Share a favorite memory or a few details about what made them so great. What did they teach you?
my english teacher in 10/11/12th grade... he taught me about love... through the romantics and british literature. he taught me about relationships through shakespeare and milton. he taught me about hate and despair via dante.
he took me on journeys that i never thought possible... and i fell in love with writing, stories, and the humans that write them.
The first time I had coffee with the man who became my PhD supervisor, he shushed me as I was about to tell him my world changing idea. Then he grabbed a napkin, laid it flat on the table using the dispenser as a weight and wrote my idea down with a fountain pen in CAPITAL LETTERS. I watched the idea bleed on to the tissue and took it back to my office where I pinned it to the wall for the next four years. That's how I learned to write on napkins.
When I was in my early teens, an older gentleman in our neighborhood approached my father about hiring me to take care of his lawn while he was away. With my father's permission, he approached me and asked me to do some odd jobs and take care of things around his house for which he would pay me what, at the time, seemed like more than a reasonable sum of money per month. He was a retired police officer and I remember interpreting his manner as somewhat stern -- maybe even a little mean. This arrangement went on throughout my high school years and over those years I came to know him not only as an employer but a friend. I learned that what had seemed like 'sternness' was actually respect. More than my parents or any other part-time job, he had trusted me with autonomy. He would ask me to do something and then swiftly hand over the keys to his house, or a wad of cash or even ask me to go and talk to someone about something in his interest. This trust and autonomy inspired a sense of responsibility which, consequently, grew into self-confidence. After graduation, I would return that trust by seeking his counsel and advice about important life choices.
I also had very supportive parents and my father was also a great inspiration to me, but this friend was different. Sometimes I didn't listen to Dad and the natural process of teenage rebellion ensured that we'd clash any time he asked me to lift a finger. Unlike a parent, my relationship with this friend of mine was important because it came from a decision he'd made at the very beginning -- to trust me. He counted on me and never looked over his shoulder. He was open and straightforward in his dealings with me. I never felt coddled or secondary, even at the age of 14, he approached me as though I should be expected to behave in a responsible manner -- and so I did. Over the years there were many questions, many discussions, many inspiring comments, and gestures. None of them were contrived or intentional. In fact, I never thought of him as a mentor.
Later on, I was in my mid-40s when I was told by a parent I hardly knew that I unknowingly inspired her misguided teen to pull up his socks and eventually begin developing a career. All I had done was give him some time. In that time I said some things which apparently he took more seriously than anything anyone else had said to him. Apparently, I didn't talk to him like a guy who thought he should pull up his socks. I talked to him like my friend had talked to me -- as though I respected him -- as though success wasn't just an option but an expectation. That was the moment that upon reflection, I realized it had actually been my father who had reached out to our mutual friend up the street, the retired police officer. Dad's a clever one.
The mentor I ever had was my mother Eula Edward Linson. She started reading to me shortly after birth. She was a rarity in my poor working-class African-American community of the 1940s. She was college-educated and never worked in white folks' homes. Due to her influence, I learned to love books and ideas. She raised five literate children. All five wrote poetry, essays and etc. But, being the first she left her mark on me.
I was coming in to delete mine as I felt it was too public and now I see how wonderfully this has taken off.
I have had a great many mentors: the high school art teacher who my MD dad had helped, allowed me to be her assistant and I was able to be quite creative and then, as someone else posted, in college I would have a rather cruel instructor who wanted me to draw with my other hand as I was so capable with my dominant hand. I stopped drawing and have never been able to draw.
What kind of wold might we have if our mentors were all aware of their power?
Another high school teacher was so kind he came and visited me after HS with cartoons and notes of encouragement. When I studied botany and fell in love with photosynthesis, my professor cheered me on and we visited often. Later in statistics, a beloved Jesuit monk, for whom I took on what he considered the highest levels of quantitative research review, became fast friends.
I now facilitate education with love and kindness (not indulgence) and know from experience that it is most effective. It was for me and has been for some of those I have mentored. We learn in community and in community, we become our beautiful unique selves when respect and kind attention are shared.
I never really had a mentor. I suppose the closest thing I've ever had to a mentor was my Mom. She did her best to encourage me to do good. I miss her.
