On the day we give thanks for all that we have, NJBIZ talked to 10 top business leaders in the state and asked them to give thanks to a mentor who helped them along the way.
New Jersey regional president, PNC Bank
"I'm most appreciative and thankful for the opportunity to work with a terrific group of colleagues at PNC, and to be working in an environment where everyone across the firm cares about each other, our clients and those we work with throughout New Jersey."
Senior managing director, New Jersey region, Cushman & Wakefield
"I am most thankful for Joe Harbert, president of Northeast region at Colliers, who gave me my start in commercial real estate. He was my first mentor, and I developed as a manager under his tutelage. Joe guided and taught me, but at the same time, he allowed me to make — and learn from — mistakes along the way. He groomed me to lead with confidence, and his encouragement helped me get to where I am today."
Robert C. Garrett
President & CEO, Hackensack University Health Network
"My father, Jason Garrett, has a lot to do with where I am today. Many of my leadership abilities stem from the lessons and values he imparted. My dad, who is a pharmacist, is an optimistic person, the type of man who always sees the glass as half full. This outlook is something I have put to use, especially in these volatile times in health care. I am very thankful for the sound advice he has given me. He has always been very positive and even keeled. That type of advice is very worthy. When I speak with people, I always enter conversations in a positive way, and I even take something good away from an experience that may be difficult."
President of the New Jersey Business & Industry Association
He's most thankful for: Herbert Kirschner, his father and a small business owner. At age 13, Phil Kirschner went to work for his father, who owned a pair of men's and boys' clothing stores in Monmouth and Salem counties. It was there, he says, that he learned how to listen to the demands of a market and execute sales with integrity. "You have to work hard," Kirschner recalls learning. "You have to anticipate your customers' needs." Kirschner said he became a fixture at the stores for many years, going back to roll up his sleeves whenever he would come home from college. It was that foundation that his father built that Kirschner credits with guiding him through his business career. "I've taken all those lessons with me," he said.
CEO, Turtle & Hughes, Inc.
"Having grown up in a family-owned, woman-owned business, my mother, Suzanne Turtle Millard, was my guiding force and one of the biggest influences on my success. This Thanksgiving, however, my thoughts turn to an equally important mentor and friend, the late Jack G. Sinagra, president of Turtle & Hughes Inc., and former mayor of East Brunswick, three-time New Jersey senator and chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. We lost him this August, but he is always in our hearts. Jack was larger than life. He was a tough leader, but he was also a man of great humanity and of great humility. He demanded commitment and resilience from his employees. He taught me many business lessons, including how to balance risk with strategic growth, and how to achieve compromise — a lesson he learned, no doubt, in the legislature. These lessons are rare gifts that I will always be grateful for."
Barry H. Ostrowsky
President and chief executive officer, Barnabas Health
"The person I am most thankful for is Ron Del Mauro, the former head of Barnabas. I shall always be indebted to Ron for giving me the opportunity to work and learn at his side. He helped reinforce for me that the mission of caring for people is truly the highest calling."
Founder of NJ Tech Meetup and co-founder livecube.co
"For me, this has been a year of setting clear priorities, saying no to some opportunities, and optimizing my time in balancing NJ Tech Meetup and livecube.co. For that, I'm most thankful for Ari Meisel (entrepreneur, author, and consultant) of lessdoing.com for opening my eyes to the various automation tools that I now use and that save me dozens of hours each month."
President of SpectraMedia
"I am most thankful to my father, Thomas C. Rubin, for setting an exceptional example of outstanding business traits. He first instilled self esteem in me so I began my career feeling good about myself. He taught me, as I watched him, create a presence that inspired attention and trust. His conversational manner and person-to-person skills taught me how to develop relationships and that selling is all about relationships. He explained the importance of patience and perseverance. The vital non-verbal attributes of erect posture, firm hand shakes and constant eye contact was part of his personality, which he passed on to me. It has become part of my image and reputation. The success and growth of my unique business and the customer trust that is evident reflects the ideas and beliefs that my father instilled. He was a hard working determined man with little formal education who used his common sense, courage and self confidence to become part of "the American Dream." I have worked hard, tried to mentor others, and be worthy of the example my father set starting back in 1929. Thank you, Dad."
President and CEO, New Jersey Hospital Association
"I have two mentors that have shaped my career. One is professional and her name is Brenda J. Bacon. Brenda was the head of policy in the Florio administration, and I worked closely with her since I was assigned to work on health care issues in the counsel's office. Brenda taught me the importance of being strong, being prepared and not backing down. She also taught me about the importance of work-life balance. During those years, she had young children to tend to, and watching her strike the balance in a pressure-filled job has helped me tremendously. Brenda is now the CEO of Brandywine Senior Living Inc. My second mentor is my eldest brother, Bill Ryan, Jr. My mom and dad didn't go to college but wanted the best for me; Bill helped nurture that. He encouraged me to study and work hard, and to go to law school. I always bounce tough decisions off him. He is as steady as they come and I always take his advice."
Managing partner of SorinRand law firm
"I am thankful for Professor John Calamari, my contracts law professor when I was a first year-law student at Fordham University School of Law. He pushed me to work to my potential, cajoled me, sometimes scared me and always inspired me. Through the early years of my career, until his passing, Professor Calamari and I stayed in touch as he followed my career trajectory and serve as my most significant mentor. I greatly appreciate the role he played in instilling the core values and principle that have informed my legal career."