The paradox of choice

Imagine that you need milk, so you go to the grocery store to pick some up. When you get to the dairy section, you see dozens of options. These days, you have to decide on the percentage of fat you want (1%, 2%, skim, etc.) and what source you want your milk to be coming from—cows, almonds, soybeans, oat—the list goes on! Almost dumbfounded, you stand in front of the section and have no idea what milk to pick. There are so many choices that you are overwhelmed. This phenomenon is known as the paradox of choice, and it is becoming a concern in the modern world, where more and more options are becoming readily available to us. 

Our mentorship program is full of choices for mentors. Will you be meeting in person? Virtually? A hybrid? Do you want to meet more than the three times required? Do you want to use the resources provided or find your own? And, the biggest one of all is who you want to be matched with. 

After the program launch, both mentors and protégés are asked to list their top 5 choices of people they would like to work with. Several mentors often say they are open to being matched with anyone and let interVivos decide for them. This doesn’t just take away from the stress of making a choice but has led to many successes. 

We chatted with three former interVivos mentors who decided not to confront the paradox of choice when selecting their protégé. We learned more about their mentorship experience and the benefits of letting the interVivos team decide who they should work with for the program.

Harriet Tinka

Harriet Tinka participated in two interVivos mentorship programs. Most recently, she was a volunteer mentor for the Summer 2020 program. She knows it’s essential for mentors to be open-minded about working with a match because it helps them become less restricted with their views and more empathetic.

Harriet helped her Summer 2020 protégé improve their emotional intelligence. Together they concentrated on building conflict resolution techniques and being effective communicators in any environment. As a mentor, she improved her active listening skills and inspired others to take action.

“Being open-minded to meet different protégés allowed me to gain greater insight into new ideas. I encourage future mentors to be open-minded to let their knowledge grow exponentially. My experience has been unmeasurable, and I appreciate the opportunity to have been a repeat mentor.” 

Mike Zouhri

Mike was a volunteer mentor in our Fall 2020 mentorship program. Mike was open to being matched with any protégé because he believes that general principles, strategies, and mindsets can be applied to most situations to reach those bigger and broader goals in nearly any field. 

Mike and his protégé worked on goal setting and strategies for executing those goals. His protégé had a vision of someday helping a specific community she was a part of. They found ways to flesh out and refine her ideas and build confidence to tackle the concept. Over a few months, Mike’s protégé took those skills and made a proof-of-concept which earned them a finalist spot in an entrepreneur competition, which was profiled in the news.” 

“Selective gating limits you and your impact, whereas being open-minded allows for more possibilities to get involved in the lives of people whom you may not otherwise consider. Those experiences may push you to grow as well.”

Teneya Gwin

Teneya Gwin was a mentor in our Fall 2020 program. Teneya says that being open-minded allowed for a match based on personal or professional experiences and comfortability. Knowing that her protégé felt safe and comfortable sharing and asking questions was a huge component to making a successful experience for both of them.

Teneya and her protégé worked on the stereotypes and personal characteristics linked with the ideologies of confidence in a colonized/western professional world. They also shared ideas for self-care and time management.

My protégé opened my views on where I had strengths outside of my resume and reminded me that experiences are what bring connection. Being open-minded about your match might help you learn something about yourself as well as different careers and businesses.”

As Harriet, Mike, and Teneya have demonstrated, the paradox of choice doesn’t have to be a part of your experience as a mentor. Being open to being matched with anyone can lead to fantastic opportunities for both mentors and protégés. 

Let us know If you would like to be a future mentor for an interVivos mentorship program by emailing us at