When I started Twomentor a year and several months ago, my intention was (and is) to go in and help companies build mentoring cultures for so many reasons. I had already spoken with 500- 600 companies and institutions that were struggling with hiring and retaining diverse talent, especially in the Science, Tech, Engineering and Math (STEM) arena. Not one company would disagree that culture and employee engagement needed focus + leaders understood that the economics of loss are troubling, especially when you factor in that it can cost @ one year salary to replace an executive, over 200% for a key Sales executive, and that Millennials — well, 21% left their jobs last year costing companies billions.
Did you know- Over 75% of Millennials view being mentored as crucial to their professional success? Did you know most women leave their jobs because they do not have a Sponsor (advocate, inner champion).
So I landed at a Leadership Conference in Chennai, India last February at an NGO Leadership Conference through the Center for Social Leadership & Sevalaya, and decided to take concepts such as reverse mentoring, peer mentoring, diverse mentoring, and integrate them into what has now become The Twomentor – Mentor Road Trip™ Experience. I didn’t realize at the time, how powerful this would be for participants and the places it would take me personally as a new CEO.
So what does it look like? Well, let’s hit the gas…
Mile Seven: So you are driving in your car with your awesome new mentor. (or mentee)… clear blue skies ahead… Starbucks double espresso warms your hand (or perhaps you prefer Dunkin Donuts). You have an updated Spotify playlist for background music, a GPS and a full tank of gas. Then … Uh-ho! Flat tire.
Twomentor: “Flat tires happen in our professional lives. Sometimes, it is our batteries that need to be recharged. I now want you to share a professional challenge big or small that you are having right now with your mentor. Take 10 minutes on this leg of our journey together…”
At Leadership Greater Washington, at the World Bank Group, at Women in Technology and a huge packed ballroom in Vegas for InfoComm International and Watermark Executive Women’s Conference in San Jose, we have run these customized experiences. The proverbial conference spotlight moves from the stage to shine a light within the audience. We transform and we become each other’s mentors, consultants, we light up realizing others in this multi-cultural, multi-generational environment have insights, perspective and solutions. No longer are we passively staring at the stage, we are now engaged, playing our part and creating meaningful interactions. We find commonalities and wish we could continue the conversation for another 30 minutes… but… the bell rings… we now need to switch partners.
Mile Eleven: “For this next segment, friends we want you to find someone in the room that DOES NOT remind you of yourself. Does not look like you (diverse mentoring). Please share with your mentee what drives your passion to do the work you do in tech, engineering, sales… each day.” Let’s Go.
They are listening to each other, heads nodding up and down, understanding, animated. Amazing that no one really knew each other twelve minutes ago. At the Gannett Building in McClean, VA I walk around observing over 60 women through Women of Technology and Women of AT&T going the extra mile for each other. Sparkling, smiling, intent at our post-dinner evening session. I see mentors wear the hat for the first time in years of the mentee. Asking for help from others. So many women I met shared after these sessions that they are always helping and mentoring others, but they were burning out because they were no longer asking others for help… It was a revelation. Senior male and female leaders always want to discuss Sponsorship offline.
“As an over 40 career professional, I was mentored by a Millennial in Twomentor’s workshop. While it was great to learn about my mentor’s passion and hear her advice, what was even more important than the learning was the feeling we experienced. This pairing put me in a position of vulnerability and my mentor in a place of courage. And coming away from this, I realized these emotional states were exactly what each of us needed to grow who we are as career professionals. I needed a beginner’s mind, and she needed a stronger voice. Brilliant!”- Sarita Vasa, Participant
“Shake your partners hand, thank them for the great mentoring and we are ready for the next leg of the journey. Mile Seventeen: We live in a Global economy where new skills are required… Lifelong learning is required. Please share a technology… “
Attendees moved on and then moved on again to Mile 84. The business cards were exchanged, the new connections made, dozens of follow-up coffee dates planned and then we pulled into our rest stop to refuel and say our goodbyes for now… continuing our learning for the day.
Reflecting in the rear-view mirror, Flash mentoring is an effective jump-start to the culture of mentoring at organizations. It does not replace a strong, metrics-based high performing mentoring initiative, it simply revs the engine and can ignite the value-proposition + clarity for groups to get started. A lot of companies are trying a low-touch solution for a high-touch problem. Well, that’s where we come in. Flash mentoring is dynamic, it’s inclusive, and it’s fun whether 40 people are in the room or 1400.
Julie Kantor is the Founder & CEO of Twomentor LLC and passionate about elevating women in STEM and driving mentoring cultures. You can reach her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org Learn about Twomentor including webinars, peer to peer world cafe learning and much more.