Mr. Miyagi Mentors

January 4, 2016

Paula Novak

By Paula Novak, CPA

While we are sure to have encountered (or will encounter) many mentors or coaches throughout our careers, there’s always that one – “Mr. Miyagi"” if you will – that leaves us feeling like Daniel LaRusso in The Karate Kid, ready to take on any challenge. I know, a silly analogy; however, I cannot help but think if my life were a movie, the song “Eye of the Tiger” would be playing after every conversation with my own mentor, Bill Mooningham.

It’s not Mr. Mooningham’s accomplished 37 years spent at Ernst & Young, 22 of them as a partner, or the quality teachings he brings to his accounting students at MTSU that are most awe-inspiring. Rather, it’s his confident humility. He once shared a story with his class about the frustrations he dealt with at the beginning of his career as an auditor, trials that most of us will likely experience or have experienced. He ended his story by telling us to not worry, that “there will be a time when the lightbulb goes off, and believe me, it’s a really good feeling when it does.” The advice was so simple, yet I left class that night feeling rejuvenated, excited and anxious to experience my own “career beginnings.” That’s what Mr. Miyagi’s do though, or in this case, Mr. Mooningham. They give you something that seems so simple, knowing that one day this simple teaching (remember “Wax on, Wax off”?) will end up having a great impact. Thus, I leave you with a few “Mr. Mooningham teachings,” paraphrased, that I often find my memory bank tapping into:

  1. Have empathy. In today’s digitized world, our empathy is what sets us apart.
  2. Strong body, strong mind. If you prepare your body for a marathon, it’ll be a lot easier for your mind to jump over the few unexpected hurdles you’re bound to run into throughout your career (or audit).
  3. Make time for the water cooler. You’ll end up learning the most interesting things and you’ll never walk away empty handed.