

As a mentor collector, I am naturally surrounded by experts, and every day the OMSF journey introduces me to exquisite , committed individuals, who dedicate their energy to making the world a better place. Recently I had the pleasure of meeting a Boston Icon named Jordan Rich at a dazzling Boston music mentoring night. OMSF was giving a life-time achievement award for promoter Fred Taylor, who has been mentoring in the Boston Music scene for many years. The award ceremony was organized by the fabulous Linda Marks, whom I met when she wrote her magnificent mentoring story for last years Father’s Day, and Jordon Rich was presenting the award to Taylor. I was thrilled when, a few weeks later, Jordan invited me to be a guest on his radio show at the WBZ Studios in Boston.

It was a thought-provoking experience . New ideas were stirring around in my head like a New England Blizzard. As soon as I got home I emailed Jordan to ask if we could bring all the OMSF stories and heroes to his prestigious show: and to my total delight, he said yes!

I am very pleased to announce that OMSF’s mentoring stories—the ones you find right here on our Web site—will also be featured regularly on Jordan Rich’s show. We are so very grateful for this new collaboration, and will be posting the radio interviews on our site. Jordan has interviewed many film, TV, Music stars over the years, and his eclectic show spotlights the whole range of human experience: arts, history, health, sports, politics and now mentoring! Not only that, but Jordan is also mentoring me as I fine tune my radio production skills, and he has graciously offered me the role of Associate Producer, overseeing these mighty mentoring interviews!

Get ready to tune in to the Jordan Rich–OMSF mentoring story of the week!

—Dawn Carroll, OMSF executive Director

[box]Without positive influences, we become lost, both as individuals and as a society. That’s why our dedicated team searches for stories of people who use their talents to fuel greater confidence, self-esteem and self-worth in others. We look for exquisite examples of individuals who are moving us all towards a society of greater inclusion. The heart of the OMSF mission is to find a cure for hopelessness, and we believe that mentoring can help solve many personal and social issues.

Today, Marissa Ranahan introduces us to a vibrant new artist, Gemini Wired, who wrote this amazing song to stand up to bullying. Haters be gone. Let this song and all the stories we publish inspire you to get involved with mentoring. One simple way is to share the mentoring stories we write each week with all your friends—you never know how a story might inspire someone else. If we feed creative minds, they just might discover solutions to the many problems we face in this world.

—Dawn Carroll, Over My Shoulder Foundation Director

[/box]


“If you can dream it, you can achieve it. I wouldn’t be where I am today if I listened to people who didn’t want to see me prosper.”

We all have dreams. They might be to inspire, to educate, or simply to do well in this life. At Over My Shoulder, we believe in dreams, and in the unique combination of music and mentorship. Kristian Bryant of Brockton, MA, also known as Gemini Wired, dreamed of being a talented musician; recently, merging that dream with a powerful message has inspired thousands.

When I cought Kristian’s music video, “What Now,” I was entranced by her anti-bullying lyrics. The song’s focus is on overcoming the negativity that’s so often thrown at the younger generation. In her own words, she explains her inspiration behind the video “What Now”:

“I want my ‘What Now’ video to inspire as many people as possible. There are kids who have so much to offer and do not know it because they want to hide their talents or intelligence. I don’t want them to be ashamed anymore. I want them to know people like myself and these organizations have their backs. What now!”

The video, which was posted just a few months ago, in fall 2013, has already exceeded over 30,000 views. “I plan on bringing awareness to bullying through my music but also sharing my message to many kids.” Kristian hopes that the sing will give hope and strength to the victims of bullying. She will be visiting schools in the New England area over the coming year, sharing her video and encouraging children to support one another.

“When young people are busy being positive and supportive, you see less cases of (kids) being bullied. I feel compelled to spread the message.”

So, who are her mentors? She described her family as her “greatest” inspiration, constantly providing Kristian with their support and encouragement. “Everything I do is for them (her family).” She also cited her musical support, the production team Lyve City: “They were kind of that missing piece to my puzzle,” she said.

Kristian has been passionate about music from a young age, when she formed a small, short-lived all-girls group. In college she gained knowledge about “producing music, writing music, and beginning to record my own songs.”

Music with a powerful message has the ability to touch us all. Kristian has done an incredible job of inspiring others through her musical ability. With her talent, she’s spreading a positive message of hope. In her unique song, the essence of music and mentoring come full-circle. With inspirational songs like these, mentorship through music becomes a reality.

At Over My Shoulder, we thank Kristian Bryant for her positive messages through music, and all those who continue to write inspirational pieces for all ears to hear.

Marissa Ranahan, OMSF Team Member

How I Became a Mentor Collector

dawn-carroll

Dawn Carroll, OMSF Director

Before I had ever reflected on the word mentor, I knew that it was essential to find people who could help me realize my dreams and career goals. Most the things I wanted to do in life didn’t have schools, so I searched for people who were doing interesting things and tried to work with them. One of the first mentors I collected was Boston fashion icon Yolanda. I wanted to produce shows, and her legendary fashion shows were irresistible.

For the glamorous couture world of Yolanda, I must have seemed rough around the edges. I remember being terrified during the job interview: I lacked the tools, I did not have a fancy wardrobe, I was not particularly elegant, I had no experience. Simply put, I was not an ideal candidate for her team. But Yolanda took me in anyway and I soaked in everything I could about how this entrepreneurial wizard created her empire.

Then I took off to Hollywood. I didn’t know a soul, so I called around to the big entertainment companies and found a sympathetic ear. Marcie Rondon gave me a chance as an intern for Mitch Schneider, a powerful agent in the music world. I interned with them for six weeks, and it launched my entire career.

Years later, as I reflect on mentors and mentorship, I realize that I have been collecting mentors all my life. They’ve helped me achieve my life goals, helped me become a better person, and shaped the course of my career. That’s one reason I co-founded Over My Shoulder: to inspire others to collect mentors, and to be a mentor. “One less hopeless person” has become my personal mantra. Nothing is more dangerous in this life than a lack of hope, but mentoring can keep hope alive.

Who do you admire? Who do you want to emulate?  If you know who or what you want to be, find someone who is already living your dreams. This is how I found Alex and Ani, and why I immediately added them to my personal mentor collection. As National Mentoring Month comes to an end we hope the stories we feature have inspired you to think more about mentoring.

—Dawn Carroll, Over My Shoulder Foundation Director

Why Should You Become a Mentor?

David Shapiro and Dawn Carroll

David Shapiro and Dawn Carroll

One of my earliest and most-treasured mentors is David Shapiro CEO of Mentor, “the unifying champion for expanding quality youth mentoring relationships in the United States.” I asked him to offer some reasons for becoming a mentor. Here’s what he told me:

“Currently, 1 in 3 young people reach age 19 without a mentor of any kind. Absent this critical guidance and support, an extraordinary amount is left to chance—and we are too often losing these children to hardship and hopelessness. It has been proven that young people with mentors both aspire to and reach college at a higher rate. They also have better self-esteem and they make better, more productive decisions.

“The more risk factors in a young person’s life, the less likely they are to connect to mentors ‘naturally.’ With such a powerful tool in our midst to improve the lives of young people, we have a responsibility to actively engage with them. We have to learn to notice the signs that a young person needs support and use what we know about quality mentoring to create and support them.

“It is for these reasons that Mentor was founded, more than twenty years ago. It has expanded from helping 300,000 young people in mentoring programs then, to helping 4.5 million today. It is our privilege to work to inform, connect, and fuel the mentoring movement in America—whether through the National Mentoring Month campaign in January, the National Mentoring Summit, our work on advocacy and policy to advance integration and support for mentoring, or our work to help get practitioners the best information from researchers to make their programs of the highest quality.”

As we celebrate National Mentoring Month, I hope you will share in the mentoring spirit. Consider making mentorship a part of your life. Mentoring shatters barriers that separate generations of people and cultures. Mentoring fosters respect, diversity, culture, and individuality. Mentoring develops the talent of our youth, who will then have the leadership skills to amend our social and economic woes.

