On Friday, March 8, the Smith Family Business Initiative hosted the Sam Seltzer ’48 Mentors Forum, at the Cornell Tech campus in New York City. With 18 mentors and 16 current students and young alumni in attendance, we had an amazing collection of talent, diversity, and curiosity in one place, for one day.
The Sam Seltzer ’48 Mentors Forum provided current Cornell students and young alumni from a family business with the opportunity to engage, one on one, with alumni, Cornell Family Business Scholars, advisors and family business leaders. Students were able to select their own agendas and specific areas for exploration during the time they spent with each mentor. Jessica Green, ’15, of Cowbell Brewing, was impressed with the assembly of mentors and mentees; “It was an honor to mentor alongside such accomplished and esteemed professionals, and to interact with such passionate, interested and intelligent students.”
The Sam Seltzer ’48 Mentors Forum served several purposes. First, it gathered a wealth of knowledge, allowing students to explore and delve into many areas of curiosity. Second, it exposed students to the benefits of seeking outside advice. Too often, families look inward for answers and fail to engage external expertise. Finally, it strengthened our family business network of alumni, students and business leaders. Making these connections, many that will extend beyond today, provides access to leading experts from across industries and backgrounds.
Mentoring is a two-way street. The mentors who volunteered to spend their day giving back, did so because they understand the value of mentoring and coaching. For the mentor, it is not uncommon that they discover just as much about themselves as they do about the mentees during the exchange. Angie Sabel, Managing Director of Abbot Downing, shared, “There were times, many, that I felt I was the mentee during my 1:1 sessions where I was learning from their inspiration and energy. I truly value days like your recent Forum where there is a lively exchange of ideas and sharing of experiences.”
For the mentee, most walked away with fresh perspectives and new relationships. Jacob Schwarz, MBA ’17, shared after the forum, “I received some fantastic advice, and will definitely be in touch with the folks I spoke to today. As I mentioned, it could not have come at a better time for me, as my mom is looking to start formal succession talks next week.” Lounes Mazouz, MMH ’19 also conveyed his gratitude, “I have learned more than I could have ever imagined. Counting all the incredible takeaways would be impossible. However, I hope to keep alive my relationship with very valuable mentors and new friendships.”
A special thank you is on order for Sam Seltzer ’48, and Jason Fein SHA BS ’85, MPS ’91. Their support made the day possible. The 2019 Mentors Forum was truly memorable and impactful, for both mentees and mentors.