I've had a dearth of mentors in my life, both in my family and my studies. My college and grad school profs were more concerned with making me their protege than helping me develop my own voice and vision, I'm afraid. But I've learned so much from people, mostly friends, along the way. One guy who made an impression was this dude who was my housemate in Berlin one summer. I was a starry-eyed 21-22 yr old, straight out of college, new to the city and clueless. Guy graciously welcomed me into his friend circle and, in a chill way, made space for me and made me feel like I belong. He was so open to others and appreciative. He took people as they are. I only later learned he'd just recovered from prolonged, potentially fatal illness, so this explained his open attitude to some extent - but then again maybe he'd always been like that. It was a bit of a revelation. At that point, I'd only been a high-achieving scholarship kid in fancy private schools, thinking I had no choice but work like crazy to deserve my place. Berlin guy showed me I could be as I am without judgment and have a great time. I was like, this is how I'd like to be. This is who I wanna be for myself and others. Over the years, I've kept coming back to that lesson and I've eventually been able to come closer to that.
In the business world, my mentors taught great things from two different perspectives. One taught take chances even if they seem not important and change them to opportunities. I would come with all my questions and he would allocate time to answer every bit of it in a strategic manner. He stood up for me on many projects and also came honest in times like "Elleni.....shift your focus." My other mentor taught me to focus on the prize, like an athlete. It felt like tough training, like going in to fierce battle but for the best results. He showed me that there is a greater energy that i can use if i believe and work harder. Make smarter and tougher decision with focus, determination and fighting back until i get it right. He thought me to filter my priorities no matter how important they were. And at a family level, both my mom and sis, are a life time mentors who taught me about positive perspectives and thinking beyond boarders no matter how it felt or it was riskier. On both ends i learned to ask, learn, understand and take risks to better understand situations before giving solutions.
And most importantly, my mentors didn't give up on me as a student. They showed me the way, it was not spoon feeding but rather fight, figure it out and adapt your own mechanism kind of learning. They all pushed me to the edge to find myself and become a better person. They taught me to be strong and keep running to win.
I'd written the first article of my professional career for Arts Indiana magazine and all went well. It was a 2000-word piece. The editor gave me my next assignment, an 800-word piece. I submitted it and he gave me a call, asking if I could meet him for lunch. We got to-go food from a stall in City Market and found a green space in downtown Indianapolis in which to eat. He began by saying, "There's a different arc to an 800-word article and a 2000-word story." He carefully explained the difference and gave me the opportunity to rewrite my piece. He was like that. He came from a teaching background and had in fact written. a book called "How to Write Like An Expert About Anything." He gave me a free copy. My relationship with that magazine lasted for several years. I should look him up and let him know that he really launched my career. In fact, I'll do that.
I have had no mentor so far. I am an Indian and India's Gandhi is my mentor regarding non-violence, humanism, and satyagraha through his books and his life.
Someone once told me that in our desire to have mentors we forget that we can find mentorship in so many people around us, in media, and even ones who have passed away. When we hear the word mentor, many of us think of an intensive one-on-one relationship with a more experienced person taking us under their wing and teaching us everything they know.
This kind of Mr. Miyagi mentorship is so rare and hard to come by. If that’s all we’re looking for we may fail to notice the many piecemeal mentors we do have access too. There may not be one person who can teach us everything, but we can pick up so many bits and pieces of knowledge all around us.
We can find tiny moments of mentorships everywhere, and even from those who came before us, as long as we pay attention. As a photographer and visual storyteller I have picked up lessons from photo books, interviews, sit downs and studio sessions with other photographers and editors, reading diary entries, and so much more.
During a portfolio meeting with a photo editor I admire I was told to work more in the way of series. Now a year later I am completing my first photo book. Reading the note books of Josek Koudelka have taught me about focus and commitment. Conversations with my friend and peer Dan Rubin have taught me dozens of technical things. Photo walks with my father when I was just a little boy planted the seed. The list keeps growing to this day.
There are so many official and unofficial mentorship moments I have been able to enjoy. Being able to pass these lessons on is one of the main reasons I started Process (wesley.substack.com), my newsletter about photography and finding your voice. We can all be mini mentors for those seeking out knowledge, even from afar and without ever meeting each other.
I would definitely have to say my father (as cheesy as that sounds). My father had to overcome a significant amount of adversity in his life. From being in the Gulf War and Iran war serving for Iraq, for 11 years he experienced many things that would crumble most men. From escaping Iraq with nothing but himself, his wife and 2 children, his life story has taught me the true meaning of persevering and developing a strong mentality.
I fought constantly with Mr. Cowie, one of my high school English teachers, and he downgraded me for it (so I resented him even more). But he taught me about language: every morning he would put a quote on the blackboard and challenge us to explain its meaning, not the words but the emphasis. One I remember vividly, and quote often: "the fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars but in ourselves, that we are underlings." He asked us whether the emphasis should be
that WE are underlings
that we ARE underlings
that we are UNDERLINGS.
