Submitted by Kevin Barber, Chairman of the BNI Foundation Worldwide Inc. & ED BNI Germany South-West
In his article for last month’s edition of SuccessNet, David Kauffman referred to a grant we recently approved for the MENTOR Stiftung in Konstanz, the German affiliate of MENTOR International (www.mentorinternational.org). This grant will enable MENTOR to continue their work with 13- to 17-year-old students, who meet with their mentors, some of whom are BNI Members, on a regular basis for group, but also individual, mentoring.
This fits well with the mission of the BNI Foundation as it aims to support children and education around the world. At BNI we also tell stories – that’s how we learn best – so in future issues of SuccessNet we will be talking about why we chose to support specific organizations, how the initial contact came about and what interesting, and sometimes unexpected, things happen as a result.
Mentoring is “in”. Many BNI chapters have implemented mentoring programs, where experienced members take care of new members, ensuring that they are quickly brought up to speed on all things BNI. When done well, this is a rewarding and extremely valuable experience for both the mentor and mentee. But, even outside BNI, mentoring is a trend, and rightly so. What better way to help the less-experienced benefit from the knowledge and wisdom of those who have walked the same path before them?
But is mentoring really new? “The Odyssey” is one of the two major, ancient Greek epic poems. It is the second-longest surviving work of Western literature. Scholars believe it was composed near the end of the 8th century BC, somewhere in Ionia, the Greek coastal region of Anatolia. In “The Odyssey”, Mentor was the son of Alcimus. In his old age he was a friend of Odysseus, who placed him and Odysseus’ foster-brother Eumaeus in charge of his son Telemachus, and of his palace, when he left for the Trojan war.
So the role of a mentor, a trusted friend and helper, an experienced person who advises and helps somebody with less experience over a period of time, is nothing new – it dates back over 2,700 years – but it is more important today than ever!
How did the contact with MENTOR International come about? My colleague Andreas Spaett, Executive Director of the BNI Konstanz region, has supported the MENTOR Stiftung, which is based in his region, for a number of years. He invited me to speak about the BNI Foundation at a networking event in June. He mentioned that the founder of MENTOR International, Queen Silvia of Sweden, will be visiting his region in September and that he cannot be there! So, as every true BNI-networker would, I asked him if he needed a substitute!
The BNI Foundation supports children and education with the declared goal of preparing them to be responsible and successful adults in the communities in which we all live and work. If we do that, with time and funds, there is no reason why we shouldn’t look for a return. For networkers this means visibility and meeting new people! Because the more successful we are as business owners now, the more we can continue to help in the future.
Once again, Givers Gain® proved its worth – next week I am invited to the Castle to have dinner with the Queen! This is a contact which would never have happened if we hadn’t been willing to help! There are a lot of young people out there who need our support. If not us, then who? If not now, then when!
Chairman of the BNI Foundation Worldwide Inc. & ED BNI Germany South-West