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Mentee who taught me the difference between sight and vision!

“The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them." - Mark Twain

"People who are sighted but have no vision for their life have no advantage over those who have no sight” – Me

I learned this from my mentee who I met serendipitously in 2008 after I delivered a keynote at ‘Igniting the Genius Within’ conference at the Indian School of Business (ISB), Hyderabad, India. Srikanth was one of the youth leaders who spoke about their leadership experiences, and I was impressed by his level of confidence and passion to lead the youth of India.

It was 11 PM by the time the conference and dinner were over, when he approached me to share his life’s goal of studying in MIT, the #1 university in the world. The fact that he had such an audacious goal intrigued me so I was curious to know more about him. He had a stellar academic and extra-curricular record, including an award he received from the President of India Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam. Apparently, engineering colleges in India do not allow visually challenged students to study science and engineering, so he set himself a goal to study at #1 technology university in the world.

Impressed by his past accomplishments, clarity of vision, persistence and docility, I decided to take him on as my mentee and started sharing everything I knew about taking the SAT and applying to MIT. I have come to realize in this process a beautiful aspect about mentoring – the knowledge we possess may seem obvious to us but can be a game changer and eye-opener for someone else, when delivered with the right intent at the right time. This is exactly why I truly believe each and every one of us can be a mentor to someone in the world.

Srikanth did well in his SAT, got interviewed by an MIT alum, and by his own merit and hard work got admitted into MIT Class of 2013, with full financial aid. Today, he is a proud Senior at MIT with a 4.8/5.0 GPA, and is preparing for grad school. There could not have been a better place for him than MIT to nurture his ambitions and bring out his ‘genius.’ He, along with other well wishers and mentors, has also launched a social venture called Samanvai, an NGO dedicated to promoting accessible education, digital and braille materials, financial support, rehabilitation training, employment help and mobility training for students with multiple disabilities. I continue to mentor him even today on a very regular basis, and it is a pure joy to see him cross milestone after milestone towards his ultimate ambition of pursuing an MBA at one of the top schools and becoming an entrepreneur.

Nothing in my career comes close to the satisfaction I derive mentoring Srikanth and watching him grow. This experience opened my eyes and further convinced me to create MentorCloud, whose mission is to connect millions of aspirants like him with suitable mentors and resources. Why should the opportunity to connect with a knowledgeable and caring mentor be left to serendipity, in today’s flat world?

When people ask me "What is in it for Mentors to join MentorCloud," isn't this kind of an experience awesome enough to be a Mentor for someone?