Sligo, Ireland
Tuesday 6th September 2016

Over several years, I have managed to surround myself with some incredible mentors to guide me along my career pathway.  Each of my valued friends and confidants, have contributed critical advice in different areas of my professional development, and are always open to talking through decisions, dilemmas or imparting their hard-earned experience when it is most needed.

“One of the greatest values of mentors is the ability to see ahead what others cannot see and to help them navigate a course to their destination.”  

John C. Maxwell

Although, through some crazy coincidence, most of my mentors are called Steve, Steven or Stephen, I am not aware that was any prerequisite to my choice.  Instead, I approached people who I had built a valuable relationship with, could talk freely and openly to and had a great deal of experience in an area that I needed to operate in, and asked them if they would mentor me.  Some are from a business background, some from a sports background and all are exceptional people.

So what are the benefits of having a mentor or mentors?

In his article published on, John Rampton states ten top reasons why having a mentor is a must and I have supplemented his points with my observations:

1. Mentors provide information and knowledge. 

"Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn."  

Benjamin Franklin

When you are starting out in an area or stretching yourself into uncharted territory, you don’t necessarily know what to expect or what is involved.  By discussing your work with a mentor, you can tap into a wealth of knowledge, which expedites the learning process and gets you operating proficiently faster.

2. Mentors can see where we need to improve where we often cannot.

"Mentors have a way of seeing more of our faults that we would like. It's the only way we grow."  

George Lucas

It is a mentor’s responsibility to be brutally honest with you and help you address your weaknesses rather than ignore them.  You have permitted a mentor to offer constructive criticism to see things in yourself that you otherwise wouldn’t recognise.  By understanding exactly where you are lacking, you know where to direct your energy to improve.

3. Mentors find ways to stimulate our personal and professional growth. 

"The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves."  

Steven Spielberg

When I discuss issues with my mentors, they will often give me pertinent questions to consider, research and return with answers, which will form the basis of further discussion.  They will help set and revise goals and then facilitate reflection to evaluate how I went about about achieving them.  This isn’t necessarily related solely to work attributes but can also include character and values to help develop my personal growth and leadership abilities.

4. Mentors offer encouragement and help keep us going. 

"A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself."  

Oprah Winfrey

Mentors provide unconditional support, guidance and encouragement that help you retain your confidence even when the going gets tough.

5. Mentors are disciplinarians that create necessary boundaries that we cannot set for ourselves. 

Mentors understand the importance of self-motivation and self-discipline, as they have had to overcome their own challenges…which is why they are successful.  They can teach and reinforce good work habits and provide boundaries to work within, which is an area I have really benefitted from.

Sometimes, you can’t see the wood for the trees when you are close up to a situation and you can lose your focus on what you are trying to achieve.  In these cases, an external perspective can help provide clarification of your priorities.

6. Mentors are sounding boards so we can bounce ideas off them for an unfiltered opinion

I am an ideas man.  I have hundreds of ideas a day and sometimes I need a filter, to help me see which have the most potential and are most suited to helping me achieve my goals.  A mentor can help provide unbiased advice that can hope you overcome emotional attachments to a specific idea and see each idea for its true value, which saves my time, energy and resource.

7. Mentors are trusted advisers. 

In the sports and business worlds, it can be hard to know who to trust, whether that’s with your personal views, experiences, concerns or intellectual property.  Mentors are someone you can trust wholeheartedly and will keep your opinions or ideas confidential, ensuring you don’t get compromised personally or professionally.

8. Mentors can be connectors. 

My mentors all have exceptional networks in their particular fields and by playing the dual role of teacher and connector, my mentors have introduced me to those within their industries that have been willing to offer advice, skills and expertise as well as giving me opportunities to help others within their network.

9. Mentors have the experiences you can learn from to prevent making the same mistakes beginners make. 

Pioneering in sport and business is challenging enough, so working with a mentor that has already navigated those hurdles, enables you to learn from their mistakes so you don’t have to go through the process of making the same ones.

By being open to asking questions and learning from a mentor’s stories, you can take on board the lessons they learned on their journey without experiencing the pain and losing the resources they did.

