I recently had an email from a chap who was asking for my help as a mentor. This is a guy whom I’ve never bet, but from reading some of the stuff he pens, is full of fantastic ideas that haven’t yet seen the light of day.

My understanding is that this chap is wandering around a little, trying to find his niche in life, all the while formulating ideas and beliefs ranging from philosophy to politics to human potential fulfilment.

This is the sort of guy who may well go on to find a cure for cancer, head the UN (I hope not) or come up with a solution to world poverty. My question is why are these people left to wander aimlessly until they find their calling.

Now some would say the voyage of discovery is an important journey for someone to make – in the same way that an artist need to feel pain and anguish to capture true art (or to bring it out in his/her work). But me I say that it’s a failing of our society in general and out education system in particular when people like this are left to float.

The recent announcement in New Zealand that young adults will have to stay in education until their 18th birthday begs some questions. We need to create more and more opportunities where the leaders of tomorrow can find themselves and excel – and often this is outside of the traditional education system.

So it all comes down to mentorship -finding suitable people who will listen, guide and connect these nuggets of potential. Perhaps those in the business world should pledge a similar system as lawyers do with pro bono work – donating a percentage of their time to helping other fulfil their own dreams.

Thoughts anyone?

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

  • hi ben,

    good post. i’m into this so game on for a chat about it. i’m seeing more teenagers not wanting to go to uni but just get straight into it.

    alot of current business mentoring is focussed at businesses and plans etc as opposed to just general mentoring younger people who have some ideas maybe but no plans. to help to nurture that would be good and is an important element missing in our society right now.

    so lets have a chat about it. i’m sitting in san fran airport as bad weather brings the system to a halt…but hopefully i’ll be on my way soon.

    seen some interesting companies down here. chat more when i return.



  • Ben,

    I posted a reply but not sure if it loaded. Anyway writing this from the ANZ lounge in LA due to a 5 hr delay…nice.

    So i agree with you as to how important mentoring is. We need to provide our young people with guidance and feedback in an open environment that is away from the prescriptive setting that is higher education these days.

    as you say more and more are not interested or suited to higher levels of education, they are more creative than that and need to be able to express that.

    so lets have a chat about it when i get home….whenever that is 🙂

    lots of companies to tell you about going great guns over here.



  • Ben are you aware of the Leadership Pathway project? It’s an online multimedia resource that provides some inspiring material based on many interviews of NZ innovators and entrepreneurs.


    There is an unmet need for mentorship. It is not something we do well, in part due to cultural attitudes. Creating an aspirational mindset amongst the next generation of entrepreneurs is an important task.


    Also through ION we have in the past attempted to matchmake entrepreneurs and mentors. So potentially there is already a community venue available to facilitate this process. Just need to get it funded.


  • Cool Raf – comments up now – not sure what happened there

    talk soon


  • ion looks good Paul – any recent activity?

  • We’ve not had any funded projects active through ION for the past year as I basically took some time out for family reasons.

    However, it’s a great resource and we have achieved some good things in the past in terms of knowledge sharing and business matchmaking.

    (See “Success Stories” plus link to NZ Herald article on our homepage)

  • I agree with Raf that I see university as a highly prescriptive environment, but I would describe the whole school system that way, which is appropriate given that it was conceived of to create obedient and and loyal citizens, to transmit upper class attitudes and values down to the lower orders and to produce a biddable and productive workforce, which worked well in the 1940s-1970s, but quite obviously isn’t working now with 1 in 4 students leaving school without a Level One in NCEA.

    I think initiatives such as Unlimited paenga tawhiti should be deployed all across the New Zealand educational system, which is perfectly suited to facilitating the shift away from the Industrial Economic paradigm in order to meet the needs of those whose lives will be dominated by the new Knowledge Economy.

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