Our CEO Dave Neff on the Importance of Mentoring


Last spring, our CEO Dave Neff was featured on Sharpen – the young professionals podcast hosted by one of our very own mentees, Kirby Green!

In the spirit of National Mentoring Month, we’re taking a look back at some memorable quotes from his episode on mentorship.

You can listen to the full episode here

From your personal experience, how would you describe mentorship?

“I love the phrase ‘Leadership is caught, not taught.’ I think there’s a lot of truth in that – if you just pay attention and listen and observe, you’ll learn a lot about somebody else.”

How do I go about establishing a mentor relationship in a way that’s intentional but also allows the relationship to foster naturally?

“I remember in 2008, I was a year into my career, and me and a good friend read a book called Never Eat Alone. It’s a book on how to build success one relationship at a time. I remember we determined right then and there that we were going to invest our own money into taking people out to coffee or breakfast or lunch and just get to know them.”

. . .

“If you’re looking for a mentor, a lot of it falls on you… Be intentional about who you know from afar that you’d like to get to know a little better.”


What are some of those bigger benefits or “ROI” for folks who really do engage with mentorship?

“Having a strong mentor can impact the trajectory of your life far more than the school you graduated from, the company you work for or even the privilege that you did or didn’t have growing up.”

. . .

“I think in a good mentoring relationship there’s a back and forth. There’s not just a mentor showing up and talking for an hour. It’s a mentor asking questions and helping a mentee come to their own conclusions on decisions that need to be made in their life.

How would you encourage young professionals to engage well as mentees?

“Coming prepared with questions and things to talk about, and helping to drive that conversation instead of relying on your mentor to drive it – can all make a big difference.”

. . .

“If you’re genuinely curious about other people, you’ll start to figure out how to get the most out of a mentoring relationship.”

How do we as young professionals think about starting to take our place in the mentorship process?

“It’s important that you’re not just consuming – that you’re starting to pay it forward. If you’re a lifelong mentee, that’s probably not a great thing. You need to pay it forward yourself.”

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