Business Mentoring Matters

The Best Mentoring Takes Time

Posted on Thu, Sep, 06, 2012

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The following is a guest blog post about mentoring written by Donald Quinn. Donald's experience is a shining example of the value of mentoring and how it can transform an individual.  Donald's approach in pacing his mentoree's development is important because one must be ready to take the next steps.  Too often, with the enthusiasm of youth and our overloaded culture, we expect instant results or progress when, in reality, moving at a moderate but steady pace, a person will often win the mentoring

In the old days when a young apprentice desired to learn his craft he would seek out the most proficient and available master and give several years of servitude in order to learn, eventually becoming a fellow crafter. With decades of experience, the fellow crafter would eventually become a master at the craft and at that time would take on apprentices of his own to teach and train. This was what mentoring looked like over the last several centuries. Luckily for us we do not live in the past and are able, in a world of instant gratification, to rise quickly to the level of giving mentorship while still receiving it from those above us.

Mentoring is such a broad and often over used term. My own mentors were men and women of incredible success who took the time and effort to teach me the trade and share their own valuable insight. In turn, I have taken their same approach and tried to mentor other up and coming stars in the ways and means of my trade of sales. It has however, always been my practice to mentor people slowly and have them demonstrate a full understanding of what was being taught before moving them to a different area. With the generational gap and younger employees, who would rather get into a car accident than give up texting while driving, this proved to be challenging and I have lost my share of mentoring candidates early. On the other hand, for those who stay the course, it has been a beautiful developmental relationship for both of us.

Take Serena for example. Born in Eastern Europe and raised by a very ethnic family in Chicago, she came to me as a young, green and very timid sales associate. Upper management had virtually written her off because of the language barrier, they simply did not speak "Serena." In a new position with no guidance, I turned to this inexperienced twenty year old to show me her understanding of the business--while I taught her the magic of "making the sale." We worked on body language and posturing, we discussed attitude and what it takes to win, we built on confidence and creativity, and all the while I learned the ins and outs of the retail health care system in which I found myself. 

The best things take time but within this girl I saw a spark that refused to be quenched. With an insatiable appetite she took to all the lessons, practiced and perfected, and eventually was able to demonstrate even higher proficiency than me in many of the areas we had worked on. Eventually she went on to take a management spot with the company, break the all-time sales record twice, and move to the much higher paying world of banking. The evening she accepted her new job with the bank, she called me to tell me how much I had impacted her life.

The best things, sometimes, take time.

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For more information on Donald Quinn, please see his bio below. You may reach him by email at: and find his book at

Donald Quinn Bio:
A seasoned executive Donald’s career has spanned many industries. From advertising and marketing to consumer goods to government work and the service industry he has started, ran and sold companies in the US and Asia. These have included financial management, operations and process management, building of executive teams, marketing and sales, technical and customer support, and international business building. As a consultant he is passionate about impacting organizations and empowering leaders to change.
Donald is the author of the management book “Back to Basics”, which forms the core curriculum forthe B2Basics workshop series on Culture, Team Building, Sustainability, Change Management, International Business, and several other classes which are offered by the SEI International Consulting. He is currently working on a second book on Global Sustainability.
For the last several years Donald has served as a key consultant to small, mid—sized, and largecorporations in the areas of financial management and modelling, cultural integrity, team building, and operational best practices.

Tags: Mentors & Mentorees