A blast from the past gives me a welcome type of reverse mentoring

Mentoring is the topic for me this week, as a linked-in message found its way to me a few weeks ago.  It was from a from a hugely talented individual that I’d taken on as an intern at Sony when I was Director of Change and Comms.  He was a very special talent  who responded well to mentoring and I knew he’d go far.  He was simply suggesting a coffee and a catch up.

Keen to hear all his news, we quickly arranged a date.  Today we had tea and both left bouncing off the walls with energy.  We simply had several conversations worth having.

It was a little like reverse mentoring but without the label or expectation that phrase conjures up.  Instead it was two people from different age brackets talking about things we cared about. It was conversations we had recently had with others, what we’d learnt in recent years and what inspired us.  We talked about careers and where The Culture Builders is going.  We shared ideas to help each other and that flowed into ideas that would help others that we knew.

What a growth ‘hour’ for both us (I was actually late for my next meeting because I didn’t want the exchange to finish before a natural close).   I’m on my way home with a list of thoughts and ideas to share with my team tomorrow.  He went off to contact a couple of people to share some new ideas and with various issues reframed in his mind.

I went into the conversation keen to hear his news and help wherever I could.  What happened was so much more. Two people that gained so much from each other because we are at very different times in our lives.  Was it reverse mentoring – maybe it was.  But I can’t help feeling we got so much more from our catch-up because neither of us had the pressure of a formal expectation about the outcome.  So, are we going to do it more often?  Of course – a quarterly catch up has already been arranged.  

My take away about mentoring was

Today has yet again reminded me to practice what I preach – ensuring I spend enough time with people from a whole host of backgrounds, age-brackets and life experience.  It’s incredible what comes out of every conversation if you go into each encounter with three things; curiosity, a desire to give and an attitude to learn.

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