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Finding mentors all around you

In the last week, I’ve seen several examples of mentorship in action. It got me thinking about how important it is to find role models in our lives.

A local newscaster

On Friday, Jim Vance, a long-time local newscaster in Washington, DC, died. Vance, as he was always called, was the anchor on the evening news for 45 years; yes, 45 years. In a town filled with so many transients, he was a constant. Along with his broadcast partner of 28 years, Doreen Gentzler, their NBC-affiliate newscast held the number one spot for decades. As I watched the tributes come in, I was struck by how many people he had mentored.

What was it about Vance that moved so many people? I think it was his ability to connect on a genuine level with people. The obits had a couple of good examples. When started his anchor role, he wasn’t sure about how to go about being an anchor. The answer came when he connected with the audience sharing a story about building a dollhouse for his daughter. It was about being himself. And, you saw that play out in his commentary and the way he interacted with his colleagues.

He shared himself with the viewers, whether that was his drug troubles or his love of motorcycles. It also showed up in how he connected with people on the street, as he shared in a 2014 interview published in Washingtonian.

“It’s important for people to acknowledge, ‘Hey, dude — I know you, and you’re welcome in my house and with my family,’” he said. “I learned that, I swear to God, from David Brinkley,”  Vance noted that David Brinkley had been one of his mentors. “Brinkley’s notion was if somebody sees you on the street and you’re pleasant to that person, he’s going to tell 10 people that the encounter worked out well. If you’re unpleasant, he’s going to tell at least 25. It just mathematically works out for you to be a nice guy.”

I don’t think it was hard for him to be a nice guy. He just was.

The veterinarian

Earlier this week, we took our dog, Button, to the vet for her annual visit. We’ve used this vet since 1998 for two cats and now our dog.

After we talked about how fast the summer is going, I asked Dr. Godwin how long she had been in practice. She told me it was coming up on 30 years. I mentioned how rewarding it must be for her to see all the impact she has had on so many local families and pets. She told me that was true, but that she was moved by the impact she had had on others in the practice. Over the years 20 of the techs or others working in the practice have gone to veterinary school.

My mentors

As I looked back over my own life, I can see mentors in many forms. Family members, employers, and a variety of business coaches. I realized I sought counsel from a variety of people on both a formal and informal basis. Regardless, it always makes a difference.

It’s your turn!

Who have been your mentors and who have you mentored?



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