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My Mentor Wears an iPod

July 6, 2009

I’m a big advocate of having mentors. I think that those that can guide you, provide advice and offer an ear when you need it are only beneficial in the professional world. Why is it that we default to those older than us and in higher positions?

Why not turn to your peers or those younger than you?

By no means am I saying that you should turn your back on those more experienced in the field – those are vital to building the type of professional worker you would like to be. But someone young has an almost naive view of the field – and might not be as cynical and have had negative experiences. The optimism is there; the drive to do well is there; and having people as a support system and a foundation can bring your ideas even quicker to fruitation.

Mentoring is a two way street. Both the mentor and mentee should be getting something out of it. If they aren’t, it’s not a right fit. The balance of give and take is imperative when it comes to mentoring.  The younger person or peer might know of a new technology, or be so removed from the situation that they can act as a general public. They also don’t have the attitude that affects more seasoned professionals at times: “Well, this has always worked. Why change it?”

Why? Because change makes you better. Trying new things makes you better. And, yes, learning from mistakes makes you better.

Tomorrow features a guest post from my friend, Arik Hanson, that I think you will enjoy. Stay tuned.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. July 6, 2009 11:49 am

    Right on Lauren. We all have something to gain from sharing and helping each other. Whether we’re old, young, experienced or fresh out of college, there is something for us to share if we keep an open mind to it.

  2. July 6, 2009 11:52 am

    I’ve never really had a true mentor asides from blogs. It’s interesting for me to see how much value people place on their relationships with them and their ability to effectively influence and change both people’s lives.

    It’s definitely given me an interesting perspective to say the least (and all the ideas I come up with are pretty much original thoughts).

    • July 6, 2009 12:43 pm

      All of my ideas are original – however, I wouldn’t be where I am today without mentors. They help me network, open my head to things I didn’t know about, and are always extremely honest with my work.

  3. July 6, 2009 11:52 am

    Daniel Honigman is the closest thing I have to a mentor…and he’s 25.

  4. July 6, 2009 11:52 am

    Right on. We all can learn from everyone around us, not just those higher up on the pay/seniority ladder. And, often times, the best leaders/bosses are those who are most engaging to those younger or less senior than themselves.

    In any mentoring relationship, especially one like Lauren describes here, listening is incredibly important. Topics are raised, and questions are asked, but I find the real meaty discussions can be had when you probe a bit deeper into a person’s experience, or opinion, or perspective. Those sorts of questions and discussions are best achieved when both parties come to the table with their minds – and their ears – wide open.

    @JasonSprenger

  5. July 6, 2009 11:56 am

    Great Point, Lauren! This is one of the BIGGEST REASONS why I am a FIRM BELIEVER in bringing in as many people as I can to a brainstorming session. If they’re wanting to help out with their opinion and energy, then their input is GOLDEN. I have found that 9 times out of 10, we’ve used some form of at least one of the ideas from the new guy/gal.

    Sometimes, age & experience has nothing to do with value and everything to do with what is wrong. Like you, I am NOT saying that discarding the ‘older’ folks is the way to go; BUT, having a good mix of experience and funky fesh insights (not just from an age standpoint – I’m also talking about using people from another ‘practice’ (i.e. advertising, marketing, etc.) that may not work directly within your group) is not only healthy, it’s advisable.

  6. July 6, 2009 2:58 pm

    I’ve never had a mentor in the sense of a 1-on-1 consistent mentorial relationship, but there are many people that I consider to be my mentors. My definition of a mentor is anyone who I am able to learn from through their advice and guidance, whether it’s direct or not.

    Would be nice to have someone committed to the relationship on a consistent basis though. I like what Sarah Merion and Lewis Howes have going on.

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