This is the essence of Mentorology. We hope that you will become a mentorologist too, and help spread the good word of mentoring!

—Dawn Caroll, Over My Shoulder Director

[box]Recently, I was invited to write a guest post for the blog of Alex & Ani, a company that “offers eco-friendly, positive energy products that adorn the body, enlighten the mind, and empower the spirit.” It was thrilling to be able to highlight the importance of mentorship for their community. Here is the complete text of the post, which you can also find at the Alex & Ani website.

—Dawn Carroll, Over My Shoulder Foundation Director[/box]

Picture 1A few years ago I was asked to help write a song for a very talented thirteen year old to sing with her mentor, singing legend Patti Austin. The challenge was to find subject matter that was both appropriate and authentic, something teenagers and adults could relate to. I was given a musical formula by the managers: take a base of Taylor Swift, blend it with Adele, and decorate it with some Carly Simon – with that, I was supposed to cook up a delicious song with multi-generational appeal.

Initially, I laughed about the assignment. It was like being asked to write the spell that turns lead into gold. I said to myself, “If I can write that story/song, I could retire tomorrow!” However, I enjoy a daunting task and attacked it with relish. At the time I happened to be with my niece, Meghan, so I asked her to help me. Together, we came up with many ideas in just a few hours, but there was one idea that kept me up that night.

When I was trying to make it big in Hollywood, I was working for a music management company. They represented, among others, New Kids on the Block (hey, they were pretty big at the time!) as well as singing legend Patti Austin. One time, Patti was asked to describe the recipe of her own success. She simply replied, “Mentors.”

That word kept coming back to me as I was working on this new song. I have jokingly told people that it only took 15 minutes to write a duet for Patti to sing with this young lady, but truth be told, the song had been marinating inside me for more than two decades. That’s how I came to write “Over My Shoulder.” The message of the song is simple: two voices, two generations, each one inspired by, supportive of, and paying tribute to the other.

This was the very first song I ever wrote, and at 48 years old, it was also a lifelong dream come true. The song was a hit! It initiated vibrant conversations amongst powerful leaders both young and old, and something stirred inside me as well. Jimi Hendrix, my musical hero, once said, “If there is something to be changed in the world, it can only be done through music.” I felt that I could create music, tell stories and produce events that could spotlight mentorship, to promote positive change in the world by encouraging people to care for each other.

I believe that there is nothing more dangerous than hopelessness. Mentoring is our most powerful weapon in the fight against it as well as poverty, ignorance, and hatred. We all need to become life-navigators and be open to them. It is up to all of us to design the next generation, to instill hope into the future. Without it, we become disconnected as individuals and lost as a society.

The Alex and Ani story is a perfect example of the power of mentorship. Like many of you, I gravitated to its positive energy and ethos of continuity, “inspired by the wisdom of ancient thinkers,” as the company’s biography reads. I discovered that Carolyn Rafaelian, Founder and Creative Director, created Alex and Ani to carry her family’s legacy forward, to fulfill the vision of her father. She did this not only for its own sake (and all of ours!), but for her daughters’ as well.

The Alex and Ani mission is mentorship writ large: history and values being passed across three generations and likely more to come. Mentoring truly is a life force without which none of us can thrive. It helps the next generation take over and succeed. It allows the spiritual side of passion to flourish and let a living history be passed on.

I cofounded the Over My Shoulder Foundation to shed light on these important examples of mentorship in music, design, and elsewhere. As Executive Director of OMSF, having collected dozens of stories like this, I have come to learn how important mentoring is to people. It spans across age, class and race, defying innumerable social divisions. Mentoring is a healing and hopeful force that reconnects the disconnected. Mentoring stimulates creative thinking, and it will be creative minds that will move us all toward a society of greater inclusion, integrity and value.

 

[box]So far, 2014 has been an exciting year for the Over My Shoulder Foundation. We discovered some amazing people who have agreed to share a little of their wisdom. We have stumbled upon dynamic examples of how easy mentoring can be—and seen how quickly you can change a life. A few weeks ago OMSF writer Larry Katz snagged an interview with Stanley Roberts, the reporter who reunited international music star Carlos Santana with his homeless former band mate. That story gets bigger every day (watch parts 1, 2, and 3). Last week, I got the opportunity to write a story for the amazing jewelry company, Alex and Ani, whose fantastic mantra is “Inspired by the Wisdom of Ancient Thinkers.”

Today we have an interview with Kim Taylor, who was recently appointed to serve as a member of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities alongside Sarah Jessica Parker, Forest Whitaker, Anna Wintour, Yo-Yo Ma, Jhumpa Lahiri, Kerry Washington, and Secretary of State John Kerry’s wife, Teresa Heinz.

We hope you’ll be inspired by these stories. Mentoring is a life-force we cannot live without. These positive influences in our lives stop us from becoming disconnected as individuals and as a society. So, in the words of President Barack Obama: “Be the change. Mentor a child.” [/box]

 

James Taylor and his wife Kim Smedvig © Rubenstein, photographer Martyna Borkowski

James Taylor and his wife Kim Smedvig Taylor
© Rubenstein, photographer Martyna Borkowski

Kim Taylor received a most unexpected phone call last spring. It came from the White House. And, no, they weren’t trying to reach her rather well-known husband, musician James Taylor.

They were calling to ask her to serve as a member of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities alongside the likes of Sarah Jessica Parker, Forest Whitaker, Anna Wintour, Yo-Yo Ma, Jhumpa Lahiri, Kerry Washington and Secretary of State John Kerry’s wife, Teresa Heinz.

“It really was a surprise,” Taylor said from her home in the Berkshires. “It was out of the blue. Of course I said yes.”

Taylor expects her new position will offer opportunities to promote arts educations in schools across the United States, a mission, she says, “that’s very near and dear to my heart from all my years at the BSO.” Her relationship with the Boston Symphony Orchestra began 30 years ago, when Taylor worked in the orchestra’s publicity office, and continues today as a trustee and board member.

Taylor still isn’t sure what she will be asked to do as a member of the President’s Committee. She missed her first meeting, but she had an impeccable excuse.

“It was just so frustrating that the meeting was on November 22,” she explained, “the one day James and I had committed to being in Boston to perform at the Kennedy Library. It was a hard decision.”

On that day the Taylors performed at a ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. As she has done for some fifteen years now, Kim added background harmonies to James’s performance. “We sang ‘Close Your Eyes,’ that beautiful lullaby, which we did as a duet, just the two of us.”

Does Taylor, who married in 2001, consider her husband her mentor as a singer?

“Yes,” she said laughing, “without question. I’ve been singing for as long as I can remember, but basically I was classically trained and it is very different to get up and sing in an arena with thousands of people.

“I grew up in a very musical family. My grandmother, who was born in 1891, was a trained opera singer. Her name was Portia Fitzsimons. She was a huge influence on me. She had a beautiful voice. She gave up her career when she had my mother, who also had an incredible voice, but never pursued her career, to have me. I just wish they were still here to see me. Not that I have a great singing career, I don’t mean to imply that. But I’ve been really lucky to be able to experience that. It’s such a wonderful outlet.

“I used to sing in the glee club and school choruses. After I went to work with the BSO, the highpoint of the year for me was if I could sing with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus at Christmas Pops. In fact, I just sang with them last week with Keith Lockhart. It’s the greatest thrill to be onstage with that chorus and that orchestra. So much fun.”

How did she make the jump from singing in a large chorus to performing on tour with James Taylor, one of the preeminent singer/songwriters of our time?

“We started very slowly. James heard me singing around the house or something. Then he was in the studio in New York with Russ Titelman, his producer, and he asked me if I could sing a harmony so he could just hear how it sounded. He tricked me! He didn’t tell me he wanted to use it or I probably would have been really nervous. When Russ said they were going to use it I said, ‘No way, that’s crazy!  Let me re-do it.’ But Russ said, ‘No, it’s great.’

