Each fellow will work with mentors, mostly during the second half of the program. By the end of the program, each one will also complete two projects.
The mentors are highly successful people. Many started their own businesses; others have specific expertise, and all contribute to the world in meaningful and significant ways. All have a few things in common—a very clear sense of direction, an extremely strong work ethic, the ability to think well in extremely complex ways, and an understanding of how other people think.
Most are modest, and all have volunteered to work with the exceptionally talented people in the fellowship program as one of the ways they give back.
Mentors will work with fellows for two hours each. These meetings will be set up in an interview format, where the fellows will choose from a pre-determined set of questions (or use their own similarly styled question) that will allow mentors to either answer the question, or redirect the conversation based on the fellow's direction. These questions are meant to be open-ended, and are intended to allow mentors to “veer off course.” The questions are meant to help the fellows learn business conversational skills, and also be a starting point for mentors. While it is sometimes possible to hear highly successful people speak in front of a lecture hall full of students, these meetings will be highly focused on having a successful person talking to a person who will be similarly successful in the future.
The desired outcome for these meetings is to have the fellow walk away understanding more about both success and innovation. The meetings (and their commonalities) will likely surprise candidates—what is luck, making your own luck, and the role of ideas in success (that ideas are merely currency, but execution on ideas is the fundamental factor in success). If there is a connection around a fellow’s or mentor’s passion, that is an added benefit. If a mentor wishes to offer more conversation, shadowing, or any other further mentoring at a later date, that would be a positive outcome, but it is entirely at the discretion of the mentor. While it is hoped that a couple or a few of the fellow’s 20 or so visits will result in an ongoing relationship, that would not be expected from most meetings. There is no goal around creating lasting relationships with these mentors, but it may be possible to develop one or more lasting relationships—generally something that will be highly satisfying to the mentor, and extremely valuable to the fellow in his or her career.
Starting on the first day of the fellowship, each person will begin to focus on two projects. The first will be for the benefit of the foundation—it may come in the form of a video or published work that brings out the great advice from the mentoring, but this project will be designed and completed by the fellow. This will be the fellow's first chance to pay it forward. It will be self-directed and, while there are great resources at Cobaltix to both learn from and possibly help to make things happen, all discretion will be with the fellow.
The second project will become the jumping off point for the next 5 years in each fellow's career. The time in San Francisco should lead each candidate on a direction to success—the second project will be to start moving in that direction. By definition, the project cannot be "finish" as it will be a work in progress, but there will be goals put in place, and those goals will be achieved. It may involve starting a company, working on a business plan, getting to a place where focused subject matter learning can take place, or starting down another path of the fellow's choice. One thing that should be made clear though—there will be direction and the definition of success (likely 5-10 years out) will be defined. This fellowship is not for wallflowers or people who sit back and let others make decisions for them. Decisions will be made, and while intermediate goals can be changed and adjusted as they always should be, the direction of each fellow's business life should become clear, and that direction should begin moving toward the ultimate success as each fellow will define, with help from the mentors.
Cobaltix Innovation Labs will provide the tools and the fellows will start moving forward with their ideas—this is where the rubber hits the road. For many, this will be the first step in starting a company. For others, it may lead in different directions, but there will be a responsibility to do something great, so that each person will be in a position to pay it forward when the time is right.