Practice Excellence

This year, I started watching Project Runway. And by saying I started, I don’t mean with the most recent season. I mean, I watched ALL the seasons in about two months.

One of the best things about Project Runway, in my opinion, is Tim Gunn. He’s the greatest. He seems so sincere when a contestant has to leave, and his advice is always valuable to the designers. Everyone should have a mentor like Tim Gunn in their lives.

Dan and I were extremely fortunate to have a mentor during our small business days, and it’s just now looking back, seeing how valuable that type of relationship is. I wish we would have taken advantage of it more. At the time, we were young and thought we didn’t need any help. But people can always use an extra hand, a spare piece of advice, or lunch with someone who has twice the experience!

We lost our mentor (who was also a friend, great customer, and family vet for every one of my dogs for the past 13 years) to aggressive cancer a year ago, and not a week goes by where we don’t bring up Dr. Tedd. He was such a goof ball, and one of the most ethical people we knew. I think the most touching thing that has ever happened in my entire life was that one of his memorial requests was for people to donate to our theater, which had recently become a not-for-profit. When I first heard that request, I cried for days, and still get a bit misty eyed thinking about it. This is a man who lost his fight with cancer (and he fought hard), and asked his friends and family to donate to a movie theater. It still blows me away.

A good mentor seems to have one other thing going for them that most of us don’t have: a catchphrase, which is actually a piece of sage advice. Tim Gunn’s is “Make it work.” I love it. His voice runs through my head when I get frustrated with a project. But since I don’t work on projects all that much these days, Dr. Tedd’s “catchphrase” has much more daily resonance: “Practice Excellence.” It applies to every element of my life, and as soon as I forget to let that mantra go through my head, I notice a lack of effort in my daily tasks.

We should all be so lucky to have mentors in our life, and I hope the next time one comes around, I’m able to take full advantage of it. Perhaps one day, I’ll have the honor of filling a mentor’s shoes.  So, thank you Dr. Tedd for all you did, and all you continue to do. We miss you dearly!

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