BL&T No. 086: Mentors, Client Wins, Teaching the Biz

Personal Growth

This post originally appeared in my newsletter, Borrowed, Learned, & Thought. BL&T is sent weekly on Mondays. In every edition, I share lessons learned in agency leadership, life, and e-commerce. This post does not include all the details shared in the newsletter sent via email. Subscribe here.


"There are going to be setbacks in life. Even a master or a genius will experience a period of inadequacy when they attempt to learn new skills or explore new domains. Confidence is what determines whether this will be a source of anguish or an enjoyable challenge. If you’re miserable every time things are not going your way, if you cannot enjoy it when things are going your way because you undermine it with doubts and insecurity, life will be hell."

From "Stillness is the Key" by Ryan Holiday [Book]


Dana and I were excited to attend a Tyler School of Art (Temple University) event on Friday to celebrate the class of 2022 at Victory Brewing's new taproom in Philadelphia. Fun Fact: Victory co-founder Bill Covaleski is a Tyler alum! Having set our sights on New York after college, it's hard to remember the last time Dana and I had the opportunity to attend a Tyler event.

There's one professor whose mere presence always brings a smile to my face. His name is Paul Sherif; he played a pivotal role in my career and also plays a lead role in the early days of Dana and I's relationship.

I'll never forget the stories about Paul before meeting him. "He's so tough," older students would grumble. Eager to learn and grow, these remarks piqued my interest, so I signed up for his class. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't somewhat nervous, but I was excited about the challenge. Paul did challenge and push me, and as a result, he made me a better designer and leader.

During my Junior year, I formed the first Teaching Assistant program in Tyler's Graphic & Interactive Design (GAID) department. Paul was gracious enough to have me as his TA, and it was in that class of Sophomores that I met my future wife, Dana. The following summer, Dana did a study abroad program in Italy that Paul led.

When I was Paul's TA, we spent a good deal of time together. I have fond memories of lunches before class where we'd talk through our game plan. During this time, I'd also share my ideas with him, one that led to me writing a syllabus and teaching a supplemental evening class for his students.

Looking back, working with Paul was one of the first times I can remember having a real mentor. He believed in me and my pursuits, but had no problem giving me feedback or having a tough conversation. Seeing him on Friday got me thinking about how my time with him as a student and mentor shaped my future career. I'll always be grateful for that. It was so good to see him again. I'm glad Dana grabbed this photo:

In the world of Barrel, last week seemed to pass in the blink of an eye. I usually keep notes throughout the week, but I ended the week with a blank page. Regardless, here are some highlights:

Thought Starter

What's the hard move I'm avoiding?

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