Mentoring in the Modern Age

Mentor Definition: an experienced and trusted adviser.

Do you have a mentor? How did you find them? Do you appreciate them? Why? What makes them so valuable to you? What value do you provide them?

I’m one of the lucky few who can say that not only have I “never had a bad boss,” but I’ve also been fortunate enough to gain a few mentors in my corner throughout the last decade. 

A good mentor is someone you can go to with pretty much anything that’s on your mind, professional or otherwise, who will listen to you, ask thought provoking questions, lend perspective, share wisdom, and most importantly, help guide you to the conclusion that is best for you. That doesn’t mean they’ll solve your problems, but rather, they’ll make you really think about your problems, and the various ways you can solve them. 

It’s safe to say that many of the most successful people in business had someone they could turn to for guidance and perspective. In fact, there are websites dedicated to highlighting famous mentor/mentee relationships. Nowadays, as younger generations become smarter by the day thanks to technology providing easy access to information, it’s perhaps even more important than ever for people to try and benefit from some of the wisdom of real world experience. No matter how smart and confident someone may be, there’s something to be said for having “been there, done that.” 

The challenge with finding a mentor, especially for younger professionals, is that one doesn’t really know where to look, or how to ask. If you’re lucky, you might get a boss or two who takes it upon themselves to act like a mentor, even before you ask them to do so, simply because they realize you need it and want to help you succeed (thank you Ian Jones & Sean Quill). But what if you aren’t that lucky? How do you go about it? It’s not always easy to find someone you can be completely candid with and show vulnerability to in your own company. 

Next logical step is to look outside of your own company and try networking with people, asking for coffee chats, etc, but these days, when finding a date is as simple as swiping left or right, why play the odds? Why not let technology & algorithms help?

A former (very impressive) colleague of mine recently introduced me to Everwise (thanks Heather Doshay!) , which is a 4-year old start-up with a noble mission:

“Everwise exists to solve an acute challenge – providing highly motivated professionals with the opportunities they uniquely need to be successful throughout their careers.

Everwise breaks down the barriers that prevent people from tapping into the resources they need to grow professionally. We leverage a novel and powerful combination of high touch and high tech to create a brand new paradigm for developing talent.

People-powered, boundary-breaking and individualized, Everwise is revolutionizing the way successful professionals grow their careers.” 

The list of companies using Everwise to help develop their talent includes (but is not limited to): Walmart, Genentech, Salesforce, Oracle, Tata, HP, VISA, Ebay, Cisco, Twitter, VMWare, Rackspace, Avaya, Farmers Insurance, Edmunds.com, Charles Schwab, Merck, Mattel, and many others. Those aren’t little league organizations… seems Everwise is onto something.

As someone who enjoys mentoring people as a hobby, I was particularly intrigued by the Everwise concept. After all, why should the mentor/mentee relationship be left solely to happenstance? Why shouldn’t someone who is eager to learn, grow, and develop themselves professionally be able to leverage technology to connect with people who can help them accomplish those goals, irrespective of geographic locale? 

So I signed up to be a mentor, and received a phone call from a very pleasant woman who put me through a pseudo-interview, getting to know more about my prior experience, skills, and passions. I was then told that the Everwise team would be in touch when they’d found a mentee whom they thought could benefit from connecting with me. After about a month, I received a notification that they’d found a potential match.

Two weeks ago, Zach and I had our first session via Google Hangout, facilitated by an Everwise Experience Manager, and we’ll be touching base every 2 weeks for the next 24. He seems like a really good kid with lots of ambition and a desire to lead people — I was very impressed by how self-aware he was during our first conversation. I look forward to helping him figure out some of the challenges he’s facing, and perhaps learning a thing or two (or more) from him!

While it’s still too early to tell what will come of things, the fact that a company like this exists really energizes me. Even though I’ve been blessed with very strong mentors in my life, I would still have been keen to learn from even more people. Still am, actually. And that’s the other part of Everwise that’s great — there’s no age restriction. Who knows… perhaps I’ll get paired with a mentor someday as well. One thing is for sure, you’re never too old or experienced to consider other people’s perspectives. 

If you’re someone who enjoys developing talent, I’d highly recommend becoming a mentor at Everwise. If you’re a forward-thinking manager or HR director, interested in developing talent, consider contacting Everwise about getting some great mentoring for some of your best and brightest. 

Regardless, I find it encouraging that companies exist to try and facilitate collaboration between generations. The world is a massive place, and we shouldn’t be restricted to encountering and developing relationships solely with those in our own companies or geographies.

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