10. Mentors are free, which makes them priceless in more ways than one. 

My mentorships have grown out of friendships and strong relationships and as a result, I believe my mentors are motivated by the satisfaction of helping me succeed.  After all, all my mentors have their own mentors, so they have benefitted from similar arrangements and similarly, I am happy to mentor others to pay it forward.

As John Rampton says, “having a mentor is not a sign of weakness; it shows you are smart enough and are driven enough to succeed”.

So who are my mentors?

Steve Currie has built his own property management and sales business from the ground up and has grown his staff from 1 person to over 30 full time employees, whilst retaining a personal feel to the company.  Steve is one of the most positive and infectiously energetic people I have met and has a real flare for bringing the best out of people that work with him.

Steve White has a long history of working as a management consultant and turning around failing organisations, focussing on strategies that engage, empower and develop the people working in the organisation.  Steve is an innovator, with a fantastic grasp on how a motivated workforce can support the business fundamentals and strategy for turnaround.

Steve Gera is a former marine and NFL coach.  Since leaving the Cleveland Browns, Steve has spent much of his time traveling the world, visiting high performing sports organisations and assimilating the lessons he learned in to his work as an entrepreneur, speaker, performance and business consultant.  Steve is an incredible networker and has a real interest in how sports can embrace technology to boost business and sports performance.

Stephen Mutch is one of my longest standing collaborators, having worked together since I started at Edinburgh and Scotland Rugby in 2006.  Since then we have worked on business projects, traveled the world consulting for sports teams and developing our knowledge of physiotherapy-related issues.  Stephen still works for Scotland Rugby and is one of the most innovative and capable physiotherapists I have ever met.

So that’s the ‘Steve’s and ‘Stephen’s accounted for!

Brian Moore is the founder of Orreco, a bioanalytics company from Sligo, Ireland.  Brian has been a leader in the field of understanding biomarkers and what they indicate in relation to athlete health and wellbeing, having worked at the Australian and English Institutes of Sport, in addition to some of the world’s top athletes and golfers.  I met Brian through my work with the Buffalo Sabres, when I brought Orreco on board to help establish a foundation for future technological advancements and immediately struck up a strong relationship.  Brian’s history of being a pioneer in his field has developed a real determination to stick to his beliefs and work tirelessly to prove that his incredible vision is valuable in the face of naysayers.  To this end, Brian has educated himself extensively in the world of entrepreneurship and has surrounded himself with an impressive array of talent that now sit on the Orreco Board of Directors.

Cliff Benson is a former partner of Deloitte, a member of the Penn State University Board of Trustees and retired Chief Development Officer at the Buffalo Sabres.  Cliff is a wonderful man, with vast experience in the strategic planning of big business initiatives and has an ability to make seemingly massive projects happen, despite having to overcome significant hurdles.  Cliff has a great manner and is able to reframe the perspectives of a situation to enhance the clarity of thinking.

Fred Kreisler is also family, which makes the relationship even more special.  Fred was a Rhodes Scholar at Princeton University, who ventured across to Oxford University to study his PhD, before returning to Princeton to become a member of the faculty there.  Throughout his career, Fred was passionately involved in the education of young people, working for many years in the Department of Education for New Jersey State and has continued nurturing young talent in his retirement.  Not surprisingly, with an interest in maths, Fred has a very logical brain and is very skilled at breaking down problems into their smaller components.

I feel incredibly lucky and grateful to have such a wonderful group of people to support my development and advise me throughout my development.  Not only that, spending time with each and everyone of these people is immensely fun, so learning is an extremely enjoyable pastime. 

More recently I have started working with a business coach in order to help me develop an overall career development strategy.  The idea was promoted by the Manchester Metropolitan University School of Business and Law, where I am currently studying for a Masters in Sporting Directorship.  The School put me in contact with a number of potential coaches that are linked to the organisation and I was able to choose someone with a good fit.

In addition, I have brought a life coach into my team.  I felt there were areas of my personal life that needed addressing just as I had in my professional life and so I reached out to my network to find a suitable coach to work with.  Interestingly but not surprisingly, as we started working together, there were areas we coached through that, unbeknownst to myself, were impacting on my professional life too.

In my next posts, I will discuss the advantages of having coaching in these areas of your life.

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