Sunday, November 2, 2008

Tribute to a Mentor

My mind has been quite full these days with a number of things:

  • Gratitude for my wonderful family
  • Gratitude for an incredible number of life experiences that I wouldn't trade for anything (the good and the bad)
  • Gratitude for unlimited opportunities
  • Thoughts on making a difference in the world, in whatever way one human being can
  • Sorting through some extra "stuff" that I have allowed to enter my life.

As I was sorting through my mixed feelings of gratitude, problem solving and a little brain overload, a question came to mind:

What would Richard have done in this situation?

Richard Giordanella was someone whom I was blessed to meet in the late 90's when I was CTO of a software company I co-founded in NYC.  My business partner at the time brought Richard in to provide counsel and guidance to a bunch of us young guys from Wall Street.  Richard brought many years of business experience to the table, sharing with us the sound business practices and disciplines that we needed for success.

More than anything else, Richard brought his heart.  In the years that I knew him, whenever he applied his deep experience to a business problem, he always kept people first and foremost, making sure that everyone was aware that in the end, our decisions affected people (even ones we never met).

This is the power of a real mentor.  A real mentor is someone who not only provides guidance when needed (whether asked for or not), but leaves an indelible mark on the person he is mentoring and on those whom the mentored person impacts, profoundly changing others forever.

If you don't have a mentor, I would strongly recommend that you find one who gives as unselfishly as Richard did.  Find a mentor who gives without asking, a mentor who is committed to your personal and professional growth and one who changes your life forever.

Richard did that for me.

I last saw Richard in early winter of 2007 as he valiantly fought cancer.  I stopped by to visit him at his home on the Upper West Side of New York and arrived within minutes of him having been taken to New York Presbyterian.  I went to the hospital, spent some time with him where we shared a deep conversation about personal matters, upon which he assured me we would get together as soon as he got out.

I never saw my mentor and friend again as he succumbed to the disease a week later.

Now I sit here sorting through "stuff" and I wonder:

What would Richard say to me?

Richard would say:

With all the great experiences you have had, this "stuff" is easy.  Focus on what is important, ignore and discard the rest and keep those who are important close to your heart.

Thank you, Richard.  You are right.

One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. - Proverbs 18:24

May all of you who read my blog be so blessed with such an incredible friend and mentor.  If you don't have one, make it a priority to find one.

May you be equally blessed to be considered such a mentor by others.

Yours in service and servanthood.



PS   There is a Chris de Burgh song that always reminds me of Richard.  I enclose the lyrics here - it is a powerful song.

Snows of New York

I can see you now by the light of the dawn,
And the sun is rising slow,
We have talked all night, and I can't talk anymore,
But I must stay and you must go;

You have always been such a good friend to me,
Through the thunder and the rain,
And when you're feeling lost in the snows of New York,
Lift your heart and think of me;

There are those who fail, there are those who fall,
There are those who will never win,
Then there are those who fight for the things they believe,
And these are men like you and me;

In my dream we walked, you and I to the shore,
Leaving footprints by the sea,
And when there was just one set of prints in the sand,
That was when you carried me;

You have always been such a good friend to me,
Through the thunder and the rain,
And when you're feeling lost in the snows of New York,
Lift your heart and think of me;

When you're feeling lost in the snows of New York,
Lift your heart and think of me,
Lift your heart and think of me.


  1. Harry, your blog is a powerful and emotional testimony to the impact of a mentor. Gratitude is a liberating and spiritual attitude that allows us to grow. Thanks for sharing Richard with me.

    Dr. Steve Broe

  2. Hi Steve,

    Thank you for your kind words. I am grateful that my story about Richard resonated with you. He would have been grateful also.

    I like your message about the liberating effect of gratitude. It really resonates with me and my own core belief structure. :-)

    Take care and create a great day!


  3. A heartfelt tribute to your mentor, would that we could all be fortunate to find such a mentor.

    Also, it occurs to me that in life we have many mentors. Some good, some not so good. Richard was a great one, and a testament to the power of a positive mentor.

  4. Hi Curtis,

    Many thanks for your kind comments.

    You are correct when you talk about the impact of good and bad mentors.

    We all mentor people every day .... all the more reason to be cognizant of the legacy we impart upon others. :-)

    Take care and create a great day!