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Contributors News Timothy O'Brien

I Have Millennial Mentors, Do You?

This article was originally appeared on MyASD.com

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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  • djackson

    A nicely deserved pat on the back Tim. These young people are bringing a new perspective and attitude to the industry.

    Sure, they might be rattling the cages of some of the industry old timers but those stodgy veterans usually think they have all of the answers, but the reality is that nobody really does as our industry is getting turned on its head. Thanks to Tim for recognizing and acknowledging the talents of these youthful leaders.
    P.S. – I would also personally like to add Ashley and Stephanie Montroy, the twenty-something social media, marketing and project manager daughters of FrontRunner Professional CEO Kevin Montroy to the list. My recent business experience with Ashley and Stephanie left me very impressed with their ability and vision! Congrats to all of the new generation of funeral service leaders.

  • Tim O’Brien

    DJ,
    Nice acknowledgement of the up and comers. And, thanks for the additional names to follow. – tim

  • http://frontrunner360.com/ Ashley Montroy

    When I
    read your comment on the thread, I must say – it is an honor to be listed in
    the “Millenial Mentors” section. Tim what a great article written. I
    especially liked this from the article about Millenials: “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.” I couldn’t agree
    with you more. When a millennial finds his/her passion in what they do – watch
    out, and from a technology point of view – they just get it.

    The fact
    that 50% of the world’s population is under 30 is scary for funeral homes that
    do not want to adapt to technology. The under 30 age group is a big part of a
    Funeral Homes future. And many are helping their parents and grandparents
    understand technology – because they have to. There is no doubt that the Internet
    is only going to become more prominent so a big kudos to those who are adapting
    to the changing social and technological trends, and consumer needs. It’s not
    an easy task for a historically traditional profession but is extremely
    rewarding.

    Speaking as
    a Millennial who literally grew up in a family owned Funeral Home – the part
    about them wanting to do good and truly help – what a true statement. I talk to
    Funeral Homes from all over the world who are taking that leap into the
    technology realm and when I hear “Thank You” from them and know that I have
    helped bridge the gap for them – words just can’t express!

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