A most unlikely source, the AARP Bulletin, gave me the inspiration for this blog. I say unlikely because it is not thought of as a traditional source of business wisdom. Retirement and aging wisdom, yes.

This article was titled “It’s never too late to learn” and dealt with a newer corporate trend of assigning younger people to help their older colleagues learn things. This is often called reverse mentoring and can range from explaining social media, such as how to use Twitter, to building better relationships with the incoming millennials and Gen Xers. As I read and thought about it, I realized that I have been informally involved in this process over the years with many of my younger mentees.

An overall concept, in which I strongly believe, is that Mentoring works best when both parities are, at least, benefiting from the process and, at best, when both parities are learning from each other. The benefit can be as simple as the the satisfaction or pride a mentor gets when the mentee gets a desired promotion. But the better benefit is when the mentor actually learns something themselves. It is not usually some technical thing, but rather some softer issue. Here are a few real life examples (without full names) that come to mind.

Y, a young, female, Hispanic manager in a large distribution firm from whom I learned what it’s like to be a double minority in a traditional old-line firm and how to deal with it.

M, a young, male business owner, who shares with me both the joys and frustrations of running his own small business. He has no college degree, yet over these last few years he has earned the equivalent of an MBA at the school of hard knocks.

J. a young, female founder of a service business, has such passion for her trade and personal drive to succeed that she could qualify to teach a graduate courses in Leadership or Entrepreneurship.

So if you have not tried mentoring, try it. And if you do mentor but feel your efforts have been mostly one sided, then try harder and learn to listen and learn from your mentee. It is not too late to learn something valuable and wonderful!