Interview With Your “Invisible Mentor” Rodger Harding

March 6, 2009

When you think of a mentor, what comes to your mind? Perhaps you think of a champion with whom you meet with regularly. Or, a  person who guides you. But, does a mentor have to be a live person?  Could a mentor be a book, or even an interview?

I think so!

I call these types of mentors “invisible mentors,” and the best thing is that they are just a point and a click away, and you can access them at your convenience. Read Rodger Harding’s interview with an open mind and see what nuggets of wisdom you can pick up. What aspects of the interview can you use in your work and life?

Describe a business challenge you had and how you resolved it.

Challenge: As a small business operator, immersion in tasks/deliverables is often at the expense of new business development; this results in frequent cash flow challenges.

Resolution: To continue working toward my own priorities in the hands-on fashion I love, the pursuit of like-minded clients has resulted in a constant, albeit erratic, flow of referrals

People who believe in me have helped out …without being asked! This is perhaps one of the most gratifying aspects of my life – I have somehow earned the confidence and respect of people who believe that it is important that I continue my work…..

Lessons Learned

  1. It is OK to graciously receive – I had always thought it was my role to be a giver… Learning to receive, has taught me how better to give!
  2. I have tailored my life style to accommodate my business ethic
  3. I can live happily on considerably less than I was used to – Compared to my upbringing and former diplomatic life, I have no status, fewer assets and no power base, yet am happier and a far more useful member of society than ever before…

How did mentors influence your life?

 Mentors have held up the mirror and shown me potential I did not know I had…Oftentimes I only realized the enormity of their contribution years later…

 What’s one core message you received from your mentors?

  That I am a gifted person who has loads of untapped potential…Using this potential will benefit myself and others.

What’s the most important discovery you’ve made in the past year?

I am definitely on the right track professionally. Some 10 years ago I decided to work only with individuals/companies that are a good fit – Many advised that this was the path to ruin – I now know that, given my personality, methodology and experience this was the right choice.

What do you observe most people in your field doing badly that you think you do well?

I prefer to work on a subjective basis with clients, marrying their circumstance/requirements to objective market/industry/workplace realities; I have a strong aversion to labels, profiling and template driven training.

To reach other people requires a degree of risk … I believe I take those risks recognizing, understanding and acknowledging the individuality of others is the greatest validation I can provide!

Tell me about your big break and who gave you.

There have been many! All involved random relationships that blossomed into good business deals.

Example: Soon after starting my business, I was invited to participate in a live call-in television program. A young woman, Emelia Prempeh, later called my office and asked for advice, which I freely gave. A year later she hired me to provide career guidance sessions for graduating classes at the Information Technology Institute – then a vibrant IT college that specialized in training diverse professionals and academic graduates into IT experts. I almost refused the opportunity as the compensation was way below market worth, yet my relationship with Emelia prompted me to accept – – Interaction with some 1700 people has been a vast business and personal resource that persist to this day. The 4 year experience made conscious my theory of what constitutes human excellence. I can honestly say that confidence in my unique approach to empowering others had its foundation in the intensity of the 1700 validating interactions experienced.

What’s one of the toughest decisions you’ve had to make and how did it impact your life?

That being myself will not always be the easiest route. Many see this aspect of me as arrogance/attitude, yet despite my self-consciousness, lack of confidence etc. something deep inside has always refused to go with the flow for the sake of an easier ride….

Do you have problems integrating work and life? Do you waste time thinking about what could have been? How have mentors influenced your life? And, when are you happy, have you ever stopped to think about it? To read Rodger Harding’s responses to these questions and more, download the entire interview at

For more than a decade Rodger Harding’s Toronto based Business Leadership Consultancy has provided high level consulting, training & keynote speaking services to diverse corporate, government and not-for- profit clients. His skill-set has evolved over almost three decades in an international career that spans, Law, Diplomacy and Business Consulting.

