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Metamorphosing Me

Feb. 8, 2018
“Reverse mentors” is a concept that has become more formalized as the benefits of learning from a younger generation have become more apparent.

Younger mentors give me wings, keeping me connected to our rapidly transforming digital lives. I’m just back from a very fun and informative event, AHR Expo 2018 in Chicago. It was the largest ever with over 72,000 attendees. What did I learn from those younger than me? Lots. These are today's makers and shakers and metamorphic mentors -- the people who are driving the digital metamorphosis that I have been ranting on about in my last few columns, giving it a Brain, Face, Body, and Voice.

The education sessions at AHR have turned this event into an annual pop up learning venue that keeps our industry current. A trend I saw this year was that the industry is starting to bring their younger mentors and new employees to the show; their "IoT Mini-Me's" if you like. This ever-growing event has become the melting pot for the old and new to get a toehold in our rapidly changing industry. (Read more of my takeaways from AHR Expo here.)

Even as I write that, here is an article by Marie Taylor and Steve Crabb on the Employee Relations section of the Dummies website advising caution, Mentoring is Not About Creating a Mini-Me

If you have any notion that people come to mentoring to learn how to be a clone of their mentor, think again. People want to learn from the particular knowledge and experience that a mentor possesses. Whilst a mentee may look up to a mentor as a role model, the mentee doesn’t necessarily want to be just like the mentor.

I am crushed, crushed, that these young folks do not want to grow up to be just like me! But seriously, I’m the one that needs the mentoring. Mentoring, keep in mind, is a two-way exchange. David Lumb at the Fast Company website offers this piece of advice in his article, Why You Need A Different Mentor At Every Step In Your Career: 

When you’re starting out, you need a mentor you can look up to, but later in your career, you’d benefit from getting a fresh perspective. We’ve been told countless times how important it is to find a mentor to help guide you early in your career. But searching for mentors doesn’t stop after becoming established: There’s immense value in learning from others throughout your career, even if those mentors are younger than you.

Kathy Bloomgarden, CEO for Ruder Finn, in this article from the Entrepreneur website gives Four Reason You Need a Mentor Who Is Younger Than You:

I’ve learned key lessons in life and business through my “reverse mentors” -- a concept that has recently become more formalized as the benefits of learning from a younger generation are becoming more tangible. But, reverse mentoring came organically to me. When we think of “new ways of working,” what often comes to mind are visible examples like flexible work schedules, new technology to enable remote working and open office space centered around collaboration spots. But, the new way of working involves a mindset shift, not only in how people work together and where they work, but in whom we work with -- and, more importantly, learn from.

The benefits of mentorship are clear: greater retention, skill-building and higher company engagement. In fact, according to a Gartner study, retention rates are higher for mentees (72 percent) and for mentors (69 percent) than non-mentoring participants (49 percent). The same study also found mentors received promotions six times more often than their peers.

I have been on this crusade for a while but feel more passionate about it now than ever.  Many years ago we started The YoungEnergy Group on LinkedIn. Their mission statement:

YoungEnergy Group is attracting Youth for our IOT journey. We will reinvent, refocus and repurpose this group for the engagement of the industry and the task of attracting Youth to our IOT journey. The group is presently an old boys network -- even the young have grown old -- but the roots of this group are strong and the reach long so I feel it will be very useful to create a network of engagement for us the industry.

One of our original Young Energy folks, Brad White, P.Eng, MASc. Principal SES Consulting, Inc., is now our Contributing Editor at

This year in Chicago I was part of the Control Trends Awards (CTA) with another one of our original Young Energy folks, Alper Üzmezler  -- he’s at the far right in the picture that opens this article.

And here is a post that made my day:

I have been on my journey to connect with younger mentors since forever. Here is some history going back to 2009 from an article I wrote, Seeking Youth for the IOT Journey of our Industry. My opening plea:

This is a request for online input to help map out a process for gathering thoughts, suggestions, and action of how we can attract young minds to our industry.

Here is my call to action: Get involved in iotday this April 9th to start your metamorphosis and find your younger mentors. Believe me, they will come with IoT skills. (My 12-year-old granddaughter is always teaching me things you can do with your cell phone.)

What is iotday? Iotday is an open invitation to the Internet of Things Community to participate in an event, host a hackathon, or just share a beer/coffee with a friend or fellow collaborator focused around the IoT and its implications. One of iotday themes is job training and retraining, so mentoring can be a natural part of any iotday discussion. iotday is sponsored by  and I, myself, am a member of its Council.  

The Council is a formidable, unique network of talents encompassing all skills, experiences and trades, from entrepreneurship to philosophy, public sector and private sector, and it brings together people who beyond their specific knowledge share the same passion of tinkering with technology to put it at the service of individuals, communities, society, and the whole planet... The future is not purely destiny; it is in our hands. - Gérald Santuci

The mission of the IoT Council is to make transition tangible, visible and actionable.

So we can all become part of growing younger on iotday please add your comments on the bottom of this article or my LinkedIn post or share a tweet using the hashtag #RUIOTREADY. Share something you learned from your younger mentors. I will collect the best comments and share them in turn with our readers. Simple stuff is the best. In fact, I’ll go first: Don’t take notes, take a picture. Use your phone to capture more than what you wanted to note, then you can share easily with others.

Once, after sharing a moment with a younger mentor on my phone, he asked if he could take a picture of my phone. Extremely agile; that was the moment he needed to capture and only wished to spend a moment capturing it. A new concept to me.

Share your discoveries of what you have learned from your younger mentor with us all, part of which might be how to share your ideas on social media’s flavor of the month.

Just have fun and introduce yourself to a younger mentor who has grown up digitally. You will learn more than you can imagine.

About the Author

Ken Sinclair | Editor/Owner/Founder

Ken Sinclair has been called an oracle of the digital age. He sees himself more as a storyteller and hopes the stories he tells will be a catalyst for the IoT future we are all (eventually) going to live. The more than 50 chapters in that ongoing story of digital transformation below are peppered with HTML links to articles containing an amazing and diverse amount of information.

Ken believes that systems will be smarter, self-learning, edgy, innovative, and sophisticated, and to create, manage and re-invent those systems the industry needs to grow our most important resource, our  younger people, by reaching out to them with messages about how vibrant, vital and rewarding working in this industry can be.

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