The meaning changes, depending.
That taught me to pay attention to word flow and stress, not only the words themselves.
Studying at the Naropa Institute as a young man in my 20s, I was suffering from writers block -- because I'm a perfectionist. My instructor, the late, great poet Allen Ginsberg, taught me to just write what I feel. Since that point I've incorporated his "first thought, best thought" mantra into my writing.
I'd have to say my college president, Richard Schneider, who just retired from Norwich University after 20 some-odd years. I got to know him a bit better than your typical college student, because my mother was one of his assistants.
Norwich is a military college (I was a civilian there), but he reinforced for both the military and civilian sides that the key to success is a strong set of moral convictions. He had a speech that he'd roll out every year where he'd point out that major public failings, like Enron or Abu Ghraib happened because everyone involved put their heads down and ignored the problems, or went along with them, and that strong, moral leaders were the ones who stood up when they saw something that they knew was wrong.
He's also someone who knows a lot about history, and I was lucky to work on a couple of Staff Rides for the university as a historian — a glorified, leadership-oriented field trip — to places like Normandy and Belgium. He had some interesting insights into how leaders conducted themselves on the battlefield or within the chain of command, and while writing, his lessons are frequently at the top of my mind, to the point where I still send him clippings every now and again.
The best mentor I ever had was the professor I worked with during my time in a doctoral program. He was a warm and open person. Many of us in the research lab would meet for breakfast each morning and share thoughts. He was also available to talk across the course of the day, and we often shared thoughts over an afternoon cup of coffee. It was the openness and willingness of this very intelligent person and highly regarded individual to meet and discuss like peers that I found so meaningful. Not only did I learn a great deal about the subject I was engaged in, I learned a great deal about how to be a good leader and a kind individual.
His name was Jim and I was paired with him as part of a high school mentoring program. We met regularly on Saturdays for lunch and we'd talk about all sorts of things -- usually related to technology and computers, but not always. We met like that for years and he even checked in on me after I'd left for college.
Arguably the best thing he ever did for me was give me a copy of an HTML tutorial that he'd photocopied from some PC magazine. This would've been around 1995 or 1996, so HTML and web design were *very* much in their infancy. Regardless, I spent that summer creating my very first webpages (for imaginary bands, of course) with Notepad and Netscape Navigator.
Suffice to say, I'm not sure I'd have the career that I have today if Jim hadn't given me that HTML tutorial, or invested in me so much as a high school student.
Thomas Boushall was the founder of The Bank of Virginia in 1922. When I joined the organization in 1958 as a management trainee, the only state-wide bank at that time, Mr. Boushall was still Chairman and CEO. By then he was so revered that the Governor of Virginia would the walk three blocks from the Governor’s mansion to Mr. Boushall’s office at 8th and Main St., Richmond, Virginia, to confer with him. From my small desk, I watched this level of respect, paid by the most important elected official in the state. Yet Mr. Boushall remained so humble that, when he retired, he walked through the office and shook the hand of everyone, every teller, every clerk.
When I was training as a commercial loan officer, Mr. Boushall stopped by my desk to see how I was doing and offered one piece of advice. He said “Wayne, when interviewing the management of a business to determine if their loan request should be granted, ask yourself one question before your final decision—would you invite them to your home for dinner. If you cannot answer that question with a yes, decline the loan.” During my more than half century in the world of business, this proved to be the best single piece of advice I received. Works outside of business too!
I must've got the ping for this prompt just as I was thinking about my old manager.
Today, I was thinking about a little off-the-cuff remark he made to me which I thought was pretty insulting.
I can't even remember the exact circumstances of this remark, but I remember it stung. My manager would go on to say a lot of messed up things to me - some of them while drunk at the Christmas party - but this comment is the one that bobs up into my mind without warning, without any connection to what I'm doing in the world outside my head.
At the time, I was dating someone in the company much more senior than me. For the first time in a long time I'd met someone who understood my way of thinking. It felt rare and special, and consequently I felt rare and special.
And the little, throwaway, nothing-ness line my manager sent my way was, "You don't have to agree with him all the time, you know."
Like I just went along with what this more senior individual said.
Like I never stopped to consider whether I actually agreed with him or not.
Like I was this impressionable young writer who was swept up in the excitement of the relationship, the experience, the feeling of belonging that comes along with someone else 'getting it'.
