Filed under: — Doug Contreras @ 9:56 am on

Marty and I met in freshman year at St. Peter’s Prep in Jersey City and became lifelong friends. His engaging personality and sense of humor have always had a way at putting people at ease. When Marty and I were in college, my father said "that buddy of yours would make a great salesman - he could sell ice to Eskimos."

Using his people skills along with his business acumen and financial savvy, Marty has successfully served as COO/CFO of some prestigious advertising and healthcare communication firms. Recently he asked for my help in marketing his business skills. While I was honored to pass along some of what I had learned, as an operations guy, what could I teach the professor? Sensing my unease, Marty said "ancaro imparo." When he saw the puzzled look on my face, he smiled and wrote the phrase on my yellow pad and said "look it up."

The next day, I googled the words and found numerous references. The one that summed it up the best went like this:

Ancora imparo, translated as "I am still learning" or "Still, I am learning," is attributed to Michelangelo in his eighty-seventh year. The man who painted the Sistine Chapel and sculpted the Pieta and David, whose very name evokes mastery of his craft, exemplifies a lifelong learning philosophy.

As I reflected on the meaning of these words, I realized that all of the truly good leaders I have met in life were ones who were willing to listen and learn from others.

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