As I prepare for my PRSA International Conference panel – Becoming a PR Leader: The Art and Science of Mentorship – I started to reflect on the importance of mentoring and the many influential mentors over the course of my career.

The research that I, along with my fellow Plank Center Board for Leadership in Public Relations members – Dr. Diana Martinelli of West Virginia University and Keith Burton of Grayson Emmett Partners – will share reinforces the intrinsic value of mentorship and the long-term ROI of these relationships.

Let’s be honest. Few of us can objectively identify our strengths or weaknesses. We all have blind spots. Mentors can help us address those blind spots – both positive and negative – and help us make the necessary improvements.

John C. Crosby said, Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction. I can’t reinforce how important my mentors have been in these three areas through the years. They were my support system, my sounding board, my counselors, my biggest fans and my most constructive critics. They challenged me to be better and to push beyond my comfort zone. In essence, they made me want to be my best and they never let me dial it in.

We all know that professional success requires a strong skill set; but it also requires much more…a lesson my mentors helped me to understand. They encouraged me to not only hone my PR chops, but to strengthen my business acumen and most importantly, to always lead with character and integrity. I would have never learned these lessons without the support and counsel of this amazing group of people.

“Getting the most out of life isn’t about how much you keep for yourself, but how much you pour into others.” ~ David Stoddard’s Heart of Mentoring

Every one of my mentors deserves a post all their own to highlight the many ways in which they have helped me along the way. Unfortunately, the list is too long to include here. But to all of the individuals (and you know who you are) that guided me and helped me become the leader of competence and character that I am today, THANK YOU FOR POURING INTO ME!