Reverse Mentoring

Images I had lunch today with Kelley Boyd and just as we were parting ways she said the words reverse mentoring.  A light went off in my head. 

Yesterday I met with a woman who is a master of many trades and years younger than me.  Super smart.  An educator, a entrepreneur, a coder, a law school graduate and full of life.  We spent some time talking about mentoring people. 

I am working on a conference in January geared towards getting more women in the tech space.  One of the concepts behind this conference is to mentor women coming out of school who are geared towards the tech space.  Providing direction about the variety of opportunities out there in the tech space.  It isn't all about writing code.

Someone who has more years under their belt in essence has more experience.  That experience is varied.  For a woman it can be from running a company, managing a staff, raising children or even running a household.  Mentorships can be powerful.  As the person being mentored, you can learn from your adviser's mistakes as well as their successes.  After all, you only learn from your mistakes. 

The world has changed significantly in the past 10 + years particularly because of technology.  There are those that grew up with technology in their household.  Those would be people around 30 and under.  Then there are those who grew up watching dial phones become push button. 

Kelley, who has had variety of different careers because of choices she made due to family, would be a phenomenal mentor for any entrepreneur.  Her point is that someone who is 24 has just as much to teach me as I have to teach them.  There is so much to learn from the youth that grew up with technology.  Reverse mentoring. 

So as I think about the entrepreneurs that I meet, I always walk away thinking how smart they are and how much they have to teach me although on many occasions I believe my experience is what people are interested in when they meet me.  As I move forward into this conference and continued partnerships with entrepreneurs I am going to think more about reverse mentoring.  I might have many more years under my belt but believe me I want to learn as much from the person on the other side of the table. 

Mentoring should be a two way street.