Never Undervalue the Influence and Importance of Your Mentors

4 min read

Last month, renowned Silicon Valley stalwart Bill Campbell passed away. While, Campbell’s leadership background was impressive he was known to many simply as “Coach,” business leaders across Silicon Valley revered Campbell for the impact he had on their companies, and on them personally. Tributes to him were colored with anecdotes of his insightfulness, unwavering support, and his friendship most importantly. For me, reading these stories made me pause and reflect on how critical mentors like Campbell have been throughout my career. Mentors in both my personal and professional life have not only supported and guided me, but challenged and pushed me to examine myself in a different light. These mentors have taken many forms – managers, advisors, friends, and family. One of my long-term mentors, and an early angel investor in my company, surprised me in the beginning by being less concerned with how the company was performing, but rather on how I was performing. He would send me long emails full of ideas on how I could be a better leader. He instilled in me the need to create not only great products, but also a great workplace. He taught me to focus on building a company that employees could take pride in, a place where they would want to work over the long run. Those ideals were foundational in defining how I would structure and run Xactly to this very day. Oddly enough, one of the most important lessons my mentors have taught me is to seek mentorship beyond them. A good mentor recognizes their limitations, and mine actively encouraged me to seek out additional council to guide me through challenges and opportunities that were outside of their wheelhouse. The entrepreneurial road isn’t always an easy one, but for me, it thankfully hasn’t been a lonely one either. I have been fortunate to have many great business mentors to keep me company (and sane) along the way. But, none have been as formative or impactful as a mentor, and friend as my wife. For 25 years as of today, she has encouraged me during challenging times, kept me humble and centered when needed, and never stopped believing in me. No words could ever do justice to the profound impact my wife Marla has had on my life and career. Great mentors are hard to find, and are worth their weight in gold. I am grateful and cognizant of the role my mentors have played in my accomplishments. Take a moment to reflect on the role these people have played in your own life, and don’t put off thanking them for their wisdom and guidance. Just as importantly, look for opportunities to pay it forward at work. I only hope I can have as big of impact on someone’s career path as my mentors have had on mine.