Have a Mentor, Said the Coach

Written by Donna Star

March 9, 2020

Long before I knew anything about being a coach, I was lucky enough to have mentors. My first job out of college was at an advertising agency in Boston. Not that it is relevant at all to this story, but my starting salary was $14,500 – can you believe that? I loved that job, loved my co-workers and the family-feel of a small ad agency. Everyone mattered. We were all in it together. The camaraderie of late Thursday nights stuffing Fedex packages full of print ads for newspapers(!) cannot be underestimated.

I was lucky enough to have several role models at that company. One is Marlene Nussbaum – she was and is beautiful and elegant and smart. A mother who loved her family but also loved to work. She always kept her cool and made rational decisions. She was part of a team of three partners and like all families, this was not always harmonious. Two of the partners were very close and could be somewhat dismissive of Marlene, but she always held her head high and never focused on the noise, never gossiped about them, never took the bait. She simply did her job very well and focused on the business. On top of all of these very admirable qualities, Marlene also liked to have fun. There is so much more I could say about Marlene, but suffice it to say, that it is often Marlene’s voice in my head when I am faced with a challenge at work. It is her grace that I try to emulate.

I also had the good fortune of working with Barb Gibson. To this day, she does not understand why I consider her a mentor, but she is and here’s why – she is one of the wittiest people I have ever met, passionate about her clients, obsessed about taking care of her teams, and unrelenting on delivering a quality product. Barb simply did not settle for anything less than great. She also had a map in her office with red pins of all the places she had traveled, and I wanted to be just like her – a world traveler who worked hard and loved life. When Barb told me I had done a good job, I believed her.

As I continue my new life as an Executive Coach, I am struck by how much these early career mentors have quietly guided me in my career and in my life. While I can help guide you as you continue in your career, I hope you also look for mentors who can provide you much needed support and guidance along the way.

Drop me a line if there is a specific topic you would like me to write about. I appreciate any and all feedback.

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