Mentorship

Spend Your Career Collecting Mentors

In my career, I’ve been fortunate to have some amazing mentors; I think immediately of Dr. Tony Slonim, the CEO of Renown Health, and Kim Hollon, the president of Signature Healthcare. Both of these healthcare leaders have been so generous with their time, knowledge, and friendship.

A couple of weeks ago, one of my early mentors passed away. His name was Dell Furano, a legend and pioneer in rock ‘n roll merchandising and licensing. Here’s an excerpt about Dell from the September 5, 2021 issue of Variety magazine: “Furano started in the merchandising and licensing business co-founding Bill Graham’s Winterland Productions. He would go on to work with some of the top names in music, including John Lennon, the Rolling Stones, AC/DC, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Led Zeppelin, Coldplay, Justin Timberlake, Jay-Z, Maroon 5 and Aerosmith.” Dell was also my brother-in-law for many years.

When I got my first job in marketing (the agency did marketing for shopping malls across the country), I was tasked with forming partnerships with major brands like Visa, Sony, Apple, and more. I had no idea where to start so turned to Dell for help. He had me fly out to San Francisco to spend a week with him learning about branding and licensing in the entertainment business. At the time, he was president of Sony Signatures, the entertainment merchandise licensing division of Sony Corp. For me, this was like getting a Master’s Degree in marketing. Dell’s influence made a lasting impression on me.

What I learned from Dell was that anything was possible if you’re willing to work hard enough to make it happen. Dell and I connected over our shared work ethic and drive. We both loved starting the work day early and getting a ton done before everyone else started their day. Dell also taught me, by way of example, the importance of relationships in business. Dell was a relationship guy. He invested a lot of energy in his relationships.

Before long, thanks to Dell’s mentorship, I was developing a nationwide back-to-school promotion featuring Janet Jackson. At that time, there was no bigger name in the entertainment business. I would later work on licensing deals with Jim Davis (cartoonist best known as the creator of the Garfield cartoon strip) and Cathy Guisewite (cartoonist who created the comic strip Cathy).

Above all, Dell was a family man. For what it’s worth, my mother absolutely loved him! And he always worked to make my parents feel special. That’s just the kind of guy he was. My heart goes out to his family, particularly my nieces Haley and Olivia. You two had an awesome dad. And I had one heck of a mentor.

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