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Two Of The Mentors Who Helped Me

May 28, 2015

Are you new here?

Yeah, I just started last week. 

My name’s Sal, I’m the Director of Support.

My name’s Rodney. I came here from WordPerfect.

Oh, you’re the one.

This was the start of many conversations that Sal and I would have over the years. This conversation started in an elevator and before we reached the lobby Sam had invited me to a soccer game.

Here’s a bit of career advice. If you are new in a company and a senior executive invites you to go to a sporting event. . .say yes. Sal asked me a lot about WordPerfect. But he also told me a lot about Microsoft. He was a mentor. 

I have no idea why he offered to help me advance my career. Probably because he’s just a really nice guy. I went to him one day as I was preparing to travel to Bogata Colombia for the first time. At the time, the rebels held more than half the country, they financed their rebellion partly by capturing American businessmen and holding them for ransom.

Sal had travelled to Colombia a few months earlier.

So, we’re you nervous while in Colombia.

a little. They announced that I was coming to speak at a group in the city. I told my security detail that I didn’t want them to tell me what security measures they put in place. 

You ou didn’t want to know?

No. I assumed they were good at their jobs. Knowing the various threats they were prepared for would only make me more nervous.

I didn’t have a security detail. I had a driver who didn’t speak English and my Spanish was horrible. But, they also didn’t advertise my coming. 

Hey, Sal, you know that the U.S. Government won’t negotiate with terrorists. If I get captured will Microsoft pay my ransom?

. . .Don’t get captured.

Sal is now an Angel investor. We still keep in contact, and he still offers me advice. . .although nothing as valuable as “Don’t get captured.”

Kent is a VP where I work. He’s over the client that I work with. We joined the company around the same time. Several times he’s helped steer me through some of the intricacies of our corporate culture. Several months ago we were launching a new line of business. As the time for our first call approached, we realized that our system was not configured correctly. That’s my job to notice.

I started working the phones and emails. We had sixty agents waiting on me. I went into what I call “tank driving” mode. I figured out the shortest path to getting the system fixed and then I pushed hard for it. In the process I ruffled some feathers. Some of the ruffled feathers emailed my manager. To his credit, he realized the importance of getting the launch going and understood my actions. 

But I was talking the experience with Kent and one of our directors.

Should I have pulled back some?

No. If it happens again, do the same thing. Kent and I will back you. 

Sometimes it really is who you know. Mentors can make all the difference. 

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren

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(c) 2015 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved 

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