About a year ago my son started a new job. We talked about compensation, opportunities and company culture.
But what really thrilled me was the number of leaders who offered him advice, took the time to get to know him, and supported him in his search for a place.
We discussed the incredible value of working with people who care about your success and offer you a path to success.
I know this value because I have been extremely fortunate to have mentors at work who have guided and shaped me.
The first was Lee Sharpe, owner of the Taylorsville Times. On Monday evening, Lee was honored by the Alexander County commissioners. He was inducted into the Order of the Longleaf Pine, the highest voluntary honor given in North Carolina.
Lee richly deserves it, but the awards and recognition only tell part of the story.
Lee cares deeply about Alexander County. Among his accomplishments, he worked diligently to help establish a hospital in Taylorsville, repeatedly held leadership roles, and was a faithful member of his church.
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It also publishes a bi-weekly newspaper and a daily website. He has been integral to the newspaper’s success over the past 60 years. Without the Taylorsville Times, the good deeds, celebrations and news of the people of Alexander County would not be recorded for posterity.
All of these attributes are important. But what sets Lee apart is his kindness and humility. When I worked with Lee and his late wife, Jane, I know I tried their patience. It was my first job, and I was full of piss and vinegar. Lee and Jane saw something in me that made them forget about my immaturity. They believed in me and set expectations for me. I grew up as a person and as a journalist trying to meet those expectations.
I often think of the Tuesday evenings I spent at the Times office, working on the Wednesday edition of the print newspaper. It was usually just me and Lee. We finished around 11 p.m. In addition to admiring Lee’s work ethic, I was fortunate enough to absorb his wisdom. He had more time to talk when the doors closed and the other members of the Times family went home.
I still apply the lessons he shared then in my work today. I’m not alone. Lee and Jane have made The Times a place of learning and growth for so many of us over the decades.
Lee was honored on Monday. He deserved it.
The award confirms what people who have worked side-by-side with him over the years already know, Lee is the best.
Eric Millsaps is editor of the Hickory Daily Record. He worked for five years at the Taylorsville Times.