June 25th, 2014 by lifemoxie

The Ripple Effects of Reverse Mentoring

Thanks to some intrepid companies such as GE, Cisco, Intel, and P&G, reverse mentoring is getting a fresh spotlight.


What is Reverse Mentoring?

It’s a form of mentoring that requires us to reverse our assumptions about the roles people play. In this structure, a junior-level colleague is the Mentor and a senior-level colleague is the Mentee. Picture the Individual Contributor mentoring and a Manager or a Vice President.


But this structure will only work if we adopt a pliable definition of mentoring. Consider this: mentoring is, at its core, one person sharing advice, perspectives, and ideas based on their experience. Notice that my definition does not relate to nor require a reference to age, job level, status, or function.


What kind of advice perspectives and ideas can a junior-level colleague share with a senior-level colleague?

*  Communication and style

*  Cultural knowledge

*  Technology

*  Social media

*  What it’s like to be an individual contributor

*  Being a newbie at the company

*  Customer viewpoints

*  Life in the cubes

*  Issues from the front line

*  Building relationships with individual contributors on the team

*  Being a successful leader


Ripples from Reverse Mentoring to Reciprocal Mentoring

When Individual Contributors mentor Leaders, they get the opportunity to contribute to the organization in new ways. These young Mentors are sought after for their knowledge, skills, opinions, ideas, perspectives, and even their advice. And that fuels morale, engagement, and ultimately retention. The ripple effect continues when the senior-level Mentee reciprocates by extending mentoring to the junior-level Mentor based on the trust they’ve already established.


How to Pilot a Reverse Mentoring Program

  • *  Determine the purpose
  • *  Recruit participants who want to accomplish that purpose
  • *  Establish a recommended structure
  • *  Match participants based on knowledge, skills, and perspectives wanted and needed
  • *  Kick-off the program by establishing expectations for both parties
  • *  Continue to guide participants’ success with ideas, touch points, articles, and discussion topics
  • *  Help them debrief, end their commitment, and redefine the relationship


Some Companies Leading the Trend:

>> When Jack Welch was CEO of GE, he championed Reverse Mentoring. He instructed 500 executives to connect with individual contributors to learn how to use the Internet. Jack participated as well, learning how to surf the web thanks to his Mentor, an employee in her 20s.


>> Founder and former CEO of Intel, Andy Grove encouraged reverse mentoring through “Technical Assistants,” who teach senior executives about things they need to know – marketing, brands, the Internet, competition, etc.


>> At Ogilvy & Mather, Managing Director Spencer Osborn learned how to spice up his Twitter posts from his younger Mentors.


>> Procter & Gamble (P&G) launched “Mentor Up” to partner senior male leaders (Mentees) with emerging female leaders (Mentors) and lowered its female employee turnover rate by 25% by exposing the senior male leaders to effective cross-gender communications.


Alan Webber, co-founder of Fast Company, summed up the concept nicely: “It’s a situation where the old fogies in an organization realize that by the time you’re in your forties and fifties, you’re not in touch with the future the same way the young twenty-something’s. They come with fresh eyes, open minds, and instant links to the technology of our future.”


June 6th, 2014 by lifemoxie

Debunking the Myth of Sponsors over Mentors

A participant in one of our programs called me last week and asked “Ann, I’m interviewing a potential Sponsor tomorrow. What questions should I ask?”

I replied: “That’s like approaching a stranger and asking, ‘Will you be my best friend?'”


Ever since the book Forget Mentors. Find a Sponsor! was released, people have been on a frenzy to push Mentors aside as they chase down the promise of a Sponsor.




Let’s look at what is dangled in front of intrepid career warriors:

    • “Mentors give friendly advice, but a sponsor has the power to get you the next job.”
    • “Sponsorship is how power is transferred in the workplace.”
    • “Mentors listen but sponsors act by telling you what you need to know, clearing obstacles from your path, and making your success their business.”


Whoa. Sign me up! I need one of those!

How do I get one?


Many ‘experts’ claim that anyone can get a Sponsor by:

    • exceeding expectations and making your performance known
    • demonstrating that you are trustworthy and loyal
    • bringing something special to the table
    • taking on challenges and succeed
    • owning your success
    • taking a stand


So if I do all of those things, a Sponsor will just appear like a fairy godmother out of thin air?

