REVERSE MENTORING PUTS MILLENNIALS IN THE MENTOR ROLE
I recently attended an Executive Connection Networking Meeting at the invitation of founder, Kenton Kisler. The featured panel was all experts in the digital marketing field.
It was a fascinating conversation and I was enjoying all of the great new information when suddenly, out of nowhere, it happened. With one phrase, the paradigm shift occurred. The phrase was “reverse mentoring.”
Baron Concors, chief digital officer at Pizza Hut suggested that we should pair more seasoned employees with millennial employees so that the millennials could be the ones doing the mentoring.
Wait, what? Millennials mentoring their senior colleagues?
This was really challenging for me, a baby boomer and not the biggest fan of millennials. And further, Social Venture Partners Dallas is currently co-creating with our youngest partners a Venture Philanthropy Residency Program.
This is a new program with heavy emphasis on the traditional idea of mentorship – senior to junior. The goal of our program is to catch millennials interested in venture philanthropy and impact investing early enough, while they can still be influenced, as our motto goes, to “do good better.”
We want to reach them before they get sucked into doing charity and other types of social impact work in ways that is, at best, less impactful than it should be, and, at worst, actually harmful to the sector. We want our fellows to emerge from this program as the best informed and equipped future leaders in social entrepreneurship. That will remain the goal of our program, but the mentor to mentee relationship might now need to change from the original concept.
EMBRACE MILLENNIALS AS GUIDES FOR THE FUTURE
One walks around with a perspective as if that is the only truth, when in reality, there are other truths only available when one opens up to a different perspective.
Paradigm shifts occur in exactly that way. One walks around with a perspective as if that is the only truth, when in reality, there are other truths only available when one opens up to a different perspective. Of course the older, more seasoned philanthropist has something to teach the younger less-seasoned seeker. But as sociologists suggest, if you were born before 1964, you are, for all intents and purposes, an immigrant in a new world.
This new world has different values, mores, and a language that you don’t understand. (the Executive Connection panel also taught me that “Twitch” no longer refers to a spontaneous body movement. Instead, it is actually a platform to watch other people play video games. I don’t understand why anyone would do that, but it appears that 45 million people do it every month).
Any immigrant in a new land does better if there is a guide who can help them navigate the new world around them. The millennials are actually the guides in this new culture. They understand the language of startups, the latest technologies and the social trends that make movements happen never before deemed possible.
BE OPEN TO A NEW PERSPECTIVE
Social Venture Partners Dallas was born out of a single question that the leadership of The Dallas Foundation asked over 16 years ago: “Where will the next generation of philanthropists come from?” That question is a key part of the origin myth of Social Venture Partners Dallas and one that remains as part of our ethos and continues to stir our imaginations.
We believe that we have answered that question once again and the next generations are the 20-somethings who come seeking out their place in the philanthropic world that is Dallas. We see that this new field of philanthropists will not be afraid to work for justice organizations and will challenge why charity organizations need to exist in the first place.
We are confident this generation of philanthropists will find the solutions to our most vexing social problems and we know that they will use their powers for good and not evil. Those of us who are in leadership seats now need to be led, or risk leaving a tremendous amount of talent and resources on the boardroom table.
Too much is at stake not to make the shift which enables us to see ourselves as we must, both: mentor and mentee, teacher and student, giver and receiver.
When we embrace the fuller perspective, it is powerful, exciting, and a little scary to trust the ones at the “kid’s table” to lead us. But too much is at stake not to make the shift which enables us to see ourselves as we must, both: mentor and mentee, teacher and student, giver and receiver.
It is from this fuller perspective that the charge to “do good better” is mounted. A new alliance is born; the way it was done collides with the way it can be done, and the result is greater impact.
So, from baby boomer to millennial: “Lead on!” Inspire us to create purposeful, engaged philanthropy for generations to come.
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