I am extremely fortunate to have encountered many people who provided me with guidance in my personal and business lives. These mentors loom large in my memory. In order to be a mentor, one must commit their time, empathy, encouragement, and trust.
I was a teenager when I met my first mentor. I had no idea that he was going to become such a vital part of my life. I can honestly say that I never could have become the man I am today if it hadn’t been for his unwavering support and spot-on guidance.
This mentor was one of my dad’s friends; he became a second father to me. So many of the adults I encountered tended to regard me as just another kid. This man, however, seemed to take an almost immediate interest in me as the person he seemed confident I would one day become. From that first meeting, he was intent on preparing me for that future.
He always made sure that I had enough cash in pocket to hold my own with the other kids’ allowances. But this wasn’t charity. He always had a series of odd jobs that he was eager to overpay me for doing like running errands or driving him and his clients around town. Whatever needed to be done, I was glad to do. I learned more from listening to him handle his business than I did from getting my MBA. He exuded class and had an easy confidence that I immediately tried to emulate into every interaction I have had in my business dealings. More than anything, he taught me the importance of the mentor; not only the advantage of having others to offer experienced guidance and counseling but also the benefits to be gained on the other side of that equation, in offering advice to and taking care of others.
Throughout my career, I have tried to incorporate his kind nature and anonymous acts of altruism into my management style. While I have always been keenly focused on the success of my company, I have been equally committed to pushing every employee to realize their true potential as individuals. The rewards for this have been tremendous for all involved. There’s absolutely no question in my mind that what the leader gets out of their team members is directly related to the investment said leaders are willing to make in their people.