Don’t Pass the Torch, Just Share the Light

Photo cred: Mark "the trial"
Photo cred: Mark "the trial"

I really appreciated and related to Patrick Evans‘ latest blog post on his mentor program titled Why You Should Be a Mentor.

He writes, “I hear so many generational experts and business professionals criticize millennials. We don’t work as hard as Gen X folks, we expect things that past generations didn’t and overall, we could be the opposite of the greatest generation. We need your help! He goes on to provide 5 reasons why professionals should consider acting as a mentor for our generation.

I’ve seen many Millenials / Gen Y bloggers that are proud and confident in their belief that they will succeed.  I have also seen seasoned professionals respond by describing the overconfidence and inevitable disappointment of our generation. A good example of this is Teresa Wu’s guest post on Chris Brogans blog and her follow up response on her own blog.

I really enjoyed Teresa’s post and felt that her intentions, to shed some light on the mindset and views of the future Gen Y professionals, was accurate and useful.  The discussions afterward, ehhh not so much.  Whether either viewpoint is right or wrong, I feel is irrelevant and I am always disappointed to find such unproductive discussions taking place.

The important thing is that we all have something to contribute to the community as Patrick described very well.  Seasoned experts and professionals have learned a great deal from their experiences.  They understand what works and what doesn’t. They have been put in real situations that have required them to use critical thinking and problem solving to perform their jobs efficiently given unfamiliar situations.  With such talents, they can truly be great mentors to younger generations who strive to find the same experience and hopefully, success.

In a time of great change, especially in terms of technology and communications, the millenials have a great deal to contribute in return.  While the great amount of experience that many seasoned professionals have developed provides them with knowledge and understanding in their field, it also instills in them a sense of routine to the traditional methods of practice. Of course, these professionals are still very capable of innovation and creativity but they must also acknowledge and incorporate the millenials’ young, FRESH set of eyes and ideas on an evolving industry.  Technologically savvy, communicating on the internet as early as elementary school, they are able and willing to contribute to the future of what the experienced professionals have worked so hard to build.

Instead of arguing about which generation is better, and why the millennial mindset is unreasonable, we should all be working together.  Through collaboration we will find true growth and success as a community, young and old.

If you’d like to mentor a young PR pro, send Patrick an e-mail at patrickevans@gmx.com. He is setting up an e-mail mentoring program to connect young pros with seasoned public relations and social media professionals.

Edit: There’s a very lengthy but good example of the view of Millenials on the WSJ here.

-David Spinks

TweetIt from HubSpot

5 thoughts on “Don’t Pass the Torch, Just Share the Light

  1. David,

    This is a very well thought out post and the links back to the explanations about Gen Y are fantastic!

    I think what I would ask in return is…how does one know if another person is looking for a mentor? How do you approach someone and offer to be their mentor? Is it the responsibility of the professional/experienced person to offer mentorship or does it lie with the person seeking the mentoring?

    Outside of people like Patrick, who has set up a single location for both sides to meet and connect them, I think it’s difficult for the act to occur…huh. Maybe I just answered my own question. Thanks!

  2. Deidre,

    Thank you very much for the kind words and a great question. It’s such a great question that I think a response is worthy for another blog post follow up. It is important not only to have an open mind to collaborating with each other, but also how each party should approach such arrangements.

    Expect a response this weekend!

    Dave

  3. David,

    Meant to jump into this conversation earlier! But I do agree with you — some of the discussion that came later on was a bit petty. I received many an email suggesting I was being way too presumptuous — though, for the record, I had no idea my post would generate such discussion, much less controversy. It kind of went to show exactly what I was trying to point out — that sometimes baby boomers / gen x aren’t very receptive to our different ideas and methods. Whether they like it or not, I do think we’re different and that there are many advantages to be gained by combining their experience with our innovation.

    @Deidre: I think it’s difficult for a mentor to approach someone younger (that just seems like an awkward situation: “So… do you… want me to mentor you?”) but I think the channels of communication between the younger and older generation would benefit greatly from being opened up! In my opinion, young professionals shouldn’t be afraid to just ask for mentorship. Even if the mentor in question isn’t able to commit fully, occasional professional advice is useful to anyone.

  4. Thank you for commenting on my blog, David, and for leading me to your post. 🙂 I have had the distinct pleasure of working for experienced professionals who highly valued mentoring and caring for their staff in my first two years of working. Under these bosses my professional growth advanced in leaps and bounds, and my passion for the job was boundless. I wish every supervisor thought of mentoring as a built-in function in their positions. I found out eventually that not all supervisors had this mindset–too bad about that!

    (On the other hand, not all employees have this “please mentor me mindset” either. I guess some encouragement and education on the benefits of mentoring on the demand side might be needed too.)

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