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Networking & Mentorship

Students & Alumni Don’t Need Mentors

They need something even more helpful: Super Mentors who help more learners benefit in less time. This January, our goal […]

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They need something even more helpful: Super Mentors who help more learners benefit in less time.

This January, our goal is to help higher ed institutions around the country make the most of National Mentoring Month. And we’re focusing on mentoring resources that can help students and alumni specifically with careers. (It’s a key part of the White House’s agenda for National Mentorship Month as well.)

This installment features a fascinating talk from Eric Koester, bestselling author, Georgetown professor, and entrepreneur. After cowriting Super Mentors: The Ordinary Person’s Guide to Asking Extraordinary People For Help, Koester joined PeopleGrove at our semiannual Innovators conference to share a radical new approach to mentorship, one that helps colleges and universities get more students and alumni participating in mentorship and successfully transitioning from classroom to career.

Watch an abridged version of his talk below.

Want More? 

Learn more, including practical tips, from Koester in this recording of a previous webinar with Koester from National Mentoring Month. It covers how to apply this framework on campus.

For more on the Super Mentors book, pick up your own copy via and keep reading below.

The Story Behind Super Mentors

“I probably have the world record as the worst mentor of all time…”

That’s how Eric Koester started his keynote speech at our Innovators Conference. Quite an introduction for someone who just co-authored a book on mentorship.

But in 2016, Koester found himself at a crossroads in his career and decided to take some time off. When asked by a friend how he was going to fill his days, he responded, “I think I’ll do some mentoring.”

“Well, are you any good at mentoring?” his friend asked.

“People keep asking me to be their mentor so I must be great!” replied Koester.

But over the next 4 months, Koester found that he wasn’t necessarily the mentor he thought he was. Across 81 meetings with anyone who wanted some of his time, only 1 person actually fulfilled the one request Koester made in every conversation and came back to him to let him know how his advice helped them.

His conclusion: his advice must not have been that great. Or maybe these mentees didn’t really need advice in the first place.

This was the start of the project that eventually became Super Mentors. Koester studied 142 high profile mentoring relationships (think Sheryl Sandberg, Oprah Winfrey, Marc Benioff, etc.) and learned exactly why these relationships were a success while his weren’t. In partnering with PeopleGrove, Eric developed a framework that helps any learner, at any stage of their career, find the people that can provide them with the opportunity to take the next ideal step in their careers. Today, the book has been used by institutions to dramatically scale mentoring initiatives, including at Lafayette College as they shared in a recent webinar.