Mentoring is at the very foundation of TiE. The MentorConnect program at TiEcon provides Mentors the opportunity to share their experiences and expertise with attendees that seek their luminance. In the past, Mentors have said, “I have learned a lot from the mentees in my table”. For the mentee, they get real-world inputs from a stalwart in their domain. In fact, there is a Japanese proverb that says, “Better than a thousand days of diligent study is one day with a great mentor.” While there are times in the life of a mentee when they have to learn on their own, participating in MentorConnect provides them the opportunity to learn as fast as they can.
As a Mentor, you get validation for your knowledge. In a sense, your own understanding and expertise improve by talking to your mentees. You also get to see how other people view the world, and the challenges that they are facing. It is likely that the mentee’s situation / challenge will force you to think differently. In the process of sharing your knowledge and wisdom, you are transferring huge benefits to the mentee. This is unlike giving money, which is gone (and spent) once it leaves your hands. Sometimes (hopefully often) you get an ROI on the money. The ROI on the wisdom that you share is, however, permanent.
IBM has an office of Global Chief of Mentoring. Sheila Forte-Trammel used to be in that position and wrote a book on “Intelligent Mentoring: How IBM Creates Value Through People, Knowledge, and Relationships” where she says, “Mentoring is a way to see your profession thrive long after you are gone.” This is why mentoring is good for mentors too.