[This post is part of a series on Mentors and Heroes]
Alana Taylor just finished her junior year studying journalism and history at New York University (NYU), and is the Manager of Strategic Marketing at OneTXT. She was previously was an active writer for Mashable and a social media correspondent for PBS. Follow her on Twitter @alanataylor.
Alana Taylor’s mentor is…
Mike Sager, journalist, author, and writer for Esquire
How long have you known each other and how did you first meet?
I met Mike briefly at NYU my sophomore year when he came in to give a talk about one of the books he had written. Ever since I could remember I wanted to profile celebrities, famous figures, and powerful leaders in society for a large magazine like Vanity Fair. When i came across Mike’s work at Esquire, I thought to myself “I’d like to do that.” And when I met him in person I thought, “Damn, this guy is cool.”
How would you describe how you relate to your mentor?
I’m just a lost soul who needs guidance and sometimes I need outside advice. I don’t want to hear from people who know me or are my friends… I want cold, blunt truth and honesty. And I want it from someone who’s actually accomplished something I admire. That’s when I’ll call Mike. Actually, we’ve only spoken twice. And the reason is because I only turn to him when I have a really difficult problem tied to life choices and career path. When I don’t know which road to take — that’s when I turn to him.
How formal or structured is the mentorship? Does Mike know you consider him a mentor?
I don’t think he knows i consider him a mentor and I think if you asked him, he probably wouldn’t really know who I was. Like I said, we’ve only spoken twice — but both times I really took his advice to heart and, in a small way, it changed my life. I just like knowing that i have his contact information and that I could speak to him at any time if I ever needed advice.
What is one piece of advice your mentor gave you that has stuck with you the most?
“Hey, at least you had the guts to talk to me.” That’s what Mike told me over the phone the first time I called him. I was a sophomore at NYU and I was so overwhelmed with the competition and pressure to succeed so early in life. Living in NYC can be tough when you’re in college because you see so many people accomplishing great things early on and you want to do the same. There doesn’t seem to be a point to sit around in a classroom when you could be making money, starting a career and making a name for yourself.
When I called Mike he gave me some great advice and some macro-perspective on life. Basically, he told me to calm down — it’s okay to want to eat the world but it’s not urgent. And he said that clearly I would go places because I was confident enough to ask for help and advice and give him a call. Ever since then– I’ve always acted on my instincts when trying to contact someone I think could lead me in the right direction.
What else do you want the world to know about your mentor?
This guy is the coolest guy you’ll ever talk to. Super young-at-heart, hip, stylish, no-bullshit, liberal, and a great writer. He’s done some amazing journalism and he knows a thing or two about writing techniques. All around great guy.
Thank you Alana for sharing your mentor with us!