Picking Mentors
It Will Change Your Life

It was late at night. I had finished teaching an online class and had taken Ginger out for our 11:00 pm walk. While we had routinized our late-night walks, it was different this evening. My mind darted around with a litany of thoughts ranging from ideas that had no substantive importance to those that were. It was as if I was attempting to prioritize them for the next day. I thought about wanting to interview Aung San Suu Kyi and Barack Obama. I went to Myanmar for the first time a decade ago to interview The Lady. I was still dreaming dreams of interviewing her on my second trip. I failed on both attempts.

I also wanted to sit down and interview President Obama. Here again, I failed. At least I saw him at a rally before his first term and got an invitation to his inauguration.

Granted, my desire to interview them was one of my pie-in-the-sky pipedreams. Nevertheless, I believed my determination would result in interviewing both of them. After Ginger and I returned home, I mused over my inflated belief that I could interview those two world leaders. Granted, hubris filled my mindset, but I tried to achieve both dreams of sitting down with each of those two mentors of mine.

It wasn’t long before I thought about other mentors. Seemingly from nowhere, I noticed many of my mentors paralleled J.K. Rowling’s character, Professor Albus Dumbledore, in her Harry Potter series.

Professor Albus Dumbledore

As my mind darted among my mentors, Ginger and I returned home. I gave Ginger her bedtime treats and then got ready for bed. As I attempted to sleep, I thought about Dumbledore’s mentoring. While he was a great sage, he was a caring and concerned person as he mentored. I used Dumbledore as a measuring stick to compare him with my other mentors. He also knew when to push and when to hold back. His famous one-liner was, “We must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy.”

It was one of those times when falling asleep wasn’t a given. I just lay there with my mind drifting from one mentor to another. It wasn’t long before I was comparing Andrew Weissmann to Albus Dumbledore. Weissmann is another person that I would love to interview. I haven’t even toyed with writing to him about an interview, which is tragically an assurance that I won’t get an interview.

Andrew Weissmann

Weissmann rose to his nationally known status after President Bush appointed him to direct the FBI’s task force investigating Enron. He was also the FBI’s general counsel from 2011-2013. Later, Weissman was the head of the Criminal Fraud Section of the Justice Department. He also worked with Robert Mueller from 2017-19, investigating Trump and the influence of Russia on our 2016 election. Weissmann now teaches at the New York University School of Law, practices law privately, and works for NBC and MSNBC as a legal analyst.

While Weismann’s professional background is impressive, my interview wouldn’t be about the various cases he worked on during his career. Instead, I would want to know about three particular items.

The first issue is why Weismann is so driven. There is some reason psychologically that motivates him.

My second question might be related in some manner to his drive. Weismann is an excellent professor and can explain legal issues to ordinary Americans. In all my years in college, graduate school, and post-graduate school, I have never taken a single class about any legal matter. Nevertheless, I can follow Weissmann’s explanation of the law. He is driven to explain legal issues to those with no legal background.

And finally, Weissman can predict how various litigations will probably play out in the future. I’m fascinated by his ability, in a coy manner, to foresee future legal decisions.

While this essay is about my mentors, it is my coy manner to suggest that you jot down your list of mentors. A mentor informs who you will become. Be careful of those you revere as role models because their mindsets will become who you will be.