I thought it was an insult then. But there's a reason it surfaces every so often in my mind. Was it an insult - or was it a warning? Could he see something I couldn't in that doomed relationship? Was he, as my manager, conscious of some strength or skill or opinion I had that was being over-shadowed by someone else's volume and confidence?
I've never thought of that old manager as a mentor because our relationship turned so sour in the end. But maybe he embodied a lot of what good mentors are: perceptive, challenging, critical. Even, in his own way, empowering.
He's maybe not the best mentor I ever had, but he was definitely the one I was thinking about today.
I was once “assigned” a mentor when I worked at a Fortune 5 company. I didn’t really understand how the mentor process was supposed to work but I assumed that I would pick mentors that I’d found inspirational instead of someone that someone else decided should be my mentor. Turns out that my supervisor had done a really good job of pairing me with someone who had shared interests with me and a similar disposition. We worked well together and she was always available when I reached out to her. But interestingly, she would make it her business to know things that I was working on and would reach out to me when I had accomplishments, or events and activities that needed to be recognized or celebrated. I found that she was getting as much out of the experience as I was. I think that makes all the difference. You don’t want to mentor who feels put upon. Do you want a mentor who sees the relationship as mutually beneficial.
I've always liked the idea that the messenger is the message. The people who've impressed me most in my life aren't necessarily the ones who taught me anything, they just embodied peace or happiness or dynamism. I loved being around them.
As for people who actually taught me things, my mother's way up there with 'Everyone's doing their best' and 'You don't need to achieve or be anything specific to love yourself'. This doesn't mean being narcissistic or not doing anything, it just means not hating yourself based on your lack of results. I find putting the cart before the horse like this incredibly useful: the happier and more secure I feel the more I improve myself and the more I get done, and the more I dislike myself for my flaws the more they manifest themselves and the less I get done.
I had a few wonderful professors when I was studying English as an undergraduate. They all taught me things about reading and writing, but beneath the surface they were also teaching me about empathy, about keeping an open mind, about listening before speaking, about recognizing the power of my voice and using it to effect change. I am indebted to them for the way I view the world today.
A high school language teacher, who penetrated my rigid defenses to open a path to the world for me. He persisted, because he was a caring, giving person. He taught me it was safe to trust judiciously and that the world has more to enjoy than to fear. Most importantly, he taught me to trust myself. I struggled for years with my indebtedness to this extraordinary man, realizing that my only option was to pass his gifts on. I fervently hope that there were some in my 4 decades of practice of psychiatry who received these blessings.
The most important lesson: never say no to yourself. He meant that when an opportunity comes and a choice must be made, make the choice that helps you grow even if it is uncomfortable.
A colleague of mine, who was my boss for a while. He taught me how to take ownership of things. He also taught me (through showing me) how to be more direct and voice my disappointment with people. It's something I used to struggle with, because I didn't want to rock the boat.
My older sister showed me that I could be whatever I want if I put in the work.
My high school debate coach, James Rahenkampf. His advise was to ask what I really wanted to know. Not some gotcha stuff, or clever word plays. Just simply ask what I wanted to know. Best advice I've ever had.
I'll never forget when my mentor told me, "I want you to out do me." I had never met anyone truly invested in my success, and the idea that you could want someone to have more than you was foreign to me. It just wasn't something I'd experienced in my small town. I met my mentor in college. She had grown up 20 minutes up the river from me, and she was the first woman I'd met from the region who was living a life close to what I dared myself to dream about.
I studied music theory and composition in college, I guess because I'm intrinsically impractical. After college and a failed attempt at grad school I wound up in the field of web development. However, I have always remembered Charlene Harb, my coffee-swilling, cigarette-toking form and analysis professor. Musical form was a fascinating subject, and as I realized later, not strictly limited to music. I often write essays using the principles, if not actual forms, learned under her jurisdiction.
The best mentor I've ever had was a manager who would give me an assignment, let me fall on my face, and then pick me up and patiently show me how to improve. I didn't realize until I hit version 30 of a deck that all of the comments and feedback were not only to improve the deliverable, but also my skills in the job. She taught me that details matter!
The best mentors that I have had all shared the same quality. They were able to see me for my potential, not as I was presenting me at the time, and were willing to work with me to develop whatever skill I was lacking that was holding me back at that time. They've taught me the value of teamwork (being cliche), that it's far better to bring out the strengths in others because no one person can possibly know or do everything, and that in doing so you'll get the best from others and benefit from their growth, as they benefited from my development.
