Brick By Brick Apprenticeship
Pillar #4: Mentorship
"The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves."
- Steven Spielberg
What is a mentor?
Simply put, a mentor is an experienced and trusted advisor. They are invested in your success!
They take on all shapes and can come from all walks of life. Mentors tend to emerge over time in a person's career, as you get comfortable in your job and you meet more experienced people. There is a positive relationship between the performance you deliver and your opportunities to attract great mentors. Some people are fortunate to have multiple mentors, at various stages throughout their career.
For the Brick by Brick Apprenticeship, you will have multiple people providing feedback on your performance, responsibilities, and overall challenges with PAVERART. You will report to a supervisor and that supervisor can change throughout the apprenticeship. The entire team experience, grinding through business challenges is tremendously rewarding. I think of our team as a collection of superheroes:
But you will have one lead MENTOR, myself (Mark Olivito), the owner of PAVERART Enterprises. I will be responsible for working one on one to make sure all 4 pillars of Brick by Brick are coming together in a massively impactful way, assuming of course you do your part!
A unique aspect of the Brick by Brick program, is that the mentorship program starts on day one. You are not plugging away for years at a job before you develop this key relationship, it is built in from day one.
So Let me tell you a bit about me.
First off, anytime a person (s) can impact your life, you are well served to learn as much as you can about them. Look at their background, LinkedIN is a good source for that. Here's my profile:
Google them. There's an axiom in the world of Marketing that's a bit harsh, but there's some truth to it: You are who Google says you are? Can't find anything? That says something too.
Second, here's a personal leadership blog I've compiled over a decade or so ago, but it was most active in the years 2012-2017. But there are nonetheless about 200 posts written on various topics related
to leadership, innovation, career development. Maybe an occasional rant on why the NY Yankees were underachieving in various years!
I didn't realize at the time I started the blog how "symbolic" the title was. "HUSTLE" or "BUST." Work ethic and your attitude you bring to all walks of life is not a function of where you were born. It's a CHOICE. And that choice is made every single day. Choose wisely.
But let me go back to a time that you can relate to, High School, where my story begins, a time you can relate to: HIGH SCHOOL.
First, my high school years were not impressive from the academic sense. In fact I'll go one step further in saying that my biggest academic achievement was winning A "High School Superlative: Class Clown!
But there was ONE area in my high school years I started to WIN at: WORK.
I loved my job, working at a liquor store in New Providence. Every free hour outside of school I worked. The co-op program allowed me to do that Junior & Senior Years throughout the week, and summers I put a ton of hours in while others played down the shore.
Senior year came and I started to applying to multiple colleges (Seton Hall, Monmouth, Rutgers, Montclair, etc), getting rejected from most. And one day a recruiter from Northeastern University was in my guidance counselors office, and she introduced me, and we talked about how unique Northeastern is with their co-op program, similar to what I was doing my Junior & Senior years. I thought to myself:
"I'm certainly not a great student, but I AM a great worker, this could work."
I applied to Northeastern University, and was luckily accepted. It was a lot of money, if memory is right $18-20k for tuition, room & board, BUT co-op would off-set a big chunk of this. I would have 4, 6 month co-ops to y resume by the time I finished the 5 year program. So off to Boston I went....
I LEARNED how to become a great student when my co-op counselor said, "don't think about joining the co-op program unless you have all B's & A's, and make sure it's more A's then B's."
So I cracked the books relentlessly, and managed to graduate with a 3.89/4.0 GPA, and did 4, 6 month co-op's at Kraft Foods, who offered me a full time job immediately after graduation. In short, I couldn't be more happy with my college/NU decision & overall experience in 1992-1997.
Fast forward to 2022. Northeastern is no longer ranked near the 180+ range in national universities, and it certainly does not cost $18k. It made a massive leap in the rankings, now at #49, and total cost to attend has skyrocketed as well at $75k. And they accept FAR fewer % of total applicants with an admit rate of less then 20%. Said differently, if my 18 year old self were to apply to NU today, I definitely would NOT get in, and not sure I could even afford (or want too pay) over $300k worth of the education if by some miracle I WAS accepted.
In short, times have changed.
Acceptance rates much lower, costs through the roof. And now it's all available for free. And major companies are not holding the degree out as a gate-keeper to competing for great jobs. Some are, yes, but not like the late '90's.
College was a 5 year slice of my adult life, covering my years of 18-22 years old.
Today, I'm 48, and have a bunch more grey hair! What else?
I've lived in 5 different places with my wife, 2 kids and a pug and a "frug." Kim, Hope, Dominic, and the fur babies Mickey and Bruno.
We've lived in 5 homes, experienced career promotions, set backs, acquired 2 businesses and have had a lot of fun along the way.
The advantage of being 48 and looking back at your years 18-48? The rear view mirror is ALWAYS perfectly clear. I can clearly see how each decision, achievement, relationship, effort, set-back, tough time period, winning period led to certain outcomes. And by reverse engineering this experience, I have a playbook going forward that will continue (hopefully) to help those around me.
Enough about ME, now it's time to talk about YOU, and your responsibility.
What Is Your Responsibility In The Relationship?
"Where do you want to go and how can I help you get there?"
Often times, developing a vision for your future is hard, especially in the late teen years. It's hard to think about 10 years from now when you may even struggle with what to do this summer! But mentors (and myself) will challenge you to start thinking about your future, in many key areas:
What areas you should start learning?
How are you performing on the job? Areas you can improve? Next 30 day goals?
Your financial future - What you should be saving on day one. Then investing, where, how, etc.
What are your goals? How close are you to achieving them?
The planning/goal setting pillar of the Brick by Brick Apprenticeship is your roadmap of where you want to head. Your Mentor is there to make sure you are on pace to get there. If not, I'll work with you to get back on track.
In short, a good mentor is going to ask you more questions, then provide you answers. So your responsibility is to navigate the process, roll up your sleeves and be ready to be pushed beyond your current comfort zone.
Some of the Areas We'll Review
Work objectives and overall performance. Struggle areas? Next areas of mastery?
Education - What are your current class lessons?
Financial Plan - It is important to start sound disciplined savings/financial practices early in life. Some of those principles include automatic savings, investing and financial goals and measurement. Personal Financial Goals will be part of your goal setting process and progress will be reviewed, analyzed and goals re-set throughout the apprenticeship. Your Mentor will guide you, challenge you and advise you in this area along with other mentioned areas.
Mentors matter in life. Learning through trial and error can be awfully expensive.