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Guest Blog Post: I Have Millennial Mentors, Do You?

Sep 11, 2012

ASD Reward Partner, Timothy J. O’Brien M.S., is a Fellow of the American Institute of Stress and a Life Member of the International Society for Performance Improvement. Tim has been the Director of the Institute for Stress Management and Performance Improvement, since 1989. He has written articles for and presented at the NFDA and State Funeral Directors Association annual meetings.

Tim is also the author of the Grief Support Programs: A Season for Healing, A Reason for Hope: the Grief & Mourning Guide and Journal, and the Pet-Loss Grief Program: You will always be a part of me. He has published more than 400 print articles and wrote a bi-weekly “Life styles” column for Knight Ridder Tribune News and McClatchy newspaper services for 14 years. You can contact Tim at (850) 668-0696 or

For those who don’t already know them, I would like to introduce you to Caleb, Jess, Joe, and Ryan. They are my Funeral Service Profession Millennial Mentors. Why? I learn from them, they know much that I do not know and hope to learn.

They have energy and enthusiasm. I still have plenty of that; it drives many that I know to distraction, but it has become rarer in others my age. I am now 63 as I write this.

They believe in what they are doing. That is part of the great bond that Millennials as a cohort share: they care. They want to work on projects that do recognizable good. They want to have an impact on the world, not just be a traveler through life. I want those too.

They are utterly unafraid of technology; I still have some trepidation and hesitation, but I’m dealing with it in a positive way thanks to their examples.

  • Caleb Wilde willingly writes about the challenges he faces as a 6th generation Funeral Director, and he writes very well. He has a sense of humor, a sense of tradition and a feel for “shaking things up.”
  • ► Jessica Fowler has a heart and a mind, and they show through in the articles she writes and the posts she places in her capacity as a staff writer for ASD – Answering Service for Directors.
  • ► Joe Joachim has an excellent business. As President and Founder of funeralOne, he’s an entrepreneur like I am, but he is far more successful, it looks like, at his age than I was in my early 30’s. I didn’t “take-off” until I was almost 40. He also works on a much wider scale than I ever did. I had a few major clients and projects that produced big numbers. He has a big number of clients.
  • ► Ryan Thogmartin, with his Connecting Directors Community, sits at the crossroads between acronyms, factions, ideologies, and competing interests. He appears to be a good traffic cop to me. He, too, is an entrepreneur who has found his traction at an earlier age than I did.

There, I just described four young people that I learn from. Who do you learn from? If your group does not include members of the Millennial Generation, there is a gap in your set of mentors. I suggest you start looking for one.

If we are open to it, we can learn from all ages, both genders, and those who at least topically appear to be very different than we are. Often, the hardest part of learning from others is getting ourself out of the way. Set our ego in time-out, and the entire world of ideas and opportunities will unfold, right before your eyes.

I have Millennial Mentors; you’ve now met them, if you didn’t already know them. Who are yours? Leave a comment about yours below and we can probably help each other to improve.

Click here to read more guest blog posts from Tim O’Brien.

  1. Disclosures: I’ve never met or corresponded with Caleb Wilde, but I’d like to.
  2. I interact with Jessica Fowler as she is my contact for Blog submissions at ASD.
  3. Joe Joachim and I have exchanged emails.
  4. I write articles for Connecting Directors and developed and analyzed Ryan’s first FSP wide survey.
  5. All four are in my Linked In Network.

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