None of us get where we’re at without a little help from our friends. I had first come across the concept of mentors in the classical literature I read growing up as a kid, so I was on the hunt for them at an early age. Sally Hoover was my first mentor. She was a flower and gift shop manager at Giant, a higher-end grocery chain in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area. My father kindly arranged this job for me after booting me out at age 17 (another story!) At the time, I was a wonderfully, typical teenager: 17, pissed off, and under-stimulated. As my boss, Sally had a transparent ability to create buy-in. Unlike parents, she rarely told me what to do. With a sense of possibility, Sally defined goals and outcomes and she let me make it happen in whatever way worked for me. In working with Sally (note the “with” versus “for”) I discovered I could. Just that– “could”. I could make something happen, I could do a good job; I could even excel.
At 17, 19, 21, I developed my belief in myself. That’s a heck of a mentor.
Mentor Memories will be an ongoing department in Bonedale | Amplified, perpetuated by you readers writing in and sharing your own Mentor Memories- as recipient or bestower.
“I had two teachers early on who were relentless in their support. One was my seventh grade yearbook advisor and English teacher, and the other a college professor. They both created environments in which it was OK to take risks, while also passing down information and skills that they’d learned along the way. I think of them both often, and it goes to show that those vulnerable moments in someone’s life can have log-lasting effects.”
Will Granbois, Editor, Sopris Sun Newspaper
“When I applied for a full-time job at the Post Independent, I knew it was a stretch. I spent more than two hours in the interview room with then-editor Drew Munro, debating the fine lines between the public’s right to know and folks’ right to privacy. I think he tried harder to convince me that I was right for the job than I did with him. In the end, he gave me a task — go to the courthouse and look up information on the murder case of the moment. I did so, and was amazed at the ease at which I pulled up important information I knew people would want. I was always a reluctant crime reporter, but I can’t deny that that sort of access is addictive. He knew what he was doing sending me in there.”
Caitlin Causey, Editor, Roaring Fork Lifestyle Magazine
“In college, my great mentor Professor Knoll maintained the cleverest rapport with her theater students. She could, in the same breath, inspire in us both crushing fear and the rosiest, most earnest hope. Above all else, we were terrified of disappointing her: terrified of bringing her less than our best work, our best ideas, our best selves.
We sought her approval tirelessly, and when we delivered less than our best, she let us know. It was how she let us know, though, that was the mark of her true greatness as an educator. If we failed due to laziness or lack of preparation, she told us that she knew we were capable of so much more; if we failed despite our finest efforts, however, she always smiled and said simply: “Onward.”
Onward to the next audition, the next role, the next achievement, the next trial. When she told us to keep going even in the face of agonizing defeat, we knew that she loved us. That she was proud of us.
Many years after college, I hold that word as a mantra for perseverance in life. It works a little like blinders on a horse, gently keeping my vision straight and my heart from getting spooked along the road. Onward, onward, always.”