Management Development

3 Great Mentoring Relationships Throughout History

In a time long ago, where one had to choose a profession at an early age, the quickest and most sure-fire way to success was to apprentice under a mentor.

“Mentors, by far, are the most important aspect of businesses.” - Daymond John

Since humankind has walked the earth there have been mentors. Without mentors, we would have to learn everything from scratch every time we started a new activity. Having someone to glean years of hard-won information from in a week or two is invaluable.

The relationship between a master craftsman and the apprentice was the best training available. In a time long ago, where one had to choose a profession at an early age, the quickest and most sure-fire way to success was to apprentice under a mentor.

Mentoring today looks a lot different than it did when a master blacksmith took on an apprentice, but the age-old tradition of passing on knowledge continues in life, business, art, philosophy and every walk of human life.

Here are 3 great mentoring relationships:

One - Warren Buffet and Bill Gates

Bill Gates attributes many of the skills that made him one of the wealthiest people on the planet to his mentor Warren Buffet. In an interview on CNBC, Gates stated that he learned the power of taking a complex idea and simplifying it so others could understand it. Buffet also advised Gates on investing, showed him the importance of building a platform and the value of time. One of the most important things Gates attributed to his relationship to Buffet was the lesson to be in a state of constant education and to be learning even after monumental success.

Two - Mrs. Duncan and Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey needs no introduction. She is one of the world’s biggest innovators and influencers. Her rise to prominence is largely attributed to her fourth-grade teacher, Mrs. Duncan.

Oprah stated: “One of the defining moments of my life came in the fourth grade, the year I was Mrs. Duncan’s student. What Mrs. Duncan did for me was to help me to not be afraid of being smart. She encouraged me to read, and she often stayed after school to work with me, helping me choose books and letting me help her grade papers.” Mrs. Duncan’s relationship with Oprah demonstrates how powerful mentoring can be on young children. These formative years are some of the most important when it comes to shaping the character of our young people.

Three - Socrates and Plato / Plato and Aristotle / Aristotle and Alexander the Great

This trio of relationships shaped human history. Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and Alexander all understood the power of giving and receiving guidance. The knowledge transfer channels and discourse were so open amongst these four students of life that they all went on to form legacies of their own.

Socrates mentored Plato. Plato spread Socrates’s teachings and philosophy as far and wide as he could. Plato mentored Aristotle in philosophy and, in the Macedonian village of Mieza, Aristotle mentored Alexander the Great. The teachings spanning back to Socrates had trickled through great minds through mentorship down to Alexander. This chain of leaders sparked by Socrates demonstrates the importance of passing on knowledge and keeping the tradition of mentoring alive.

There are countless examples of mentoring empowering people throughout history and in everyday life. Mentorship doesn’t always take on the form of direct teaching, but can simply be an inspiration from someone else to strive for greatness. It’s a powerful tradition that people in all spheres of life should carry forward.


Mentor Resources can help any company to leverage technology to create tailored career development programs that are cost-effective. Our mentoring software - Wisdom Share is a cloud-based program that is simple and comes with guided workflows. Included are tools for administrators to attract, enroll, connect, and guide participants. We also provide analytics to ensure you can monitor your employee development program and easily see ROI metrics.


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