Mentoring comes in all shapes and sizes

Have you ever been influenced by someone and chances are that person never even knew their impact on you?

During the 2013 Annual NORDP meeting in Austin, TX I was invited to join a dinner group hosted by Ioannis Konstantinidis.  It turned out that the dinner group was full, but he told me to come anyway.  We walked a short distance to a restaurant and when we sat down at our table Ioannis told us about the rich history of the restaurant, Threadgills.  I love history, music, and stories so I was captivated: a country music lover, Kenneth Threadgill, opened a filling station in Austin, TX in the 1930s and was granted a beer license, making him the first person in the county with alcohol.  His filling station/tavern became a popular place for musicians who played in the area to grab a drink after their shows.  Threadgill loved people and found that music “smoothed out…conflicts that usually occurred when longhairs crossed paths with rednecks.” In the 1960s his establishment welcomed “folkies, hippies, and beatniks” to sing on Wednesday nights.  Janis Joplin is said to have developed her “brassy” style at Threadgills. (For more information on Threadgills, visit http://www.threadgills.com/history/).

Ioannis continued to host the dinner group as if we were all old friends and we shared stories and conflicts from our own universities. He gave the entire dinner group his business card and later via the NORDP website, asked me to join his professional NORDP network. Ioannis reached out to this professional network occasionally afterwards, which strengthened my commitment to participate in NORDP and give back. Research Development professionals may not be musicians, but it seems Threadgills is still a place where people can cross paths and share stories.

Because of Ioannis’ dinner invitation, I then attended one of the NORDP committee meetings during the meeting the next day, I later volunteered on a committee, I volunteer during our Annual meetings, I became a mentor, and now volunteer on various committees as well as serve on NORDP’s Board of Directors…with Ioannis. I emailed Ioannis recently to let him know how his kind gesture of allowing me to join his dinner group impacted how I view my NORDP membership and my growth in Research Development, he said he had no idea.

We all can have an impact on one another. Mentors can be formal or informal and may have influence on people they may never consider mentees.  I encourage you to reach out to your NORDP colleagues, whether through a dinner invitation at the next Annual Meeting or by becoming a mentor through the NORDP mentor program. For more information, visit http://www.nordp.com/mentoring-committee.

Karen Fletcher
NORDP Board Member
Mentor Committee Co-chair

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