Mentor: The Kid and the CEO
Tom Pace with Walter Jenkins
175 pages. Audiobook also available.
Based on author Tom Pace’s experiences, this fictionalized account serves double duty as a guide for mentors and encouragement for young offenders.
Serving 90 days in Oklahoma County Jail, 19-year-old Tony blames everyone but himself for the fact that he’s facing a possible seven-year sentence for his second burglary arrest. He has no intention of reading The Greatest Miracle in the World, a book that silver-haired group leader Malcolm gives him at a meeting.
After Malcolm asks Tony to read the book “not for me but for you,” it becomes the first book that Tony has ever finished. After each meeting, Malcolm, the CEO of his own company, answers Tony’s questions about the book. Tony accepts Malcolm’s offer to be his mentor and help him to develop in “physical, mental, spiritual, financial, social” ways. Working on Malcolm’s next assignment, a “dream list” of all he wants to do in life, Tony realizes that Malcolm makes him feel special.
Tony’s exemplary behavior earns his release and his last chance – one more arrest means serving years in prison. He begins his new life by barely managing to run nine miles around a lake with Malcolm and Gary, Malcolm’s older mentee who has his own backhoe business.
Impressed with Tony’s stamina, Malcolm declares that “exercise is one of the most important things in life,” building clarity, energy, health and self-esteem. After breakfast at Malcolm’s beautiful lakeside home with his wife and two little girls, Tony is surprised when Gary offers him a free place to live in his spare room. Malcolm’s new assignments: Read another book and find a job.
Tony soon learns that stores and restaurants won’t hire him because of his felony conviction. As Tony and Gary follow Malcolm’s advice that “the more people we help, the better our lives will be,” a job with Gary opens up for Tony, leading eventually to Tony’s own lawn-care business.
By running Tony’s first marathon together, the three men fulfill another of Malcolm’s maxims: “People with self-esteem do esteemable things.” When Malcolm’s business founders, Tony gives back by making sure Malcolm runs regularly with him to alleviate his depression. At last, Malcolm recommits himself to his church, which Tony joins, and that is where Tony meets the woman he will marry.
Incorporating the principles of author Tom Pace’s own mentoring program, MentorHope, Malcolm demonstrates what a mentor does: builds a youth’s confidence, pursues concrete goals, models a life philosophy, offers support, and becomes personally involved. Having read on a fourth-grade level at age 26, Pace discovered reading late. He suggests more than 100 titles, including Malcolm’s assignments, as well as books by Bill Gates, John Grisham and more. He also lists 135 suggestions for actions and attitudes – from “Keep your promises” to “Don’t assume anything.”
Named for Pace’s own mentor, Malcolm is also a version of Pace, founder and CEO of PaceButler Corp. Tony and Gary represent the 80,000 prison inmates who received Pace’s giveaway of The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren – the book that helped Pace rebuild his company, as Malcolm does. Malcolm recommends to Tony what worked for Pace: self-education through reading, starting a business, and a philosophy embodied in Malcolm’s sayings and example. No alternate routes such as formal education, training or counseling are suggested.
Narrator Tony is not a fully rounded character. Beyond brief accounts of his convenience-store robbery, his mother’s disappointment in him and his experiences with the justice system, we learn few details about Tony’s life before meeting Malcolm. We never discover why Tony developed a negative attitude. After accepting Malcolm’s support, Tony exhibits ideal behavior. Would anyone abandon his old friends and neighborhood so completely? Would he never backslide or hit bumps in the road?
Beyond these limitations, Pace offers accessible tools and inspiration for mentors and mentees. (405) 752-0940, www.mentorhope.com.