Every Day Mentor, by Arnie Thomas
“A mentor is someone who sees more talent and ability within you than you see
in yourself and helps bring it out of you.” Bob Proctor, Author, Speaker and
I have always been a teacher. My path began working with Head Start in rural
Frederick County, Maryland, followed by teaching in Washington, D.C., and
then with an innovative federal education program designed by Johns Hopkins
University. I am where I am today because someone else saw something in me.
And because I believe in paying it forward, it is my goal to share this with others
and to use this space to pass along lessons learned, experiences gained, the
failures, and the successes.
Along my journey, I stopped believing in careers and started promoting the
value of personal growth. There are no accidents in life – this is a theme I
will constantly come back to – and I believe that we are given opportunities
or invitations to follow “our” road. As I have traveled my path, I have been
a teacher, a head waiter, art gallery owner, director at a Washington Post
legislative subsidiary, vice president of a legislative tracking service, small
business owner, and most recently served as Senior Vice President of Client
Relationships at CQ Roll Call. At each opportunity, I have offered up what I
know to help others grow in their respective careers. I’ve used my teaching
background because understanding how a person learns is imperative not just in
academia but in all professions: if you want an audience to come away with the
point of your presentation, if you want to sell “your brand” to others, if you want a
student to learn then the successful teacher utilizes effective communication and
relationship methods. A mentor is at their core a teacher.
Let me expand upon the notion of not believing in careers, which should tell you
a little about how I view mentoring. Often, I am asked what I think of careers.
With the exception of professions such as brain surgeon – whose focus early
on was to become one and devote oneself to that field – I generally do not
believe in careers because your focus should be to work on yourself, grow, build
relationships, and track your progress. All along the way, be your career; let your
current job act as a way to develop you as an individual and seek the next job
as the next step in your personal growth. Many times I’ve heard, “My career is
not working out the way I thought it was supposed to!” or, “I am under a lot of
pressure to find and pursue a career!” That’s looking at it the wrong way. If your
career is yourself and if you view yourself as a work in progress, then you will be
able to look in the mirror and securely know that you are doing just fine.
As we are all works in progress, that means from time to time and at various
stages of our lives, we find we are in need of some mentoring and guidance so
we seek someone who has experience and is invested in your future. More often
than not, successful professionals have relied upon the wisdom of someone who
has provided good advice and then supported their efforts to grow. The mentee
is ready when they are open to another opinion on how to survive, maneuver,
and succeed in and off this unique village called the Hill. Each one of us is at
varying stages of dealing with our personal and professional life. I hope to be
able to provide wisdom and help with a creative idea or that Ah Ha moment. A
mentee may not always agree with my thoughts and suggestions, and that is part
of the process, but if I challenge you enough to re-evaluate yours, that will be
Every other week, I will discuss topics that will address your challenges and
answer questions as best I can. I’ll also cover topics ranging from networking,
relationship building, branding, and much more. At my core, I’ll always be a
teacher paying forward the gifts I’ve acquired; I thank you for reading and look
forward to being of service to the career of you.
Arnie Thomas is President & CEO of A Thomas Group LLC. He mentors,
consults on client services, relationship management, leadership development,
strategic consulting, and professional speaking. For more information or to set
up a consultation, please email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or use the form below.