Have you been asked to be mentor? What was your reaction? Was your first thought, “Me? A mentor?” Recently I was asked by a young professional if I would be her mentor. While I definitely have experience on my side, I wasn’t sure what else I could offer to the young lady so early in her career and not even in my area of expertise. As we have worked through this relationship, I’m excited to report it’s an experience I really enjoy. And even more enjoyable are all the things I’m learning from her, so I get to be the mentee as well.
This has given me the opportunity to think about how many times we can learn from others, especially new young professionals. And I’m not just talking about technology. These young people have learned a different dimension or angle to our businesses. They are data-driven and use data to improve their business skills every day. Most also have excellent internships and a wide variety of backgrounds. Not all came from a Midwest farm like so many of my peers.
While working with my mentee, I have discovered another benefit I had not considered early on. I have the chance to stop and evaluate the successful techniques we have used in our business of 35 plus years. How did we build this business and make it work over so many changes in agriculture and communications? Great clients and long-time relationships are the simple answer. When we were discussing this, my mentee was amazed that some of our client relationships were older than she is.
The bottom line to this experience is quite simple – I would encourage any of you to take advantage of a mentor-mentee opportunity. Share your knowledge and open your mind to a whole new set of experiences. I know I’m very glad I did.