Words of Wisdom: Week of 7-25-2022

Contributing Editor Walt Pickut
Contributing Editor Walt Pickut

The Mama Bear Business…

Every hunter knows this: Don’t get between a mama bear and her cubs. As a matter of fact, papa bears aren’t much fun to mess with either, even when the cubs are not around.

But every bear cub needs a big bear close by to teach it the business of how to be a bear, a good bear, a big bear someday doing the same thing for the next generation of cubs. The young need training, whether they’re bear cubs or your children.

If you’re a parent, you are in the Mama Bear Business. And it’s been said that the most important thing parents can teach their children is how to get along without them… someday. And who has not heard “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” [Proverbs 22:6 NIV]

On the other hand, that’s a hard job to do alone. I’m not sure I like the “It takes a village” idea for raising children. After all, I don’t know everybody in the village. And I’m not sure everybody in the village knows what I want to pass along. I vote for picking more carefully—or at least getting to know—your helpers in the village.

That’s why this week your Jamestown Gazette is introducing our readers on page-1 to some of the best Mama Bears in business around our neighborhood. In particular, it’s about an ongoing local partnership between the Chautauqua Striders Mentoring Program and work experience at Wegmans’ Lakewood store (part of Wegmans Food Markets, Inc. headquartered in Gates, New York).

Another word for the Mama Bear Business is of course “Mentoring,” but in this case we’re talking about “Workplace Mentoring.” That has been described as a “learning partnership between employees for purposes of sharing technical information, institutional knowledge and insight with respect to a particular occupation, profession, organization or endeavor.”

That’s pretty formal Wiki-talk for a simpler idea. In this program students learn through real-life experience with adults good at running a business. Nobody said it better than Ben Franklin. “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” And best of all in this new program, it’s personal.


Most parents—those of us not running our own corner store or family farm—simply cannot do that alone. You just have to know which Mama Bears in your village can help.

While we’re not saying Striders and Wegmans are truly one-of-a-kind, the organizers of this business mentoring program can easily serve as a great model for many other educators and businesses to do the same. That’s how we can strengthen all of our villages, towns, and cities.

It may be that such mentorships, when done well, produce something even better—by which I mean more practical—than more knowledge. Life experience creates common sense at its best.

Common sense gained in an atmosphere of common honesty, common decency, and integrity are key ingredients in the pursuit of wisdom, a human quality beyond education.

So, this week please join us in celebrating this innovative program, another Mama Bear helping us all to create our next generation of community leaders.

Enjoy the read.

Walt Pickut
Contributing Editor

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Walt Pickut’s writing career began with publishing medical research in1971 while working at the Jersey City Medical Center and the NYU Hospital and School of Medicine. Walt holds board registries in respiratory care and sleep technology as well as bachelor's degrees in biology and communication, and a master's degrees in physiology from Fairleigh-Dickinson University in New Jersey, with additional graduate work in mass communication completed at SUNY Amherst. He currently teaches Presentational Speaking in the Houghton College PACE program at JCC and holds memberships in the Society of Professional Journalists and the American Society of Business Publication Editors. He lives in Jamestown with his wife Nancy, an MSW social worker, and has three children: Dr. Cait Lamberton in Pittsburgh, Bill Pickut, a marketing executive in Chicago, and Rev. Matt Pickut in Plymouth, IN.