To Mister, with love

When I was still editor-in-chief of the Live Free or Die Alliance, an undertaking I only recently had to back away from in favor of an irresistible opportunity at Lesley University, a friend asked me something over beers on a Portsmouth, N.H., deck.

Why did those of us involved in New Hampshire’s premier citizen-engagement website — all of us seasoned professionals of one sort or another — refer to the organization’s driving force as Mister Montrone, rather than by his given name, Paul? At the time, I believe I said something flippant like, “That’s the name on the bottom of our paychecks.”

Here’s the truth, or at least my truth, however: His genius, character and example demanded it (though he never asked for the honorific).

It’s no hyperbole to say Mister Montrone single-handedly revived my career, after I’d been laid off from a job and industry I loved and excelled in. He also stood by me through a couple of personal trials, even though they were inconvienient to the work of his organization. But there’s more to it than that.

Paul Montrone as a client (though I considered him my boss) was brilliant and mercurial, always appreciative though never satisfied. More important, in any room he’s in, Mister Montrone is the smartest, best prepared and most energetic person there. He showed me a way to be, a way I’ll certainly never achieve, but a way I’ll continually strive for. Calling him “Mister” was a sign of respect, not only for his myriad business accomplishments and financial successes, but for the man he is.

He’ll never see this, of course. He reads pretty much every crucial newspaper or important book published. He’s too busy and sensible to trifle with ridiculous blogs like this one. But this needed to be said.

If you ever have the chance to work for him, either as part of the LFDA or in one of the eight or more companies he owns, I urge you to take it. It will not be easy, but even if you only work for Mister Montrone for one day, you won’t forget it.

Or him.