You Could Have Been Bill Gates’ Mentor, Or Someone Like Him

By August 26, 2014Blog, Daily Declarations

You Could Have Been Bill Gates’ Mentor…or someone like him


Imagine if you had the opportunity to mentor Microsoft guru Bill Gates when he was 18.  Wouldn’t that make you proud to then see how he grew into a billionaire business man, changed the world with Windows, and became one of the biggest philanthropist in the world?

Throughout my college years at the University of Louisville, I made daily calls to entertainment executives, requesting a 15-minute informational interview. For over four years, I received the same response from these high-powered executive’s assistants: “They are not available to talk with you.” 

I left my name and number, but I never received a returned call.  In all those years and hundreds of calls, two executives took my call and instead of using those precious minutes to encourage me, they used that time to speak negative, discouraging words to me.   

Still, I didn’t quit.  I kept calling and this practice continued after I graduated and was working at my first post-college job. 

One day, an executive at the local radio station agreed to a 15-minute informational interview with me.  As I sat in the lobby, filled with so much joy to finally secure those precious 15 minutes, I thought about all of those executives that I studied, researched, and respected who did not take my call.  In that moment, I made a promise to God and myself that when my dream of working in the entertainment industry came true, I would pay it forward and give 15 minutes of my time to anyone who asked.

Now, 25 years later, I have honored that promise and commitment.  My greatest professional accomplishments include time spent, answering questions, pouring into people’s lives, sharing my wisdom and being a source of encouragement for others. 

I’ve had the honor of serving as a mentor to individuals who have become pioneers in their fields and superstars in their industries.  Many are now serving as mentors to others. There are some that I’ve missed along the way.  It wasn’t because I didn’t want to, but their email was lost in that never ending abyss called my inbox (but that’s another post!!)

Time is our most valuable asset.  We can’t mentor everyone who asks us nor are we supposed to.  However, with a little effort, systems, and effective time allocation, we can give those 15 minutes.  Those few precious moments of your time may change the life for someone else. 

I know.  After all those years of calling, one person agreed to a 15-minute informational meeting with me and that was the civil rights activist and cable pioneer Xernona Clayton .  Those few precious minutes of her time, changed my life.  She showed me that I should never be too big or too busy to take 15 minutes to show someone that I cared. I’ll share more about that in a future post. 

I encourage you not to say “no” to the next five people who contact you about mentoring.  Instead, confirm a 15-minute call.  In my next post, I will share six guidelines you can use to “find” the time in your schedule. 

Leave me a comment below and share you favorite mentoring story. 



  • Rene Chatfield says:

    Thank you for sharing this Sheri! As I enter the next chapter in my life your words of wisdom and encouragement are much appreciated! They always seem to come at the perfect time just when things seem to be impossible. Keep on doing Gods work and know that I am one of the many routing for you.

    • Sheri Riley says:

      Hey Rene,
      I am so happy for your. I loved the family photo of FB. Our 2013 babies haven’t gotten so big. I am so excited for your oldest son and his college experience. Much Love to you and continued success on your next chapter. Keep Exponential Living!!!

  • Sheryl Merritt says:

    Wow! Thanks for sharing Sheri. It’s so good that she agreed to speak to you and that you do the same. Watching your transformation has been inspiring so continue to let your light shine. We won’t be far behind. Blessings!

    • Sheri Riley says:

      Hey Soror,
      Thank you!!! I shared this story with Ms. Clayton last year at a conference that we both attended. Naturally, she did’t remember that one meeting over 25 years ago which is the POWER of 15 minutes. She was so moved about how that meeting impacted my life. She’s such an AMAZING woman.

  • Ebony Harris says:

    Definite confirmation for me! Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom and experiences, Sheri! God bless. I’ll see you when He says its time for our paths to cross.

  • Awesome advice and mentorship! Thank you for your willingness to reach down and pay it forward!! Glad to be connected!!

  • SherimarM-Kay Boyd says:

    Leadership calls for courage to trail blaze through the tough terrain otherwise recognized as mentorship. Continue to keep the torch lite.

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