The Black Student Union and the True Mentors organization, a mentoring organization, hosted a leadership and networking reception in Ganz Hall on April 1 to discuss how mentoring can lead to success.
The panel of leadership included former Chicago Bears player Desmond Clark, Madia Korte, an interior designer, Emerson Spartz, CEO of Spartz Media and Gary Rabine, owner of the Rabine Group.
The event began with a motivational video featuring accomplished individuals giving advice about success. True Mentors member Quinton James, the host for the event, led the discussion with questions for all the panelists.
Rabine gave an account of how he sought out mentors and studied what they did to be successful, constantly shadowing and learning from them.
“I constantly asked people ‘Can I sponge off you?’” Rabine said. “I used their knowledge to help me develop and grow my business.”
The Rabine Group is now the largest asphalt and concrete pavement services in the United States.
Clark got his start in the NFL with the Denver Broncos, then went to the Miami Dolphins and ended with the Chicago Bears.
When looking for a mentor, Clark wanted someone who would be honest with him and challenge him to be greater.
“It’s not as easy as it looks,” Clark said. “I want someone who would keep it real with me.”
Clark now runs the 88 Wayz Youth Organization, a non-profit mentorship and leadership school program in Chicago.
While other panelists had college degrees, Spartz said that he convinced his parents at the age of 12 to let him drop out of school and homeschool himself. The stipulation was that his parents gave Spartz a requirement to read four biographies of successful individuals everyday.
“There are two important decisions that you’ll make in your life,” Spartz said. “How do you get paid for your passion and who will be your spouse.”
Spartz would later go on to found MuggleNet, the largest Harry Potter fan site in the world, at the same age.
Spartz said that much of his success is contributed to his wife, who helps keep him grounded.
As each panelist shared their stories of mentoring, a key theme throughout the event was maintaining relationships in all aspects of life.
Korte, who owns a design and build firm that handles a number of home renovation projects and has been featured in Chicago Magazine and Design Times magazine, said that focus is key in forming bonds with individuals.
“Relationships are everything,” Korte said. “There is no business without a relationship.”
After the panel, the audience was allowed to ask questions regarding mentorships. One of the questions that was posted for the panelists was: What do you do if a mentee doesn’t end up successful?
The entire panel agreed that failure is only permanent when someone gives up.
“Success is relative,” said Spartz. “What may be successful for me may not be the same for you, so it’s all about how you define it.”
Paul Patterson, media relations chair of the Chicago Urban League, a social services organization, attended with his mentor and found the event to be informative
“There were a lot of good takeaway points,“ Patterson said. “Mentors can leverage their own personal brand for the benefit of younger mentees.”