The Power of Mentors, Part 2: Davis Smith

Our trip to tahoe in 2004, one of those trips that I'll always remember

Our trip to Reno/Tahoe in 2004, one of those trips that I’ll always remember

As I mentioned before, I graduated SLU in 2002 and proceeded to head back out west for another summer in Bend, OR, not to ski, but to “find myself” as a clueless and naive 22yr old.  Like always, I was joined by a few great adventure companions, #10, Erin Kay, and Beck Bennett.  Later that summer we would be joined by Bill and Brenna, Lilith, Mr. Hix, Pepper, Molyneux, Dan, Courtney, and several others.  In those days we traveled and moved as a crew.  We were all good friends, and I suppose we all wanted to share the transition out of college together.  Many close SLU friends went to NYC, Boston, and DC, to test their finance skills and begin their careers.  But we went out west to go play and savor whatever we had left as adolescents without bills, commitments, and responsibilities.  We were a pack, a gang, and we were going to make the most of our time in Bend.

My plan after that summer was to travel to Costa Rica on my own and immerse myself in a Spanish-speaking country to learn the language, I also wanted to learn how to surf.  I was working banquets at the Inn of the Seventh Mountain to save cash so a trip abroad would be more feasible.  It was then that I met Davis.  At that time he was the Director of Sales and Marketing, in charge of revamping the image of the rundown resort, which hadn’t been renovated since before I was born, in 1979.  From a department standpoint he was forming his own sales team to help push the vision of what was to come of the impending $12 million dollar renovation.  Not an easy task, especially with the Inn and its ragged history.

Because my friends and I all traveled as a close-knit crew we very rarely went outside of the group for socializing and meeting other people.  Maybe we were afraid to branch out for some reason?  Maybe we were afraid to grow up? Towards the end of that summer, as my friends began to talk about what was next I was attempting to plan my exit strategy to Costa Rica.  But that went for naught, as Davis quickly inserted himself into the equation.  During one of the last banquets that I was working that summer, he approached me, not knowing my intentions to leave Bend, and asked if I ever had any interest in sales.  Huh?  I had never really thought of that possibility, I wasn’t ready to actually have a “real” job yet.  After that banquet I went up to his office to chat a bit more with him, mistakenly wearing an Oregon Ducks hat that I had bought to feel connected to the state somehow.  His comment was, “if you ever want a job with me then you had better throw that hat away.”  I had no idea of the Ducks/Beavs rivalry, and how deep it ran, at the time. One thing eventually led to another and after going through the interview process I began my career after college working for Davis.  He was one of those guys that I was immediately drawn to, charismatic, funny, professional, smart, and caring.  Costa Rica was going to have to wait, I had just found my first professional mentor, and the opportunity to work for him far outweighed the need to travel.  Needless to say, I was also thrust into Beaver Nation, which today, 12 years later, is a major part of my life.  The Oregon Ducks were now known as the Oregon Sucks, that played in a toilet bowl shaped stadium (according to Davis).

That fall Davis took me under his wing in many ways.  By being around him I learned to socialize with people I didn’t know.  To break me in he introduced to several of his older friends around Bend, guys that I also immediately began to look up to and hold on pedestals.  It was a weird feeling meeting people who were outside of my college comfort zone.  It felt very awkward at first, but then, on my own doing, I fell in love with Crown Royal, and my inhibitions quickly went away when I was around these older, impressionable guys.  Professionally, Davis taught me how to sell, how to talk on the phone, how to schmooze, how to play the game.  He made it look so easy, and when I was around him, his presence alone gave me confidence to try to emulate his style, for, he too, was very much on a pedestal in my mind.  I wanted what he had, a beautiful wife (Lisa is like a big sister to me), a great house, gorgeous kids (who coined my nickname “noodle”), and a charm that was unbeatable.  He taught me to grow up, to be responsible, and to believe in myself, he was, and still is a role model in many ways.

When it comes to the Beavs he made damn sure that I would be a convert.  In 2003 he got us seats in the press box, the stands, and on the field.  After that season, especially with the game on the sidelines, I became a Beaver fan for life.  Sure there were some really fun times that were not work related where we let loose and had fun (our trips to Banff and Reno come to mind), but when I think of the impact Davis made in my life I would be remiss to say that during those 3 years I worked for him, and got to know him as a friend, he became another big brother, just like Matt and Matt had before.

To this day, 12 years later, I still go to Davis when I need advice in life, then I hop on over to Lisa’s side of the couch and get girl advice.  Even though my home is Worthington, MA, when I visit their house in Bend I feel like I’m at home on the west coast, I feel comfortable,  at ease, like a part of their family.  This is so very important to me and I cannot thank them enough for bringing me into their life, their family.   Even though he is in Bend, and I’m in Corvallis (a town which I have now fallen in love with), I know that he’s only a phone call away.  I saw D at the Cal/Beavs game this past weekend, which was among the first times I was around him while in recovery.  The first thing he did was give me a great big bear hug and tell me how proud he was of me for attempting such a feat.  Coming from him it meant absolutely everything. As he would say, “see you soon bud.”  Love ya bro.

 

 

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5 thoughts on “The Power of Mentors, Part 2: Davis Smith

  1. Wow Spencer, when we visited you and stayed at the Inn of the Seventh Mountain, we really had no idea what was going on with you. I am really glad to get to know you better via this blog. I hope you know how much your cousins look up to you and they really adore you too. I do hope that we can all reconnect sometime soon. Please always remember Charlotte and Drew and Jon and I want to be family you can rely on too. We are many miles away, but you are never far from our thoughts.

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  2. Pingback: The Power of Mentors, Part 3: Ed Hamel | A Comeback from Addiction, My Story

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