Learning from a mentor half your age

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Great article, Schooled by a Mentor Half My Age, in The New York Times about how a veteran journalist at The Times sought out a young colleague to be mentored in social media, specifically to learn how to create stories in SnapChat. Younger workers mentoring older workers, particularly when it comes to technology and social media is not that unusual:

Some companies — including Cisco Systems, Target and UnitedHealth Group — are embracing reverse mentorships, particularly as technological change sweeps through offices and lives. Millennials, after all, grew up with computers, and they are “natural consultants,” said Debra Arbit, chief executive of BridgeWorks, which helps companies deal with generational differences. America’s younger workers have already been “personal technology consultants in their own families, so it’s a role they’re very comfortable playing,” she said.

And in addition you can get the viewpoint of the young mentor in the accompanying article  by the young mentor In a Reverse Mentorship, Seeing Age Though a New Lens.

Phyllis is a longtime Times employee, an accomplished journalist and an author. So the fact that she was approaching me for mentorship was unexpected.

She wanted to do what she was calling a reverse mentorship. She wanted to challenge herself and learn something new, something outside her comfort zone, she said. She wanted to learn how to use Snapchat.

Snapchat is a popular social mobile app that features, among other things, stories that live for just a day. And she came to me because a large part of my role has been guiding editorial strategy in the brave new world of stories that disappear in 24 hours.

So of course I was happy to meet with Phyllis one on one.

But a mentorship? I was honored, albeit a bit perplexed.

Author: Mentorphile

Mentor, coach, and advisor to entrepreneurs, small businesses, and non-profit organizations. General manager with significant experience in both for-profit and non-profit organizations. Focus on media and information. On founding team of four venture-backed companies. Currently Chairman of Popsleuth, Inc., maker of the Endorfyn app for keeping fans updated on new stuff from their favorite artists.

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