One of my dearest mentors, Pat Henriques, passed away on May 17th. I want to tell you about her because we can all learn a lot from her, and because I hope you take a moment today to reach out to one of your mentors and thank them.
The last time I saw Pat, we met at Kapnos Taverna in DC for lunch. She was dressed, per usual, in a vibrant, sharp outfit and red lipstick, and she owned her presence in that restaurant. If you were to meet her, you'd know immediately that she was in charge. And she was - she'd built a business over twenty years and sold it before she started mentoring upstarts like me.
I was about to move to Denver, and I wanted to treat her to lunch to thank her for being such an amazing mentor and friend. I don't know if I told her, but I definitely thought it - one day, in a few years, I was going to take her back to that restaurant to tell her I'd made it...that I'd become the entrepreneur she insisted I could be.
I'm really sad that I won't get to do that. But I am going to build something she'd be proud of just the same.
Our entrepreneurship program was stacked with incredible mentors....genuine, kind, brilliant people I looked up to and respected. But Pat was special to me. She relentlessly and consistently believed in me, and she saw something in me that I couldn't see in myself yet.
Here are a few samples of things she said to me:
"Why don't you have CEO in your email signature? You're a CEO...knock it off."
"I don't understand why you won't let yourself succeed. Please stop playing small."
"Think about what you've done so far. What exactly makes you think that you can't do this? You can do this."
It might sound a little harsh here in writing, but it was some of the most powerful encouragement I received. Her voice is still in the back of my mind - I think about the vision she saw for me, and it makes me try the hard things and believe the bigger things.
What Pat taught me and saw in me went so much deeper than business, and I've been thinking about that a lot as I grieve her loss. Even when we're in "work mode" - networking and marketing and strategizing - it all comes back to relationship every time.
The money is great, but secondary.
How can we have a positive impact on each other? How can we love each other well, even at work?
How can our businesses be the platform for an impact that can even outlast us?
How can we pour into others, and be filled with gratitude for those who pour into us?
Someday, I hope I can be a Pat to someone else. In the meantime, we're all in this together.