(By Mike McVay) Almost every day there is a news story about the change in America’s work habits, and the locations in which we work, all driven by the pandemic. There is a strong general belief that many of us will never return to a formal office and we’ll continue to work remotely. There’s good and bad in that dependent upon your ability and discipline to work remotely and be successful at what you do for a living.
I was having that exact discussion with a C-level executive when she replied to my comment that I’m enjoying working from home, by objecting to my assertion that doing so was good for the industry, and saying that what would be lost would be the opportunity to mentor our future. Of course, she is right that there is value to having a mentor, as it’s a great way to train the up-and-comers.
The discussion that ensued encouraged us both to remember those who mentored us and those who we mentored. I was lucky to have individuals who liked me, and they encouraged me to learn and improve, but the mentoring started with me seeking them out. The approach has to be personal and the relationship has to be somewhat unobtrusive and respectful of one another’s time.
Lori Lewis, a former Program Director and on-air talent, best known for many years now as a Social Media marketing expert and President of Lori Lewis Media, suggests to her clients that “when you can find people who believe in our potential, embrace it! Success is not a solo process.” That quote underscores that we all need someone to pave the way for us, point us in the right direction and provide insight that comes with time on earth.
To that end, I always sought out individuals to whose level I aspired, and as a result they sometimes thought of me when they needed someone with my skills and knowledge. When I wanted to be a PD in a major market, I looked for successful PD’s in major markets and learned from them. When I wanted to be a General Manager, I went to work for one that taught me sales, and when I wanted to be a consultant, I hired that eras best to teach me how to improve my radio stations and my performance.
During my career, there have been those individuals who I’ve mentored, without them ever formally approaching and asking me for my mentorship. It just happened organically. Likely because I saw something of myself in them, or they reminded me of someone I know, and that opened me up to investing my time in them. There is someone every week that reaches out and asks for advice, for me to listen to an aircheck, wants to talk about programming theory or is looking for career advice. I try to make the time to satisfy their requests.
There are many amazingly successful individuals in our industry who have much to share. Seek out a mentor and then heed their advice. Look for that person whose level you aspire to and then earn their respect. To those who are mentoring, thank you. What we give comes back to us in many ways.
Mike McVay is President of McVay Media and can be reached at [email protected]