Be The Placer On The Post


(By Deborah Parenti) “If you see a turtle sitting on a fence post, you know it had to have some help getting there.” I’ve always been especially drawn to this whimsical saying, often attributed to the writer Alex Haley, for a couple of reasons. First, imagine your confusion at finding a turtle perched four feet off the ground on a post (not to mention the turtle’s undoubted surprise, as well). Second, it’s a reminder that no one accomplishes great things entirely on their own.

Most of us are fairly good at acknowledging those who have supported our climb up the career ladder. Listen to any awards acceptance speech from the Oscars to the Marconis and you’ll hear the usual litany of thank yous. Like the turtle at the top, we have benefited from the belief, guidance, and trust of others in reaching our goals.

Then there is a second reason.


Once we have been lifted to the top of our fenceposts, it’s our responsibility and a great gift to raise others to theirs. Emerging professionals and students need the insights and knowledge of mentors and cheerleaders who can accelerate their journey toward success.

I’ve said it before and I will say it again, no one is too busy — and I’m talking to you — to reach out to the rank and file and spend an hour with a member of the team at least once a quarter. Do you want your organization to continue to grow? Do you want it to stay on — or get to — the cutting edge? Ask about their goals and aspirations, and you’ll do just that. Offer advice and encouragement and you’ll walk away feeling good about yourself and your organization. Radio can’t just foster the careers of those already ascending the post. We need to make sure tomorrow’s leaders have a spot as well.

Mentorship As A Two-Way Street

As nice as it is to be the turtle, it’s equally nice to be the “placer on the post,” as it were.

I have found that mentoring and guiding others can be a deeply rewarding experience. Mentorship is not just an act of charity or a good deed. It is a reciprocal relationship that enriches both parties and leaves a lasting legacy. The more you mentor, the more you learn about the future, and isn’t that a key tenet of leadership? After all, how can you effectively do that if the only counsel you seek is that of people cut from the same mold?

Inspiring Future Generations

The saying also encourages passing down knowledge and support to future generations. Much like a baton in a relay race, knowledge and guidance are passed from one generation to the next. The image of the turtle on the fence post symbolizes the idea that those who have reached high positions should contribute to the success of those who come after them.

In Conclusion

In this month’s issue of Radio Ink, you will find plenty of turtles; many of whom are currently on their way to the top of some very lofty fenceposts. Every December I enjoy reading the responses of our 30 and Under Superstars. It is a reminder that fresh ideas and energy have never been in short supply in our industry, despite what some might say.

You will also find conversations with some “placers on the post,” who in their own way are dedicated to the advancement and enduring legacy of radio, by way of its people.

In the days to come, let this serve as a reminder to keep a watchful eye out for the turtles around you. They’re on your street teams, assisting your sales reps, running your boards, and starting a lifelong love affair with radio at their college and high school stations — much like we all did at one point.

Give them a boost.

Deborah Parenti is Publisher of Radio Ink. Reach Deborah at [email protected]. Read her Radio Ink digital archives here or read her latest column with a digital or print subscription here.


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