On Whose Shoulders Are We Standing

Remembering the people who came before us is important.

  1. It calls to mind the things they taught us
  2. It reminds us to say thanks by contacting them
  3. Remembering my mentors helps me recognize that I’m not “self-made”

I didn’t invent what I believe and pursue.  Instead, I’ve built on the traits I admired in others.

Who have you patterned parts of your life after?  On whose shoulders are you standing?

The first shoulders I climbed onto were my parents and my siblings.  I was the 9th of 10 children and my Mom and Dad were both people worth emulating.  My Dad was a life-long learner, curious about everything he saw.  Mom was a great reader and writer.

My male siblings gave me targets for masculine endeavors while my sisters took the edge off that by teaching me respect for their gender.  And all nine had oodles of wisdom to be gained from their particular strengths (and weaknesses).

My first great mentor was Art Elliott who patiently but firmly taught me much of what I know about business and political strategy.  Art ranked highly in his field; he was George Romney’s – Mitt’s Dad’s – campaign manager for Governor of Michigan.  Another gain from my four years working for Art was noticing his spirituality and loyalty to his family.  Newly married, it was a good time to see such things.

The best mentor in my years in the advertising business was Jim Johnson who rose to prominence in the Interpublic/McCann Erickson hierarchy.  Jim taught me every single thing I know about marketing and business strategy.  Jim also taught me courage in dealing with personal strategy as his wife lost both her legs and he contracted cancer in his first year of retirement.

Richard T. Good picked me up when I was unemployed and let me work with his consultancy to learn how to break out on my own.   A brilliant and funny man, he’d grown up in the McKinsey consulting world before being his own boss for thirty plus years.  I still have the notes from the time I worked with him creating proposals and managing projects.

Who do you have to thank for the learning that got you to this moment in time?  What reminders can you gain from thinking about them?  Maybe write or call them specifically to thank them.  You’ll feel good by doing so and their day will be made by hearing from you.

The path to where we are has been long, steep climb.  And we’ve all been aided by those who were further along that path, sometimes as we were sliding back down the mountain.

Our view is better as we stand today on their shoulders.


Tim McCarthy

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