As we were planning the innovation issue, I knew I wanted to include MU’s Venture Mentoring Service, plucked from the minds at MIT. The program pairs entrepreneurs with successful local business people for a mentoring opportunity — they meet for a year and discuss goals, plans, struggles, successes, and everything in between.

It is a groundbreaking program that will have lasting impact on not just the startups coming out of Columbia, but also the caliber of professionals who will be the next generation of leaders in our community. In the next decade, as millennials develop into leaders, mentoring will be a key component of crafting world-class CEOs.

It sounds strange, but I never thought about, nor did I ever hear anyone talk about, mentoring before I moved to Columbia three years ago. I’ve had good jobs, I went to a good school, I had people in my life whose opinions I valued. But no one ever told me that: a) a mentor could help my professional development and b) that someone would actually want to take time out of their life to help me be a better person. I didn’t know you could ask someone to help you set goals and achieve them.

It sounds like a simple concept now, but I don’t think it’s simple for everyone. Many of us don’t feel we’re good enough to deserve someone else’s help. Some don’t even know it’s a thing that people do. That’s why it is so important we keep the conversation going about the importance of mentors in our lives.

Don’t have one? Get one. Think of the people in your life whom you admire; who challenge you to be better; who can share lessons learned from the field.

Maybe you’ve already had one in your life: so become a mentor to someone else. Find a co-worker or colleague who makes waves, or maybe one who is quiet but has great ideas. Give back. Sharing our knowledge and experience is the way toward better leadership down the road.

Welcome to the innovation issue of CBT. You’ll read about everything from robots helping to teach kiddos engineering and math  to the growing field of eSports and more. It’s a great time to be part of this community, and I can’t wait for you to read about the groundbreaking things happening here.

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