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Reinventing Mentoring

Mentoring has been around since ancient Grecian times, when Odysseus placed his friend Mentor in charge of his son when he went off to war. In today’s world, I see mentoring changing, adapting to different needs and to the demographics and larger changes happening in the world. I also see new avenues for finding and conducting mentoring.

There are several factors at play that are causing these changes. Here are a few that I see as catalysts.

The need for connection to your “tribe”

I spend a lot of time with people I call “Internal Disruptors”. They are leaders at all levels within organizations who want to stay ahead of the curve, on the cutting edge of HR and culture. They want to do things differently and need others to discuss innovative ideas with. They are often missing connections with “people like them” within their organizations, so looking outside for mentoring and networking is important.

The rise of Millennials

Millennials crave feedback and most aren’t getting enough from their bosses. They’re also young, with plenty to learn – and also plenty to teach! There are great opportunities for cross-mentoring relationships with Millennials, where the mentor gets back just as much development as he or she gives.

Check out this Millennial Think Tank for some great insights on Millennials and the need for mentors today.


How rapidly the world is changing

Because of the pace of change, what you need today from a mentor may change tomorrow. You may need several different mentors whom you can call upon when new and different challenges arise. It is increasingly important that people can learn rapidly, bring new skills to the organization, and having people with a range of skills to teach you is a key method for keeping up with learning.

Technology opportunities

You no longer have to look locally for a mentor. In fact, my best mentor is someone whom I met in Thailand and lives in Australia. We speak bi-weekly, providing mentoring, accountability and advice to each other. Although she is on the other side of the world, through Skype and Google Hangouts, our relationship has become closer than many of my local relationships.

So we know the need for various mentors and mentoring relationships certainly exists. Now where does one find the mentor they need? In today’s world, there are also new places to find your mentor.

Social media

Tapping into the openness of social networks like Twitter is a great way to find people passionate and knowledgeable about the things you want to learn. It’s no secret that I meet most people through twitter, either directly or indirectly. I am a huge advocate of having conversations with people online and turning those into real life discussions. Join twitter chats, see who is blogging and tweeting about things you’re interested in, and try reaching out to them. You’d be surprised at how many great leaders on twitter are very open to sharing and having discussions with you.


I met my Australian mentor at an event called Awesomeness Fest. When you’re at an event, you often meet people you may otherwise not have had an opportunity to, and you already know you have something in common – the reason that brought you both to this event. Take advantage of that. If you need help stepping out of your shell and connecting at conferences or events, check out this post about how I stopped sucking at networking. And if you’re looking for an event to meet Internal Disruptors at, you definitely should apply to attend the ReInvent Work Summit (sorry for the shameless plug – the people who attend are simply awesome!)

Non-traditional mentoring

If you haven’t seen it yet, check out Ten Thousand Coffees. This is an amazing initiative that is connecting professionals with the next generation of leader. You can search by industry, offering and meeting type. If you’re a young leader, embarking on your career and looking for advice, you can meet leaders in a variety of areas. If you’re a professional, join so that you can mentor and learn from millennials. Another form of non-traditional mentoring but a source of great advice is Virgin’s Mentor Mondays, where leaders share their advice on various topics.

How do you see the need for mentoring changing? Where have you found great mentors?

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