* Mentors, Mentees, And Mentoring: What Parenting And Startups Have In Common

17 Seconds #44

In the winter of 2017-2018, an epic ice hockey rink took shape in a formerly wooded backyard of a house in Acton, MA. The backyard ice hockey rink was built by Erik Heels, his neighbor Joe Ciampa, his wife Rebecca Cazabon, and his kids Sam and Sonja.

Over the weekend, while my stepson Freddy and I were watching sports, he asked me, “How do you spell ‘position’?” My instinct was not to give him a fish but to teach him how to fish. I replied, “How do you think it is spelled?”










“Yes,” I replied.

“Autocorrect did the rest,” said Freddy.

OK, so not a perfect lesson, but you get the point!

Over the years, I have been the beneficiary of mentors who taught me how to think. They pulled me to the answers without giving me the answers. They also pushed me to be the best version of me that I could be. Many of my mentors have been teachers, but not all. Some have been teachers, yet I never took a single class from them. All of them share a willingness to give for the benefit of others. Here are some of my mentors:

  • Cottage Farms School, Cape Elizabeth, Maine (1st-4th grades)
    • Eleanor Carter (1st-2nd grade)
    • J. Clayton Schroeder & Anne-Mayre Schroeder (3rd-4th grade)
  • Cape Elizabeth Middle School (5th-8th grades)
    • Susan Rovzar (5th-6th grade)
    • Mr. Farrally-Plourde (sp) (5th-6th grade)
    • Martin “Marty” Watts (7th grade math)
    • Donald Curry (5th-8th grade band)
  • Cape Elizabeth High School (9th-12th grades)
    • Fred Hilse (9th-12th grade band & chorus)
    • Richard Mullen (10th-12th grade drama & speech, 11th grade English)
    • Albert Sibson (11th-12th grade Latin)
    • Donald Richards (12th grade calculus)
    • Dorothy Lavada (French teacher; I mowed her lawn in high school)
    • Audrey White Beyer (retired English teacher; I mowed her lawn in high school)
  • College and Beyond

Because my last name comes before Dave Kaffine’s in the alphabet, I received my MIT diploma before he did, but I waited to flip my tassel and ring until he did. I would not have graduated from MIT without the help of many classmates, including especially Ken, Peter, and Dave.

Last, but not least, on my list of mentors is my family, especially my brother Mark George Heels (without whom I would not have co-built that huge igloo and perfect treehouse); my parents, Thomas Ray Heels and Helena Elizabet Heels, who continue to teach me to this day; my children and stepchildren; my extended family; and my wife, Rebecca Cazabon, my love and my partner in this crazy journey called life.

As Clocktower Law enters its 18th year and as GiantPeople enters its 20th year, I have a renewed appreciation for – and focus on – mentors, mentees, and mentoring. Here are a some of my favorite articles on mentoring:

  1. * Friends of the Firm,” ClocktowerLaw.com, Clocktower Law, January 2018.
  2. * Treehouse Lunches,” ClocktowerLaw.com, Clocktower Law, November 2017.
  3. * 17 Seconds #33 – Hire my brother Mark Heels (and I will owe you a favor),” GiantPeople.com, GiantPeople, February 2017.
  4. * Change Your Thinking,” GiantPeople.com, GiantPeople, November 2016.
  5. * How To Build A Startup: One Board At A Time, Be Yourself, Get Plants,” ClocktowerLaw.com, Clocktower Law, June 2016.
  6. * Richard Mullen (AKA Mr. Mullen), Cape Elizabeth High School (CEHS) Teacher Extraordinaire,” GiantPeople.com, GiantPeople, June 2015.
  7. * Thomas L. Bohan, Ph.D., JD,” ClocktowerLaw.com, Clocktower Law, January 2011.
  8. * Professor David D. Gregory,” ClocktowerLaw.com, Clocktower Law, January 2011.
  9. * Thomas R. Heels And Helena E. Heels,” GiantPeople.com, GiantPeople, May 2010.
  10. * Nine Principles Of Baseball And Life,” GiantPeople.com, GiantPeople, May 2007.
  11. * A Smattering Of Things That I’ve Learned In Life,” GiantPeople.com, GiantPeople, December 2005.

After I became an adult but before I had children of my own, I used to wonder why my parents continued to worry about their adult children. Then I had adult children of my own, and I figured it out. My parents have always been complimentary about my role as a parent. I have always replied that I had two excellent examples who worked together as a team. So in my role as a parent, I pay it forward by being a mentor to the next generation of children and parents. And in my role as a businessperson, I pay it forward by being a mentor to the next generation of entrepreneurs and startups. My giving back, mentoring, and volunteering takes several forms these days (see my LinkedIn profile for details), including Treehouse Lunches, which launched earlier today. Thanks for your support, and pay it forward!