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Monday, December 5, 2011

The Value of a Mentor

My professional mentor, Dr. Jim Cashman passed away last week.   He was the head of the Management Department at The University of Alabama, a thought leader in management strategy of the auto industry and a student-focused professor. He was the kind of professional and person I aspire to be.

I’m embarrassed that I’ve never quite told him what all I’ve learned from him, so this post is devoted to a list of things that I’ve learned from Dr. Cashman.
  1. Integrity matters.   Big time. 
  2. Get to know, love and learn from people who are different than you.
  3. Find someone you can talk to about ideas.  Not people, not things, but ideas.
  4. Call your mother. 
  5. Learn from your kid(s).
  6. If you are going into business, find a market that is blue ocean and not red ocean- bloody because of all the sharks and competition in the water.   I think he borrowed this from Dr. Dulek at the Business School, but he made it make sense to me when he looked my business plan and told me 2 of the 3 areas I wanted to develop were red ocean- get out of the water!
  7. Solid leadership principles are timeless, regardless of advances in technology or changes in the world around us.  
  8. The oldest continually operating company is a vineyard and winery.  If you want to last in business, find and sell something people can’t seem to live without.
  9. Stay current on what’s going on in the world around you and in the industry you’re in.  Management 300 with Dr. Cashman started EVERY time with a 5-10 minute review of “What’s New in the News”.  Some students thought it was pointless because we weren’t tested on it,  but most of us learned more from current events related to management principles than we did from the textbook or the lecture.
  10. Passion for your work matters and that passion should be tied to helping others through your profession.
  11. Listen to the market.   The market economy works and in most cases, less government interference in it is better. 
  12. Unions are bad (at least this day in age).
  13. Don’t sweat the small stuff. 
  14. Be honest with people, but do so with tact and compassion.   Just telling people what they to hear doesn’t help them in any way.
  15. Reach out to others- you never know when and where lasting, valuable relationships can be formed.
My relationship with Dr. Cashman started through the Faculty Scholars Program in the Business School, but mentoring relationships can be found in cultivated in a variety of ways. Some of the best ones are the ones formed by informal means. If you don’t have a mentor, I would encourage you to seek one out.  If you do have one, make sure they know the impact they have on your life- don’t wait like I did.

What have you learned from your mentor?

1 comment:

  1. Dr. Cashman's Legacy:

    http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/tuscaloosa/obituary.aspx?n=james-f-cashman&pid=154921229

    ReplyDelete