Direct Marketer of the Year: Brian Kurtz, executive vice president, Boardroom Inc.
Kurtz says, "Lee taught me the most about what it means to give back. He never turned down a meeting with somebody, especially if it was career-oriented. Someone would call him, a kid out of school or someone who had been in the business for 20 years ... even if he had nothing in terms of leads or jobs, [he'd make time for them].
"I'm the same way. I hate putting this in an article-because now it means everybody is going to send me their resumé-but I keep a folder next to my desk with a stack of resumés. You know how people say, ‘I'll put your resume on file' ... I really do! And I have a file of job descriptions; people call me about a job opening, and I immediately say, ‘Send me a print-out of the job description' so I can keep it in that same folder. Then I have a place to go when people come to me for help, as opposed to saying, ‘I'll think about it.' Now it doesn't always work out, but I've always made the time to help."
And that, Kurtz underscores, is the ultimate lesson from Epstein: You can always make the time. Sooner or later, we're all dead, he reasons, so what else is there to do in this life except to make contributions and connections?
Lessons From Marty
Of course, Kurtz's daily mentor, Edelston, also imparted quite a few business and life lessons of his own, several of which echo this overarching concept of connection and contribution.
"Marty is famous for what I'll call ‘nice notes,'" says Kurtz. "He knows all the things I'm into: baseball umpiring, a loyal Rutgers alum, where my kid goes to college, that I'm a big tennis player. So he's always sending me stuff on those topics. There's no reason not to do that with everybody in your life, all the time."