Mentor helps at-risk youth

Published February 3, 2010 3:55 pm

Leadership » Job Corps alumnus now advises there.
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More than magic tricks or home movies of his attempts at wakeboarding, Tim Border's sharing of his own life story is what inspires the at-risk youth he mentors, those who know him say.

"They listen to someone who's been through and experienced it," said Ron White, residential living manager at Weber Basin Job Corps, an educational facility that's one of the many sites where Border mentors. "The fact that he's been successful and started his own business is an inspiration and a point of reference."

Border, now 48 and owner of Self Management Systems, a leadership consulting business, once stayed a year and a half at Weber Basin. While he was studying culinary skills there, his mentor, Rose, encouraged him to go to college, using the partnership the Job Corps has with Weber State University in nearby Ogden.

It makes a difference in teaching at-risk youth when they can see that even a successful businessman once struggled like they now do, he said.

"Once they understand you've been where they are and can feel what they feel and call them on BS when they try to run it by you -- it has huge credibility and relevance to really being able to help them," Border said.

Border often works with Job Corps students who want to have leadership roles in the facility. Striving to do better as a dormitory aide, Bryce Barber, 20, said he uses Border's tip of taking the time to listen to peers.

"If you're a good leader, then they'll respect you," said Barber, who makes sure everyone is up on time and the rooms are clean.

Border said he had several mentors who helped him forge his own career. After Job Corps and Weber State, his work took him across the country, and Border talked with students at more than 60 local Job Corps.

Border now runs his consulting business while also teaching sales at Weber State University. He also mentors youth at Farmington Bay Youth Correction Facility.

Border said he has seen many youth succeed, but he's also been devastated by some failures -- such as one student's death. It took him a while to learn that he couldn't take the results of his work as a mentor so personally, Border said.

He isn't responsible if students don't turn their lives around, nor can he take credit for their success stories. Instead, he enjoys simply being a part of helping students become empowered.

"Look at what this kid did because they discovered that within themselves," Border said. "The ownership, that responsibility about their life is now functioning. That's exciting. Being a part of that is fun, but taking credit for that is not recommended.

Similarly, he works with university students who want to meet after class or have extra questions and want to have a career like his.

Though Border teases technical sales student A.J. Kendall for being late to class regularly, Kendall wants to take more courses from Border.

"He's definitely a very enthusiastic teacher," Kendall said after meeting in Border's office recently. "He's a lot of fun ... I never want to miss one class because it's basically like a pep talk."

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Mentoring and leadership

The tools Tim Border uses as a mentor -- sharing positive and negative results in his life, helpful principles, the importance of setting attainable goals -- are many of the same he uses to help bosses become better leaders.

"There's not much difference between mentoring a youth and leading an employee ... you might use different methodology, but getting involved, taking time and showing they're a value to you is huge," said Border, owner of Self Management Systems. Studies have shown the best employees are ones who feel they've been coached or helped in their professional development, he said.

"How can we expect people to work hard if we're not investing in them?" Border asks.



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