Tim Russert: Great Newsman, Better Mentor

Tim Russert died suddenly last week.  He was a great journalist.  Are you a “Meet the Press” junkie?  Did you begin your Sunday mornings watching him make politicians squirm?  His questions were always tough, but never malicious or sarcastic.

I studied Broadcast Journalism at Penn State.  I never practiced the craft – expect for a brief stint as an intern at a CBS affiliate in Scranton PA.  My year of service as a VISTA Volunteer took my career in a different direction.  But I watched the news with a critical because of this training.  Tim Russert knew what he was doing.  Any aspiring broadcast journalist could learn a lot by watching him do his job.

A few years ago, I read Mr. Russert’s book “Big Russ and Me; Father and Son: Lessons of Life,” a memoir in which he attributed a lot of his success to the common sense approach to life that he got from his father, Tim – Big Russ.  Big Russ was Tim’s first mentor.  He is still alive.  It is a shame that he lost he lost his son a few days before Father’s Day.

And that brings me to the point of this post.  I encourage my coaching clients to surround themselves with positive people as a way of developing their self confidence – one of the keys to success I present in my book “Straight Talk for Success.”  I also tell them to find a mentor, because mentors, by definition are positive people.  They are willing to share their wisdom, knowledge and experience to help others become successful in their lives and careers.

Tim Russert has mentored some of best known names in TV news today.  Andrew Tynell did a great blog post on this on Saturday. 

“It was not just this greater workload that is a tribute to Russert’s skills as a bureau chief. His skills on the assignment desk and as copy editor are evident in the quality of the bereaved stable of correspondents he leaves behind: David Gregory at the White House, Jim Miklaszewski at the Pentagon, Andrea Mitchell at the State Department, Pete Williams at Justice, Lisa Myers on investigations, Tom Costello on the alphabet soup of executive branch agencies, Kelly O’Donnell on the campaign trail. Of those names, none was hired away from another network news organization. All were hired and groomed in-house under Russert’s leadership or inherited when he took over the bureau. Anchor Brian Williams was one of Gregory’s predecessors at the White House in Russert’s bureau.”

Tim Russert not only was a great newsman, he was a great mentor.  If you want to succeed, find people like Tim Russert.  Get to know them.  Learn from them and their experience. 

Have you had a mentor like Tim Russert?  If so, who was he or she?  How did he or she influence your life and career?  Please leave a comment about the mentors in your life.

On the other hand, once you’ve achieved a measure of success, share the wealth.  Become a mentor, share your wisdom, knowledge and experience with others.  That’s one of the reasons I write this blog.  It gives me a chance to share what I’ve learned in the hopes that others won’t have to learn many of these lessons the hard way, through experience.

The common sense point here is simple.  Self confidence is an essential component of success.  Surrounding yourself with positive people is a great way to build your self confidence.  Mentors are positive people who can help you build your self confidence.  We all need mentors in our lives.  I’ve been fortunate to have several: Ernest Buckman, Bert Phillips, Maggie Watson, David Kuechle, Lee Bolman, Bill Rankin.  I’ve been lucky to have been given the privilege of mentoring others, people who have put their faith in me.  If you’re just beginning your career, find a mentor.   Pay back your mentors – those who’ve helped you succeed – by mentoring others.

As always, I’m interested in your perspective on these thoughts.  I welcome and appreciate your comments.  Thanks for reading.


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  1. In the beginning of my career, I worked with a manager called Sastry. He still remains a great inspiration for me. In most aspects, I try to emulate him.
    However, over the years I’ve worked with some of the fantastic managers; I learnt at lest one lesson from each of them.
    Probably I’m a lucky guy.

  2. Joseph:
    Thanks for sharing your story.
    It sounds as if you are indeed a lucky guy.
    I hope you are mentoring others, so they can become as lucky as you.
    All the best,

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