[Chris Yeh, a mentor's mentor. Photo by Shel]
I'm reading "My Start-Up Life" by Ben Casnocha who started Comcate, Inc. a successful software company serving public agencies, when he was a 14-year-old 9th grader. I have not yet finished reading it, but can already recommend it to anyone interested in entrepreneurship. It is the best memoir I've yet seen on the start up experience.
Much has been made about how young Ben was, and I think that is interesting, but the I think what's remarkable is not his age but his quiet display of experience, wisdom, balance and humility he has acquired by age 19.
The book extensively covers what he gained from the many mentors who have been in Ben's corner. he talks about the two-way nature of the richest mentoring relationships. For me this is timely . Ustream CEO Chris Yeh has contracted me as a company advisor. But a key part of my assignment is to serve as co-founder Johnny Ham's mentor. This is the first time I have been compensated to serve as a mentor and I take the assignment seriously.
I just had not realized until about an hour ago what that had to do with Chris and Ben.
I knew that Chris and Ben connected. In fact, I met both of them at the same event, and new they were partners in Silicon Valley Junto, sort of a Silicon Valley discussion group for thinkers. But it was not until about an hour ago on Page 119, that I discovered Chris was not onlyone of Ben's mentors, one who taught him about the importance of finding balance in your life, but he also wrote a guest essay that appears in the book.
So, to my surprise, I learn that Ben's mentor has contracted me to be mentor to the young founder of the company he heads up. That's a lot of triangulation. But what really impressed me is that Chris did not mention that he was Ben's mentor. He knew I was reading the book and did not mention his own contributions to it. He just let me discover it for myself.
I think I just got a lesson from a master in a golden rule of mentoring. It is wise to help set the course. But the navigator has to find his own way.