David was one of the first members of the MasterMind Lounge team. In the early years, the team spent countless hours crafting a clear vision of what the project would become. For David, the mission of MasterMind Lounge was easy to see.
“When Bob (Brenna) came to me about MasterMind Lounge, I immediately saw what this model could accomplish. For starters, Bob had been mentoring me for years. I wouldn’t have made the decision to pursue a law degree but for his guidance and advice. So, I approached the project as someone who had already benefitted from the underlying principle: having someone of great experience mentor you is a great life advantage.”
MasterMind Lounge Founder and CEO Bob Brenna wasn’t the only MasterMind Lounge team member that helped David along the way. Bruce Pilato, currently serving as MasterMind’s Executive Director of Talent Acquisition and Marketing, was also instrumental in his life.
“I was lucky in that I couldn’t have asked for better mentors along my path. Bruce Pilato, also on the MasterMind Lounge team, comes to mind. I happened to be sweeping floors in a venue where one of his artists, Carl Palmer of Emerson, Lake and Palmer and Asia, was rehearsing for a tour. He asked me to bring in my camera to get some footage of the rehearsal. That footage turned into a short feature. That short feature turned into a feature film shot in over a dozen countries. Meanwhile, the experience I was getting working on the Asia project allowed me to work in television advertising. Bruce was a Newhouse graduate and later wrote my letter of recommendation when I came to Newhouse for my master’s degree. Actually, it was Bruce that introduced me to Bob Brenna. It all came from that one rehearsal.”
David credits his mentors with the opportunities he enjoys today. He says that virtually every successful person can think back to a time when a teacher or friend offered guidance in their development, but also that, for many, the right mentor isn’t going to “stroll up and introduce themselves.” David also sees the opposite as true: people of experience won’t always happen to meet the people who can benefit from their experience the most.
“By moving that process into cyberspace, breaking down the barriers of time and space, and acknowledging the value that mentors have to offer, we can help people make those connections. There will always be those who find themselves in the right place at the right time to get the guidance they need, but through MasterMind Lounge that process is more efficient and more likely to benefit more people.”
David sees a big future for MasterMind Lounge, and notes the particular importance of the platform for women and other underrepresented groups. He says that MasterMind Lounge offers a unique way to find support and guidance when more traditional means fail.
“When we were actually designing the final layout of the site, I thought about my wife, Becca. She’s one of the smartest people I know, but she isn’t the aggressive type that forces her way into that ‘backstage’ area. She wanted to change her career path, but she didn’t know what to do. She spent months unhappy with her career, until she made a connection with a female recruiter. Before that recruiter, no one had told her, or showed her, what she had been doing right in her career. The advice that recruiter gave Becca was invaluable- she knew exactly what barriers and challenges Becca faced. That advice set her on a path towards a new job that has offered her opportunities that neither of us imagined. Now, Becca was lucky to find this recruiter through a job she applied for and didn’t get, but I thought to myself- this is the connection that she could have made using MasterMind Lounge on day one.”
MasterMind Lounge is a platform designed to help two distinct groups. First, “mentors” that have experience and guidance to offer, and second, “users” who want to learn from and/or meet those who inspire them. The internet, David says, has not really changed the relationship between these groups. David explains with a metaphor.
“The internet presence of a celebrity or highly sought mentor is essentially like a free concert or sporting event. You can watch and learn with the other thousands or millions of attendees, you can hear or see the performance or instruction, and if you have a good seat, you might shout at the sports field or the concert stage and get a glance or a generic reaction if you’re lucky. There is still, even in cyberspace, that proverbial ‘backstage’ pass that you don’t have. Just think of the lengths people go in ‘real space’ (a techie term for the physical world) to get ‘backstage,’ and how few succeed. Also, how many of those interactions result in a real conversation? Few to none. In my work as a concert promoter, I can tell you that we often had just as much security guarding the green room (where artists stay before and after a performance) as we did guarding anywhere else in the venue at any one time. The system has never been designed to make stars accessible in sports or music. That is also true when it comes to those who are the best of the best in any specialty.”
Sieling emphasizes that MasterMind Lounge will change that dynamic. By allowing mentors to control their schedule, set their prices, and meet users online, many barriers to mentor-user interactions disappear. The ‘backstage pass’ can be made available to anyone in a transparent way. However, David was quick to note that MasterMind Lounge isn’t just for superstars.
“MasterMind Lounge isn’t just for celebrities who can’t go to the supermarket without having to pose for a selfie. Everyone from the piano teacher down the street to the adjunct professor in another hemisphere can also reach more people more efficiently by using MasterMind Lounge’s simple scheduling system. When I taught voice lessons out of my apartment, I could only teach one lesson a day. I would drive home from the office, set up my teaching space, wait for the student to arrive, etc. A one hour lesson could easily take up two to three hours of my schedule. Using MasterMind Lounge, I could have taught from anywhere, and easily doubled how many lessons I gave a day. Mastermind Lounge handles all the payments, all the scheduling, and allows teachers or mentors to focus on one thing: actually interacting with students.”
MasterMind Lounge is in the final stages of development, and will soon be accessible at MasterMindLounge.com. If you wish to learn more about becoming a mentor or a user, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to our mailing list.
David Sieling came to Rochester in 2004 to attend film school at RIT. In 2006, he left RIT to pursue a career in music and to direct a feature rockumentary titled “Asia: Thirty Years On.” During this time, David traveled as a performer and developed a promotions company built on an artist-centered model. David is currently completing a J.D. at the Syracuse College of Law and a Master’s Degree in Communications from the Newhouse School of Public Communications. On the MasterMind Lounge Team, David serves as as the Executive Assistant to the CEO.