Channel Chiefs 2017: Who Is Your Ultimate Mentor?

A Guiding Light

In a professional capacity, forging a connection with a seasoned colleague to lean on for advice can help us forge through the daily ups and downs and ultimately provide a less-bumpy path to success.

The wisdom gained from someone who has 'been there before' can prove to be a truly invaluable experience.

In the same vein, we all have heroes in our life that we've never met before, but who still provide us with a true sense of inspiration.

So what if we were able to merge the two and receive the mentorship of a larger-than-life figure we've spent a lifetime admiring?

We asked members of the 2017 Channel Chiefs to tell if they could have any person, living or dead, as a mentor, who would it be and why?

Here are some of our favorite choices.

Adaptive Insights

Carolee Gearhart

SVP, Customer Success & Global Channels

I'd love to have the late artist Prince as a mentor. It would be an incredible opportunity to be exposed to a uniquely prodigious creative mind that also had an astute mind for business. He was one of the first popular musicians to not only negotiate a huge music contract, but also to segment other pursuits (TV, movies and books) he could [chase] independently rather than an all-inclusive contract.


Brandon Wright

Director of Partner Relations

I would want Thomas Jefferson as my mentor. Even beyond being a major proponent of democracy and the principal author of the Declaration of Independence,

Jefferson brimmed with curiosity across many disciplines, was a prolific writer, philosopher and of a course lover of wine. He was able to think through, architect and communicate new concepts, which would be a wonderful quality in a mentor.


Aaron Courdy

VP, Channel Services

Winston Churchill was revered as an incredible leader with an innate ability to inspire people, regardless of ominous circumstances. As well as being a master strategist with uncanny foresight, he always demonstrated an air of enthusiasm, determination and optimism which was infectious to people around him.

He did not allow others to accept defeat and quite literally motivated an entire country to achieve far beyond what they thought they were capable of. It would be great to have a drink and a cigar with him to chat about leadership, motivation, strategy and his thoughts on the future.

Broadview Networks

Donna Wenk

SVP of Alternate Sales

Oprah Winfrey. She's arguably the most successful business woman in the world. The fact that she maintains the persona of a nice, beloved, generous woman who is down to earth despite being the leader she is, is what really impresses me. I would love to learn just a few of her tips.


Steve Benvenuto

Senior Director, Global Security Partner Sales, Global Security Sales Organization

Arnold Palmer was a person I would have liked to have as a mentor. He was one of the great athletes of our time and could share the secrets to competing, focus and overcoming obstacles. He also built very successful business ventures and was a great humanitarian. And most importantly he was known as being a gentleman and was well loved by all he knew.


Connor Cox

Director of Business Development

Warren Buffett. And not only because he is a shrewd businessman and investor who has become one of the richest people on the planet - although I do believe he has plenty of wisdom in those areas I could learn from. But Warren also seems like a genuinely humble, funny and philanthropic individual that I believe could inspire me to become a better person at the same time as becoming a more successful businessman. He's also an incredible communicator and excellent storyteller which I believe are essential leadership qualities.


Joshua Geist


Sir Isaac Newton. He was able to look at problems so uniquely that new breeds of solutions were formed through his actions and thoughts. All the while his community pushed him away for radical thinking. He absolutely represents pure unabridged ingenuity that we can all learn from.


David Carlquist

VP, Worldwide Systems Channels

Leonardo da Vinci. A mentor is someone that listens, teaches, offers a unique and candid perspective and helps you reassemble the pieces after failures.

They do it from their own life and career experiences. Leonardo was arguably the most diversely talented individual who has ever lived with gifts across math, science, art, music and much more. He led a fascinating life and, given the question, would have been an extraordinary person to gain insight and guidance from around career and life.


Michael Bothe

SVP Sales & Partner Operations

Benjamin Franklin. Yes, Benjamin Franklin was one of this nation's Founding Fathers, but he was also a successful business owner, inventor, diplomat, printer, publisher, fundraiser and a master strategist whose personal achievements echo through time to this day. It is said that every morning, he would ask himself, "What good shall I do this day?" And every night he would ask himself, "What good have I done today?"

The best mentors ask these questions and then proffer advice on how to improve. Franklin's hard-won wisdom could come in handy in this complex, challenging world.


Ira Feuerstein

Director, North American Channel Program

Guy Kawasaki, he looks at the world with a different view than most people. His talk on jumping the innovation curve is very motivating. He's also a very relatable and likable person. The way he explains how to think ahead of the curve to set yourself apart from the competition is extremely motivating.

Pure Storage

Michael Sotnick

VP of Global Channels and Alliances

Steve Kerr, Golden State Warriors head coach, because he manages a diverse range of personalities and has built a team that is incredibly successful and truly operates as a TEAM…especially compared to many of his opponents. When the team is under pressure, Kerr is a steady, focused and calm leader. His personnel decisions and related strategy reveal a leader that is tirelessly considering all potential resources and ensuring that the team on the court works together to optimize their individual and collective skills…to ultimately win in their market.


Clint Oram

CMO and Co-Founder

Dwight Eisenhower. I'm a huge WWII history buff and have always admired Eisenhower's ability to walk the tight line between military strategy and politics. He remained focused on what he thought was the right path for the country in spite of the harsh realities of war. He knew his choices weren't always popular, but he was strong enough to follow his belief that he was doing the right thing – and history proved him right. That's why we elected him, because he was the right choice – he was a true leader.


Elizabeth Lederer

SVP Channel

If I could have any mentor, it would be Walt Disney. Everything he has accomplished was built on imagination and optimism. He didn't start out looking to be famous or an icon, it was just the opposite. He was broke and broken but acted on his passion and instinct that resulted in one of the most successful and recognizable brands in the world. I just think being around him, you had to feel that magic and be inspired.


Colleen Kapase

VP, Partner Go to Market Program and Incentives

Mark Zuckerberg, to serve as a mentor on changing social behaviors and on how we are changing the way we communicate and how to drive that change management.


Thomas Tan

VP, Customer and Partner Programs, Global Integrated Marketing

I would choose Marc Benioff. He not only fosters innovation within his own company, but he has a way of inspiring his competitors, partners and companies that are not relevant to his space to think outside the box and that is a unique quality. He has a relentless focus on driving the industry toward the future.