The importance of mentoring

Richard Branson

Whenever I am asked what is the missing link between a promising businessperson and a successful one, mentoring comes to mind. Giving people advice on how they can best achieve their goals is something that is often overlooked. Here in Adelaide today there has been a lot of focus upon mentoring, ranging from giving young pilots the skills to fly to sharing business tips with start-up video conferencing business FaceMe. Over breakfast I chattedwith Business Chicks and in the evening shared business lessons at the National Achievers Conference. I also got some mentoring myself from Tour De France cycling pro Patrick Jonker on a beautiful cycle around the city.

It was also a real privilege to speak at a mentoring session with the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME). Their inspiring Founder Jack Manning Bancroft, a bundle of boundless energy and ideas, set up AIME when he was just 19 and they have now expanded across Australia, engaging over 2000 Indigenous high school students and 1000 university students.

Their new Mentors 4 Life program can be used by businesses and networks across the world, helping to ingrain the positive message of mentoring within companies globally. The spirit of mentoring should be embedded in all businesses and certainly is at Virgin. AIME reminds me a lot of the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship with its messages of mentorship, leadership and entrepreneurship. It is an excellent example of using business as a force for good.

Mentoring was very important for me personally. For example, Sir Freddie Laker gave me invaluable advice and guidance as we set up Virgin Atlantic, while my mum has been a mentor throughout my life. Nowadays, I find mentors inside and outside of Virgin every day. If you ask any successful businessperson, they will always have had a great mentor at some point along the road. If you want success then it takes hard work, hard work and more hard work. But it also takes a little help along the way. If you are determined and enthusiastic then people will support you.

If you are looking to make your way in business, try to find a mentor. If you are in a position to share the skills you have learned, give something back by becoming a mentor yourself.

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