mentor yoda

With every deed you are sowing a seed, though the harvest you may not see. – Ella Wheeler Wilcox

A couple of months ago, I wrote a post about Lessons From My Dad. I can’t say enough about what an influence he was (still is).  Over the years, I have had many mentors. I have studied them from many angles. I probably haven’t listened enough, but I am working on it.

Jason Lee first hired me at a hotel. I was awkward, maybe a bit creepy. I was an introvert, trying to get an extrovert’s job. He took a chance with me. It was a small hotel in La Jolla so maybe he figured that I couldn’t do that much damage.  The supervisor assigned to train me didn’t like the hotel, the people, maybe anything. She didn’t teach me much. The next day, I was on my own.

Stalk the boss.
After a week or so of getting my feet wet, I started to stalk Jason (my boss).  I was hungry to learn and would shuffle through the stacks or paper on his desk offering to help with tasks. He was hesitant at first as many managers are with new team members. After some time, he taught me a few things and then let me help. As I proved that I could accomplish things, he gave me more.

Stay until the work gets done.

Each night, when we had to reset the computer. There was so much dust in the power supply that it conducted electricity. It gave the person doing the reset a little shock.  I had been around computers most of my life and had just taken some classes. I set out to change the power supply (I even brought my own). The computer died and never came back. It was my fault. I felt sick to my stomach.

I stayed until we figured out how to run the hotel without a computer. Not too challenging for a small hotel…unless you don’t understand what is supposed to happen. I went home 36 hours later, still feeling terrible. Jason didn’t yell at me or judge me for trying. In fact, he thanked me for seeing it through.

Work hard, play hard, and don’t take yourself too seriously.

Jason taught me so many basics. He taught me to train, coach, delegate and have fun. We would work hard and then go to lunch or a quick round of golf. And then return and work hard again. While working, we would trade jokes from our favorite comedians or try to write our own.

A few weeks later, Jason asked me if I would accept a resident manager promotion at 2 hotels. I accepted and just a few months later, I took my first General Manager job.

Jason later told me that taking things off his plate helped a lot. It was the night that I broke the computer that made the biggest impression.

The mentor army.

Ray Warren (now retired). A legend in Marriott. I can’t describe my admiration for a guy that could remember almost every associate’s name in a 1300 room hotel. He ate lunch with the associates every day in the cafeteria. He reinvented himself regularly before he needed to do so. When speaking to me (or anyone) he gave undivided attention. He listened intently. He never preached or had to give advice. The best leader I have ever met – by far.
Jeff Campbell. Not only my mentor through the SDSU Masters program, but he also has a hell of a resume. Jeff is a bit of a rule bender like me. He makes decisions for the right reasons, not because they are written down in a rule book.
Larry Beck. I have terrible A.D.D.. When I enrolled in the SDSU HTM Masters Program, I hadn’t ever written anything meaningful. I am not even a good reader.  I had a ton of anxiety about it. He didn’t judge my writing as a “professional”, but as a person. I grew as a person with his approach, insight, and feedback. Before I enrolled, I told Larry that I don’t like to read and I don’t like to write. He loves to tell the story how I have recommend books to him and publish posts.

So many peers and people that have worked with me have inspired me. I’ll miss some but here are some names that I can’t thank enough. Mike Siegel, Ray Cruikshanks, Ever Aguilar, Dan Williams, Tamara Wiley, Ricky Smith, Casey Grieme, Mike Casler.

Countless authors that virtually mentor me through their writing. James AltucherSeth GodinSimon SinekMalcolm GladwellJim CollinsPaul Marciano.

Mentor others.

I have learned from so many people in my life. While I will never be able to thank them enough, I will continue to pay it forward as a mentor. I actively mentor a few people now. From first time hoteliers to first time managers.

I always try to incorporate a little of all of my mentors into mentoring others.

Have the courage to find a mentor. Have the courage to find a mentee. Have the courage to listen to both.

I talk too much sometimes…

Click for more information about the author: Trent Selbrede or simply click the follow button at the top of the page. See any of the prior posts here.

In this series, professionals thank those who helped them reach where they are today. Read the post here, then write your own. Use #ThankYourMentor and @mention your mentor when sharing.