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Caught in a Mentor Sandwich

So, just a couple of days ago and I’m standing in a classroom inside the McCombs Business School at The University of Texas sharing an example of how much our lives have changed since the early, heady days of the interwebs, when Gopher was a viable contender to HTTP and the geeks were still yet to inherit the earth. In front of me are 35 UT undergrads leaning in and looking pretty engaged. On my left is one the most important mentors in my life and professor of the class, Bob Pearson.

I take pause to drink in what was happening. Here I am guest lecturing at one of the top business schools in the US, dropping knowledge and experience on eager students, flanked by my mentor Bob who, in turn, has dropped much knowledge and experience on me over the years. It’s a meta moment when epiphany strikes: I’m caught in a mentor sandwich — and what a great place it is to be.

It’s a natural inflection point, I suppose, a passing of the torch when the student becomes the teacher, when a mentee becomes a mentor — it’s just that it came into sharp focus on that day and in that moment.

I’ve had a passion about media since I was young, diving into Marshall McLuhan’s “Understanding Media” in high school, later reading works by Noam Chomsky and peeling back the onion on social linguistics as philosophized by Steven Pinker — yet, while they may have helped me lay a foundation of knowledge, these giants got nothing on Bob. For me, he’s sits on that bridge between philosopher and doer, an accelerant who wastes no time translating great ideas into reality, drilling into me that Edison was absolutely correct, “Vision without execution is hallucination.”

I’ve had the good fortune to ride shotgun with Bob for almost 20 years as he ideates in real time and then assembles teams to bring an innovative idea to life — something I try to emulate every day. He’s taught me the value of reading a situation to assess when you toe the line versus beg for forgiveness later (hint: it’s usually the latter). And most importantly, he has been a good friend that has pushed me to have a greater sense of fearlessness as I move forward through life — to just tackle every problem with confidence in my personal toolkit of intellect, grit and a constant sense of humility.


Thanks, Bob — and great job of team!


Each month, HCB is featuring a Fundamental of the Month, each related to one of our core values of Humility, Curiosity & Bravery. In January 2019, it was “Be a Mentor.” Watch for upcoming posts related to February’s fundamental, “Be a Solution Seeker.”


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