TANGram: Super Mentors

Stephen Tang

Today, I pay tribute to my lifelong mentor, Dr. Arthur E. Humphrey, who turns 95 years old today. He was my PhD advisor back in 1982. Forty years later, I reflect on the profound impact that he’s had on my life. Without knowing it at the time, Arthur was to be one of my life’s “Super Mentors,” a term coined by my book-writing mentor, Eric Koester, in his new book of the same name. Says Eric, “modern mentorship is about opportunity, not advice. What you really need is to ask someone to open a door for you, provide an introduction, or move your resume to the top of the pile.”

I’m grateful to Arthur for everything he did for me during and after my PhD program. He not only helped me academically but also became a surrogate father figure and an influence on my life outside of academia. I remember when I was finishing up my doctorate and struggling with health issues that limited my physical activity. It would have been easy for Arthur to push me harder and expect more from me, but instead, he showed genuine concern for my well-being and helped me get through that difficult time.

After I graduated, Arthur continued to support me as I started my own technical consulting business and went back to school for an MBA. His guidance and advice have been invaluable in helping me achieve success in my career. I know that not everyone is lucky enough to have a mentor like Arthur in their life, but I believe that everyone deserves one.

I’ve been fortunate to have many opportunities to serve as a mentor, sponsor, and advocate for other people throughout my career. It’s something that I take a lot of pride in, and it’s always gratifying to see someone I’ve mentored or supported succeed in their career. As part of OraSure Technologies’ Diversity, Equity & Inclusion initiative, I encouraged more and better mentoring relationships to develop within our company so that everyone had an opportunity to learn and grow. Mentoring is the basis of a stronger and more resilient team.

I also encourage everyone to consider the words of former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice who said, “Search for role models you can look up to and people who take an interest in your career. But here’s an important warning: you don’t have to have mentors who look like you. Had I been waiting for a black, female Soviet specialist mentor, I would still be waiting. Most of my mentors have been old white men because they were the ones who dominated my field.” Secretary Rice and I are Baby Boomers who had limited opportunity to choose diversity in a mentor. I’m fortunate to have found Arthur Humphrey. He’s my role model to mentor others throughout my career.

#SuperMentors Eric Koester #ATestForOurTime #CrisisLeadership #NextNormal

[Image credit: Stephen Tang] Here I am with Sheila and Arthur Humphrey in 2012, as Arthur celebrated his 85th birthday and the Humphreys celebrated their 62 years of marriage. Happy 95th Birthday and 72nd Anniversary!

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