Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Have You Thanked Your Mentors Lately?

In the spirit of National Mentoring Month in January I spent time looking back, thinking about the people that helped shape me into who I am today. This is by no means a complete list but I found this exercise really interesting. It would be great if I could somehow thank all of these people for their help along the way.

Bud Wisecarver – My dad. He taught me several great lessons. First off – do what you love. If you really love what you are doing it isn’t really work. To this day my Dad, at 84, is still working four days a week. I saw firsthand the value of being a hard worker and being dedicated to your craft. He was always telling me, “A job worth doing is worth doing well.” He also told me all the time that, “The machine is only as good as the operator.” I could write a whole other blog on that one!

Mrs. Black – My kindergarten and fifth grade teacher. This woman just got me, and she understood how to support me but challenge me at the same time. I was so lucky to have such an amazing teacher twice. She made me feel normal and OK with who I was at the time. Not an easy task. She was really the first person to tell me it was OK for a girl to be smart and express her opinions. Boy, did she open the floodgates!

Mr. Costello – My high school teacher. He was known campus-wide as the toughest teacher the school had on staff (an ex-military guy with really strict rules of conduct in his classroom).  No one escaped their homework duties in his class. He taught me the value of doing your homework, being prepared, and that I did not always need to express that I know the answer. That was tough to learn and I think I still struggle with not always sharing the answer or expressing my opinions.  It was the start of learning how to read your audience and adjust your style.

Coco Chanel – Designer. Obviously I never met her, but Coco's story has always been one that I admired. She really did liberate women in so many ways and was comfortable in just being true to herself and her craft. I am thankful every day for her, and the fact that women wear knits and that's it's okay to be comfortable in your clothes. She was also a masterful marketer and her brand is just as strong now as when she was alive. Coco was the brand but she created a business that was able to live beyond her, just as strong and true to her original ideas. She was truly an early adopter of ideas and technology and she used that to her advantage.

Madame Curie – Scientist. Another person I never met but admire. When I learned about her, it changed how I thought about science. I fell in love with chemistry, and she made me feel okay that I loved my science classes. The realities of college level math took that career off the table for me but I still find the sciences fascinating.

Jane Goodall – Anthropologist. I haven't met her in person but have heard her speak many times, and after my dreams in chemistry died, I turned to anthropology. My focus was cultural and linguistic but I was inspired by all that Jane did with her work. Like my father, Jane really lives through her work, and her research was game changing for the science of anthropology.

In my time with Bishop-Wisecarver, I have been really blessed to have several fabulous mentors. I currently have an advisory board that helps to mentor me every quarter and challenge me to grow in ways that better refine my skills. We all have so many people in our lives, that when we take the time to look back, we realize who helped shape us and change the course of our lives for the better.

I feel lucky to now have the resources to help do that for the next generation through the company’s support of local science and tech fairs. I am proud of our on-going support of FIRST robotics and other STEM based programs.  If I can help keep one student engaged in school, I have served a purpose. If I have helped one student feel it is a true and valuable skill to be able to work with your hands and make things, I have served a purpose. I hope more people take the time to focus on the upcoming generations by passing on their skills and knowledge because it is the most important asset we all can share.

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