OK, so it’s the worst title for a blog post ever.
A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of spending some time sitting in the office of a middle-aged, and very successful, “traditional” businessman. And by that I mean he ran a company in the service industry in which, on the surface of it, many of us wouldn’t consider particularly exciting. His company has a turnover in the millions, and was growing rapidly.
He was smart, engaging, open-minded and over the course of two meetings we struck up a good rapport. It occurred to me that he would make an ideal business mentor. Many entrepreneurs swear by their mentors, and rightly so. For most in the early stages of their business lives they are an invaluable source of support, wisdom and advice. But one thing that’s never really discussed is the benefits that the mentor could get out of the relationship.
In my meeting with the successful businessman he mentioned how he felt many of his peers were staid and negative in their approach to business, and that the business scene in Cardiff was lacking in inspiration. I replied that he needed to meet some of the people I chat to on a regular basis. Some of the most creative, innovative, and inspirational “young” people I know are living and working here in Cardiff, building exceptionally exciting businesses. I wondered how much he would benefit from coming to a TEDxCardiff or NOCCI event, which are characteristically attended by early adopters, ambitious startups, entrepreneurs, web-heads, and people at the innovative, cutting edge of what Cardiff has to offer.
So here’s my proposal – what about a scheme that pairs up younger and older entrepreneurs? The wisdom and mentoring would still be “passed down” from the older of the two, but the younger would be able to reignite their passion for innovation, introduce them to new technology and ways of working.
I was in Ireland last weekwith Mediasnackers, helping people learn about social media, and how to engage with their audience on a really personal level. Many of them were from the generation above mine, and once they had the opportunity to see new technology and media in action and play with it (rather than just seeing it referenced in newspapers), they were absolutely blown away at the potential. Until that point they had seen the new web/media landscape as this insurmountable mountain of buzzwords and brandnames. But once you can sit them down and show them, they understand very quickly.
And so imagine what would happen if once a month (or however frequently suited them), these two entrepreneurs sat down over lunch and chatted. That one-to-one aspect is considered integral to the success of mentoring, so surely it could benefit the more senior of the pairing too… The wealth of business experience would flow one way, and the knowledge and access to exciting, innovative businesses and products would flow the other way.
Good idea? Who could we get to set this up and support it?
And who would you like to be your mentor, and what would they learn from you?