This past week Sunny and I threw a graduation party for our son Rohan. Now Rohan never asks for anything. He didn’t want an 18th birthday party, or a car, or anything, he just asked us for a graduation party for him and his friends. He wanted water slides, music, ice cream and great food. No alcohol, just fun. So we gave it to him. But what we learned from him that day, and how proud he made us without knowing it, I had to share in this week’s article, with a few pictures below. We raised a mentor, and I wanted to share with all of you the impact it has on others.  

The Value of Mentorship 

This week, Rohan, my 18-year-old, had a graduation party. He’s off to Boston University in the fall, and all he wanted to do was celebrate with his friends. No surprises there. I expected his fellow seniors to be there, but what surprised me was how many sophomores and juniors were also there. During the party, one child came up to me to thank me for having him at the party. I said it was our pleasure, but then he also thanked me for how much Rohan has helped him.  

I started to think about this past year and it all started to connect. When Rohan became captain of the varsity swim team, he wasn’t the fastest swimmer. He’s also not a very outgoing child. He has really great friends, but he has some social anxiety. During the year, I learned that he was selected to be captain of the team because of how he mentored the younger children. He was their coach, motivating them and encouraging them even when they weren’t at their best.  

I remember days when he would be out at night and would tell me that he was driving around with some sophomores from his choir team, but they don’t have a lot of friends. We just drove around and sang at the top of our lungs. Now I was at India at the time, it was the middle of the night and my son was still not home. So I didn’t necessarily receive this information well at the time. My son had collected his own version of The Lost Boys and brought them all together. 

He didn’t want to share his college essay with me, but he needed some proofreading, so I helped. I read about one of his friends to whom he reached out during COVID, a quieter young man, who he’d just happened to text one day because he hadn’t heard from him in a while. This then became a daily outreach and when classes were back in session, the friend came up to Rohan and thanked him for saving him. Rohan talked about his mission to be kind to everyone.  

So on Saturday, when that young boy came to me to thank me, it all clicked. 

Rohan was a mentor. He has leadership skills. You see being a good leader doesn’t mean you have to walk in and command the room. You also don’t have to always be first at every sport. What Rohan did well is something that all leaders at all levels can learn from. 

  1. He took a moment to LISTEN to those who were younger than him. For many of us in the corporate world, that is the n – 1 layer. And what was most important, is that they felt HEARD.  
  2. He did activities that they enjoyed and spent time with them. 
  3. He reached out across the table to connect with them.  
  4. He showed them kindness, even when they didn’t excel. He motivated them. 
  5. He wasn’t just a passing mentor, he actively engaged with them, to the point where they all joined him for his graduation party and were genuinely so happy. 

When those kids lifted him up on their shoulders, I cried. I’m not ashamed to admit it. We spend so much time working and building our leaders, that I didn’t even realize that I had raised one. I often speak about leadership skills to many of you, and I truly believe that the biggest challenge that our industry faces right now is a lack of true leadership, but what I saw this weekend lifted my spirits. Mentorship has no age limit. I have a mentor, Sunny has a mentor, and our child is a mentor.  

Here are a few pictures from the event and one of a poster that I found in his closet. He didn’t show me, because he is extremely humble, and be fair everyone, I was just cleaning, and happened to see this and knew that it’s something that I need to keep for him. His team made it for him. I wanted to share with all of you, so that we all could think about how we could be better mentors, and what we can learn from an 18-year-old. Are you a mentor today and, if not, who can you help? And who is your mentor? We all need one no matter what our age. Shout out to Mr. Kaila, we did a good job.  

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