Mark Mac and the flip-flop dream: A Parable of How Power Mentoring Really Works

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Flip Flops on a sandy beachIt is easy to get overwhelmed when you think about how to get a mentor. And then, to make it more complicated, research shows that one mentor is not enough and that having a network of  power mentors or just different types of mentors is really the best approach of all.  My students inspired me this semester to write a parable to really bring these ideas to life. So if you really want to understand power mentoring read on!

Mark Mac was a typical LMU student: Smart, A Surfer, Great Smile, Secure Family and loved wearing flips flops.  Also Mark was very into travel and social justice and went on a few alternative spring breaks to Guatemala and India.  But Mark didn’t really know how to make his drive for social justice jive with his passion to make money. Mark wears flips flops no matter the occasion but he is frustrated because of the lack of choice in flip flops. He had a dream to have his own flip flop company.  So to get started he takes Ensher’s class and begins to develop his network of Power Mentors!

First, Mark dreams big! He needs someone to inspire him and show him the way. He needs someone who loves footwear, travel, and makes a lot of money that he can look up to as his role model and ideal.  Who does that sound like?  Mark reads a book, Start Something That Matters by Blake Mycoskie, CEO of Tom’s and is super inspired. So,  Blake becomes Mark’s Inspirational mentor. Also, Mark realizes that Blake lives in the Marina about 5 minutes from LMU.” Hmm, Mark thinks, I wonder if any LMU people might work at Tom’s that might be able to connect me.”

So Mark  goes to LinkedIn and types in Loyola Marymount and Tom’s and finds Brian N. (an LMU alum) Check this out-Brian is connected to  Professor Ensher so Mark asks his professor to make a warm connect and Brian becomes Mark’s step-ahead mentor in terms of Tom’s culture and what is like to work at a growing footwear company that is for profit but also focused on social justice.

While in class, Mark shares his dream with his classmates and meets Casey who is a student entrepreneur with a t-shirt company. (Everyone knows t-shirts and flip flops go together like peanut butter and jelly) so Casey and Mark become peer mentors.

All this mentoring  is fabulous, but Mark still needs to find that person or persons who can really connect him so he asks Brian to set him up with an informational interview with Blake… it is taking a while to get on Blake’s calendar so meanwhile Mark keeps looking…

Mark decides to ask his entrepreneurship professor, Professor Choi, for help and Professor Choi connects him with mentors through the LMU business incubator. One of these professionals founded Asics so she becomes his Mentor for hire while Mark is enrolled in the business incubator.

Mark’s mind is always brimming with idea for new flop flop designs for men and women but sometimes he finds that he is always surrounded by other college students or professionals and is really starting to be out of touch with his core demographic: kids. So, Mark joins Underwings and starts tutoring 10-year olds. The kids at Underwings are all looming like crazy and Mark realizes people need to loom their own flip flops!  He hangs out a lot with two of them, Steve and Lacey.  Steve and Lacey have the best looming designs so Steve and Lacey become Mark’s reverse mentors. (looming means making bracelets on the rainbow loom).

Whoo hoo- Mark is on his way to flip flop fabulousness! One day,  while wiggling his toes in the sand, Mark’s cell phone vibrates and it is Blake Mycoskie calling and they totally connect. OMG Mark is on his way to getting a traditional mentor!

Mark and his mentors lived happily ever after!

Please share your experiences connecting with mentors.

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