I've never had one, which is often true for women, and why I want one so much and why I applied for the mentorship program.
I think my favorite mentor has the following characteristics:
- They are ~5 years older than me
- They had a similar life experience growing up (in my case, moved around a lot when growing up)
- We hang out roughly quarterly
- He acts as a sounding board rather than giving me concrete suggestions – helps me frame the decision instead of making it for me
My adviser in college stands out. He spent a lot of time encouraging my work and writing and helping me learn to think about other perspectives. I had always been a terrible and disinterested student until I started college. I couldn't get into even my state university and instead scraped into a local offshoot of the state university system that was not highly thought of. It turned out to be a great experience, in large part thanks to the encouragement I received. Thanks for this post, I'm going to reach out to him today.
The best advice I ever got (thanks to my coach Mariëlla at Warber Human Resources):
To set aside time to work together with the smartest people I can find on the challenges that really occupy me, and be fully open with them. I've followed it only sporadically, but always with great results. A few times a year, whenever I can manage, I organise an afternoon or weekend with a small group of the smartest and most thoughtful people I have had the pleasure of meeting. We each prepare a case and discuss it with the group with great openness and trust. This has changed key outcomes for myself and other participants, and driven my development as a person and as professional in significant ways. Especially when facing a big upset, checking in with smart, believable people about your goals and approach is a game-changer, and you get to help in kind.
I highly recommend the practice to anyone who is really motivated to always grow as a person and always contribute to the growth of others. Make your list. Plan your time. Prepare your cases. And watch your life, and perhaps even the world, change a little for the better.
When I consider a favorite mentor, I think of my maternal grandmother with sprinklings of my mom. These ladies were stable sources of inspiration throughout my life and remain in memories in their physical absence. Although born in the Deep South in 1904, my grandmother never subscribed to the many thralls of segregation and oppression. For her life was about creating a sense of self-worth and creatively evolving through what she referred to as ”spunck” (tenacity). That was what made her great, while teaching generations the value of using what life brings as stepping stones for the next path. I think the most significant lessons were interwoven in daily practices. It was about paying close attention to who you are but paying closer attention to who you are ascribing to become.
I worked as a low-level technician in a science organisation, and a "retired" scientist (i.e. not paid and kicked out of his office, but still working) sat in the lab near me. Once he realised that I was interested in learning, he took it upon himself to share his vast knowledge with me. He never told me an answer, rather he taught me to try and work things out, then check my guesses, then correct myself and try again. I learned really good botany skills from him, but I learned so much more as well. He was immensely patient and so I learned to be patient. He was utterly humble and so I learned that an expert can be someone who uses their knowledge to inform others but never makes them feel ignorant or small. He wasn't effusive with praise, but he was always generous, giving more credit to my tiny efforts than to his much greater contribution. I learned so much about how to treat others from him and I was so lucky to have known him.
I have a bunch. But when you are taking about the best then I'm more than happy to drop his name into another place on the internet.
Even if it is just to keep his name alive.
I owe him a lot. But never really got the chance to thank him properly.
Apologies for the blog link but I wrote about him here... http://documentally.com/2009/10/13/graham-wiseman/
The best mentor I ever had was the one who was canceled. Someone who gave me my first two speaking engagements couldn't keep his hands to himself and was ultimately removed from a position of leadership. He was given the opportunity to engage in restorative justice, but was arrogant and thought the #metoo movement wasn't real.
The most important lesson I learned from my mentor is that they are human, fallible, and will need to be left behind.
The summer after my sophomore year in high school I enrolled in a Guided Research Project and was paired with a neuroscientist at the Section on Neuropsychology at the National Institutes of Mental Health in Bethesda, Maryland, Dr. Mortimer Mishkin. When I first met Dr. Mishkin I was interested in the phenomenon of “imprinting” as described by Konrad Lorenz, but he suggested I study the function of the corpus callosum instead. The corpus callosum is the great cerebral commissure that bridges between the right and left hemispheres of the brain, connecting the cerebral cortex of the two halves of the brain and integrating the two.
During my summer of research I would meet Dr. Mishkin one evening a week to show him my progress. After some initial floundering, he admonished me that I had to do the work, and so I pulled myself together and dutifully took a bus downtown each day with my mother’s old leather briefcase, mounting the front steps to enter the great rotunda of the Library of Congress, where I could methodically call up specific articles from the scientific literature and make notes on five by eight index cards. As the summer progressed, Dr. Mishkin taught me how to edit my writing, and in the end I produced an illustrated 60-page report describing all the scientific research that had been done up until that time on this part of neuroanatomy.
