10 Best TED Talks on Mentorship


Check out our top 10 favorite TED Talks on mentorship to learn what it is, how it works, and how to start reaping its benefits.

Mentorship is an incredibly valuable—and often misunderstood—professional resource.

In these 10 TED Talks, leaders from diverse industries explain what good mentorship entails, why it matters, and how it can fast-track you on the path to success.

The power of mentorship isn’t exactly a secret.

Researchers and experts across sectors agree that having a good mentor is key to achievement and growth. A mentor can provide a much-needed outside perspective, challenge or affirm your ideas, and guide you through the rough spots.

But you don’t have to take it from us!

Mentorship is a popular topic at TED and TEDx events around the world. All kinds of innovators, entrepreneurs, and academics have chosen to speak about it. The best ones approach it from a unique angle and offer practical advice that you can actually apply.

Top 10 TED Talks on Mentorship

1. Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

  • Speaker: Austin Stanford
  • Date: April 1, 2017
  • Topic: How to cultivate and maintain mentorship
  • Why we like it: Austin illustrates the concept of mentorship through examples from classic films and personal anecdotes. His own story of seeking out a mentor is relatable and funny. Most importantly, he highlights the value of expertise over popularity, and explains not just how to find a mentor, but keep one.

2. How to Be a Great Mentor

  • Speaker: Kenneth Ortiz
  • Date: May 29, 2019
  • Topic: Tips for providing meaningful mentorship
  • Why we like it: Kenneth explains why being a mentor requires a significant time investment, detailed planning, positive reinforcement, and specific instruction—and promises that the effort is worth it. It’s useful advice not only for aspiring mentors, but also for those who want to find a mentor who’s not just good, but great.

3. Mentors: Through Research, in Practice, and on Reality-TV

  • Speaker: Kimberly Griffin
  • Date: December 6, 2014
  • Topic: Defining mentorship and avoiding common mistakes
  • Why we like it: What does reality TV have to do with mentorship? Kimberly uses some unlikely examples to demonstrate different approaches to mentoring. Her combination of pop culture references and academic research sheds light on what mentorship actually is and how it should work.

4. Mentors – The Entrepreneur’s Unfair Advantage

  • Speaker: Russell Buckley
  • Date: March 8, 2015
  • Topic: Mentorship for entrepreneurs
  • Why we like it: Russell, a mentor for the TechStars accelerator program, brings this concept into the context of entrepreneurship. He offers practical advice on how to use mentorship to drive business development and growth—and why you should never ask a potential mentor out for coffee.

5. Science of Mentorship

  • Speaker: Shawn Blanchard
  • Date: October 19, 2016
  • Topic: Types of mentorship and how they work
  • Why we like it: Shawn breaks mentorship into three distinct categories. He threads two useful analogies throughout his own story of transformation from mentee to mentor. This is an incredibly well-structured TED talk on mentorship, clearly illustrating its cross-generational impact.

6. 5 ½ Mentors That Will Change Your Life

  • Speaker: Doug Stewart
  • Date: March 19, 2016
  • Topic: Using mentorship to take control of your life
  • Why we like it: Doug stresses the fact that mentorship isn’t something that’s done to you; it’s something you do for yourself, with the help of others. His version of mentorship is about taking responsibility for your own personal development and choosing to learn as much as possible from the people around you.

7. Failure and the Importance of Mentors

  • Speaker: Patrick Boland
  • Date: June 20, 2015
  • Topic: How mentors help us grow from failure
  • Why we like it: As Patrick puts it, our culture doesn’t teach us how to fail—but a mentor can. An entrepreneur himself, he knows that failure is a necessary part of growth. He explains how to embrace it by finding a mentor to guide you through the learning cycle it inspires.

8. Mentoring’s Broken: Here’s How to Hack It

  • Speaker: Roxanne Reeves
  • Date: April 15, 2017
  • Topic: What’s wrong with traditional mentorship and how to fix it
  • Why we like it: Roxanne’s backstory may sound familiar, but the outcome is anything but; she went from college dropout to mentorship expert. She argues that our concept of mentorship needs to evolve in two ways: it must flip the power structure to focus on the mentee, and adapt to the diversity of today’s workforce.

9. Millennials Need a Mentor in the Workplace

  • Speaker: Lauren Hoebee
  • Date: March 4, 2016
  • Topic: How mentorship can bridge the generational gap
  • Why we like it: Much has been said about the disconnect between millennials and older generations in the workplace, but Lauren presents a novel perspective. She emphasizes that if managers take the time to mentor millennials, it can be mutually beneficial for both—and the workforce as a whole.

10. The Power of Mentoring

  • Speaker: Reggie Nelson
  • Date: June 6, 2019
  • Topic: A personal story of mentorship’s power
  • Why we like it: A departure from more academic and corporate takes on mentorship, this TED talk outlines a personal journey. Reggie describes how he overcame hardship in his youth, thanks to a mentor who offered three invaluable assets: visibility, guidance, and hope. He’s living proof that mentorship can change your life forever.

Convinced of the value of mentorship yet?

We created GrowthMentor to cultivate relationships like these in the startup and marketing world.

If you’re looking for a mentor, it’s a great place to start!