Why give a damn:

Extreme deliberation goes into most ventures, but not so when it comes to mentoring. How can we create more effective mentors?


The author of this post, Cheryl Heller, designs change and growth for business leaders and social entrepreneurs. She is Founding Chair of MFA Design for Social Innovation at SVA.


Doctors have internships, teachers get training, so do chefs and airline pilots. But mentors? We shoot from the hip, offering guidance to fellows in one hour bursts of insights inspired by what they need at the time.

In the graduate program I chair, extreme deliberation goes into learning objectives, outcomes and pedagogy. But mentors? We fly in and give advice with rarely a conversation about how it aligns with, contradicts or deflates what they’re hearing from other experts. Those of us who have been at this for a while have a thought or two about how we might be better, and what it would take; from mentors, fellows and the organizations we help.

We shoot from the hip, offering guidance in one hour bursts of insights

Last year at Unreasonable Institute, I mentioned to Banks that we should make an opportunity for mentors to gather, to talk about what we see, what we’ve learned and how we can be better at helping to accelerate the best enterprises.

So I repeat, is that an unreasonable request? Lemme know.

About the author

Cheryl Heller

Cheryl Heller

Cheryl Heller is the Founding Chair of the first MFA program in Design for Social Innovation at SVA, founder of design lab CommonWise, and a pioneer in social impact design. Cheryl received the AIGA medal for her contribution to the field of design in 2014. She is the former Board Chair and founding faculty for the PopTech Social Innovation Fellows, a Senior Fellow at Babson Social Innovation Lab, and the Innovation Advisory Board for the Lumina Foundation. She created the Ideas that Matter program for Sappi, which has given over $12 million to designers working for the public good.