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Five Keep-it-Real Lessons From the Frontlines of Mentoring

Mentorship truly is a wonderful real life example of the motto, "You don't have to change the whole world, start with one person."


I'm GOOD's first Fellow, and I'm on a yearlong mission to discover the best practices in entrepreneurship education, and figure out how they are (or aren't) empowering middle and high school-aged girls. Follow and engage with me on my journey of learning and doing.

January is National Mentorship month, and the statistics on mentoring speak for themselves. Youth who are mentored are 46 percent less likely to use illegal drugs, 27 percent less likely to use alcohol, and a full 52 percent less likely to skip school. I recently spent six months mentoring six sophomores in East Oakland with BUILD, a nonprofit that provides hands-on entrepreneurship training and college preparation to high school students. As you might guess, along the way I learned some real life lessons on how to be a good mentor.

"Just be real" was the main advice from Jessica, a senior BUILD student on how to be an excellent mentor. Jessica shared that advice during the initial mentor training, which had students describe why mentors are such a key part the BUILD experience. When asked what her mentor did right, Jessica emphasized how her mentor was really there for her—not just to support her business idea and team, but to individually coach her through personal challenges.

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The Year I Stopped Looking For a Script and Learned How to Improvise

Learning to improvise can be tough when the road to success seems like one big script.


I have always wanted to play jazz. I found the rhythms difficult to master, and the unscripted improvisations made me uncomfortable. As a flute player, I kept firmly to classically scripted scores through my collegiate years. The most improvised thing that I did was switch to playing the sousaphone in college marching band. While it was challenging and different, I still played off of a scripted and memorized sheet of music. During one brief, brilliant moment living in Morocco, I played with a big band jazz pickup group—a virtual United Nations of musicians from all over the world. But even then, I must be honest, I hid my meek flute sound, afraid of being heard making mistakes.

I recently conducted a retrospective on my career to give a presentation for colleagues new to public service. When I looked back from college, through graduate school, to a career in public service and international relations, I have constantly looked for that compelling scripted score to follow.

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Can Venture Capitalists Help Reimagine Democracy?

Yep, venture capitalism is the latest inspiration for re-imagining the way we think of American investments in democracy abroad.


Quick—predict the next nation in the world that will adopt a democratic form of government.

Let's see. Burma (or maybe Myanmar) is a good bet, thanks to the persistent efforts of Aung San Suu Kyi. Bhutan has experienced change into a democracy at a remarkable pace. And there's Libya—in 2012, they experienced the largest jump in The Economist's Democracy Index, though it is still classified as an authoritarian regime.

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Why We Must 'Lean in' to Workplace Pay Inequity

If we want women 50 years from now to have the pay and opportunities that are rightfully theirs, we must stand up, and stand together.

Have you ever been underpaid because of your gender or race? It's been 50 years since the passage of the 1963 Equal Pay Act, which requires that men and women in the same workplace be given equal pay for equal work. The jobs need not be identical, but they must be substantially equal. Job content—not job titles—determines whether jobs are substantially equal. However, statistics show that females are paid only about two-thirds what males receive for the same work and African Americans are consistently paid less than whites for the same work overall on a national scale.

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