Has anyone inspired you?
Throughout my career I have had lots of mentors, I remember walking into the radio studios of WCBS-FM with Mike Fitzgerald and being introduced to the legendary Ron Lundy. I loved chatting with Ron about Radio, life, and Mississippi. The last time I spoke with Ron was less than a month before he passed away. He started our phone call with his signature “hello, luv”. Because of Mike, I was introduced to Ron, because of Ron, I met Harry Harrison, because of Harry I met the legendary Bruce Morrow aka “Cousin Brucie”.
Yes, I had some legendary mentors in the radio industry.
As my career evolved, so too did the types of mentors I sought out. Realizing that being “On-Air” was not the path for me, I focused my energy on aligning myself with some of the best in the creative production, imaging, and branding sector of the industry.
Each step of the way, mentors not only influenced who I was at the time, they also guided and shaped who I am today.
When I left the corporate creative world and started my own business, once again I found myself seeking out the mentors who would help me grow. I would always align myself with people considered to be the best in the industry because I knew that the more information I could glean from them, the more I could map what they did, the more I could follow in their footsteps, the quicker I would achieve my personal definition of “success”.
I didn’t align myself with the wealthiest mentors because wealth isn’t success. I aligned myself with people who achieved things and built businesses I wanted to achieve and build.
Over the course of these post-corporate years, I’ve learned one thing: Success leaves clues… if you follow in the footsteps of successful people, you will learn a lot from them.
Learning from Gary Vaynerchuk himself may be the coolest thing for any young up-and-coming entrepreneur, but for me, Gary is another mentor in the path of life.
He has value, brings value, and has a ton of success behind him, and lots more in front of him. Again, he is a perfect example of why I align myself with great mentors.
But before all of these mentors, one in particular single-handedly had the most impact in my life, my career, and my creativity…
Mrs. Harriet Prato.
Mrs. Prato was my English Teacher at George J. Ryan J.H.S. in Queens, NY. Mrs. Prato never discouraged my wild side, never reprimanded me for my insane thinking, and never squashed any of my dreams. No, instead, she encouraged it, all of it. She saw something in me that few people saw, she saw my potential. Not only did she see my potential, she fostered it, nurtured it, and gave me the air cover to develop it. If it weren’t for her, I would most likely not be where I am today, doing what I do. Mrs. Prato inspired me.
Let me back up to an earlier time in my life. As a kid, I was a terrible student. I struggled in school, hated school, and thought my teachers were all douchebags (and for them, the feeling was mutual). Most of my teachers could not wait to have me out of their class because I was disruptive, unfocused, and too much of a non-conformist.
My parents regularly heard that if only I would apply myself, I could do remarkable things. Or, if only I could do the work, I had so much potential. But, I didn’t want to do the work, I didn’t want to be a conformist, and I certainly didn’t want to be in school any longer than I had to be.
As you might imagine, getting out of school was a blessing for me.
Looking back all these years later, I recognize that part of my frustration with school was the fact that I have a photographic memory. Rote memorization doesn’t work for me, it bores me to death because if I see it once it is retained forever. Now, that cannot be said for pop culture, I can’t quote a single movie line except “quick, get to the chopper!” - that’s all I got.
Anyway, my school years sucked, until I met Mrs. Prato.
Mrs. Prato, as I wrote earlier, inspired me, nurtured my creativity, and fostered in me a love of language and storytelling. Were it not for her mentorship, you would without a doubt, be reading something else right now.
Thank you Harriet Prato. You were the best English teacher and first mentor I ever had. Now please, don’t put red marks all over this, OK? I wonder how many mistakes she’d catch in my book?
ken ‘spanky’ moskowitz
founder | ceo | zombie lover