Dr. Mishkin once said something along the lines that we could always keep on improving our writing by more editing, but we just run out of time.
For his contributions to science, Dr. Mishkin was awarded a National Medal of Science by President Obama in 2009.
The best mentor I ever had was one of my professors from school in Boston. I loved her class, but our relationship wasn't beyond pedagogical.
It was when she was on a sabbatical, staying with her girlfriend in Lisbon for a year writing her book, and I had gone for vacation with my girlfriend. We four met for dinner and spent a lot of time together. She mentioned that as she is growing older, she wants to live small. She wants to have the life that is comfortable, but all the ambition, which sometimes comes at the cost of health or relationships is futile. It had a profound impact on me. We try to speak at a regular cadence since, and her wisdom is something that I cherish a lot.
In my first corporate job, my boss and mentor shared some amazingly simple but powerful communication advice as I started to join some of my first big meetings. Rather than just blurting out the details of what I am working on, he told me to always make sure to "pick everyone up" from where they currently are with their knowledge.
I was blessed to begin my professional career with 2 excellent supervisors. My first supervisor at my first professional job told me: “Never think that you're irreplaceable. They can replace the President.” A good way to tell me not to get high-minded. At my second professional job, I was required to do a lot of writing and I had no writing experience. My supervisor said: “You can do it. Just write like you're talking to me.” That advice eased my anxiety and writing reports became the easiest part of my job duties. Both supervisors always encouraged and supported me.
College Speech & Debate Coach — “If you can’t fix it, feature it!”
A former professor and mentor of mine gave me the positive nudge to take a trip to Nashville, which led me to my first job at a record label. He taught me about all the world of music!
It was my second editor job, working as Food & Drink Editor for that's Shanghai magazine. I'd been hired by the Managing Editor, Steven Crane, an eccentric but talented man with a brooding intelligentsia presence, and a moody office set back from the main room where he pondered and chain-smoked all day long. Despite laidback appearances, he was an excellent organizer and taught me how to manage my time well, as well as helping me craft my writing style with an older brother, conspiratorial approach that meant you felt like you were working with family. It was a close management approach I have kept to this day, and while my role, responsibilities, and pay packet have improved immensely since those days in 2005, I still miss the ramshackle converted mansion we worked in, and the sheer unexpected fun that came with going to work every day.
It was a fabulous woman in Singapore - now US based. Very senior, beautiful, had achieved so much that I was in awe. I clearly remember her sharing fears, insecurities, and it was one of those true lightbulb moments - for I realised that even those who looked externally like they had it all together, had many of the same fears I did. We went on to have a deep, meaningful and lasting relationship that continues to this day
At 18 I was playing the bar circuit in Hawaii with my younger brother and friends from high school, playing the hits of the day (Stones, Beatles, Motown, Blues, Doors, Santana etc.); our rhythm guitarist went to college or some such foolishness, so we advertised and found a 25 year old dude from Texas who drove a 57 Thunderbird coupe and had a large collection of rare guitars. Turns out he had a music store in Austin, some "deal went down" and he packed his car with guitars, drove to the west coast and shipped out to Hawaii, car and all. He knew everything about anything to do with blues and rock and roll. He taught us to do James Brown and Wilson Picket; and effortlessly learned new and old songs in order to keep our set fresh. He taught me how to compromise between art and the marketplace and still have a good time. There are millions of songs in the world and it's not difficult to find the ones I like, and that the audience likes. It's a skill every starving artist in every field needs to acquire.
While I was studying in seventh, in a unit test in mathematics, the question paper had seven questions out of which only five had to be worked out.
I attempted all but struck down two as I had a doubt because the answers were showing in decimals.
Later, I came to know that all my answers were right. I was expecting 100. And, surely, the teacher marked 100 but struck the same and wrote 99.
I tried reasoning with him that the workings not struck were all correct and also there was nothing like one mark was reserved for neatness, etc.
The teacher replied, “You deserve 100. But, I still deducted one mark because you showed lack of confidence. Had you, instead of striking out two workings, written ‘Value any five’, I would have gladly given you 100.”
Was he right? To this day, I still wonder at his advice.
Sadly, I am a writing orphan. I attended Hard-Knocks University and skipped out on Lit class. But I’ve learned a lot by reading the works of Thomas Pynchon, Gabriel Garcia Márquez, Hunter Thompson, Marge Pierce, and the poets Allen Ginsberg, Stuart Perkoff and Philomene Long.