Throughout my long years in advertising, I have been, I think, a mentor to many people. In a sense, I was born old, and even when I was in my mid-30s, two decades ago, people would turn to me. They'd talk to me about work issues, problems with partners, or just the general upsets of ambitious people in a business that doesn't always run on merit.
About seven or eight years ago a young woman reached out to me in this space. She started, as people sometimes do, by commenting. That contact grew into email communications. And from there, we would meet occasionally for lunch. My treat.
That's the way I generally do things. I am almost always busy, but I'll almost always make time for young people, especially if they are good and eager and have the stamina to chase me down. I'm not always good at follow up and need to be corralled at times, and there are people who have learned how to do this with grace. The young woman I mentioned above was one of those people.
When I first met her, she was new to New York, having just graduated from the Creative Circus in Atlanta. I helped her by introducing her to a few friends who are recruiters and to some people at Ogilvy. There, she eventually found a job as a copywriter.
Since then she's moved about a bit. Most of her moves, I suppose you could say I played a small part in. Either offering advice or connections or just a few words of guidance.
Today my friends is at another blue-chip agency working on a Fortune 50 account and her feet are getting itchy. She's getting ready to move on or at least to think about moving on.
She took me to lunch at a wonderful place to talk about her career and to talk about how I'm coping with unemployment.
We talked and laughed and laughed and talked. When the check came, my friend took it.
"I insist on paying," she said.
"I can't let you do that. It goes against every fiber of my upbringing. Boy pays for girl. Old pays for young."
"I insist," she repeated. "It would make me so happy to treat you."
I can't remember ever feeling so flattered.