People who become successful don’t often make it all by themselves. Becoming a leader or a CEO requires hard work, dedication, vision and, most importantly, help. Family and friends can offer a lot of support, but a mentor-mentee relationship can be especially fulfilling. Having a shoulder to lean on and a wise mind to bounce ideas off of is exactly what can propel a business idea on to the next level. It is best to learn from those who’ve gone before you, so in the world of the CEO, what are some of the most surprising mentor-mentee relationships?
1. Larry Page (Google CEO) and Marissa Myers (Yahoo CEO)
One would expect these two to be great rivals, but in fact, the contrary is true. Marissa has benefited from the advice and guardianship of Larry Page as she has progressed in her career. Sergey Brin from Stanford University and Larry Page both guided Myers through the technological labyrinth and ultimately helped her get to where she is today as the CEO of her mentor’s biggest competitor.
2. Michael Bloomberg (Bloomberg L.P.) and Larry Page (Google)
Unsurprisingly, many of those who have benefited from having a mentor go on to become teachers themselves, and this is the case with Page. Many successful and influential entrepreneurs have brought him under their wing, the founder of Bloomberg L.P. being one of them. Bloomberg taught Page that it’s important to bring your team together and make them spend physical time with one another in order to share and develop both ideas and working relationships.
3. Warren Buffet (Berkshire Hathaway) and Benjamin Graham (investor and teacher at Columbia Business School)
Warren Buffet is one of the greatest living investors and richest living men in the world. He met Benjamin Graham at Columbia University and credits Graham with grounding him with a sound intellectual investment framework and considers him the second most influential person in his life, following his father.
4. Oprah Winfrey (Harpo Productions) and Maya Angelou (author)
Oprah Winfrey is the first black woman billionaire in world history. Despite a tough background which led to her essentially making it on her own, there are others she considers instrumental to her success. Maya Angelou, author of I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, is considered her mentor, and she describes her as a “mother-sister-friend.”
5. Meg Whitman (Hewlett Packard) and Hendricks Hallett Whitman, Jr. (her father)
While most legendary CEOs find someone with expertise in their field to mentor them and impart industry-specific wisdom, some CEOs still find their greatest inspiration and most influential mentor to be someone closer to home. Whitman has an illustrious career as a business executive and was cited by The New York Times as most likely to become the first female President of the United States. It seems she is as likely to thank her father for telling her to “be nice, do your best – and most important, keep it in perspective.”
Whether it be someone in your office, a family member or simply someone you’ve come across in your life, always be on the lookout for a possible mentor. It’s a wonderful opportunity to learn from the seasoned experts, and the icing on the cake is that it always pays to know people. You never know how you might land that next job.