On the Loss of a Great Mentor

Oren Harari“Brilliant” is the word we use to refer to a special kind of genius–the type that profoundly influences others. It is more than someone who is simply intellectual. A genius might be a person with a super high IQ but keeps it locked inside. A brilliant person shares the mental gift. “Brilliant” is also the word we use to characterize light. A light with that description is very bright and illuminates a large area. The word comes up a lot when referencing a floodlight, beacon, or lighthouse. Expansive phrases like “candle power” often replace limiting labels like “wattage.”

Oren Harari was brilliant. Dr. Harari was, for many years, a professor of strategic and global management at the Graduate School of Business in the University of San Francisco. He was a dynamic, charismatic keynote speaker and traveled the globe illuminating business leaders. He was an insightful consultant to many Fortune 100 companies. The Financial Times named him one of the forty “best minds” in management in the world. Oren passed away peacefully in his sleep on April 10, 2010 with his wife and two sons by his side.

It was my honor and privilege to run many leadership workshops with Oren. He and I also wrote numerous articles together and co-authored Beep! Beep! Competing in the Age of the Road Runner (Warner Books, 2000). Together, we had the rare opportunity to collaborate with the late Chuck Jones, creator of the Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner cartoon characters. Oren was as thirsty a learner as he was a river of knowledge.

But, more than a co-author, co-facilitator and close friend, Oren was an important mentor to me. He shared his brilliance like one might share a seat on a bus—without pretense, hesitation or flourish. He laughed at his own errors claiming they were brief adventures to his darker side. He openly shared his talents beyond the boundaries of the setting—frequently entertaining workshop participants after hours singing and playing the piano.

When I was a kid my dad brought home after a business trip my first phosphorescent item in the shape of a star. Before I went to sleep at night, I placed the star near a lamp light for a few minutes. When the lights were turned out, the star would glow in the dark all night long. I was always amazed more at the power of the light than the illumination of the star. Oren’s light has been turned out but stars of those who knew him can glow in the dark because of his generous brilliance.

 

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