January 30, 2012

I Came Late to the Dance, And Didn't Know the Steps - Linda, Dave and Jack Taught Me to Do the Office Fandango

I don't know where my head has been this month.

Well, maybe I do. I've been busy procrastinating with my freelance writing, and doing all the wifely/motherly/grandmotherly stuff I usually do.

But I darn near missed an important event for January.

An event that is so important that it deserves more than one month.

January 2012 is/was National Mentoring Month.

I know I've written before about this mother and this mother who showed me how I wanted to behave when I married and had children.

And in my professional life, I can name three mentors without any hesitation.

I really needed a work mentor. I came late to that dance; I was 30 before I had a full-time job. My confidence was in the crapper. I had spent all of my adult life up to that point as a mother, and didn't spend all that much time speaking to adults.

Then I met Linda.

My first boss.

My first mentor.

She took me under her wing (as did her husband, Dave). They nurtured me; I gained confidence with every small success that they noticed. After a time, I could recognize positive qualities in myself.

They helped me to shine. They helped me to smile, even when my life was difficult. I still showed up every day - I had a job to do.

And somehow in that office, wearing those ugly skirt/suit outfits, and with that horrendous perm - I found myself.

Then, we all found ourselves unpaid and unemployed. Still, they encouraged me. Dave set up an interview for me, and I ended up with a job in the San Diego area. I packed up the car and my girls and I began our new adventure. I had enough confidence to start over in a new place. Flying solo for the first time was scary...but because of Linda and Dave, I knew I would make it.

Here's something extra nice Linda said about me. Go ahead, read it - you'll begin to see why she's so special.

I learned lots. I found other jobs in other states. I made more money every time. We were no longer just surviving - we began to thrive.

Then The Boy was born, and I had to learn how to leave this precious baby with a sitter and go to work. At that time, it was the hardest thing I had ever done. I felt such guilt; I had stayed at home until after my girls were in elementary school, and here I was, putting my ten-week old son into someone else's arms so I could earn a living.

And we moved again. I eventually got a job in Northern Virginia. That's where I met Jack. CEO of the company, and my mentor (I always told him I was his TORMENTEE). He saw promise in me. He was very encouraging and is one of the nicest persons I've ever had the pleasure to know. He would actually bring his correspondence to me and ask me for suggestions on how to improve it before he sent it out. He trusted my instincts...little did he know I learned how to judge others' actions by watching him.

I learned how to treat others with respect, even if I didn't agree with their position on a subject. I wish everyone could work for a company like the one Jack ran. It was an incredible experience, and a blessing to me.

I played office cynic; I asked the tough questions in staff meetings that everyone else was afraid to ask.

I was unafraid. I felt safe and valued. But life stepped in, and I left that job. 

Jack said he'd hold my position for one year, as he wanted me to return. He even invited me and The Boy to his 50th birthday extravaganza, and to the company picnic during that first year I was gone.

Jack's company suffered along with many other tech companies after September 11, but nobody lost their job. Everyone took a pay cut - even Jack, because he found value in all of his employees. And when things got better, their salaries increased.

IBM bought his company, and I told him that I hoped he made an obscene amount of cash in the transaction.

My mentors had such a significant effect on my life, in and out of the office. There is no way for me to ever repay them for their kindness and trust; for seeing the Kim that was inside me all along.

I would be happy if I could have that kind of impact on someone, for just one day.

Thank Your Mentor Day was January 26. Better late than never.

Thank you Linda, Dave and Jack. You have meant the world to me.

Who inspires YOU?

Who will YOU inspire today? This year?

Wouldn't this world be wonderful if we all made 2012 National Mentoring YEAR?

Lets, shall we?

To find out about National Mentoring Month, click here.


  1. It is a blessing to have a good mentor in your life. I had one at my first job and she was amazing -- challenging me and encouraging me at the same time. I grew so much working for her.

  2. I went to work while in high school and I was surrounded by older women in theri 40s! who expressed opinions, encouraged me, enlightened me as to the ways of the world: "Honey don't take any crap."


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