The “Invisible Curriculum” – Lesson One: “STALK MENTORS!”

Blog, My Journey

Today’s post is inspired by: The Invisible B-School Curriculum by Warren Bennis (Published in Bloomberg Businessweek on June 25, 2012)

In this article, leadership and management guru Warren Bennis shares his experience on being a mentee and a mentor. He shares about how he tells his students to “stalk mentors!”.  He speaks about mentoring within the context of his belief that there are 2 curricula in an MBA program, the formal one offered by the program, and an informal one which he refers to as the “invisible” curriculum.  He argues that this “invisible curriculum”, which includes finding mentors, is equally important to the formal curriculum.

When I went back to get my masters, my “invisible curriculum” took place over 50 cups of coffee with classmates whose comments intrigued me.  They would share their stories, warts and all.  People from all walks of life – from teachers, peace corps graduates to generals,  political figures, and CEOs.  This invisible curriculum is one that I continued after I graduated, and one that sparked the idea behind this project.  Of those I have had the honor of meeting, I have found a handful of mentors.

But the main reason why I wish to share this is to pass on wisdom that Bennis shares – to “stalk mentors!”  Although I am not typically someone who is naturally inclined to bother my mentors for my own gain, I feel compelled to take Bennis’ advice.  And I hope to be able to do the same for others in the future.

I encourage you to do the same.

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Surround Yourself With Heroes

Blog, My Journey

Vivian Giang and Lynne Guey captured some words of advice Warren Buffet offered to Levo League members earlier this year in the following Business Insider article: Warren Buffett Shared Some Great Career Advice for Millennials 

My favorites:

2. Be careful who you look up to.

“If you tell me who your heroes are, I’ll tell you how you’re gonna turn out. It’s really important in life to have the right heroes. I’ve been very lucky in that I’ve probably had a dozen or so major heroes. And none of them have ever let me down. You want to hang around with people that are better than you are. You will move in the direction of the crowd that you associate with.”

4. Develop healthy habits by studying people.

“Pick the person that has the right habits, that is cheerful, generous, gives other people credit for what they do. Look at all of the qualities that you admire in other people … and say to yourself, ‘Which of those qualities can’t I have myself?’ Because you determine whether you have them. And the truth is you can have all of them.”

——-

These two align with the values behind this project.  1.  Surround yourself with people who you know you can learn a great deal from and, 2. study their habits and slowly integrate those habits into your daily life.

I am grateful to be surrounded by some incredible people, Harry Spence being one of them.   It’s nice to see that Buffett too has had help along the way and that studying others has gotten him to where he is.

Listen or Fail

My Journey

The 10 Reasons Why We Fail

By David DiSalvo, Forbes Contributor

Every single one of the 10 reasons David DiSalvo offers in this piece speak to all the things that have played a role in some way or another in holding me back.  I’ve taken the liberty and transformed each into action steps:

1. Believe in yourself, and others will believe in you.
2. You are not what others say you are.
3. Rock the boat.
4. Life is short. Take risks.
5. Choose based on what you want to be remembered for.
6. You alone determine what role you let yourself play.
7. Accept that certainty is an illusion.
8. Don’t wait.  Go after what your heart desires.  Playing it safe doesn’t guarantee anything.
9. There’s always more to learn and ways to grow.
10. Learning to adapt and sit with uncertainty is imperative to living the life you seek to live.

The main takeaway:  Nothing is certain.  It’s more risky not to risk.  That is, if you want to live a life worth remembering.

Last week, I took a leap.  I quit my job.  The courage to do so came from knowing I could no longer not live the life I was seeking to live.  And it is taking every ounce of energy to not do all the things that DiSalvo lists.  To even sit with the question, “what do I want?” has been an excruciating task.  Why?  Because as soon I name it, what’s next is owning it and taking responsibility for all that follows.  Growing up is what some might call it.  And as Harry Spence has shown me, growing up is what I hope I always do for as long as I have in this life.

So, I don’t know what it means for you, but for me the challenge I sit with at the moment: To listen.  To listen to what my heart is telling me.  To really listen.  And to start to own what it is I hear in small ways to start.  Then hopefully in larger ways.  Quitting my job was hard as hell, but that was just step 1.  Hopefully, starting with a bit of believing in myself, I’ll make it to step 2 and 3, and so on and so forth, without giving up.

And it begins…

My Journey

After 6 months of over-thinking, stalling, and more stalling, I am finally posting my inaugural video for the Living Proof Project.

The idea for this project came to me when I went back to school in 2009.  In school and since, I’ve had the chance to meet people whose stories were proof to me that the life my heart was telling me I could live, could actually be lived.  Meeting people who had courageously charted a unique career path, who took an idea and made it into a business, to witnessing what a healthy and loving relationship looks like – their stories were proof of what I only imagined was possible.

This project came to life upon realizing that just by having access to real, very human stories, I could start to believe that I too can do the same. Hence, the name  – “the living proof project”.

This site is for those who are seeking. This site is for those who need that extra nudge to pursue what their heart is telling them.  This site exists to light a fire with the embers that are flickering in your gut.  This is a project to show you that if there is a vision you have for the future that you are itching to make into a reality, there is someone out there who is living proof that if they can do it, so can you.  And I believe that in the end, you’ll find that it’s never about the details.  The secret to their success lies in their courage and how they chose to approach their lives.

As will become clear when you hit play for my first three interviews, I have never used a camcorder before nor have I ever interviewed anyone. My questions aren’t perfect.  I interrupt with my loud laugh.  You’ll hear me “mm hmms” often.  And since I definitely don’t know how to edit videos, for now, the videos here are the long, uncut, full-length versions.  But I didn’t want to let those details stop me.  It is my hope that those shortcomings won’t keep you from connecting with the powerful stories that these individuals were courageously willing to share.

Mixed with these interviews, will be snippets of my own stories, and stories I find on the internet that align with the vision for the LP project. And at first, the interviews will be with people whom I know personally. Their stories may not speak to you as they still speak to me, but this is just the beginning.

The idea is to make accessible stories that one would typically disregard as being unattainable – to show you that you too can do the same. When I say “do the same”, I do not mean make the same choices and live the same life, I mean writing your own story.

For those who are seeking, feel free to share your story with me and the kind of “proof” you are seeking, and I will do my best to find living proof for you.  For those of you have a story that you wish to share, or if you want to interview someone who has been “living proof” for you, email me and we’ll publish it on this site.

My email:  mo @ thelivingproofproject.org.

And without further ado… let the concept that I dreamed of, which I had the courage to realize because of the people you will soon meet…. now commence.