We All Need a Mentor

It’s interesting that many of my fellow entrepreneurs first got started in business by working in sales and I am no different. Before I started ISI, I sold for both Hewlett Packard and ATS (where I was first introduced to video conferencing). But before that, I worked over 6 years for Eastman Kodak selling high speed copier/duplicators from 1982-1988. My career at Kodak got off to a really rough start that first year with very few sales and lots of pressure from management. On top of that I had just gotten married and bought a house. Those were some difficult times that had me not only second guessing myself but also totally destroying my confidence. I was lost! Not a good place to be and definitely not the kind of mentality for a successful sales career.    

But a little over a year later I met a man who would change the course of not only my professional career but my life as well. His name was Jim Murphy and he worked as a manager in copier services at FedEx. Jim was gregarious, Irish Catholic and a huge Notre Dame and Memphis Tigers fan (and alum) Suffice to say, we hit it off immediately! And meeting Jim could not have come at a better time for me. He was like the "hero from central casting" who arrived just in time to save the day. When I needed it the most, Jim provided me the support and encouragement that I was so desperately seeking at a crucial time in my life. He believed in me before I believed in me! He also became not only my best customer but my mentor as well. I learned so much about business and life from him.   

Before Jim joined FedEx, he was a sales manager at Xerox (my biggest competitor) and through the years he constantly shared sales insights and strategies with me. Jim made me proud to be a salesman and helped me in so many ways to become a professional. He was also a lot of fun! I fondly remember the advice that he shared with the Kodak sales team one day when we invited him over to share his wisdom: Sales Rule #1 - Don't call your best customer a son of a bitch! 

And Jim was also very smart having majored in math in college. Another tip he gave me was “always know your numbers” whether it be pricing options, sales commissions, competition, etc. I first learned this from Jim Murphy over 30 years ago.   

Jim passed away a few days ago (at age 85) which greatly saddens me. But his place in my life and career as my mentor will never be forgotten. My wife Maureen and I still refer to our Collierville home as "the house that Jim built." I have to say that I would not be where I am today at ISI if I hadn't met Jim Murphy. He was special. In this life, everyone needs a mentor and for a very long time I had the best. God bless this wonderful man. I’ll always be grateful for all he did for both me and my family.   

Posted by Jay Myers at 4:47 PM