“From there it just evolved. It started with James saying, ‘Why don’t you sing the encore?’—‘Shower the People’ or ‘How Sweet It Is.’ And it was so much fun working with his backup singers, Kate Markowitz and Arnold McCuller. They were so patient. It taught me so much.”

In recent years Taylor has rediscovered another artistic passion: acting.

“I’ve always loved it,” she said. “I acted as a child, in high school, and some in college. It’s something that’s been with me for a long time. But in my years at the BSO I didn’t really have the time to audition. Now my life is different. About four years ago I was able to audition for ‘A Christmas Carol’ at the Berkshire Theatre Festival. I went mainly because our children—we have twin boys—they were eight then and they wanted to do it. They were auditioning for Tiny Tim and the young Ebenezer Scrooge.

“Much to my surprise the director asked me to read for Mrs. Cratchit. I was not expecting to audition. I had to do a Cockney accent on the spot. You know the Alastair Sim’s (1951 film) version? I tried to conjure that and much to my surprise, and terror, I was cast as Mrs. Cratchit. And there were 22 shows that year at the Unicorn Theatre in Stockbridge. The next year we moved to the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, which is a beautiful facility, and because it has a greater capacity we could do fewer shows.

“Then the artistic director, Kate McGuire, asked if I wanted to audition for this piece based on one of Edith Wharton’s short stories, ‘Roman Fever.’ We performed that this fall as part of this fall festival in the Berkshires. It was directed by Keira Naughton, the daughter of the actor James Naughton. She was fantastic to work with.”

Taylor did not hesitate when asked if she had an acting mentor in her life.

“Yes. Absolutely. I went to the Albany Academy for Girls. I had an incredible theatre teacher there, Margery Van Aernum. I studied with her from when I was nine to 17. I think it’s a very hard age to work with kids. I think like most kids that age it was difficult to get me to focus. But she treated us like professionals. Like adults. She had very high expectations.”

Without doubt Taylor will bring an unusual combination of experience and perspective to the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, whatever her role.

“I’d love to tell you more about it when I find out more about what I’ll be doing,” she said.

And we will look forward to hearing about it.

 

About the author
Former Boston Herald columnist and editor Larry Katz has covered music and the arts for more than 30 years. Visit his website, thekatztapes.comContact him at larry@thekatztapes.com.

 

[box]“I did not know where my life would go…” That’s one of the lyrics from the song that inspired this foundation, “Over My Shoulder.” It happens to be one that I did not write—but I love it the most! Most of us think we know exactly where we are going and then… a surprise comes along and before you know it, you’re in the middle of a mesmerizing experience you never saw coming.

Today we feature a story on reporter Stanley Roberts, who was investigating a story when, out of the blue, his whole life changed. He had stumbled upon something breathtaking. Then his small town story shot around the world and he had everyone, from CNN reporters to people like me, chasing him down to learn more.

Stanley had re-connected two former best friends—international Rock Star Carlos Santana and Marcus the Magnificent, his brilliant but homeless band mate. The powerful mentor-centric energy in this story blew my mind. I wanted to know—why did Stanley pursue this story? What did he hear in the tale of Marcus the Magnificent that so inspired him?

You’ve probably seen the moment when Stanley reconnects Carlos Santana with his old best friend. We wanted to tell you more about Stanley, who took it upon himself to assemble a team to help a person in need of hope and restoration.

It’s the first week of a new year, also the beginning of National Mentoring Month. So I entreat you to adopt a simple habit, to be a little more like Stanley: when you see a new person, ask yourself, “What do I see that this person can be?” I call this habit of mind “Designing the Next Generation.”

—Dawn Carroll, Over My Shoulder Director

[/box]

 

Stanley Roberts

Stanley Roberts

As the TV newsman responsible for “People Behaving Badly,” a nightly feature on KRON 4 in San Francisco, Stanley Roberts has been called a lot of names, most of them not very nice. So he’s amazed that many people, including rock star Carlos Santana, are now calling him “an angel from God.”

A week before Christmas, Roberts played the pivotal part in reuniting Carlos and his long-forgotten percussionist, Marcus “The Magnificent” Malone. The two had not seen one another in forty-five years. The touching story of this unlikely reunion first aired on KRON and quickly spread around the globe.

Roberts encountered Malone by chance. He was homeless, reduced to picking through the trash, and claimed in a televised segment that he was a founding member of the world-renowned Santana band. That might have been the end of the story—but Carlos Santana happened to catch the segment. Santana reached out to Roberts to help him reconnect with his old bandmate. Now the two are actively involved in getting Malone off the streets and back on stage.

Two days before the start of the new year, we spoke to Roberts by phone from his Bay Area home. Still absorbing the ramifications of what has turned into the biggest story of his life, Roberts graciously shared his experience.

“I used to be a photographer, a regular cameraman,” he said. “Then our company got purchased by another company and they decided to change us into something they call ‘video journalists.’ Basically I started doing everything myself, writing and editing. The acting news director told me, ‘Go out and do POV,’ point of view journalism, where you go out and see what’s going on and talk about it. I said, ‘I have a better idea. I want to go out and look at what people are doing that they shouldn’t be doing. We could call it People Behaving Badly.’

“We went out and did the first one and phones rang off the hook. We got an incredible response. It drew people’s attention. It was about public urination. We watched people buying alcohol—and when they got drunk, because there are no rest rooms downtown around Market Street, they would pee and poop anywhere they wanted to, in broad daylight. Basically I just showed that. It was the grittiness of what was actually going on there, that no one wants to talk about, and I talked about it. So that was the first segment. That was eight years ago. The segment got so popular that now I actually turn a story every single day, except when I’m off.”

Roberts doesn’t go after big time criminals or expose major scandals. People Behaving Badly is about what he calls “quality of life issues.” Texting while driving. Bicyclists running stop signs. Drinking alcohol in city parks. Littering. Viewers love seeing transgressors caught in the act—and not just in the Bay Area. Roberts has more than 1,200 videos on YouTube, which have attracted close to 10 million views.

Of course not everyone is a fan of his brand of “gotcha journalism.”

“I get a lot of hate mail,” Roberts said. “A lot of people don’t want to know what’s going on, don’t want to know the truth. I get accused of picking on the homeless, of picking on dog owners, cat owners, home owners. I get death threats. It’s amazing. I was not used to it. I was always the guy with the camera while the reporter gets the fame and the glory. Then I had an idea eight years ago and it changed everything. It flipped my world upside down.”

Now Roberts’ world has flipped again because of Marcus Malone and Carlos Santana.

“It’s crazy,” he said. “I’m a devil one day and then all of a sudden the biggest rock star outside of the Rolling Stones is calling me an angel. Carlos told me, ‘You were sent by God. You’re an angel from God.’ I told my assignment desk what he said and they just laughed. They made fun of me. I’ve been called a few other things like asshole and the N-word, but never an angel.”

December 9 started out like any other workday for Roberts. He decided to go out to a dicey area of East Oakland to look for illegal trash dumpers. He found plenty of trash, but no dumpers, just an elderly man rummaging through the discarded junk.

“Sometimes fact is stranger than fiction,” Roberts said. “First of all, I don’t normally talk to somebody randomly digging through the trash. That was an anomaly. I just wanted to get shots of him going through all the garbage on that street and then go back to the office and get the story done. What made me speak to him was that I’d already asked some of the businesses on that street what was some of the strangest things they’d seen dumped out here. Couches. Marijuana. Dead dogs. I asked Marcus, ‘What did you find today.’ He says, ‘Nothing. But I’ve found jewelry. And money. Once I found 800 dollars in an old pair of jeans. Eight one hundred dollar bills.’ And I go, ‘What did you do with the money?’ I thought he probably smoked it or something. You tend to think if you’re homeless or something you probably got there because of drug use or alcohol or something like that. That’s what’s going through my mind. But then he says, ‘I bought some tools because I’m a landscaper.’ I’m thinking, ‘Okay, but how many landscapers are digging through the trash?’ Then he says, ‘I bought some supplies, some paper, because I’m a composer and I write music. My name is Marcus Malone.’

