Look through your contact list and find your mentor and then thank that person.  All of us have a mentor or two that have helped pave the way for us. Even before we knew what networking was, we knew enough to link up with someone who could provide guidance.

My main mentor is a gentleman named Ken Simmons.  Here’s the story:

In 1988, I was a junior at CW Post/LIU studying Communications.  I got my first internship that fall at a place  called MJI Broadcasting.  I had never heard of it before, but the place was popping.  The company produced shows that were syndicated on radio stations on every format around the country.  Some big time folks worked there. At first,  my job was to run errands, but because I showed an interest in production, Ken and Liesl, gave me a razor blade, some tape, and a grease pencil so I could make music beds.  Like I said, it was 1988.

I immediately realized that Ken knew alot of folks in the urban music world.  And he was nice enough to let me ask questions and soak up knowledge.  When the semester ended, I made sure to stay in touch.  I had no idea that I was networking.  I thought I was pestering a guy who had lots of connections.

So in the next semester my PR class had to produce a symposium for our final project.  We chose music.  Things were not falling into place, so I called Ken.  He immediately got on the phone with Doug E. Fresh‘s people (shout out to Charles Rogers).  And Doug E. came out to speak to the students.  Now mind you, this was now Spring 1989…Doug E. was an extremely hot name in hip-hop.  I got an A. I also dressed up as Tina Turner for a publicity stunt to drum up exposure.  All pictures have been burned.

And then, in 1990 after I  graduated from school, I get the opportunity to interview for an assistant position in the Tommy Boy Media Relations dept. I tell Ken, and of course he knows the head of the dept.  I get the job, and my entertainment publicity career gets started. At the time,  the record label  was busy promoting  Queen Latifah, De La Soul, and Digital Underground.  Not a bad way to enter the workforce.

Ken is probably more like my sensei…mentor may not be strong enough considering all the positive things that happen to me when he decides to make a phone call.

That’s why I mentor just about every chance I get.  It didn’t cause Ken any anguish or stress to do those things on my behalf, yet what it meant to me was priceless and life altering. It’s my turn to pay it forward.

Thank you, Ken.


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