The themes of growth, values, mentorship and leadership are some of my most endeared themes. I started life learning to embrace learning and growth, sharing what I have learnt with others willing to ‘sip’ and taking lessons from the lives of others – people i regard as ‘illuminares’.
On November 11, 2017, I gave a TEDx talk on “The Future of Mentorship – and what we can do about it” at TEDxIsaleGeneral. Beyond sharing some thoughts on this theme – which is off the beaten track, according to a mentor – I savoured the moments i had learning from other speakers and attendees. Everyone is a story worth sharing!
As requested, below is a -rough- transcript of the talk on The Future of Mentorship. I’ll include the link to the video when I get it from the TEDx team. I will love to read your thoughts either in the comments, via mail or on Twitter.
Future of Mentorship and What to do about it
December 12, 2012, with the help of a few friends, I started an annual leadership programme that grew from accommodating less than 30 emerging young leaders from Nigeria to over 200 young leaders from more than 35 countries. About five years into building Studership from a project to some sort of community, it struck us that we failed in one of our responsibilities.
While we succeeded in connecting and promoting drive for development in the hearts of these young people, we felt that we failed. We felt we failed because we didn’t provide a structured mentorship system for each and everyone of them.
After a couple of conversations with some fellows, I observed a pattern; though we didn’t make the mentorship component visible, mentoring happened nonetheless. Among participants. Within leadership learning teams. Within the community. In subtle and fluid manner.
Mentorship is an individual and corporate investment in hope. One of the best mentoring relationships I have had is with someone, who strives daily to be dispensable; He strives to make himself increasingly unnecessary – though available. True mentorship evolves from the diminishing dependence of the mentee on the mentor.
One of the things my experiences with mentors and mentees have taught me, is how to study and understand elements of the future. The fast changes in technological advancement and human desires will also influence what we (and generations after us) know as true mentorship.
Mentorship of the future will be influenced by what I refer to as the koinoina effect. The koinoina effect is that state of wholeness caused by deeply unique fellowship, communion and partnership in a relationship.
Briefly, let us analyse what trends to expect about about the future of mentorship: [here are three things that will characterize mentorship of the future].
1. Mentorship in the future will be characterized by a mix of high human touch and high-tech. Like we do today, we’ll continue to leverage technology to make communication, learning and collaboration easier, while holding on to – and ‘incentivising’ the – values of love, trust and compassion. Societies, clusters, organisations and individuals that thrive will be those who encourage the tradition of honesty, vulnerability and openness.
2. The line distinguishing roles of mentors and mentees will be diminished, making it easy for both parties to switch roles fluidly, at interval.
3. In few years, there will be the emergence of an artificial intelligent (AI) mind – one that has access to several other algorithmic systems and data – capable of delivering personalized advises, guidance and mentoring to individuals based on data-symmetry of individuals we admire and long to learn from. Through meta-learning – this AI will learn about our most preferred role models and can advise me based on knowledge about them.
With a very subtle presence, this AI will work like other algorithms that help us with search or recommend friends we should connect with, but with more sophisticated abilities. Using surveillance and sousveillance technologies, it will be capable of making knowledge of and from the greatest minds alive (that can be your dad, mum, the richest individual in the world, your most adored political/business figure – whoever you want). This AI will be capable of advising you based on the knowledge of whoever you admire all at once – using on available data about each of them, and their up-to-date individual online experiences. The company(ies) that control this AI will be rich in data, and the users of these AI will ‘always’ get correct, predictive responses.
Will you take advice from an AI mentor?
With the exciting revelations and experiences awaiting us in future, we must remind ourselves of the roles we need to play to enhance our humanity.
WHAT CAN WE DO?
First, more than before, there is the need for deeper connection with people and greater investments in people. Mentorship involves the peddling of hope.
Second, we need to increase our awareness of the ethics of the technology we make use of, and request that we – as a people – are at the center of our data. We need to request and ensure that while interacting with any technology, our values are recognised and honoured.
Third, we need to do some soul-searching, ask and find novel answers to some questions. How do we reconcile what technology does with the need to incentivise character values that make life worth living? How can we make that merge? How can we individually and collectively promote deeper connection within ourselves, among our communities and the generality of mankind?