Excerpt from January/Febraury 2009 Ambeck Edge


The Secret Garden By Frances Hodgson Burnett Book Review

March 2, 2009

The natural order of life is for people to grow, evolve, and have the ability to adapt to change. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett is really about the transformative power of finding “passion” which gives meaning to life. The author’s writing is very vivid, and the words jump off the pages and transport readers into the story where they become a participant versus a passive observer.

First published in 1911, The Secret Garden is a story about 10-year old Mary Lennox, a self-absorbed, sour and sickly girl who becomes an orphan when a cholera epidemic kills her parents and the staff at their home in India. Mary is sent to Misselthwaite Manor in the United Kingdom to live with her uncle, Archibald Craven who is still grieving 10 years after his wife’s death. Shortly after Mary’s arrival, Archibald leaves on a journey to heal his aching and grieving heart.

At the Manor, chambermaid Martha is the only one who has time for Mary, and she regales the child with tales about living on the moor. Martha also talks about her brother Dickon Sowerby, a spirited lad with a kind disposition, who has a “green thumb” and the unique ability to charm animals. After hearing about Dickon, Mary is fascinated and wants to meet him.

One day while exploring the grounds at the Manor, Mary finds the key to the Secret Garden which she has heard about. Everyone is banned from entering the garden, but Mary who has always been accustomed to getting her own way, enters the garden. Her transformation begins immediately. Later, she meets Dickon and shares her secret with him. Together they sneak into the Garden each day and work hard at restoration by pruning and planting new flowers. Doing something that she cares about, Mary gets stronger and her sickness starts to disappear. Because her life now has meaning, she becomes a nicer person and her sourly nature starts to fade.

One night while in her bedroom, she hears weeping and decides to investigate. She discovers her 10 year cousin Colin Craven who is confined to his bedroom because he refuses to go outside. Colin is convinced that he has a disability and is going to die very soon. “Mary stood near the door with her candle in her hand, holding her breath. Then she crept across the room, and as she drew nearer the light attracted the boy’s attention and he turned his head on his pillow and stared at her, his grey eyes opening so wide that they seemed immense. ‘Who are you?” he said at last in a half-frightened whisper. ‘Are you a ghost?’ ‘No, I am not,” Mary answered, her own whisper sounding half-frightened. ‘Are you One?’… ‘No,’ he replied after waiting a moment or so. ‘I am Colin.’ ‘Who is Colin?’ she faltered. ‘I am Colin Craven. Who are you?’ ‘I am Mary Lennox. Mr. Craven is my uncle.’ ‘He is my father,’ said the boy. ‘Your father!’ gasped Mary. ‘No one ever told me he had a boy! Why didn’t they?’”

Like any other relationship, this one has its ups and downs, but the two cousins develop a bond. When Mary feels that she can trust Colin she tells him about the Garden. Together Mary, Colin and Dickon go to the Garden each day to work.

As the story unfolds, the transformative power of the Garden spreads to Mary and Colin, and, as the Garden comes to life, so do Mary and Colin. Both regain their strength and health and Colin no longer needs his wheelchair. Not only is their health restored through the transformation, but they learn the importance of appreciation and showing consideration for others. What seemed impossible now becomes possible.

Five Great Ideas

  1.  “You learn things by saying them over and over and thinking about them until they stay in your mind forever…”
  2. “The beginning is just to say nice things are going to happen until you make them happen.”
  3. Make life meaningful by doing work that you are passionate about. Live each day as if it were your last
  4. Everyone wants to be liked, appreciated and wanted. People also want to feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves
  5. To receive compassion you have to be compassionate and to earn respect you have to respect others

Though The Secret Garden is a children’s book, everyone will benefit from reading it. Living a meaningful life brings joy, and people learn to live rather than merely exist. In 2009, what are five things you could do to add meaning to your life and work? And, how can you grow and evolve into the multiple roles you play both at home and at work? I recommend The Secret Garden. When you read the Secret Garden, read it with the view of applying the concepts to your life.

Excerpt from January/February 2009 Ambeck Edge