In this blog, I share my time spent working with Harold Taber Jr. on his book, The Art of Mentoring. There is so much joy I felt and wisdom I received in working with Harold who has an extensive background in business and mentorship. Harold was the COO of Coca-Cola as well as the first president of Monster Beverage. His secret? Mentorship.
1. Why do you believe this book is vital for readers of all ages?
This book is vital for readers of all ages because no matter how old we are, we are reminded that we can always learn something new. Whether we are mentored by other employees, our boss, or even our friends. If we are able to keep an open mind and ask for advice from others, the end result will be much greater than it would if it was coming from one person. As a society, we are so used to making decisions on our own accord and not giving ourselves the chance to reach out to others. This book is vital in changing that perspective and bringing a new understanding of what community means. If our decision is based on a group of people, it will be so much better because it will be based on a collaboration of different minds rather than just one.
2. How has this book personally made an impact in your life?
I was touched by Harold’s story because of all of the different companies that flourished under his management. It all started with his mentorship. During his time at Hansen Beverage, Harold worked with Trader Joes. Trader Joes had to have 100% agreement with its employees when it came to decision making. It was inspiring to see how they emphasized the value of mentorship by seeking advice from their own employees. Harold, the mentor, was mentored time and time again, and he passed that along to me. It gives me hope as a business owner that if I’m able to model what I’ve learned from Harold these past few months, my company will be able to grow and be successful.
3. What is the one thing you hope every individual who reads this book would gain?
Seek mentorship and see the importance of it. If you don’t see the importance of mentorship, then there’s no need for it in the first place. You first need to humble yourself to realize that you should seek advice from others, especially those with more life experience than you. When you reach out to others for mentorship, you get free wisdom from people who have experience and are successful in what they do. If you apply their advice to your life then you’re going to be ahead. This generation seems to place less importance on those in older generations. But those are the very people who have so much to offer. Harold is proof of that in the wisdom and experiences he shares through this book regarding mentorship and emphasizing his faith.
4. How has your perception of mentorship changed after reading this book?
Something that really stood out to me is that mentorship comes both ways. There’s a stigma that the mentor is the one that does all of the giving and receives nothing in return. Harold changes that perception throughout the book and shows how the mentor will also receive mentorship and relationship from the mentee. The mentorship must come both ways for it to be successful. Another thing I learned is that for a mentorship meeting to be productive, there must be an agenda. It’s good to send the agenda out ahead of time to prepare each person to discuss what needs to be discussed and keep each party on track. This is something that I incorporate into my day to day life at any meetings I have, thanks to Harold.
5. Why does mentorship matter?
If we are able to see the value of mentorship, the end result will be much greater. You are able to achieve a goal much quicker. During those times when we face a lot of adversity and storms in our life, we know that there will be a mentor who will stand by us, give us good council, encouragement, and prayers. Mentorship is important because we need that to go through life and all the situations we face. It’s important for us to be intentional about seeking a mentor in our life, but to also mentor others. Seek the advice and council from someone you know will give you good advice on a specific situation that you’re going through. If you’re able to, find a safe space to talk, and the conversation will flow more naturally. You will gain so much from your time together.
6. How has Harold’s story changed your perspective?
Harold’s story has impacted me and shown me to be more observant. Sometimes the people you can seek mentorship from may not be obvious. In his book, Harold tells the story of a forklift driver who gives him the suggestion of making a double forklift to take double the cases of Coca-Cola from one end of the warehouse to the other. If Harold had not seeked advice from the forklift driver, then there would have never been a chance for the company to improve its profit. As a leader it's easy to get wrapped up in the idea that we’re the ones who do all of the talking. But if you take the time to be observant and talk to those that are actually doing the work, you’ll learn so much from them. I learned to walk the floor at my own warehouse, to talk to the employees who are on the ground and doing the work. It’s important to have that relationship. Harold would walk the floor to create that relationship. Relationships from all levels are important. It’s something that is so obvious, yet it’s often overlooked. The company ends up saving money because it’s getting consultation advice from its own employees who already know the ins and outs of the company.
