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  • Josh Chernikoff

Mentorship Appears in Unexpected Places

My last blog post was all about mentorship and how it’s necessary no matter how high you climb in the business world. This post is a bit more personal — sharing the type of impact I’ve received from a close mentor myself.


Letters to a Young Poet” was recommended to me by my mentor, John Gamba. It wasn’t a lesson on entrepreneurship spoken to me over coffee. In fact, it was a short and simple tip thrown my way that I could have completely forgotten about by the next day.


But I didn’t — I took this piece of advice, a book suggestion, and read through pages that would go on to make a significant impact on my life.



“Letters to a Young Poet,” by Rainer Maria Rilke


This book came to being in 1929 after a young military student decided to try his hand at reaching out to a well-known Austrian poet — Rainer Maria Rilke.


The student had a desire to write professionally, while Rilke had already experienced the journey for years with great success. Instead of the letter becoming another piece of trash in the author’s home, Rilke decided to respond back. The student was shocked to see ten letters from his idol return — all aimed at helping support his journey into the world of artful writing — and general quality living.


These letters are written in the middle of Rilke’s career, and can now be tracked to show some of the poet’s most incredible techniques in the making.


The advice has gone on to not only support the young military student, but to help poets and other artistic writers around the globe. Its general suggestion to express creativity in all areas of living can inspire individuals in all career fields, too.


Talk about finding the best possible mentor through a stroke of luck — and through a successful individual’s willingness to support a young artist at the very start of his professional journey.


I’m Not Alone in Great Mentor Impact


Many entrepreneurs and business owners in the world today have had mentors pop up in unexpected places, just as the student who wrote to Rilke.


Oliver Jeffers, who many of you may know (especially if you have young kids at home), recently shared about his best mentor — Eric Carle himself. Jeffers always looked up to Carle, enjoying his books from early on in life. Later, he happened to be introduced to the famous author and Carle would throw advice and encouragement his way from time to time.


These meetings may have felt small on Eric Carle’s side, but Jeffers likely wouldn’t have his incredible confidence and success without the help of an impactful mentor who made the choice to walk by his side.


Mentorship may not always be concrete business advice. Sometimes it’s a few words of encouragement, other times it’s a book suggestion that goes on to change your life. But no matter how those who’ve gone before you decide to help, their actions are sure to leave a lasting impression on your journey toward professional success.


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