Uhhh…. yeah. I think it’s time to debunk this myth.


Reality Check

What’s a Sponsor?

    • Someone who advocates on your behalf, connecting you to important players and assignments
    • Someone who endorses and recommends you
    • Someone who puts their reputation on the line for you


Now, imagine you are the Sponsor. What would you need in order to put your reputation on the line for someone else?


And how do you create that trust? By first developing a mentoring relationship with them. Whether it’s formal or informal, only mentoring will allow you to establish the trust in and exposure to someone’s work, results, character, and aspirations that you need in order to authentically advocate and endorse them as their Sponsor. Even a manager who wants to lobby for one of their employees for the next promotion or assignment wore a Mentor hat before they put on the Sponsor hat.


That’s the missing piece to this whole craze over Sponsors. Sponsors don’t appear from pixie dust. They evolve out of mentoring relationships.


Here’s how it works:

Imagine you are mentoring someone. You discover how fabulous they are. You see how hard they work, taking on challenges and exceeding expectations. You learn to trust that they will continue to wow. You believe in them. You are willing to endorse them for a future assignment. You then advocate for their success. You as the Mentor are now you as the Sponsor.


Sponsors evolve out of Mentors.


There’s no shortcut, abbreviation, or app to fast-track people to a Sponsor. They actually have to put in the time and effort to build meaningful mentoring relationships. Granted, it’s not ideal for an instant gratification society, but it’s worth it in the end for everyone.


So let’s put a halt to this notion of ‘forgetting Mentors!’ You’ll need them if you have any hope of effectively welcoming Sponsors to your workforce.

August 2nd, 2013 by lifemoxie

Highlights from the Cornfield: My Reflections on RAGBRAI

Reflecting on my joy-filled cycling adventure across Iowa last week in the 41st annual RAGBRAI with the fabulous Team Moxie in Motion, I remain captivated by the experience.

Here’s why:

*  10,000 cyclists cycled 407 miles across Iowa in one of the most organized cycling events ever

*  We climbed over 17,500 feet of hills (no, Iowa is not flat!)

*  Iowa is stunningly beautiful – the roads are fabulous, the towns clean, the air fresh, the fields sprawling, and the sky endless

*  People cheered for us in every small town from Omaha to Fort Madison as if we were heroes in a parade

*  No one was a stranger on or off the bike

*  No one cared about titles, jobs, or income – being a cycling nut in a cornfield instantly leveled the playing field

*  We relentlessly communicated with each other to ensure safety on the bikes – “Bike on!” and “Bike off!” were standard announcements

*  Cycling jerseys generated instant conversation and camaraderie

*  Spontaneity was essential – we swallowed experiences in each small town instead of racing to the campsite

*  Time was just something that buzzed pass us under our pedals

*  Patience was customary – no VIP lanes, Premier status, TSA pre-check, or Fast Passes for the port-a-potty, food, drinks, or repair lines

*  Everyone contributed and expressed appreciation at every turn

*  No one was a star, no one won, no one was in charge, but everyone was unique and special

*  We connected. We laughed. We were in the moment, on the bike, with complete strangers, without an agenda


Why did we so easily abandon our daily stresses and upsets and inhale the experience?


3 Brilliant Words

I attribute it to the wisdom tossed to us on Day 1. When our bus pulled into the Pork Belly Ventures campsite, this burly, enthusiastic Iowan jumped on to welcome us. He concluded with, “My best advice for you is this: lower your expectations.”

While at first we were struck by the oddity of this statement, we quickly realized the brilliance in those three words. Our experience was going to hinge on our outlook, which in turn depended entirely on our expectations.

With expectations in check, what happened is what we made happen as opposed to what we hoped (or expected to) happen. Suddenly we were in control of our outlook as opposed to victim to our circumstances.



Back from the Corn

Now that I’m back from the cornfield, I am desperately clinging to that refreshing approach, especially when the traffic, weather, crowds, computers, etc., don’t meet my expectations. I just need to remember the corn and lower my expectations.


Try it on and let me know what you think.

