I had a boss once. His name was Fred Hoar. He taught me in small spades, and made me laugh in big spades. These were some of his famous lines on PR:
* “In advertising, you pay for play. In public relations, you pray for play!”
* Public relations has seven times the reach of advertising. Advertising costs seven times more than public relations.”
Even after I left my old company and started my own public relations firm, he stayed in my life as my mentor and my firm’s advisory board member. We met for our mentoring sessions regularly, often over a meal. One day, we were sitting at an Italian restaurant when the waiter handed us the menus. Fred took out his glasses, placed them on his nose upside down, looked down at the menu, then looked at me through those goofy glasses and said, “Things are looking up!” I laughed, instantly forgetting my troubles of the moment.
Fred was a Silicon Valley legend, having played important roles at seminal companies like Fairchild Semiconductor, Raychem, Apple and more. He was one of PR Week’s top 100 influential PR people of the 20th century. He was also a coveted public speaker. Once, he started a speech with the following line, “My name is Fred Hoar. I know I have a challenging last name. Well, I have four daughters, and I call this “character development!” The audience cackled.
These memories are still fresh in my mind, even though it has been more than five years since he passed away. When he died, a friend said to me, “Fred’s PR DNA has been passed on to you and his mentees. Make him proud and pass it on.” I look back now and wonder how many times I have quoted him in new business meetings or staff training sessions to underscore the value of public relations. I think back to how many times I have literally fiddled with glasses over a menu, flipped them upside down and said to family or friends over a meal that “Things are looking up!”
I thank my lucky stars that I once had a mentor in Fred Hoar. He taught me more than public relations knowhow. He taught me the value of laughter no matter the circumstances, and the gift of time and advice to those younger and seeking.
Do you have deep knowledge and skills in your industry? Are you a mentor? If yes, thank you for making a difference. If not, why not start today? Or do you long to learn more from a seasoned veteran in your field? Then be a mentee.
A mentor-mentee relationship could be a structured one, like the mentoring programs offered through various professional networking groups. Or it could be an informal one, where two individuals at a workplace pair up, one to mentor, and one to be mentored. Do you know of a good mentorship program? Have your life changed after you became a mentor or mentee? Do share!