I didn’t know her. 

But she was referred to me by a friend for an “informational interview.”

And so we met for coffee and my day was brightened.

I’ve always enjoyed meeting with younger people, sharing any tidbits of wisdom and experience I may have.  Some call it mentoring, but I think this gift of time is much more than that. 

Miriam-Webster defines mentoring as, “someone who teaches or gives help and advice to a less experienced and often younger person.” 

However, the coaching, nurturing, and encouragement that occurs during these sessions often goes far beyond this description. 

You see, I also learn as the mentor.

The hope and enthusiasm the words these young people share is refreshing and reinvigorating to a baby boomer gal who has been around the bush. As I listen to their aspirations and gently explore ideas and strategies around career directions, they inspire me and provoke new thinking.  I may bring expertise to the table, but they bring new thinking, new perspectives of another generation to me, and I soak up their energy and commitment.

Granted at times, it is important to steer the conversation and temper the eagerness with a dose of reality and offer some practical considerations – some time-tested counsel. But I think it is important to always do this with a sense of humility. 

After all, we are all in it together on this ship of life. And just as I hope they will value and respect my opinions as the older and seasoned professional, I need to appreciate and honor their thoughts and ideas that bring forth new energy and fresh thinking. Many of them are wiser than they know.

They will become our future leaders. And I believe many of them already demonstrate the traits of conscientious leadership.

Cause-driven. Belief in a sustainable world.  Embracing diversity.

They will create a better world, around the 3 “Ps” of People, Planet, Profit, the corner stone of Benefit Corporations, a growing national movement.

So, I will continue to give my time and accept any requests for an informational interview and be willing to share my knowledge as a mentor. Because I am rewarded with fresh insights and come away energized with the belief that future is bright.  

Today, this week, this month, take the time and say yes to that informational interview.  You may be the one that actually benefits and receives the gift.