Mentoring & Minnow Tank 2017

Mentoring matters.   One of things I enjoy most is when I have an opportunity to exchange knowledge through mentoring and teaching. The use of the words “exchange knowledge” are deliberate because these activities are best when they are approached as an exchange of knowledge and sharing and not just a one-way from the mentor to the mentee or student. I’m usually involved in several mentoring programs at any one time and will share insights, learning and surprises (there are always fun surprises) as a mentor via these blog posts.

A dive into the Minnow Tank:  Last week was the wrap of a fun and enlightening 6-month project where I mentored an impressive merry band of students in the unique Iowa BIG program where highly self-motivated high school students engage in project based learning facilitated by the terrific Iowa BIG faculty.  Two terrific high school students, “K” and “S” took on a vision to create an accelerator for middle school girls to teach entrepreneurship which culminated in a final “Minnow Tank” with the final four teams pitching for money and sage guidance as to their next steps. K&S also mentored a group of their Iowa BIG peers to become mentors themselves to the middle school girls.

The adult worriers:  Remember the “Road Warrior” well we were the “Adult Worriers!” For all of my boldness, I’ll confess that several of the adult mentors (and this definitely includes me) were worried many times.  We worried that both groups (high school & middle school students) would fail to follow through with specific tasks (and that did occur at times); that they might make some bad choices (and they did); that they might get frustrated (and they did); and that that they might hit a wall (Yep) or fail at some aspect (and there were some of those as well).

You know how this story ends.  In the end, it all worked out beautifully! K&S and their team of mentors did a fabulous job.  The middle school girls blew us away with their creativity and ability to learn and deliver terrific pitches and the Iowa BIG team did an amazing job making it all happen. I guess it is the job of the mentors to worry and fret and want things to go well.  I hope we provided the right amount of guidance but not so much that we got in the way and let them also learn from the tough challenges.

The team kindly recognized the mentors during the program and in my remarks, I ended with the following.  “I close with this – there are those that doubt the energy and community-minded spirit of today’s young people – if the rest of the world has what we have here – the world will be fine.

So proud and appreciative to have had this wonderful opportunity to work with these gifted students and terrific program.  I hope they have this “worrying soul” back for another project someday!  If you want to see some social media from this fun event, please enjoy the links below.

At with the inspiring mentors @loshbaugh_c & @LisaASpellman!

It’s a wrap! Congratulations to all the #MinnowTank2017 participants. You inspire us. ♥️