“It didn’t mean a thing to me. And then he says, ‘I used to play in the original Santana Blues Band.’ I never heard of the Santana Blues Band, I just heard it called Santana. I said, ‘Blues Band? Some band like Santana?’ And he said, ‘No, Santana. Carlos Santana. I was an original member of the band. We started it in my mom’s garage.’

“I’m thinking, ‘Wow, that’s a tall story.’ I said, ‘If I go look it up will I find your name, that you played with Carlos Santana?’ He goes, ‘Yeah, you will. But I messed up everything. I messed up my life. I went to jail and ruined my life forever.’ He said it really low, whispered it. And he walked away. The interview was pretty much over but I went up to him one more time. He was still looking through trash, but he was singing ‘Black Magic Woman.’ I laughed. I thought, ‘Okay, now he’s just performing for me. But I’m going to go back and check on his story anyway.”

 

Marcus Malone

Marcus Malone

Call it instinct or intuition, but Roberts aired the segment of Malone talking about Santana, even though it had nothing to do with the subject of the story.

“Typically at KRON we keep our stories uber-focused,” Roberts said. “My story should have been about illegal dumping and nothing else. I should have just mentioned that this guy once found some money. But I decided to keep him in the story. One of the editors came to me and said, ‘The story is good but you kind of went off course with this guy.’ And I go, ‘No, the fact is that when I did some research, his name did pop up with Santana, so I decided to keep it in.’ I figured if my bosses chew me out the next day, well, it’s already out there. You can’t un-ring a bell. So that bell was rung. If he was nobody, then he was nobody.”

But there was another concern. In his research, Roberts discovered what Malone had meant when he said, “I messed up my life.” In 1969 Malone was convicted of manslaughter. He served three years in San Quentin.

“I spoke to our assistant news director after the story aired,” Roberts said, “and I said, ‘If this guy is who he is this could be something big.’ She said, ‘Yeah, but he killed somebody.’ I said, ‘Yeah, but it looks like it was a fight. He didn’t go out there trying to kill somebody. It appears that a fight broke out and somebody died. It was unintended. But if you don’t think it’s a big story, then I’m not going to worry about it.

“To be honest with you I had no idea of the magnitude of what was going to happen. No clue whatsoever. I was not prepared for it. Nine days later I get a Facebook message on my fan page, which I don’t check that often. It says, ‘Hi, I’m Kathy, manager of Carlos Santana.’ I’m thinking she’s going to say this guy Marcus was not with the band and never has been. But then she says Carlos has been driving around 90th and Pearmain trying to find Marcus. My mouth hit the ground. I jumped up and ran to the assignment desk and said, ‘Hey look at what I just got.’

“It was a Thursday night and the assignment desk wanted me to talk to Santana on the spot. Now I’m a huge fan. I love his music. And they’re saying see if you can go out there with him and look for Marcus. Now here’s where it got interesting. The next day we called Carlos and he said, ‘Well, I’m busy right now, it’s getting close to the holidays. Can I do it on the 23rd?’ I said, ‘Well, I’m going on vacation in two weeks and I won’t be here. But if you want to do it today, I can.’ He said, ‘I’ll tell you what. I’ll meet you at 2 o’clock today in Sausalito and we’ll go looking for Marcus together.’

“I told my news director that I’m going to drive out to Oakland and look for Marcus. Now we’re not allowed to go out without security. He said, ‘Don’t you get out of your car. Just drive around and see if you can spot this guy.’ Because we’ve been robbed. They’ve been robbing photographers and reporters. Oakland is crazy dangerous right now. So I jump in my car and drive over there. I’m looking for a guy with a beard riding a red bike.

“Well, there are bikes everywhere. Everyone is on a bike. I decided to do what every journalist would do: ask someone. There are two guys sitting out there and I say, ‘Hey, I’m looking for someone named Marcus Malone.’ First thing they say is, ‘Oh, what did he do? You the police?’ I said, ‘He didn’t do anything. I want to find him and give him something.’ They said, ‘We don’t know who he is.’ That’s the standard response. Then one of them says, ‘You mean the little guy who rides around on a bicycle, the old guy? There’s a camper around the corner he lives in.’ I said, ‘Camper? What camper?’ He said, ‘Trust me, you won’t miss it.’

“I turned the corner and there’s an old camper parked on a dirt sidewalk with an abandoned house next to it. There was a red bicycle chained to the bumper. I bang on the door and yell ‘Marcus!’ but there’s no answer. So I take a couple of pictures with my phone and call back my desk and say, ‘I think I’ve found Marcus. I’m going to hang out for a little bit.’ So I’m sitting and watching, and also watching that no one is going to roll up on me while I’m sitting there. I decided to take out a business card. I write, ‘Be here at 3 o’clock.’ That’s all I said. I stuck it on the door and waited a little more. Then a guy walks by and I said, ‘Hey, quick question. Who’s camper is this?’ He goes, ‘Oh, that’s Marcus’s camper.’ Then he looks at me and goes, ‘Hey, you’re that guy! The people who act badly dude! You put Marcus on TV. Y’know, he’s the real deal.’ I said, ‘Okay, if you see him tell him Stanley was here from Channel 4 and I have something to give him at 3 o’clock.’ I wasn’t going to say I’m bringing Carlos Santana back here. That would have been like setting a fire in timberland. Everyone would have been out there.

“So I go drive from Oakland to where Carlos is in Sausalito. That’s like driving between two different worlds. Well, Carlos is late. Then we get stuck in traffic. I had told our security officer, a retired cop, to meet me at the camper and stake it out. He called and said, ‘I’m at the camper, the door’s open and there’s another bike there.’ I said, “If you see him come out, detain him.’ He laughed and said, ‘I am not detaining anyone, I’m not a cop anymore.’ I said, ‘Just don’t let him leave.’ When we got to the camper I looked at my clock and it was 3:39.

 

Carlos Santana and Marcus Malone

Carlos Santana and Marcus Malone

“I knocked on the door with Carlos and the security officer watching. Marcus came out and I said, ‘Man, you are the real deal. So I’m back, like I told you.’ He said, ‘Man, I don’t remember your name.’ Now when I do my segments it’s not about me. It’s about the world around me and what’s going on. This story wasn’t about me. I’m about to introduce Marcus to Carlos Santana. I said, ‘Dude, my name is not important right now, your name is what’s important.’ I got a lot of hate comments about that, people saying that I was being a douche bag for not telling him my name and that I was being disrespectful. On the other hand, I also got comments saying it showed that I’m not the kind of person who’s out there for fame and glory. Honestly, I just wanted the moment of him walking to the car and he sees Carlos’s face and Carlos sees his face. I just wanted to cry. I’m laughing, but it’s laughter that they’re finally seeing each other after all these years.

“Carlos handed him $7,000 in cash. I didn’t put that in my story because they would have run up to him the next night if they knew Carlos had handed him that cash. I thought it was a bad idea, but it is what it is. You can’t tell Carlos don’t give this guy seven grand in cash because who knows what will happen.

“I called the station and told them that they met. The station went ape-shit. Oh my god! When I came back with the video there was huge applause in the newsroom from all my coworkers that I had got this. Then it was, ‘You need to do this, you need to do that.’ But I’m thinking, ‘I need to get to work and write the damn segment because I’m off at six and I’m going on vacation.’ But they wanted me live on set at 8 o’clock. Now I do live stuff rarely, and never on prime time. I’m not a big front-of-the-camera guy. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll do it—but it was my last day of work before my vacation and I wanted to get out of there and do my thing. But I’m there until 8:30. And I have to drive to Los Angeles the next morning because I can’t afford to fly.

