While waiting in the office of my eye doctor, I happened on a tattered issue of Esquire Magazine from a few years back. The main article highlighted fifty men celebrities, from entertainment to politics to sports, each of whom offer a snapshot of the person who helped to make them who they are today. Their answers are moving and got me thinking about who has helped to make me the man I am today.
I’ve been fortunate to have a number of remarkable men and women cross the path of my destiny. I am especially grateful to a man who taught me the gift of listening as well as the gift of utter graciousness. That man is Fay Vincent.
If his name sounds familiar it’s because in 1989 he became baseball’s eighth commissioner. I first met him a few years earlier when he was Executive V.P. of Entertainment for Coca-Cola, which, at that time, owned Columbia Pictures. I’d just resigned from ministry and was without work, hoping though to find my way into the world of film. I was the “bubble boy” coming out of the bubble and I was lost.
Through a friend of a friend (the true Hollywood way), I got a meeting with Fay. At the time, I was clueless as to his stature. I met him at the Beverly Hills Hotel where he was staying. And, yes, I was nervous and uncertain.
“Cordial” doesn’t begin to capture his graciousness. As I sat down, he picked-up the phone and called the front desk. He asked not to be disturbed for the next fifteen minutes. He then turned and matter-of-factly said, “So, tell me your story.”
For fifteen, uninterrupted minutes, that’s what I did. And at the end, he simply said, “Well, we have to get you a job.” He told me to call his assistant the following Monday and she’d have names for me to contact.
Come Monday, I decided not to call since I thought he’d just been “nice” and didn’t really mean what he’d said. On Tuesday, his assistant called, wondering why I hadn’t contacted her. When I told her, she was taken aback and assured me, “If Mr. Vincent didn’t want to help you, he wouldn’t have led you on.”
Well, eventually I did get a job thanks to his introduction – but that’s another story! Ever since then Fay Vincent has been a hero of mine.
He listened when there was no reason to do so.
He gave me his full attention when I was desperate for someone to see me.
He believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself.
Those last three sentences are such clichés – yet so true.
I now try to be for others what Fay was for me.
What about you – who helped make you the person you are today?