Who's Your Mentor?

Edition: February 2002 - Vol 10 Number 02
Article#: 1160
Author: Repertoire

It seems that just about everybody has someone they've really looked up to in their careers for guidance and knowledge. Among the recently inducted Hall of Fame members, for example, Ron Stephenson had his John McGuire, Bob Barnes had his Billy Williamson, and Karl Bays had his Foster McGaw. These are the people who taught us something that we take with us for the rest of our careers and, sometimes, our lives.


With that in mind, we asked readers of Dail-E News to tell us about their mentors. Some of the names that came up: Dick Moss, Bill Willis, Bob Ulan, Don Kitzmiller, Urban Mitchell, Stan Tangalakis, Don Dugar, John Paterson, Hank Kanies, David Webb, Neil Sorrentino, Dave Coulter, Bill Starnes, Walt Fisher, Peter Holbrook, George Economides, Mel Shaffer, Ron Schwartz, Richard E. Daley Jr., John Moran and Dick Holmes. Here's what readers of Dail-E News had to say about some of them.


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I was a sales rep early in my career, and Dick [Moss] told me that people were perceiving me as an “executive” sales rep. I asked him what he meant and he said the customer service group and even my customers thought I was not spending enough time with them and their issues. I was livid and even called an independent rep buddy of mine and asked him to get me an interview with the competition. After doing about two hours of windshield time, I thought about what Dick had said and I decided that perceptions must be reality. I immediately decided that I needed to change. I was going to listen more and spend quality time with everyone. I worked and won the Sales Rep of the Year that year and another, and was on track to win a third time the year I was promoted to vice president.


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I go to Bob [Ulan] from time to time for insights, for product advice and for a historical perspective on our business. He will share his knowledge freely, listens to reason, adapts to change reasonably well, and has never forgotten how to be a nice guy and a great, caring person. Plus, I watched him save a life one day by jumping into a swimming pool and rescuing a child who was having difficulty in the water.


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My mentor and initial contact with the medical industry [was] Urban Mitchell….He expressed a respect for life and an ability to excel in all of us. He motivated others and they in turn committed to do the best for him, his family and his team!


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Dad taught me a lot. He taught me how to lead by his example. e.g., there will always be business for us if we treat clients the way that we want to be treated, and follow up immediately. He also taught me to get to know everyone in the office. It not only will help you get through the door, but five or 10 years from now, that dizzy 18-year-old receptionist may be the office manager, and the person whom she's friendliest with stands a good chance of maintaining the business, or at least getting a shot at it. And last, but certainly not least, have fun in your job! If you can't have fun, then get out of the business and into something else.


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You can't be around Don Kitzmiller and not learn something new.


What You Learned
When we asked readers to tell us what they had learned from their mentor, here's some of what they had to say:
•        To always treat people with respect, and hard work will always speak louder than words.
•        The value of knowing the market better than your partners and competition.
•        Honest and ethical business practices are the only way to go. Also, hard work and determination is the fastest way to success.
•        Followthrough, followup, honesty, work hard.
•        Determine the important items; 2) focus on the important items, 3) pay attention to the details, but don't let the details blur the big picture, and 4) celebrate the success with the team.
•        The fundamentals of how to be a courageous, passionate, approachable, caring, motivating and successful leader who never compromises their core values and standards.
•        Give the customer what they want and then after the sale, a little more.
•        A positive attitude and atmosphere of teamwork.
•        Always be honest with your customers and never leave other customers or employees out of the information loop. Some information is always better than no information at all.
•        To take chances, embrace change and always look for newer and innovative methods.
•        Stay true to your convictions.
•        How to decide what is important and what is not.
•        To remain positive in the face of adversity, and to recognize the things I cannot change and find ways to work around them.
•        The importance of being totally honest and respected. The importance of integrity, and that credibility is one quality that will, above all, distinguish you from the rest.


Writing plainly and simply, one reader said it all about mentors: “He is not around any more, but I still think about what he taught me.”