“So the story aired and there was not a dry eye in the place. But the magnitude of what took place didn’t dawn on me until I got a phone call from CNN saying ‘We want to put you on air.’ I said, ‘For what? I didn’t do nothing.’ I said, ‘I’ll be in L.A. tomorrow if you want to talk to me. So I talked to them and Inside Edition and did some radio. And now I’m talking to you.”

Roberts’ chance meeting with Malone resulted in the biggest story of his career. But this is just the beginning of Roberts’s relationship with Malone. He is committed to acting as Malone’s guide to a better life.

“We’re doing everything we can to help him,” Roberts said. “I told him, ‘I’m in it for the long haul and we’re going to get you back on your feet. The problem is he wants to move, but old habits are hard to break. Carlos called me. He basically designated me on the spot and I am here to help Marcus get back on track. So I’ve embraced that, even though I still have to figure out how to pay my own bills.

“I created People Behaving Badly not knowing it would lead to this. It’s me going out every day, trying to make ends meet, doing these segments, getting hate mail from people, getting death threats, being told by the police to change my habits so that people don’t follow me home. I’m like, ‘Is this really worth it?’ But I guess it is, when you find people like Marcus. This was a diamond in the rough—who now we have to shine. Because he’s really rough. Between me and Carlos Santana, we’re going to shine that diamond and try to bring out the stone that was covered in soot. We want to get him back on the stage playing. And if he’s on the stage I want to be in the front row. I’ll be bawling out of control.”

 

About the author
Former Boston Herald columnist and editor Larry Katz has covered music and the arts for more than 30 years. Visit his website, thekatztapes.comContact him at larry@thekatztapes.com.

 

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.

berklee-music

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!

 

music-industry

Source: koratmember via Freedigitalphotos.net

The music industry offers those who succeed in it a fulfilling, exciting and creative career! It is, however, a notoriously challenging business to get started in. The environment and network is vast, which can be overwhelming for someone just starting out. How do you go about finding a good mentor? There are methods and approaches that you can use to find someone who is willing and is a good fit for you and your goals.

It’s important to lay the groundwork by preparing yourself with information. Doing research is easier than ever these days, and it should not be a problem to get familiar with who’s who in the music industry. Read trade publications to get a feel for how the industry cogs turn. Consider traveling to music havens like Los Angeles, Nashville, New York City or Austin, to more easily connect with people in the know.

Your research should lead you to people — and therein lies the real key! Get out there and meet artists, producers and promoters who have established music careers. Be polite and direct in conveying your interest in the music world, and desire to find a mentor. You’ll meet a slew of insiders at conventions, so attend some. South by Southwest, in Austin, is an especially accessible event for non-professionals who endeavor to meet old pros.

Participate in events that help get your name out and foster connections. The Bluebird Café story featured on our blog is an excellent example of the type of things that help budding musicians launch their music careers.

Don’t give up. Keep the lines of communication open and nurture the connections you’ve made. Stay up to date on music mentoring programs through our Over My Shoulder blog. You never know who might be the perfect mentor to help you learn how to get a start in this rewarding field.

 

Wouldn’t you like to kick off your new year on a positive note, and learn about a concept that creates winners all the way around? January is National Mentoring Month, which means it is the perfect opportunity to learn about how mentoring works and how you can join this significant movement. The 2014 National Mentoring Summit, produced by MENTOR, takes place in Arlington, Virginia on January 30 and 31, 2014.

mentoring-works

Source: YouthBuild NMA via Pinterest

According to David Shapiro, CEO of MENTOR, 1 in 3 young people are reaching the age of 19 without having a mentor. However, those that do have mentors are proven to strive for and reach college, have higher self-esteem and make more positive decisions. This is exactly why MENTOR was started 20 years ago and has gone from 300,000 young people in mentoring programs to 4.5 million!

Whether or not you’re able to attend the Summit, you can take advantage of National Mentoring Month to educate yourself about mentoring and how it works in different environments. Music is fertile ground for mentoring, as we at Over My Shoulder Foundation believe. One of the core aspects of the field of music is collaboration. How often do you hear a musician cite his or her fellow musician influences? Recognizing that fact, it follows that mentoring and musicians fit together like fingers and piano keys.

David believes that mentoring is a very powerful tool and one that every young person should benefit from. We welcome you to learn more about becoming a mentor or mentee! Try to attend the 2014 National Mentoring Summit. Please contact me, Dawn Carroll, at the Over My Shoulder Foundation to learn how you can get involved in Designing the Next Generation, and for what you’ll gain when you embark on this rewarding path.

 

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Source: MiMi Stanley via Pinterest

What do social change and music have in common? Much more than might be readily apparent. The mentors at the Atlanta Music Project are proving that they can be intricately and exquisitely related. They know that all children have a budding musician inside of them. When they access the music, kids gain an invaluable creative outlet. In order to nurture their musical muse, they must practice regularly — something which helps develop discipline — and, the joy they get from performing contributes to positive self-esteem, which is so important to cement early in life.

Positive self-esteem, discipline and creativity all help kids become motivated and happy adults. And that’s where social change comes in. In their raised awareness, these adults will be able to compassionately bring about change that benefits our communities.

The Atlanta Music Project is committed to giving underserved young people the opportunity to make music and more with its music mentoring programs. First, they provide students with a musical instrument. Then, AMP enlists world-class professional musicians to be their teachers. Finally, they offer opportunities for performances, after students have put in their time and energy to learn their parts. It’s mentoring at its best!

Students learn from accomplished musicians like Ismail Akbar, a cellist from Atlanta who has studied at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, and has played Carnegie Hall. Mr. Akbar has recorded with Take 6, Wycliffe Gordon, and Neil Sedaka among others. Aspiring violinists might receive lessons from Teaching Artist Yulmarys Zambrano, an accomplished musician who teaches in public school systems, and privately.

We, at the Over My Shoulder Foundation, congratulate the Atlanta Music Project for its far sightedness and engagement in helping young people achieve their potential in such an enriching way! Learn more about this and other music mentoring programs.

 

shamrock-foundation

Source: BDA Sports via Pinterest

Did you know that January is National Mentoring Month? We’re starting the year off in a positive way, by providing opportunities for mentors to relate what they have gained and what they have given. National Mentoring Month is also a cue for those who are curious about learning what mentoring truly is. There are several events this month that will highlight some interesting mentoring opportunities.

The Boston Celtics’ Shamrock Foundation will generously share more than 100 tickets for the January 29 Boston Celtics game with a group of mentors and mentees. During that Boston Celtics game, one lucky mentee will wear the title “Official Ballkid” for the evening! For the past several years, the Celtics’ program, “Heroes Among Us” has honored individuals who have given to their community. All in all, this basketball club is an energetic supporter of mentoring!

We at the Over My Shoulder Foundation appreciate the value of people who share their experience and knowledge with young people. John F. Fish, head of Suffolk Construction, is someone who has both mentored young people and set an example for his peers of paying it forward. Amy Kurland and the story of the Bluebird Cafe is another excellent example of how mentoring relationships can provide lasting benefits.

We invite you to share your talents with someone who is as passionate about your chosen path or career as you are! The benefits to both mentor and mentee are innumerable. Please visit our website or contact me, Dawn Carroll, to learn more about the Over My Shoulder Foundation.

 

suffolk-construction

Source: nokhoog_buchachon via Freedigitalphotos.net

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.

 

john-varvatos

Source: Gabriel Zap via Pinterest

On behalf of the Over My Shoulder Foundation Project, I would like to introduce you to Mentorology, which is the art of mentoring. Mentoring in music and design is the creative launching pad for the OMSF mission!  When we meet a person that has the same vision that we have in our own design careers, the art of mentoring instinctively teaches us to engage and ask, “How can I help this person to become a high performer?” We should think about the possibilities and advancements that this person could make in his or her career and then offer guidance and advice along the way.