July 28th, 2013 by lifemoxie

Day 8 RAGBRAI – from Fairfield to Fort Madison, Iowa

Let’s hear it for Team Moxie in Motion for an amazing time at RAGBRAI! Here are some great pictures from their final day cycling through Iowa:

The last day started with a balloon rising over the stream of bikes.

Team Moxie in Motion is ready to take on Day 8!

Bonaparte didn’t know what hit when we descended upon the town…

The girls at a rest stop…

The town of West Point welcomed us with a 2-mile story pile of bikes! We instantly climbed to the top!

Mr. Porkchop is an icon at RAGBRAI! Best pork chops ever….and the line was 1/2 mile long to prove it! Pictured here is Rob & Chuck savoring Mr. Porkchop for lunch…

We caught an intrepid cyclist….

Team Moxie in Motion made it to the Mississippi River after pedaling 406 miles!

Rob’s expression said it best!

LOVE this quote! It encapsulates the remarkable experience we all had!

July 27th, 2013 by lifemoxie

Day 7 RAGBRAI – Oskaloosa to Fairfield, Iowa

Another amazing day full of fun and adventure!

Here are some pics from yesterday from the festivities….we entered a wooden shoe race and Dawn won by diving into the finish line! Dawn and I also won the cheese barrel race in Pella. Jeff participated in “Chuck a Huffy”, a fundraising event in Beacon, Iowa for Jump 4 Kids, a child youth mentoring organization.

Bussey, Iowa has not seen the likes of us in a long time!

Dawn on the Redneck Slip n'Slide!

Cows on bikes!

July 26th, 2013 by lifemoxie

Day 6 RAGBRAI – Knoxville to Oskaloosa via Pella

More colorful pictures of our journey across Iowa with over 10,000 cycling enthusiasts …


Day 6 Kick off!!


We love the town of Pella, a Dutch community in the middle of Iowa!


A bike made for 12!



July 25th, 2013 by lifemoxie

Day 5 RAGBRAI – Des Moines to Knoxville, Iowa

More amazing pictures of the Moxie in Motion team’s adventure in Iowa!

Team Moxie in Motion heading out for Day 5!


Me and Maggie Paullous, 82 years young! She has cycled every Rabgrai since it launched 41 years ago.


Could not resist some #DangBrotherPizza!


Here's Michael making my pizza!


The band came out to entertain us!


Check out this bike!!


At the top of a hill on a day of 3000 feet climbing & feeling great!


Topping the day off with some Jersey Freeze! Now I know why people gain weight on this ride...


Click here to see how yesterday went, and for more information on RAGBRAI.


July 24th, 2013 by lifemoxie

Day 4 RAGBRAI – Perry to Des Moines, Iowa

Today’s wonderful images of Iowa.  Today was the largest day in RAGBRAI because we were so close to Des Moines.  We rode with over 30,000 cyclists today!

Team Moxie in Motion made a stop at Iowa Coffee Company



Huge crowds in Minburn, IA. The town went all out for us.


Dallas Center Iowa was so jammed we had to walk our bikes through town. We met up with a new friend, Taffy, who has been doing RAGBRAI for 25 years! We also got a glimpse of the Banana Team!


Team Moxie in Motion going strong at RABGRAI


To see more about our journey, click here.

July 23rd, 2013 by lifemoxie

Day 3 RAGBRAI – Century to Perry, IA

Check out Team Moxie in Motion during today’s century ride (108 miles!) to Perry, IA!


Starting off the day...


Riding out into the fog


Ann and Dr. Z from Team Flamingo


Hanging out in Hamballton, IA


Coming into Guthrie Center


Want to see what Team Moxie in Motion was up to yesterday?  Click here.

July 22nd, 2013 by lifemoxie

Day 2 RAGBRAI – Harlan to Perry, Iowa

Today was the longest distance. We cycled an “Iowa-century” which in the cornfields means 108 miles. Check out these great pictures of Team Moxie in Motion!

And they're off! Team Moxie in Motion: Rob, Bonnie, Ann, Chuck, Dawn, and Jeff!

Shelby, Iowa treated us so well!

The crowds in Shelby! Look at all those bikes!

Team Moxie in Motion taking a much-needed break in the shade!