“Mentors and Mentees…you can’t have one without the other”

A Tribute to Jackson “Jack” Bayer

We never forget that person who gave us our start in this business. The person who took a chance and hired us despite the fact that we had no experience. It doesn’t matter whether that person was a family member, a neighbor, a friend or, as in my case, a complete stranger named Jackson “Jack” Bayer.

Jack passed away last week.  I know there are scores of individuals like me who are remembering the man who not only gave them their start, but mentored them for as long as they asked for his help. Jack took ownership in our development both professionally and personally. He demanded we conduct ourselves with integrity and respect.  He held us accountable for our actions and always forgave, as long as you were honest.

He dished out advice that often sounded like it came from a Dale Carnegie book — “Don’t be cheap;” “If you’re 5 minutes early, you’re 10 minutes late;” “Act enthusiastic and you will be enthusiastic;” and that list goes on. He wasn’t perfect, but his good qualities far outnumbered his imperfections. Even when he screamed at you, there was always a certain amount of humor in it. “Toes, you’re a horrible trader. I bet if you had the Wall Street Journal a day early, you’d still lose money.”

While that comment hurt at the time, it only did because I disappointed a person who I did not want to disappoint. That is what great mentors do. They inspire mentees to always strive to do their best. Their ability to do so often comes from the fact that as mentors, they have more faith in you, than you have in yourself.  Jack lived that and displayed that quality of faith in others without ever verbalizing it. Another quality in a mentor — actions speak louder than words.

These lessons in mentoring were other gifts Jack gave his employees. I’m not sure he ever knew he was giving us such life-long lessons. If he did, he asked for nothing in return other than go out and mentor someone else.

Jack loved Wall Street, and that passion was contagious, it infected all those around him. Teaching someone to be passionate about something is more important than the “X’s” and “O’s.”

Our industry needs mentors. But we also need people who are willing and humble enough to be mentees. This article is meant to address both sides of this trade; mentors and mentees. If you don’t have a mentor and have never had one then maybe you should think about finding one. It’s not hard, just open yourself up to being taught something and a mentor will find you. Trust me, they’re out there.

If you’ve been in this business for more than one year and you’ve never been a mentor to someone, then shame on you for not reaching down and pulling somebody up. I know that may sound harsh, but that’s the way I was taught and I’m not apologizing. Jack wouldn’t expect me to apologize. Look around, and find someone who looks lost and needs some help.

The best compliment about Jack came from a former co-worker who knew him well: “He’s the reason I can look myself in the mirror everyday and know that despite all the temptations and stress of our profession, I always strived to do what was right.”  – Rest in Peace, Jack.