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.

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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



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

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

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

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

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

If you’re looking to start a career in the design world, one of the first steps that you should take is to find a mentor in this field. Sometimes this can be a challenging task, and since we are advocates of “mentorology” at the Over My Shoulder Foundation, we wanted to share some helpful tips for how to find a mentor:


LinkedIn is a powerful resource for connecting with potential mentors. Source: pursuethepassion

  1. Consider what you hope to gain out of your mentoring relationship. While you may be well-educated, establishing a relationship with a mentor that is experienced in the design field can help you to gain new insight and wisdom that you might not have had otherwise.
  2. If you are already employed by a design firm, check with your HR department to find out if your company offers an internal mentoring program. Be sure to check out the Over My Shoulder Foundation blog to learn more about ways that a company mentoring program can be advantageous to you.
  3. Turn to organizations that you are involved with to find a mentor. You don’t always need your mentor to work within your organization.
  4. Use LinkedIn to perform an “Advanced People Search” to uncover prospective mentors in your industry. You may find someone that graduated from your alma mater or is involved in the same organizations that you are.
  5. Don’t rule out a mentor that may be younger than you. Just because the mentor is younger doesn’t mean that they have less experience than you.

If you’re in a successful mentoring relationship today, what other tips or best practices can you offer for how to find a mentor?

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

Sometimes some of our greatest mentors come from the teachers that we meet throughout our lives. Even if you are a teacher yourself, sometimes turning to a more tenured teacher that has been recognized as a leader in your school can help to convert you from a good teacher to a great teacher. With the start of a new school year, we thought it would be appropriate to share some useful mentoring tips for teachers:


Foster a support system and everybody can improve. Source:

For new teachers:

  • If something is challenging you, don’t be afraid to ask questions or advice from other teachers. Everyone was new and inexperienced at some point and will be able to relate where you are coming from.
  • Keep a list or informal journal for teaching strategies and activities that did or did not work throughout the day. Periodically review this with your mentor to discuss ways for improvement.
  • Ask to watch your mentor in the classroom. Take note of how he or she is with curriculum, instruction, and interaction with students.

For mentors of new teachers:

  • Take the time to listen to questions and concerns from new teachers.
  • Determine what your new teacher’s greatest strengths are and find a way to highlight and enhance these strengths.
  • Ask a new teacher to shadow you for a day.

For administrators of new teachers:

  • Carefully select experienced teachers to serve as mentors for new teachers.
  • Offer the necessary resources and support to encourage the success of the mentoring relationship.
  • Meet with the mentor and new teacher regularly to get updates on how the relationship is progressing.

For more mentoring tips for teachers, be sure to check out our recent post about a successful mentoring relationship in the classroom or contact us at the Over My Shoulder Foundation.



Take a note from Oprah’s success story. Source: Story Accents

We recently talked about famous mentor pairs, including Oprah Winfrey and her fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Duncan. It’s no surprise that some of the most successful and influential people in the world can tie the defining moments in their lives back to a strong mentoring relationship. To expand on our celebrity mentorship stories, let’s further discuss the role that Mrs. Duncan, Oprah’s mentor, played in her life.

When Oprah was in the fourth grade, the biggest impact that Mrs. Duncan made on Oprah’s life was to help her to not be afraid of being smart. Not only did she encourage her to read, but Mrs. Duncan frequently stayed after school with Oprah to work with her on assignments, help her to select new and challenging books, and even let her grade papers.

Mrs. Duncan’s relationship to Oprah as a mentor helped her to see the better part of herself that was hidden from her own view. While at the time Oprah wanted to go on to be the best teacher that anyone had ever seen, she accomplished this goal at a much greater level by serving as a teacher and mentor to millions of women across the globe through her extremely successful career as supervising producer and host of The Oprah Winfrey Show.

According to Oprah, “mentors are important and I don’t think anybody makes it in the world without some form of mentorship.” Our team at the Over My Shoulder Foundation couldn’t agree with you more, Oprah. To learn more about celebrity mentorship stories and the impact that a mentoring relationship can have in your life, please contact us at the Over My Shoulder Foundation.



Pool your abilities to find the Street Seats exhibit.

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

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

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

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

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

Image Source: AnubisAbyss



A mediator can help solve conflicts.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image Source: srharris

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


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

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

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

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


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


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

1. Who was your mentor?

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

5. What does mentoring mean to you?

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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




A good mentor is an invaluable resource.


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

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

The Over My Shoulder Foundation aims to achieve the following:

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

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

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