Brian Williams

Who Mentored Brian Williams?

Interview  Watch the video of Brian William.

Brian Williams is anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News.

I signed up for an English literature course taught by a teacher named Bob Kitzin, and he turned me around. And I think in me he recognized a case where we had a young man who could go either way. And if you had told me a year prior, when I was working out with the football team and going out late at night to any number of dives along the Jersey shore, that this guy would have me reading philosophy—Emmanuel Kant and Machiavelli—and reading great pieces of work, I wouldn’t have believed you.

He employed the technique used by all of our great teachers. He used the germ of an idea. The excitement of learning. Personal betterment, in the right vehicle. He saw someone I guess with willingness – at that point he couldn’t have seen too much talent or intellect, I assure you – but he taught it in such a way, with such enthusiasm, excitement. And, of course, he took the time to care enough to take me on as a project.

He laid down that foundation in my life, and I think were it not for him, I wouldn’t have become a serious thinker in life.

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I’m surprised in our society, which is so much about instant gratification, that more people haven’t discovered that mentoring is where to find that. Because when you look at the excitement in a young person’s eyes about a thought just imparted or a passion just passed on, when you’re brimming with enthusiasm for a topic, and you get a young convert, you know, game over. Victory. Lesson learned.