[This post is part of a series on Mentors and Heroes]
Paul Isakson is an independent strategic planner. Previously he was the head of strategy at space150, a marketing and advertising agency. In 2008 he caused a stir when he began anonymously tweeting as Don Draper, the protagonist from the TV series Mad Men. Follow him on Twitter @paulisakon.
Paul Isakson’s mentor is…
Dion Hughes, Founder, Creative Director, Persuasion Arts & Sciences
How long have you known each other and how did you first meet?
Dion and I have known each other for just over a year now. We met in the spring of 2008, at a dinner and drinks gathering after one of Tim Brunelle’s “Conversations About The Future of Advertising” events. We ended up sitting across the table from each other and due to the person who was the speaker at the event being more interested in checking his iPhone to see what people were saying about him online than being in conversations with people at the table, Dion and I started chatting about advertising and whatnot. We’ve continued to get together for those chats ever since.
How would you describe how you relate to your mentor?
I would say I consider Dion a friend, more than anything else. We’ve become friends from a standpoint of both being incredibly passionate about the business of advertising and how it is evolving. While I’ve only known Dion for a year, he’s already had a profound impact on my life and career.
How formal or structured is the mentorship? Does Dion know you consider him a mentor?
I would say it is highly informal. We mostly meet-up for drinks and just catch up on life, chat about what we’re thinking, what’s new in the world of marketing, etc. Does Dion know I consider him a mentor? I don’t know. Maybe. Maybe not. But to be honest, I don’t know that I really thought of him as a mentor until I opened this link to answer these questions and had to consider what I believe to be the definition of being a mentor. For me, that is someone you look to as a teacher and friend – someone whose advice you trust most when it comes to making hard decisions about your career and life and such. Like I said in the previous question, I consider him a friend more than anything else, but he also teaches me way more than he probably realizes, and that’s why I wanted to recognize him here.
What is one piece of advice your mentor gave you that has stuck with you the most?
It’s not as much the advice Dion gives me that had me think of him for this as it is the inspiration he provides me with through all of the great ideas and stories he shares with me directly, and with others via the Persuasion blog. Every time I chat with Dion, he shares bits of wisdom and ideas that challenge me to think about things from a different angle, or help me to more seriously consider a point of view that I was trying to ignore. But probably more important than that is seeing how this brilliant advertising man has continued to stay hungry, passionate and curious throughout his career. That’s what I take away the most from my experiences with Dion – to stay hungry, passionate and curious.
What else do you want the world to know about your mentor?
Dion is truly one of the great minds in the advertising business, but he’s far to humble to ever admit it. I am honored to call him a friend and I hope he doesn’t mind me singing his praises here. I very much look forward to growing our friendship and continuing to learn more from him throughout my life.
Thank you Paul for sharing your mentor with us!