Take a Moment to Say Thanks to Your Mentors

Thank you card

Before we get too distracted by the holidays, this is the perfect week to remember and thank those who have been helpful to you and your career. In some cases, they will be surprised by the thought, but you can bet they will be very happy to hear from you.

While in Atlanta recently for the PRSA conference, I had two opportunities to reflect on six people who played key roles in my life and career. At the College of Fellows dinner and in my Gold Anvil remarks, I thanked these significant non-parental mentors who helped guide me during key stages of my life and career:

  • Louise Risch, an elderly neighbor in my childhood home of Remington, Indiana, taught me how to plant, care for and harvest a garden and how to sow seeds for lifelong friendships.
  • William Maxam, PhD., political science professor at Indiana State University,  made politics and the importance of principles come to life inside and outside the classroom.
  • Dr. Otis R. Bowen, former Governor of Indiana. Hired me as an intern and introduced me to how good government can work.
  • Jack Raymond, a veteran New York Times reporter turned PR consultant, who saw potential in me and encouraged me to reach higher than a manager-level position at my first corporate job.
  • Dan Edelman “adopted” me when I moved to Chicago some 30 years ago. Dan and Ruth Edelman opened their world to my wife and me, and helped drive home the importance of family, hard work, and paying it forward.
  • Betsy Plank, former agency/corporate PR executive and first female president of PRSA as well as founder of both PRSSA and the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations, taught me the importance of supporting the next generation of PR talent.

Only one of these mentors, Dr. Maxam, is still alive. Fortunately, in recent years I was able to thank all of them for the influence they had on both me and my career. I’ve had many other mentors over the years and I’m doing a better job of thanking them in real time rather than waiting too long. Either way, the gesture is appreciated and will make you and your mentors feel very thankful.

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