From Mentor to Mentee

November 23, 2015

It was my good fortune to have a couple of excellent mentors when I was younger. Like most of us who are a little gray around the edges, I wish I had listened more.

Most of my staff is under the age of 35, and my vice president of Mustang Marketing, Dianne, and I refer to them as “the kids.” My own children are 31 and 26 years old, and my wife and I still call them “the kids.” In both cases, calling my employees and children “kids” is done out of affection and is not at all a marker of maturity level. Both Dianne and I have been fortunate enough to do quite a bit of mentoring. Usually, it’s done at the college level and we make every effort to speak on campuses as often as possible. Between us, we also sit on a number of college boards and committees. I share these tidbits with you because, at 58 years of age, I did not expect to ever have another mentor in my lifetime. It was my good fortune to have a couple of excellent mentors when I was younger. Like most of us who are a little gray around the edges, I wish I had listened more. However, I think every generation feels the same and wonders why the generation that follows can’t be the one that learns to truly listen — but that’s a discussion for another blog. About once a month, though, Dianne and I meet for breakfast with a husband and wife team. They are about 20 years older than we are and own a very successful business — they have for a long time. Mustang has done some work for them, although, it has fallen off as of late. But the breakfasts have continued. This couple, which has clearly advanced from client to friend, has now also, quite surprisingly, become mentors. I very much look forward to our breakfasts and, while many of the discussions and lessons are couched in business vernacular, they apply to every part of my life. I leave each breakfast feeling great and having learned something of value that I can use in both my personal and professional life. Yesterday, as we were getting up to leave — in a voice intended for me to not hear, but still overheard — the husband turned to his wife and said, “I like having breakfast with the kids.” I practically skipped my way back to the car.  🙂