Patrick King
Founder, CEO
Imagine, Inc.

A self-starter from the get-go, Patrick King moved to the D.C. area in 2002 and launched his own firm six months after his arrival. Fifteen years later, Imagine, Inc., a digital advertising and marketing agency, is thriving. His interest in drawing, design and creative arts began early. “My family,” he says, “noticed I was pretty good at drawing, and friends and family asked me to do design projects.” Once in college, fascinated by the impact of design and copy on consumer behavior, he pursued marketing studies.  

Your family was a big influence on your career choices, it seems.

Well, yes – their encouragement helped give me the confidence in my abilities to pursue my interests in design and creative arts. And I moved to the D.C. area a few years after college at my brother’s prompting. Six months later, I’d started my own business. It’s going strong today as a result of hard work and help from some amazing people.

What spurred you to apply to AMADC’s Mentor Program?

As an agency owner, I’m mentoring every day! However, I’ve also participated in two programs prior to this. Both were similar in structure to the AMADC’s. One was with the local chamber of commerce in Prince William County, VA and the second was with Society for Marketing Professional Services. I heard about AMADC’s program, and, as a new member of the organization, decided to apply. Mentoring is as much a learning experience for the mentor as it is for the protégé. Each time I mentor, I learn about the challenges people face; today, those challenges are very different from the ones I encountered early on. There was, for instance, no social media, no mobile marketing. To see how people who are newer to the industry navigate the online landscape is a big learning experience for me.

What do you do to prepare to mentor?

Really, there are two important elements to being a mentor. First is availability. You’ve got to be sure you’ve got the time to focus and give the protégé the attention that’s needed to make the relationship successful. The second is to understand how to guide, rather than instruct or give answers. I think of guiding as the ability to help a protégé arrive at conclusions and develop ideas. If a protégé can reach decisions on his or her own, with my help, I think that’ll have a greater long-term impact, and give them the confidence to manage future challenges after the mentor program is over.

As a third-time mentor – though new to AMADC’s program –  any surprises from this experience?

Probably the level of support offered to mentors. AMADC’s program is designed to develop and add value to the mentors as much as to those being mentored. The events that the program offers along the way have helped me refine my approach to mentorship, learn more about my leadership style, and hear from other mentors about their areas of expertise and challenges.

What advice would you give to protégés who might be considering this program? For would-be mentors?  
To protégés, I say, take advantage of this! A mentor who has made the effort to sign up has done so because he or she genuinely wants to help, so don’t be shy! Spend time with them, ask questions, and the change from going through this will help you in the years ahead. For prospective mentors, I say if you have the time to commit, do it! It is as much a valuable learning experience for you as it is for the protégé!

One word — verb, noun, adjective, adverb — that describes a Mentor’s role. A compass. While it is up to the protégé to make the journey and take the steps, the mentor provides the sense of direction and guidance.