A great example of Mentorology can be seen on NBC’s newest reality competition series “Fashion Star,” in which contestants compete to earn the next biggest name in the fashion industry. What we love about the show is that the contestants are mentored throughout the experience by fashion moguls Jessica Simpson, Nicole Richie, and most recently John Varvatos. Throughout his career, Varvatos has served as Head of Menswear Design for all Polo Ralph Lauren brands and even launched his own clothing line. The addition of Varvatos as a mentor on “Fashion Star” provides contestants with a more diverse look at the fashion industry.

These famous mentors not only impact the lives of the contestants that they are working directly with, but also the viewers as they offer some powerful advice that anyone with aspirations in the industry could benefit from. Another aspect that makes this show so unique is that the winner of each episode has the opportunity to sell his or her designs to viewers through the show’s retail partners: Macy’s, Sacks Fifth Avenue, and H&M.

Contact us at OMSF for more success stories with famous mentors. Or, if you want to make a difference with our non-profit organization but are not sure how to help, consider making a donation.

 

hunger-games

Source: DIE TRIBUTE VON PANEM via Pinterest

Whether we realize it or not, we are constantly surrounded by mentoring relationships. For example, the company you work for may have its own employee mentoring program. If you happen to watch reality competition series on TV such as The Voice, you will see that the participants are receiving valuable mentoring advice from singers with lengthy and successful careers in the industry and that the celebrity mentors are moved by the experience as well.

Think about some of your favorite movies and the relationships that played out in those films. In the cult classic The Karate Kid, the focus of the story is an adult mentoring a troubled youth.

To elaborate on the topic of movie mentors, everyone is talking about The Hunger Games and the most recent release of Catching Fire. In the fantasy world that takes place in this series of stories, teens are made to face off in a truly life-changing competition. Each participant, otherwise known as a “tribute” from his or her district, is paired with a mentor that is often older and experienced with the Hunger Games competition, and this mentoring relationship proves to be instrumental in how the competition turns out.

Our goal at the Over My Shoulder Foundation is to raise the awareness of Mentorology and the positive impact that it can make in the lives of others, whether cross-generationally or cross-culturally. Considering the size of the audience that has seen the films mentioned above, you can see that movie mentors can play a powerful role in reinforcing the benefits and impacts of strong mentoring relationships.

For more about the concept of Mentorology, please contact us at the Over My Shoulder Foundation. If you want to help this cause, become a mentor or donate to our organization!

 

As Thanksgiving is quickly approaching, our team at the Over My Shoulder Foundation wanted to share how thankful we are for all of the mentors that have impacted the lives of our youth and made a difference in Designing the Next Generation.

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Margaret Russell
Source: Kerry via Pinterest

We often use our blog as an opportunity to highlight individuals that have been recognized for their contributions as mentors, and we recently talked about the positive impact that Bina Kalola, head of strategic investments and global equities at Bank of America Merrill Lynch had on women that want to move up the corporate ladder of male-dominated financial institutions. For the music industry, Amy Kurland, founder of the famous Bluebird Cafe, was recently honored with the Frances William Preston Award at the 43rd Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame for helping to launch the careers of so many up-and-coming artists.

We are pleased to announce that President Obama recently appointed Kim Taylor as a member of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities and Margaret Russell as General Trustee of the Board of Trustees of The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. For the past 30 years, Kim Taylor has been a part of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and has served in a variety of capacities, most recently a Trustee of the BSO. Because of her contributions, the BSO has become a valuable learning tool for our youth. Margaret Russell is currently the Editor and Chief of Architectural Digest, but has mentored many in the design industry through her participation in shows like Top Design.

Both women have made a valuable contribution towards Designing the Next Generation, which has helped to nurture the talent of our youth to help them succeed.

Please remember that January is National Mentoring Month, so let’s help the youth around us!

 

george-nelson

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.

linda-perry

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.

 

cher-the-voice

Source: ExtraTV via Pinterest

We often share mentoring success stories from the mentee’s viewpoint; however, the concept of reverse mentorology can make the experience just as rewarding for the mentor. Well-known singer and actress Cher can attest to this when she was recently asked to be a mentor to participants on the hit reality series The Voice.

Admittedly, her role as a mentor to these up-and-coming singers required much more responsibility than she initially thought, and she was surprised at how emotionally involved she got with her mentees. Ultimately, while her mentees benefited from invaluable advice that Cher was able to offer regarding her lengthy career in the industry, Cher herself learned some important lessons from her mentees that will forever impact her own life.

It was popular country singer Blake Shelton that decided to snag Cher to mentor his team on The Voice, which was an unlikely choice considering that the two specialize in different genres of music and come from different generations. For Blake, Cher has always had a special place in his heart due to his late father’s love of Cher.

At the Over My Shoulder Foundation, we are passionate about raising the awareness of mentorology. We believe that everyone can benefit from positive mentoring relationships, especially when they are derived across generations and cross-culturally. In Cher’s case with the young singers on The Voice, her legendary career and the experience that she gained along the way has allowed her to make a strong impact in Designing the Next Generation. She, too, benefited from this arrangement, making this an excellent example of reverse mentorology.

To learn more about the concept of mentorology, we invite you to contact us at the Over My Shoulder Foundation. We also love to hear your personal mentoring success stories, so please share them with us!

A song gave birth to Over My Shoulder Foundation.

Now Over My Shoulder Foundation (OMSF) is giving birth to a new song.

Four years after Patti Austin’s recording with then–13-year-old Lianna Gutierrez of “Over My Shoulder” led to the creation of a foundation to spread the gospel of mentoring, OMSF is on the verge of a new release. Get ready for “Half Filled Tear.”

“It’s about saving lives from a lifestyle of repeated violence,” said Dawn Carroll, who co-wrote “Half Filled Tear” with Boston rock legend Jon Butcher and Gidon the Mighty Warrior, a rap artist and social activist from Austin, Texas. “The lyrics were written to relate the victim’s anger and show that repeated violence is not the way.”On the first Saturday in November, Carroll and Butcher went into Q Division Studios in Somerville to record the final vocal tracks of “Half Filled Tear” with the dynamic singer/rapper Shea Rose and the Boston Children’s Chorus. Adding to the occasion was the presence of teenaged filmmakers and photographers from Wakefield, who came to document the session for a forthcoming “making of” video.

The story of “Half Filled Tear” starts back in 2009, when Carroll was brainstorming ideas for songs that would work as a duets by older mentors and younger mentees. The reaction to that song, “Over My Shoulder,” was so positive that Austin and Carroll followed up by creatingOMSF, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to the promotion of mentoring. Carroll’s unused song ideas were put aside, but not forgotten.

“‘Half Filled Tear’ was one of the songs I had,” Carroll said. “I wanted to tackle the touchy, tricky subjects. I wanted to write songs and Drawing on experiences from her own life and those of the youngsters she was meeting through OMSF, Carroll decided the time was right to complete “Half Filled Tear.”create music that inspired listeners to stop the cycle of hopelessness: ‘One less tragedy’ was my mantra. I believe you can write music and create anthems that bolster self-confidence, self-worth, and self-esteem. I believe that music can deflect some of the craziness you see on the news every night and help people focus on solving individual as well as social issues.”

“This one is a personal story,” she said. “Someone very close to me was murdered at a very young age. I went through this experience. When I started getting more involved with kids through the foundation, and we started working in the city, I heard so many stories about brutal murders. I went through just one, and I never got over it—these kids had gone through multiple traumas with little support. I could see and relate to the delicate emotional state, I knew how easy it is to become lost when dealing with this type of anger and pain. You just never get over the loss and dealing with the anger is a constant struggle. It’s a blinding blizzard of emotions that follow you after someone you love has been taken from you, violently, and that post-traumatic stress is hard to deal with.”

