mentor was on the odyssey  


OK, first things first. I missed the #Architalks deadline this month. No excuses, I missed it. Now I’m late and I accept the consequences. My good friends shared their hearts yesterday about their experiences and passion about their mentors, and their exhortation for others to take on that role.

What’s my take? I’ve written about this subject many times in several ways over the years, and I’ve been tough on emerging professionals to be self-motivated as much as I’ve made a plea to the experienced to be selfless and give to the profession by giving to someone else. Why can’t we accept this as being organic? Would it develop more often? It should be natural and as common as breathing. How do we expect this profession to survive and move forward?

Did you know the origin of the name goes back to Homer’s Odyssey where Mentor is a trusted friend of Odysseus? No, I’ve never read the book but I could win that question on Jeopardy given the chance. There was quite the drama though in Greek stories.

Speaking of drama, I need to address two types of people that are taking up too much room on the web. Neither one is helping to cultivate mentoring relationships. Then I’ll move on – I promise.

The first category is about young professionals making demands on how to connect with them since past communication models fail to inspire or resonate with them. They tune out of frequencies too loud for their ears and their entitled attitudes repulse the experienced. Act like the position you want to have; understand you need to wait your turn. Here’s the cold hard truth – if you’re not motivated on your own to learn and move forward, you’ll be out before you know it. You may just have to change first. If you really want to be here, this profession desperately needs you. We can learn from you too.

The second category that needs to be silenced is jaded old practitioners who are disengaged because their formative years failed to meet their expectations and now they find themselves somewhere less than inspiring. Their disappointment fills the room like smoke in an old bar and tarnishes the atmosphere of their offices driving bright, young professionals to seek work elsewhere or leave the profession. Do what you do and do it with heart and passion and excellence. Do it because it’s right and do it in front of others who can learn from you. Explain what you’re thinking, explain where you made mistakes, and explain why it’s important. I’m sure you still have something worth sharing – it’s not too late.

As for this bad behavior that’s clogging the web, stop it and stop posting it.

Without a father figure in my life (he died right before I turned five), I’ve discovered I’ve gravitated towards father figures to learn things. Besides that, I’ve mentioned several times, I had an inspiring art teacher in junior high and an amazing first-year studio professor in college. You can read more about it here, but what’s important is these teachers didn’t set out to be mentors or create a formal mentoring relationship in any way. They didn’t ask, I never asked them, it was just how they lived. Our relationship left a powerful, ongoing impact on my life and career as an architect. Furthermore, I could tell more stories of the architects that I worked for in the past. Yes, I could identify their weaknesses, but I’d rather share what they taught me and how we still get along very well. Were they mentors? By today’s formal definition, probably not.

I believe in this profession, I believe in architecture and I believe in sharing it. I spent over 12 years in architectural education, I speak yearly at career fairs and I can’t avoid reaching out and sharing with young professionals when they reach out to me. Why wouldn’t I? I am a one-person office, but given the chance, I hope to share what I know.

Can we work to drown out the noise of the two people groups I described earlier? Neither one helps this conversation and I’m tired of seeing those posts on my social media feeds. I want to read more stories like my friends have written below. I want to read more stories of how we’re learning from each other.

I want to go on an Odyssey.

photo 1 By Pablo E. Fabisch –, Public Domain, Link

Bob Borson – Life of An Architect (@bobborson)
This is NOT Mentorship

Marica McKeel – Studio MM (@ArchitectMM)
ArchiTalks: Mentorship

Jeff Echols – Architect Of The Internet (@Jeff_Echols)
Mentors, Millennials and the Boomer Cliff

Mark R. LePage – EntreArchitect (@EntreArchitect)

Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
ArchiTalks: Mentorship

Jeremiah Russell, AIA – ROGUE Architecture (@rogue_architect)
teach them the way they should go: #architalks

Eric T. Faulkner – Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
Bad Mentor, Good Mentor

Stephen Ramos – BUILDINGS ARE COOL (@sramos_BAC)
The Top 3 Benefits for Architects to Mentor and to be Mentored

Brian Paletz – The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
I’ve got a lot to learn

Jonathan Brown – Proto-Architecture (@mondo_tiki_man)
Bah Humbug!

Emily Grandstaff-Rice – Emily Grandstaff-Rice FAIA (@egrfaia)
Gurus, Swamis, and Other Architectural Guides

Jarod Hall – di’velept (@divelept)
The Lonely Mentor

Drew Paul Bell – Drew Paul Bell (@DrewPaulBell)
Advice From My Mentor

Jeffrey Pelletier – Board & Vellum (@boardandvellum)
Mentoring with Anecdotes vs. Creating a Culture of Trust

Samantha R. Markham – The Aspiring Architect (@TheAspiringArch)
Why every Aspiring Architect needs SCARs

Nisha Kandiah – ArchiDragon (@ArchiDragon)
Mentorship : mend or end ?

Keith Palma – Architect’s Trace (@cogitatedesign)
Mentor5hip is…

Jim Mehaffey – Yeoman Architect (@jamesmehaffey)
My Mentor

Tim Ung – Journey of an Architect (@timothy_ung)
5 Mentors that are in my life

Mark Stephens – Mark Stephens Architects (@architectmark)

Gabriela Baierle-Atwood – Gabriela Baierle-Atwood (@gabrielabaierle)
On Mentorship

Ilaria Marani – Creative Aptitude (@creaptitude)

mentor was on the odyssey  

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