5 Benefits of a Reverse Mentor

Photo Cred: whereisyourmind
Photo Cred: whereisyourmind

A reverse mentor is a mentor that is younger than the person that they are mentoring.  A relatively new term, but an old concept, reverse mentoring requires an open mind and a willingness to learn.  A great mentor can extremely valuable, regardless of the age of either party.  We all have something to learn and contribute from one another.

Not sure what you stand to gain from a reverse mentor?  Here are a few benefits…

  1. Fresh Ideas. You’ve been in the game a long time.   You’ve developed habits over time, from doing similar projects many times over.  With such repetition, it can be hard to think outside of your comfort zone.  A reverse mentor can shed a completely new light on a situation. A fresh perspective from fresh eyes.
  2. New Tools. Again, being in the game for a long time, you’ve probably become comfortable with certain tools and technologies.  Perhaps you haven’t updated in a while.  A younger professional that is just starting off, will probably start with the newest tools and technology, and so they can introduce you to it. (Not to say you are less tech-savvy)
  3. Reignite Your Flame. Over time, perhaps you’ve lost a bit of your excitement for your profession.  Take the ambition and eagerness to learn from your reverse mentor (assuming you chose a good one) and use it to get yourself fired up again.  They can help you reignite your own eagerness to learn.
  4. Teach to Learn. This one might not work for everyone.  Whenever I had a test coming up in school, and I explained a question or topic to another student, it helped me understand and remember it better.  By teaching a younger professional, you may end up touching on things that you haven’t had to do in a while, or haven’t been so comfortable with, and it will force you to understand it well enough to teach it.
  5. Just Learn. Sometimes, age will have nothing to do with it.  You will just learn from the thoughts and insights of another professional that happens to be younger than you.  Don’t let a stereotype prevent you from learning.

Ultimately every mentorial relationship should be a two way street.  Both the young, and the not as young professional should learn from each other.

What else would you add to the list?  How has a reverse mentor helped you?

Remember to thank your mentors every Mentor Monday.

9 thoughts on “5 Benefits of a Reverse Mentor

  1. Great post. Many people find it hard to take advice from someone younger than themselves. I look at developing not just one type of mentor, but a diversified “Board of Advisers.” It helps to get the perspectives of people of different age, industry experience, and even ethnicity. Younger mentors are not added to this by most people.

    On the social media tip, there are many people that I look up to. You happen to be one of them, and are younger than me. So thank you for being my reverse mentor.

    ~Miguel
    @miguelallano

  2. I have been fortunate as I have always been a reverse mentor, even in my teens I was up on leading edge “technologies” and able to communicate well and help those older to understand and participate. Perhaps this makes it easier for me to accept a reverse mentor today, and really both enjoy the collaboration and be able to derive benefit. I feel it is important for me to understand the under 30’s like yourself, be able to communicate with you on your terms and show you in return how I look at things, even though sometimes (not always) quite differently 🙂

    Great post David,
    @CASUDI

  3. Interestingly, five years ago, I was experiencing a severe generation gap with the then 25ish millennials. I now have a fabulous reverse mentor the same age but nicer. It seems the early twenty-somethings are not as “know-it-all” as those five years their seniors. At first my reverse mentor and I were both afraid to tell our ages, because of the assumed stereotypes, but now we both benefit from the street cred we get from each other. We have a lot of fun volleying answers to one another in sales meetings. If no one has coined a phrase for the ’10s new professionals, I will call them the Socialites. Savvy and fearless in all things social from new media to multi-generational friendships.

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