• Leigh Gerstenberger

Men Of Influence



Recently I re-connected with David, a former colleague. As we were reminiscing, I remembered first meeting David in 1977 when I called on one of his clients to discuss an insurance related business idea. Since he handled all the client’s insurance, they had me speak with him. He endorsed my recommendation and my company ended up doing business with his client.


A few years later I saw David at an industry meeting. During our conversation, I shared that I was thinking of making a career change and he introduced me to the manager of the agency he represented. After a few meetings I made the decision to change companies and join that firm.


While I didn’t work directly with David in my new role, over the years we had numerous interactions where we shared clients and he encouraged me in my career pursuits. As I reflected on our relationship, I realized that by taking a personal interest in me in 1977, David had a significant impact on my business career which continues to this day. This got me thinking about other individuals in my life who took a personal interest in me and have made an indelible impression.


One such man was Paul Herold, the choirmaster and organist at the church I attended in my youth. Herold (along with my father) instilled in me the love of church choir and classical music. While I didn’t fully appreciate it at the time, performing Handel’s Messiah or Vivaldi’s Gloria in D Major gave me a deeper appreciation for music at young age than I would have ever had, had I not been subject to Mr. Herold’s instruction.


Another man who had a significant influence in my life that continues to this day was Julian T. Myers, my high school Drama and Public Speaking teacher. In addition to those classes, under Mr. Myer’s direction I was involved in several school theater productions.


I had performing roles in Christopher Fry’s The Lady’s Not for Burning; The Cave Dwellers by William Saroyan and Garson Kanin’s Born Yesterday. Additionally, I worked behind the scenes on the school’s production of Meredith Wilson’s The Music Man and Our Town by Thornton Wilder


While I never pursued the theater as a career, these experiences prepared me more than I ever realized they would for a lifetime of speaking in public to groups large and small – and, a penchant (to the chagrin of numerous members of my family) for story telling!


Now at nearly seventy years of age, as I reflect on the people in my life who have impacted me over the years, it makes me ponder the influence that I’m having on others. What about you?


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