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Who's your mentor?

It's difficult to live, work, climb a career ladder or grow intellectually and spiritually without casting an admiring glance at someone else.

Practically everyone has a mentor. It's difficult to live, work, climb a career ladder or grow intellectually and spiritually without casting an admiring glance at someone else.

It might be your mentor's way of life, ideology, philosophy or even a book that he or she may have written.

When you're impressed by someone's thoughts or admire someone's achievements, and you'd like to follow in their footsteps, then you have a mentor. Many people have their fathers or mothers as mentors. Many consult certain books that they regard as gospel.

A mentor is different from a consultant or a coach. Career consultants or coaches are people you usually have to pay for advice. Mentors are more like heroes, or valuable friends, standing by your side to guide you as you reach for your aim in life. They are wiser, although not necessarily older.

Rookie talks to three people in different fields to see who has been their mentor.

Nantaporn Techaprasertsakul

Career: Advocacy officer for the Thai Volunteer Service

What she does: Actively involved in community radio projects in conflict areas in Ubon Ratchathani, Udon Thani, Songkhla and Lamphun provinces. Supports people who lack a voice, enabling them get access to information and voice their sentiments.

"Senator John Ungpakorn, the first director of the Thai Volunteer Service and son of Thai statesman Professor Puey Ungpakorn. He is a thoughtful person. I don't know him personally, but his ideology on narrowing the gap between the rich and the poor, and urban dwellers and rural people, impresses me.

"He works for the rights of marginalised people so they have access to information in order to lessen conflicts and ensure that they are not exploited. He once said: 'Everyone must have the opportunity to speak the truth.'

"The present director of Thai Volunteer Service, Kannikar Kuankajorn, is a role model in problem-solving and reaching compromises so that situations don't worsen and produce conflict.

"Dej Pumkacha, the former director of the organisation, also instilled within me a strong sense of determination. He once said: 'Ideology is not only awareness. It must be put into action."

Vithaya Thongyuyong

Career: Filmmaker

What he does: Co-director of "Fan-Chan", the popular Thai movie that grossed Bt200 million in Thailand.

"I have two mentors. They are a Thai and a Japanese.

"Thai director Jira Malikul, who was also my teacher during my studies at Chulalongkorn University's Communication Arts Faculty, inspires me the most. Apart from his expertise in movie directing, especially when I work with him, he never puts me down, although there are flaws in my work. His positive approach to criticism is very encouraging, and important to fledgling movie makers to give them confidence in their careers.

"The veteran Thai director contributes to our country by giving opportunities to young people to make fame for Thailand. If I have a chance to do the same, I hope to follow in his footsteps.

"The other is Japanese director Takeshi Kitano, who directed 'Kikujiro', a drama; and 'Zotoichi', an action film. I am enthralled with his sophisticated style of portraying a story. For instance, he can make the audience feel violent without portraying violent scenes.

"In person, Kitano is a comedian. One lucky day he became a director by accident when the director of the film he was playing in withdrew from the project. He seized the opportunity and became an ace director."

Ueamporn Saengsuwon

Career: Editor of Cheewajit magazine, with monthly circulation of 60,000-70,000

What she does: Information provider for people's well-being

"No particular mentors for me. I pick some good points here and there from people I work with to adopt in my life and work. When interviewing someone who is cool-minded for a profile, for example, I observe how he or she manages emotions and ask for some tips.

"I view success in career as a secondary aim in life. To work, for me, is to practise dhamma. To learn about one's own mind is my main purpose in life. I find very inspiring Thai philosophical books by Sompan Promta and books on mindful living by Zen master and 1967.

Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Thich Nhat Hanh. I don't stick to those authors though. Some articles by people I've never heard of can give me very good life lessons to contemplate.

Sometimes children can be very good mentors because they help me look at and improve myself.

"Body and mind, and life and career, must go together."

By Aree Chaisatien

The Nation


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