7. Have you implemented the advice and wisdom on mentorship that Harold gives, within your own life? How?
I already have the habit of seeking advice from others, but I’ve become even more intentional by implementing them in my company meetings. It’s become important for me to seek advice on both small and big decisions. As a result, I’ve noticed that the work we produce is higher quality and makes more sense from a business perspective. It appeals to a wider audience because the work product is a result of the team’s decisions and not just one person.
8. How can we implement mentorship within our personal lives?
Mentorship is a reminder of the importance of community. When I was younger I had the mentality that my peers and friends would give me better advice than my parents or anyone older than me. I really thought I knew everything. It’s really vital to recognize and implement a mentorship relationship with someone in your circle. Start it early on in your life, and don’t wait until you have a problem. I can guarantee that if someone younger seeks advice from someone older and respects the wisdom they give, they’re going to create a mentorship relationship. It would be beneficial to find a mentor they could meet with once a month. Especially in the midst of big milestones like graduating from high school or college, getting a new job, etc. This age group is in the process of changing their mindset and growing as individuals. This is when it's most vital for them to find someone who can guide them along and mentor them through the next season of life. Sometimes parents can become mentors, but it’s better to get someone outside of the family to get unbiased or unfiltered advice.
9. Why is it important to implement mentorship within a business?
In a business, whether small or large, it has different departments, and the CEO cannot see every part of the company. If that one person makes decisions without seeing how things are being done within smaller units and departments, the decisions may not be the best or most efficient. The CEO is not the person who is ultimately doing the job. For example, telemarketing, marketing, packaging, sales, the CEO doesn’t do all these different tasks. The CEO depends on different individuals who work within different departments to execute the different tasks. It’s important for companies to consider the input from people who are actually doing the job. Mentorship doesn’t always have to come from the boss, the mentorship can come from the employees from the lowest levels. As I said before, it saves the company money from having consultations with those outside of the job, who don’t know how the company runs. Mentorship is able to trickle down from the top to the bottom. The core values should be mentored from the top so that each person below implements those values.
10. How does mentorship relate to Christian principles?
The most important and foundational part of this book is the Biblical principals that are at the very core of Harold’s description of mentorship. Titus 2:3-4 reads, “Likewise teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women…” We are called to give good counsel to those that are younger than us. Mentorship is Biblical and it is a command from God that we are called to look after one another. Behind mentorship is our love for others. Afterall, we are called to love others as we love ourselves. In this book, Harold shares his experience with a Guatemalan businessman who would train up his best salespeople and send them to a rival company that was struggling. I had never seen anything like this before. The salesperson was doing a Bible study before they were sent off and they would continue to do that within the rival company. By doing this, he was taking what he started at his company and bringing the gospel to a different place. God blessed that businessman who gave away his best salespeople. God wants us to be givers, even if our giving may not make business sense. Like giving away your best salesperson to a competitor, how could that make any sense? At times, my own business may not make sense as we spend a lot of time working with interns to raise up the next generation of workers. This is a beautiful example of using business as ministry and the impact that mentorship can have in sharing the gospel.
This book is a must read for readers at all levels, from CEO to custodian. For any businesses, this can be used as a training guide on how to incorporate mentorship within a company. Once you pick it up, you’ll see Harold’s heart for mentorship and experience true wisdom.
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Contributor: Sarah Y. Tse is the CEO of TSE Worldwide Press, Inc. and Founder of United Yearbook Printing Services. She is the author of 7 Years on the Front Line and co-author of From Illusion to Reality: True Stories and Practical Advice on How to Prepare for Career Success Before Graduating From College. Sarah currently serves as a mentor and speaker at Biola University's Crowell School of Business, and is deeply passionate about empowering people, especially younger professionals, to explore their gifts, goals, and calling.
Editor: Jessica Carrera, Associate Editor at TSE Worldwide Press, holds a B.A. in English with a concentration in writing from Biola University. She aspires to touch the lives of others through her words.