A group of 4 meerkats

From Meerkats to Mentors: A Journey of Knowledge Sharing


“Knowledge is like a baobab tree, deeply rooted and ever-growing. Just as the baobab tree provides shelter and sustenance to animals in the African savannah, knowledge provides shelter and sustenance to our minds and souls. And just as the baobab tree takes years to grow and develop, knowledge too takes time, patience, and dedication to acquire and master.”

~Proverb of the Akan people of Ghana


As a research assistant at Pollinate Networks Inc., I had a chance to look more deeply into western models of mentorship – where they came from and how they’re evolving. You can read my LinkedIn article here. Overall, here are some things I learned:

If you thought mentoring was just a human invention, think again! Meerkats, orcas, cheetahs, and dolphins have been teaching their young how to survive and thrive in the wild for years. I guess you could say they’re the OG mentors!

But the term “mentor” as we understand it today in the western world originated in Homer’s Odyssey, where the hero Odysseus leaves his son Telemachus under the care of his friend Mentor. And since then, just like in the Odyssey, humans have been using mentors to impart wisdom and skills to their protégés.

Of course, back in the day, access to mentors was restricted to the upper echelons of society. But now, thanks to organizations like Project Learning Tree and Futurpreneur, mentorship programs are more widely accessible. And let’s face it, we could all use a mentor or two, especially when it comes to financial literacy. I mean, have you seen the state of my bank account lately?

So whether you’re a meerkat learning how to hunt or a budding entrepreneur looking for guidance, there’s a mentor out there for you. And who knows, maybe one day you’ll be a mentor yourself, passing on your knowledge and skills to the next generation.

Jacob Harvey, Research Assistant, Pollinate Networks Inc.
Jacob Harvey, a recent graduate of the University of Toronto, is a research assistant at Pollinate Networks Inc. Jacob gathers, synthesizes, and analyzes the latest research and literature in relevant areas such as mentoring and business development. Jacob also works as a project coordinator with the Operations Team at Pollinate.




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