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Ed. note: A version of this article was originally published on Giant Thinkers. The perspective expressed is solely that of the author. AIGA encourages commentary, discussion and debate among members—share your thoughts in the comments.
If you were a child who had severe asthma but absolutely loved soccer, and found it “too hard” to play a full game, would you give up and just play FIFA 2013 on Xbox? (Don’t answer that. It’s actually really addictive.) Honestly, would you think it was impossible to become a professional soccer player with such a terrible respiratory condition? Well, David Beckham didn’t. Arguably one of the greatest soccer players in the world, Beckham still has asthma and has suffered with it since he was a young boy.
This didn’t stop him from playing 65 games a season for more than 20 years, winning countless world-class trophies. Bobby Charlton was his mentor. A former English football player, Charlton is regarded as one of the greatest midfielders of all time and is considered the greatest English player of all time. In recent times, one can point not only to David Beckham, but Richard Branson, Michael Jackson, Roger Federer, Eminem and Nelson Mandela as notable icons who benefitted from the investment of a mentor.
A career mentor is a person that acts as an adviser, motivator, counselor and guiding force in your career. This person would have relevant industry experience—a professional whom you can talk openly with and from whom you can expect to receive sound, unbiased career advice. Traditionally, mentoring is something that you would not purchase and would not require a monetary exchange. The relationship between a mentor and a person being mentored is far higher than what money can buy.
Take a look at these positive statistics:
Not having a good mentor is costing you dearly. Without their guidance and experience, you are going to have to start at the very beginning and make all the mistakes yourself.—Jonny Gibaud, designer and entrepreneur
You wouldn’t go swimming alone with sharks, so don’t do it in the work force. You would do your research first, right? And no matter how much research you do, you’ll soon find out that the best way to do something is to speak to someone who has done it before. Ideally someone with quality experience and someone who can provide you advice on the best approaches for what you are looking to achieve.
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Despite the connectedness of the current business world, aspiring design professionals face new challenges in the age-old problem of getting noticed, especially by the elite practitioners. George Nelson’s wit and insights helped me understand design as both a serious profession and a creative adventure. Here are a few of his choice observations and some thoughts on the special relationship we know as mentoring.
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