Robin. Relationships, Role Models, Mentors, Leaders and Leadership

posted January 17th, 2012 by Janet Graham - Leave a Comment

I asked Robin to tell me about the relationships in her life which she believes had the greatest impact on her and in particular her work life and career. She said: “That’s a loaded question but obviously my parents had a great impact. My dad was a great sales person but he was what my mum would refer to as a diamond in the rough.  He was not highly educated but he managed to make it on his incredible personality, charm, and salesmanship which is something they tell me I inherited a little bit of. My mum was prim and proper and had rules and regulations for the household. She was stern but warm and loving and wonderful. She instilled all the right things into her kids and was all about nurturing and love and encouragement. She told us we could do anything we set our minds to and was a very positive and uplifting person.  They definitely had the biggest impact on my personality and my caring for others nature which I carry with me almost to a fault.  I care way too much about everybody, even strangers, if that’s possible. So my parents would have had the most major impact.”


Robin continued: “My siblings have always been very, very supportive and I have a handful of very close friends who are very different from me who always lend perspective.  I have a fantastic husband who is definitely my best friend. He was a competitor for years so there was no discussing anything specific with respect to the various firms we were at, there still isn’t, but nonetheless he was a huge supporter, fan, friend, and is a wonderful human being. I would say he is one in a billion.  He definitely impacted me. And our children had an impact too.  Having kids puts life into perspective because when you’re freaking out about markets or having a bad day in the market or at work, you come home to those faces and all that really matters is them.  I have to say, they have a huge impact on what we do. I always got very close with clients, I still do, so maintaining friend/client relationships over the years lends perspective and has an impact. They continue to provide support and advice.”


I asked Robin whether she had role models, mentors or heroes. She said: “My mentor is a gentleman who is 73 now.  When I met him, I was 19 and he was 38 and he worked at a brokerage firm where I landed a summer job. I saw how he interacted with clients and what kind of a business he ran.  I was filling in for his assistant who was on vacation and I was extremely impressed with the whole equity business and in particular, how he operated it.  Originally, I wanted to go to medical school and he really was the catalyst that made me want to go to business school. To this day, I see him regularly.  I learned from my parents, you never forget your roots.  They didn’t really have to teach me, I think I already knew this.  You just never forget your roots and you continue to care about the people who have helped you along the way. He is someone, I would definitely call a mentor.  I don’t really have a female mentor but I have had a ton of female role models. There are a number of wonderfully successful, great women around who I see all the time and aspire to be like.”


I asked Robin what she had seen in how her mentor behaved that she found admirable and influential and how he helped her grow and develop.  She said: “I loved his honesty and integrity on a good or a bad day.  In this business, you can never be 100% right, if you’re 50% right you’re lucky. He dealt with everybody in an extremely communicative and honest way and in a very conservative way so that he wasn’t blowing people out of the water. He did his research and used his financial acumen and his connections wherever he could to make the best decisions for his clients.


I asked Robin what impact her mentor had on her success. She said: “A large impact. He’s still successful today at his age. You have to take notes from somebody who you admire as much as I admire him, although I met him almost 35 years ago and he had his biggest impact on me earlier in our relationship.  There have been other people since who have been mentors.  I’ve learned from other sales people that I worked with on the institutional sales desk and I’ve learned from traders and from research associates. I have had lots of people to learn from. There are so many smart people around that’s for sure.”


I asked Robin whether she saw herself as a role model, mentor, hero or leader.  She said: “I don’t but other people point it out to me. Honestly, I don’t think about it but I’ve been told I have been very instrumental in growing younger analysts and helping them move on to greater levels in their careers by introducing them early in their careers to clients or spotting somebody that’s got what it takes to be really good in this business and helping him/her develop their career. It’s second nature to me but it’s been said that I’ve been a mentor and that people really appreciate it.  I’ve certainly had many calls over the years from young women or even from men who know of young women who would like to come and have coffee with me to chat about their potential careers and that sort of thing and I’m always thrilled to do that, absolutely ecstatic. I am a huge supporter of young women but also a supporter of young men. I’ll always support and help in any way I can a young, intelligent, driven, determined, motivated person who wants to succeed.  There’s a dearth of more senior women in the business and that’s probably why people would say, I am a role model.” I have to say Robin is being very modest in her interpretation of the situation.


I asked Robin to think of the people she considered to be leaders and what qualities she associated with them. She said: “Leaders take the bull by the horns and go with it.  They have an idea and convince others of its merits and attract people to their cause whatever it may be.  In an organization, a leader is usually sort of statuesque in appearance and often has a charming personality and a high level of intelligence and is usually well organized, or should be if they’re not. And they are inclusive.  You know, to me a true leader is a team player, like the captain of the team.  You tell kids that if they’re the captain of the hockey team or any sports/school team, they show leadership by being inclusive not exclusive. So many people are exclusive.  The best leader you can get or you can be is one who includes everyone and makes everyone feel part of the team, an equally important part of the team.”


What Strikes Me?

The relationships which impact our work life and career are often those outside the world of work; our relationships with our parents, siblings, spouses, children and friends


Having children puts life into perspective


Our clients can provide us with perspective, advice and support


Surrounding yourself with smart people you can learn from is a sound career strategy


People teach us a lot by simply being honest and demonstrating their integrity by their actions


Leaders are team players who include everyone and make them feel an equally important part of the team


What Strikes You?


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