“Then I learned about the tattoo, usually used in gangs: the half-filled tear, carved onto someone’s face. It tells the world that someone has been violently taken from you, and that you seek revenge—and when the revenge is satisfied, the tear tattoo is colored in. This image really freaked me out. I was desperate to write the song and just prayed it would be powerful enough to stop even one future murder. Music can arouse great introspection and activism, it can inject hope into a life like nothing else.”

OMSF Executive Director Dawn Carroll with Jon Butcher

Carroll shared her idea for the song with Jon Butcher, who not only agreed to co-write and co-produce it, but to sing, play guitar, and engineer the song too.

“It really affected me,” Butcher said, “so I wanted to shepherd it the whole way. I was really keen to produce it and that’s what happened. To me, that image of the ‘Half Filled Tear’ symbolized how pervasive violence is in the country we live in. We have a romantic relationship to violence. And that relationship is a love-hate relationship—how we portray it in the culture, how it manifests itself in our kids and the media. That was a big subject to me.”

While working on the lyrics, Carroll and Butcher decided to add a hip hop element to try and reach a wider audience. Their search for a collaborator led them to Gidon the Mighty Warrior (real name: Christopher Ockletree), one of the founders of The Cipher, an Austin hip hop collective dedicated to uniting youth through music, poetry, and activism.

Carroll and Butcher got more than they expected from Gidon. A lot more.

“We got on a conference call with Gidon and told him the concept of the song,” Carroll said. “I told him if he needed to change any of the words, that he should feel free, and nobody would be insulted. Well he did. He rewrote the entire thing! I think there’s one of my lines left,” Carroll laughed. “He did a brilliant job. Gidon had also lost someone to a violent crime, so he knew exactly what emotions to tap into. Now it’s more his song than anybody’s. The whole rap is his.”

Dawn Carroll and the Boston Children’s Choir

They had the rap. They had the chorus. Finally, they added the voice: Shea Rose and the Boston Children’s Chorus. Their vision was complete. “Half Filled Tear” is a song that finds hope and inspiration in the depths of despair.

“I feel like the song does two things,” Rose said as she prepared to record her vocals at Q Division Studios. “It’s inspirational. And at the same time, it tells of the agony and pain that is going on in society. So it has that dark part, especially in the rap verses, but there’s also a feeling of hope in the chorus.”

Hope is exactly what “Half Filled Tear” is intended to provide, especially to those whose lives have been damaged by violence.

“When you’re struggling with feelings of revenge, you need hope. You can’t get over the shock because the crime has entered your life and left you with an emptiness and with so many questions,” Carroll said. “You need somebody to tell you, and show you, how to channel that energy, otherwise you’ll be a prisoner of it your whole life.”

Carroll expects OMSF to unveil both “Half Filled Tear” and the “making of” video in January—which, not coincidentally, is also National Mentoring Month.

“What we tried to do in ‘Half Filled Tear’,” Butcher said, “was flesh a story out in a way that touches a lot of people. I hope that we were successful—and I guess we’ll find out.”

—by Larry Katz

Former Boston Herald columnist and editor Larry Katz has covered music and the arts for more than 30 years. Visit his website, thekatztapes.com. Contact him at larry@thekatztapes.com.

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“I think of it often and imagine the scene clearly. Even if they come to kill me, I will tell them what they are trying to do is wrong, that education is our basic right.” —Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai showed the world that there is no stopping a hungry mind. At 15 years old she proved that she was willing to risk her life in the pursuit of an education. On October 9th, 2012, while riding home from school, Taliban agents stopped her car and shot Malala in the head. She survived the attack, and bravely refused to surrender her dream. Because of her courage and her dedication to the cause of education for all, Malala became the youngest Nobel Peace Prize nominee ever. She has inspired girls around the world to pursue their goals fearlessly and NOT to let anyone get in the way of their education, or their dreams. It shows how one person can inspire change in the world.

I immediately thought of Malala when I heard the story below, written by our dynamic team member Marissa Ranahan. After you read about this uplifting example of mentorship, share the story on social media, encourage your friends and community to support the Malala Fund, and take a few moments to think about how you could make positive change in the world by becoming a mentor.

Dawn Carroll, Over My Shoulder Foundation Co-Founder and Executive Director

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“Mentoring someone doesn’t need to be a lifetime job. Sometimes, it can simply be a lesson that can be carried through a lifetime. This story proves that anyone, at any time, can be a mentor in their own way. It’s the little things that have the greatest impact.” —Marissa Ranahan

Copyright shadowgirl08

Those were her exact words, and I smiled as soon as she mentioned the word mentor. Since joining the team at Over My Shoulder, it seemed to me that every person I encountered had someone in their life as a mentor.I asked her quickly if she enjoyed reading, and her face lit up. She was twenty-three years old. She had a soft smile, with a brightly colored hijab wrapped tightly around her head. We started to talk about books and different genres of literature. She nodded her head in agreement and smiled as I spoke. “Can I tell you something?” she asked. “I have a mentor who taught me how to read, because I am not allowed to.”

This young woman came to America from the Middle East, where she was never taught how to read. Although she always longed to learn, she was not allowed. When a neighbor in the U.S. found out she wasn’t able to read, the woman offered to give private reading lessons, without the knowledge of her disapproving family. They met every Wednesday night in secret until the young woman’s family came home from work. When everyone was asleep, she would take out her books and practice the sentence structure her neighbor had taught her. After six months of study, she was already reading chapter books.

“To me” she said, “Reading is like a different language. After listening to it, I hungered for more, but I was restricted from reading. I consider my neighbor my mentor, my reading mentor, and a woman who had opened up new doors to my knowledge. To me, this is the best guidance I have ever received.”

The admiration she had for this woman was obvious, even in our brief encounter. I asked her what a “mentor” was in her own words—she responded, “A mentor is someone who comes into your life like a guardian angel, and helps you fulfill a passion that was missing before. It might not be for a lifetime, but as soon as you feel like someone believes in you, that feeling will carry through your lifetime.”

I haven’t seen this young lady again. But the message of her story is universal, and deserves to be heard. Anyone can be a mentor. Small acts of mentorship, like teaching one person to read, reverberate for a lifetime. The reward of helping another person is priceless.

Marissa Ranahan, Over My Shoulder team member

 

We often use our Over My Shoulder Foundation blog to recognize mentors that have truly made a positive impact on the lives of others. With this in mind, we would be remiss if we did not mention Bina Kalola, head of strategic investments and global equities at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Bina was recently awarded the title Mentor of the Year at the Wall Street Women Awards.

Kalola has reached great heights within her organization by embracing the concept of mentoring, prospering from the mentors that she has had throughout her career as well as paying it forward time and time again as a mentor to many along the way. After attending Barnard College, she entered the world of Wall Street in 1990 by way of a summer internship at Shearson Lehman.

bina-kalola

Source: Women Innovate Mobile via Pinterest

During her time there, fellow Barnard alum, Jodie-Beth Galos, sought her out and taught her the ropes of the financial world. Between discussing more technical analysis and offering the occasional inspirational talk, Galos, a senior with the organization, made a lasting impression on Kalola as a positive role model.

In 1991 Kalola joined Salomon Brothers and was fortunate to have another instrumental mentor, Tom Favia, guide her through the trading powerhouse. What she appreciated most about this relationship with Favia was that he was easily approachable a took the time to really listen to her.

Since then, Kalola herself has served as a mentor through Bank of America’s formal mentorship program and also serves as an informal mentor to many others. As she says, “My door is always open.”

Congratulations to Bina Kalola for earning her well-deserved title of Mentor of the Year! For more mentoring success stories please contact me, Dawn Carroll, at the Over My Shoulder Foundation or share your own!

 

boston-symphony

Source: luigi diamanti via Freedigitalphotos.net

We recently shared some tips for being a good mentee, and a critical component of strengthening the mentor/mentee relationship is blocking out time to spend together. If you’re searching for activities for mentors and mentees to do together, the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO) offers several programs that can serve as ideal learning tools for young adults.

