In 2002, everything that could have gone wrong in Tom Pace’s business world did. He was depressed, suicidal and without hope. That’s when he met his mentor, Malcolm Hall, and his life changed forever.
Pace published his life story titled “Mentor: The Kid & The CEO.” Pace says, “Without a mentor, I wouldn’t be alive today. I want people to know the importance of not only having a mentor, but also being a mentor.” With his book, Pace seeks to help others achieve success in their lives in areas of business, finance, spirituality, relationships and physical fitness. “Those are the five areas of life that a mentor can help us in,” he says.
Pace is the founder and CEO of PaceButler Corporation, a company that buys used cell phones, located in Edmond. It started in 1987 with $62.53. Today, the corporation has more than 100 employees and does business worldwide.
He refers to that crushing, two-year episode of hopelessness as his “desert.” He met Hall in the midst of it, when Pace called him to rent office space. “When he heard me on the phone, he said, ‘You sound depressed.’ I said, ‘I am depressed.’ He said, ‘Let’s have lunch,’” Pace recalls. “He said, ‘I know how you feel. I’ve been there. Together, we’ll get through this.’” Pace and Hall have met for one hour, every week, ever since.
“My mentor taught me the value of capital reserve,” Pace says. “Most people don’t live with savings. Most people live paycheck to paycheck. It’s sad that people live that way, because we don’t have to.” Hall also mentored Pace in areas of relationships and spirituality. Soon, Pace started volunteering at prisons and got involved in Leadership Oklahoma City. He also returned to church.
“When we have serious problems, that’s when we, whether we want to or not, need to help other people,” Pace says. “Our problems get magnified in our own minds. The fear can be paralyzing. When I take a recess and start to help other people in their lives, just by volunteering, I realize my problems aren’t that big and there is a solution to them. We’re all going to have problems. We’re always either getting out of a crisis, in the middle of a crisis, or getting into a crisis.”
At the same time, Pace started mentoring Tony, a young man. “Tony saved my life also because he knew the importance of me getting out of my depression,” Pace says. Tony helped Pace stick to an exercise routine that benefitted his body, as well as his mind. “He kept me running all through the depression. I don’t care how bad the depression was, if I got out and ran for ten minutes I started to feel better,” he says.
According to Pace, a willingness to change is one of the most important things in a mentor/student relationship. He says there has to be a high level of respect and a certain type of chemistry. Both the mentor and the student benefit from the bond.
The idea for the book, “Mentor” developed six years before it became a reality. Pace would start to write it, then throw the paper away and start again. Eventually, writer Walter Jenkins joined Pace and the two collaborated to finish the book. “The book is based on actual events that have happened in my life,” Pace says. “I wanted to write a book that is simple, that is compelling, but gives great knowledge that can help us be successful, which can lead us to significance.”
“Mentor” came out in 2008, and has sold more than 175,000 copies. It is available in major book stores and on www.amazon.com. Pace founded MentorHope, LLC, to distribute the book. A quick read at less than 200 pages, “Mentor” is available in paperback or hardback. Pace and Jenkins also wrote an accompanying workbook that clarifies some of the routines and practices they featured.
“I think this book is for everybody, because everybody needs a mentor and everybody can be a mentor,” Pace says. He says it’s also for parents who are having trouble with their children. “It has stuff that parents may want to say to their kids — good, practical common sense stuff — but sometimes kids don’t want to listen to their parents at that time in their lives.”
“It’s to give people hope, but also to give them a path to success, and then to go on to significance,” Pace says. “Success is temporary. Significance lasts forever.”