Mentoring will always be an important avenue to the executive suite. It’s a sad but real fact that hard work, education and talent are not enough to take a person to the top. That is why it is so critical to forge connections and contacts in and out of the corporate corridors.

I believe that organized corporate mentoring programs can be one of the most successful ways to not just shatter but eliminate the glass ceiling in corporate America. This mentoring takes the form of guidance, counsel and, in many cases, access and exposure to the kinds of positions that will help women and people of color develop the desired management skills required to succeed in business. Women and people of color in particular must be willing to reach out across cultural and gender lines to cultivate mentors.

Ask any successful person about their career and most will tell you that while they certainly worked hard to get to where they are, a few people have been instrumental in helping them achieve success. I am a big proponent of mentoring. I have been blessed in my life to have a group of loving, supportive, and encouraging people whom I affectionately call “my council of wise people.” These are the people that you can bounce ideas off of, both professionally and personally. I know that I can count on these people to tell me the truth about anything that I am going through, and I value their advice.

Both as an employee for various companies and now as an entrepreneur, there are seven basic principles by which I have conducted my personal and professional life: 1) Think positive. 2) Create a council of wise people. 3) Make yourself an indispensable employee. 4) Keep your spiritual balance. 5) Maintain your sense of humor. 6) Learn from your mistake. 7) Be grateful for all you have.

A quote by Winston Churchill sums up my thoughts on mentoring: “You make a living by what you do, but you make a life from what you give.”