The BSO puts on three Family Concerts each year. For one of these concerts, Germeshuasen Family and Youth Concerts Conductor Thomas Wilkins, in partnership with pre-selected youth, will conduct the BSO. The other two concerts will be performed by the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra. Please note that the next family concert will take place on Saturday, November 16 at noon, and the Boston Youth Symphony will be performing.

Another way that the BSO can provide a valuable learning experience for mentees is through its high school mentorships program. High school students that participate in this unique program will have an opportunity to receive up to three meaningful coaching sessions with a BSO musician, with the program running January through May of each year. For any local high school students that are interested in learning more about this program, they can contact the BSO directly or download the application.

Regardless of age, all youth can benefit from a program offered by the BSO. As we approach the cooler and more dreary months in Boston, activities for mentors and mentees are limited, and the BSO offers a number of events throughout the year that are not only educational, but can help to cultivate the mentor/mentee relationship.

For more about mentoring through music, check out Justin Locke’s inspirational story about mentoring in the Boston Pops. If you are interested in becoming a mentor or need help finding one, please 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.

happy-student

Source: stockimages via Freedigitalphotos.net

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.

 

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A music internship can help you get on the right path. Source: Katie Quattlebaum via Pinterest

If you’re passionate about music and want to take your skill set to the next level, you may want to consider exploring a music mentoring program. Another way to get great exposure to the industry and learn more about potential career opportunities is to participate in a music internship. Some teachers and guidance counselors are not as familiar with advanced learning experiences in the creative area, which is why we wanted to take a moment to discuss music internships for aspiring musicians.

An internship is one of the best ways to solidify a career opportunity post-graduation, and the Dream Careers Internship Program was established with the intent of providing college students with guaranteed premier music internships. During the placement process, a Dream Internship Coordinator will be paired with a student to prepare a resume and prep for interviews to help the student put their best foot forward.

The program works closely with a large base of music companies, providing a diverse selection of potential internships for someone that is passionate about the music world (creating, performing, promoting, and more). A listing of some of the music internships that are currently available through this program can be found on the organization’s webpage.

To learn more about opportunities through the Dream Careers Internship Program, students must first be accepted into the program. To apply, you can contact Dream Careers at (800) 251-2933 or register for the program online.

If you are an aspiring musician and want to learn more about available mentoring programs to help you reach your career goals, please contact me, Dawn Carroll, at the Over My Shoulder Foundation. Our mission is Designing the Next Generation, and raising the awareness of such programs available to our youth plays a big role in helping to accomplish this.

 

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This program treats membership like a true partnership. Source: stockimages via Freedigitalphotos.net

If you are looking to become more involved in your community, one of the best ways to do so is to sign up to be a mentor. This is especially true for those involved in the creative design field. Young people interested in pursuing a career in this area often receive limited direction from teachers and guidance counselors as they are often not as familiar with opportunities in this industry and/or art and design mentoring programs available.

For those living in the New York area, the AIGA/NY Mentoring Program helps to pair passionate high school students attending the New York City High School of Art and Design with mentors that are already creative professionals with blossoming careers.

What makes this program unique from other art and design mentoring programs is that mentors are required to make a 3 year commitment to the program as the relationship begins during the student’s sophomore year and runs through graduation. Each pair will spend a minimum of four hours together each month. Because of the accountability that the mentor and mentee have to each other with this program, many of the students go on to graduate high school and receive a higher degree in a creative design field.

If this article has inspired to you learn more about our Designing the Next Generation mission at the Over My Shoulder Foundation, I invite you to contact me, Dawn Carroll, for more information. Also, please be sure to check out our blog for more inspirational mentoring stories and feel free to share your own with us!

 

We’ve used our Over My Shoulder Foundation blog to make you aware of several music mentoring programs, and most of these programs are focused on adults mentoring youth. Peer-to-peer counseling can prove to be just as valuable, which is why we wanted to mention the Music Buddies Mentoring Program through the American Youth Philharmonic Orchestra (AYPO).

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Source: Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee via SXC.hu

One goal of the Music Buddies Mentoring Program is to provide private music instruction to students that may not have the financial means to receive such training otherwise. All of the mentors in this program are currently youth musicians (8th grade and older) from the American Youth Concert Orchestra (AYCO), American Youth Symphonic Orchestra (AYSO), or the American Youth Philharmonic Orchestra (AYPO).

When pairing program participants with mentors, the Music Buddies Mentoring Program takes into account both the age of the participant and the instrument that the participant plays to make the best match. Students will meet with their mentors on a weekly basis at T.C. Williams High School for basic instruction, exercises, and practice of school orchestra/band music. The youth mentors then meet with program director Laura Cahn after practice to discuss important learning skills to help enhance their roles as music mentors and teachers.

A second goal of this unique music mentoring program is to not only increase the interest of music in our youths’ lives, but to help keep them active and engaged in their schools’ music programs. All of the youth participants in the Music Buddies Mentoring Program, whether mentors or mentees, are sure to learn valuable lessons and skills from each other.

To learn more about music mentoring programs in your area or how you can become a mentor through music, please contact me, Dawn Carroll, at the Over My Shoulder Foundation.

 

berklee-city-music

Source: keb via SXC.hu

We recently talked about an opportunity to become a music mentor to nurture a youth’s talent. There is no question that music mentoring programs can play an important role in providing a continued learning experience that help keep our youth engaged in school and out of trouble. This is why we wanted to highlight another program that is available to youth in Greater Boston.

As a Berklee alumna, I wanted to share that Berklee City Music offers a series of age and skill-level appropriate music mentoring programs for middle school students and rising high school seniors living in Boston, Cambridge, Chelsea, Lawrence, Lynn, and Somerville.

The goal of the program is to make a positive impact in the students’ lives while providing them with skills and lessons that they can utilize throughout their lifetime. Not only do program participants have access to year-round instruction from talented faculty members and one-on-one mentoring, but they also have the ability to use the Berklee media center, library, and participate in a variety of music classes and workshops.

To be eligible for this music mentoring program, participants must express a deep interest in learning about music as well as have access to their own instruments. To learn more about how you can apply to this outstanding mentoring program, please contact City Music Boston at 617-747-2447 or visit the organization’s website.

In an effort to raise the awareness of Mentorology and the positive impact that a strong mentor can have on a youth’s life, we often use our Over My Shoulder Foundation blog to share mentoring success stories. Whether you have a question about mentoring or a success story, we want to hear from you! Please contact us to continue this conversation.

 

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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.

 

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L’Wren Scott will speak at the event. Source: POPSUGAR Fashion via Pinterest

We’ve talked about some of the common obstacles that those in the fashion industry are faced with, and these challenges can be difficult to overcome without the advice, encouragement, and expertise from a mentor.

Unfortunately, many of our youth entering the fashion industry are not sure where to start when it comes to finding a mentor. Attending a fashion conference does not only provide you with a great opportunity to stay up-to-date with the latest industry trends, but also can aid in making valuable introductions to key people in your field. These industry leaders and centers of influence that you meet could be ideal candidates for your mentor, and attending a conference can allow for these relationships to blossom.

If you are interested in attending a fashion conference, be sure to mark you calendar for the upcoming Fashionista Conference in LA on November 8 from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm. Attendees will have the opportunity to network and hear from some of the industry’s top designers, bloggers, editors, and stylists including L’Wren Scott, Erica Domesek, and Lyn Paolo.

The overall theme of the conference is “how to make it in the fashion industry,” which is a burning question on the minds of many. While there are no guaranteed slots for fashion mentoring at the conference, over half of the attendees at the recent New York conference received a one-on-one mentoring session with leading industry professionals. If fashion mentoring is a priority for you, please be sure to register for this conference as soon as possible.

Designing the Next Generation is our passion at the Over My Shoulder Foundation. If you want to stay in the loop with available fashion mentoring programs throughout the country, please contact us or subscribe to our blog.