MindShare’s Reverse Mentoring Program

By Matt Van Hoven 

At a little media agency called Mindshare, an interesting program has been put in place to bring the whole shop up to snuff regarding the inter Webs. We call it reverse mentoring, but it’s officially termed Digital Minds &#151 an initiative seeking to get senior leaders within the agency up-to-date in the online game.

So, WTF Does That Entail?
Glad you asked. Since the agency didn’t get back to us on this, we had to do some digging (note: we think it’s kinda ridic that we didn’t get a call back on this, especially since our only intention was to point out this cool thing they’re doing. But whatever &#151 PR is not equal to advertising).


Says our source, “The goal is two-fold: first, to educate senior leaders about key segments within the online space (social networking, gaming, e-commerce, blogs, search tools &#151 think RSS aggregators, etc); second, to challenge senior leaders to “think digitally.”

How to: Think Digitally
“[A]pproaching and using (not only the internet, but) computers with a digital ethos,” says spy. “There is a large quota of senior leadership throughout our industry struggling to fully understand/nurture the digital space.”

No doubt &#151 it was tots awk when my mom Facebooked me, then Tweeted me, within one week.

“Since digital is such a large part of today’s conversation (not only advertising/marketing, but consumer lifestyles in general), nobody can afford to be lackluster in their digital knowledge. As part of Mindshare’s restructuring, senior leaders whose careers have largely been spent as experts of traditional media are no longer granted ‘freebie’ passes on not being experts on things like social networking, online gaming, and e-commerce.”

The Frigging Point:
Our source said it all, “experts of traditional media are no longer granted ‘freebie’ passes on not being experts on things like social networking, online gaming, and e-commerce.”

Yeah, I know it’s hard to take, but this is really important &#151 and something I talk about with seasoned ad folk all the time. It’s about time the true social media experts (get ready to get mad) were given the time of day. It’d be pretty hard to make the argument that anyone over the age of, say, 30 could really be an expert in social media. I don’t mean the people who do it for a living, either. I’m talking about the generation that used social media purely for fun, back before it became part of the marketing vernacular, when it was just this thing you could do online. The ground floor users who played with tools like MySpace and Facebook and AOL’s Instant Messenger and chat rooms &#151 those who had the social desire to interact online for no other reason that social drive.

I talk with seasoned folks about this because they feel left out, and it’s notable that MindShare is investing time into helping the wizened within the shop &#151 the benefits are endless.

Source: “Simply put, the convergence of the way Mindshare approaches media creates an environment where all employees are expected to have a holistic knowledge of media communications.” And that’s important, too &#151 we all have to hustle.

Want to know more &#151 like who’s involved and what’s being taught? Click continued.

More: “MindShare Paid For A Bunch Of BS

&#151 Mentors: junior level leaders, mostly 20-somethings
&#151 Mentees: senior level management, mostly over 40

The Lessons
&#151 Navigating the online space (Aggregating content, advanced search techniques)
&#151 Social Networking (Creating a digital identity and managing connections through sources like Facebook, Twitter, Linked In)
&#151 Social Expression and Digital Currency (Blogs, Online Video, Music, Communication Trends)
&#151 E-Commerce and Trade (Auction, Purchase, Selling through E-bay, Amazon, Craigslist)
&#151 Mobile applications and convergence of portable devices

We’re told the program is a nice break from the daily grind. Each mentor has two mentees, and they spend time together one-on-one so that each “course” can be personalized. I smell a business forming Mindshare. You might want to think about providing this as a service.