From my earliest days in business, I had three role models: George Abbott, Edward Bernays and, despite having a rock ’n’ roll DJ for a father, Mozart. Abbott was in the midst of planning a revival of his Broadway show Pajama Game when he passed away in his sleep…at age 107. Bernays, the father of public relations, was still going to the office until death blocked the door…at age 103. Mozart, of course, died young but created, arguably, more timeless music before he turned 39 than his equally famous compeers.
I was early in my 20s then, working as a film editor and, when I was inducted into the editors’ union, I was the youngest full editor to be sworn in. That did not sit well with two groups – the people with years’ more experience in the cutting room and the producers who were reluctant to hire someone so young.
The Old Way – Mentoring
Yet some veterans had faith in me, took me under their proverbial wing and guided me along until I started designing graphics and animation, writing, producing, and directing, as well (ultimately leaving editing behind). In response, I emulated my mentors as the years went by and eagerly encouraged younger colleagues who had a special spark.
As years became decades, I moved from too-young-to-know-anything to no-longer-young-enough-to-know-everything. And the people I’d worked beside started mentioning they couldn’t get hired. A TV writer with fabulous credits in sitcoms couldn’t get sitcom gigs…despite having kids in the shows’ key demographic. An IT pro was shunned because, though he’d been programming for ages, his background was considered too old school (though he knew the latest programming languages). And a tech marketer reached the point where she couldn’t get full time positions, just consulting assignments.
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