Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Mentor

I think everyone needs a mentor, whether it's for work, sports, family or just for fun.

Mentor is a character from Greek mythology whom Odysseus when leaving for the Trojan War placed in charge of his son. A student of a mentor is called a protégé. So now that we have the history and the terminology thing explained, let's get on with the more interesting stuff.

No one is really born with all the knowledge and insight they need in life so we learn from other people around us, sometimes to our benefit or detriment. A good father shows a son how to treat women with love and respect, how to make the right choices in life, how to be strong when life is bad. A good work mentor shows their protégé how to negotiate, or how to sell or how to manage a company or employees. You get the picture.

I feel that "mentor" is a title someone bestows on you, not one you give yourself, unless the protégé tells you that you are/have been a mentor to them. Doing so is just a bit arrogant; some people like to inflate their self-worth by carrying around the label "mentor" when telling stories at work or parties. Not cool. I suspect that I've been a mentor to some, but I'm not seeking out the title or tallying up a protégé list. That's really not important to me. I'm happy trying to just be a good example, not by being perfect ('cause God knows I'm not that), but by trying, failing and learning.

I've been lucky enough to have several mentors. I try to imitate the best from the people I most respect because no one is perfect and totally imitating one person is far too limiting (and a bit creepy). No one person has it all. I don't know where I'd be without some of these key people who have taught me great life lessons, the kind of things you think about when the day gets quiet.

The interesting thing is that we all go through life making an impact on others, perhaps not as strong or formal as a mentorship, but you'd be surprised at how people look at you and think, "that impressed me". It's very humbling when someone starts their story with "I remember when you once said..." I suddenly panic, OMG, what did I say in some flip way or without thinking that has changed this person's view on things. But it usually works out OK, especially as we get a bit older. It's rare that a 20 year-old is a mentor. You've got to give the wine time to mellow a bit.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Perceived Loss of Value

I heard the other day that there was a class action suit filed by Lexus owners that their cars were now worth less due to the negligence of Toyota (Lexus' parent) in the recent quality problems. Interesting situation. Some people might say, too bad, but in reality, if these people suffer a loss of some amount due to the negligence of the manufacturer, should they be compensated?

Here's a parallel situation. You're at a red light and get rear ended. Not your fault and the other driver's insurance pays all costs to fix your car, even with original parts. However, your car is most likely worth less than an identical car that was not in a crash. Through no fault of your own, you have a "perceived loss of value". But did you get compensated by the insurance company for this? Probably not. Here's an interesting article on the topic.

So while the Lexus suit is interesting, it seems only a matter of time before there is a class action suit against Toyota for perceived loss of value if it hasn't happened already. After all, how much has a Camry or Prius lost in value due to all this?


Sunday, March 7, 2010

Magic & Bird

Old School Rivalry. The Lakers & Celtics, the Forum & the Garden, Magic & Bird. It was the rivalry that inspired them both and us. I watched the special on HBO last night and it was outstanding. Bryant Gumbel said it well, "Some people say Michael Jordan saved basketball. Bullshit. Bullshit! It was Magic and Bird".

The HBO special follows Earvin and Larry from their beginnings in Michigan and Indiana, through college, in the NBA and afterward. What makes this highly authentic is that the show is largely an up close and personal interview with Magic & Bird, not some commentary by friends and people in the know. I think you see some very personal glimpses into these guys, what drove them, what defeated them, and what made them champions in basketball and in life. They were truly the greatest inspiration for each other.

It's 90 minutes well spent, and if you love the game and have any roots back to the 80s, or just want to see what shaped modern basketball without watching black and white reels from the 50s, you cannot miss this show. Here's the preview. Great job HBO. Thank you Magic & Bird.