Finally, we need to value our collective culture beyond race, ethnic background, sexual orientation and political inclination. I refer to the culture of being human Over the course of the future, we need to allow our relationships reflect our humanity- our abilities to be helpful, loving, trustworthy, compassionate and human.
In the end, all we have is one another.
What future of mentorship do you see?
Sometimes ago, I was approached to speak with a group of young entrepreneurs during one of their online masterclass sessions. I decided to discuss ‘leadership brand’.
One of the key reasons I accepted to do this is the belief that businesses have a role in influencing change within communities. When individuals are clear about how they want to be remembered, conscious efforts will be made to create real time value for all.
Enjoy excerpts of the conversation below.
What a lovely evening this will be. We are going to share knowledge on building your leadership brand, solve some of the challenges you may have in that regard, and answer your questions.
I am Damola Morenikeji.
For several years, I have committed myself to creating value by inspiring excellence in leadership and governance through education and human capital development.
Let’s get started.
Earlier today, I requested you think about your expectations of this session. What are they?
My expectation is how to make use of leadership brand in building a better business that create value, solves problems and promotes happiness.
I need us to reflect on this. On seeing the brand logo, what’s the first feeling of thing that comes to mind?
We can make this interactive.
Let’s think about this?
I have seen people tell me they want to buy gala (while pointing to Bigi or other brands of sausages).
I had seen people tell me to buy ‘another type of Omo’ while referring to other detergents.
What makes these brands different? Why do they stick? Why do they lead?
And what can we do about that?
True! While most of these brands may be long standing and recognized, emerging businesses always have advantages being underdogs in fields operated by giants.
From our conversations, we all agree that people feel comfortable with these brands not just because they’ve existed for long, but because they’ve portrayed their brands as secure, trusted and produce REMARKABLE VALUE!
Whenever we see cows, we don’t get fascinated, because we see them almost everywhere.
But a Purple Cow will always call our attention. So, how do you use this in establishing your leadership, and projecting your brand?
First, Start with an IDEA.
I’ve been told that ideas rule the world. I actually think that ideas that are well thought out, and implemented actually rule the world. Ideas are capital.
One thing I like about ideas is that they are mystical creatures that need a bodily host to function. Fortunately, the human body and mind are valuable incubators. On ideas, Leke is quick to remind you that ideas tend to appeal to two or more people at the same time. Once they take control of you, it colonies you and drives you to sleeplessness until you effectively birth it, nurture it and make it stand.
Diligently, these ideas show gratitude by rewarding you with wealth, fame, and other things that diligence attracts.
Don’t rush out when you have an idea. Meditate on the idea. Develop conviction. Seek help when needed.
Ask yourself critical questions, ranging from the ease of use, who your potential customers are, the positives and negatives associated with your idea, among others.
Think about the packaging of your idea.
More importantly, ask yourself if you will buy your own idea (product or service)?
Will you buy your own product or service?
Once that is set, work on the four pillars of your / the business.
The business model
The business vision
The business mission
And the business values.
All these are critical in personal and business leadership.
So, let’s start with your vision.
Write your VISION
Craft your vision statement [both for yourself and your business].
When you craft a business statement, you unconsciously tell the world that you are serious about what you do and you are going somewhere.
It shows that you are not in this for a short while. Little wonder the ancient prophet, author and adventurer, Habakkuk, was instructed to “Write down the vision. Make it plain. That he may run that reads it”. Vision statements are propellants of achievements. They must be expressed in simple languages. We must set out basic steps to achieve your vision and attach a timetable.
These steps are referred to as the Business Objectives.
Put the timetable where you can see it everyday, and work on it.
While you read this chat, can you think about your business vision?
Can you write it plainly?
Your vision statement answers the question ‘what do you want to become?’.
Your mission statement, however gives a proposition of what you have for your customers.
To excel in life and business, your business must be people-oriented. It has to be customer-focused.
Once those are cast in stone (or on paper – or typed :)), work on your value proposition. Your value proposition explains what you do. It backs up your mission. You can’t channel your accomplishments into a purpose, without a mission.
Let’s get that, from inception.
So, what exactly does your business do?
Let me make this simple.
A simple mode is this: I help [a] with [b] so that they can achieve [c].
Where [a] is your unique audience, [b] is your solution, and [c] is the outcome.
I believe we are on the same page?
As an example, my value proposition for this training is to provide young entrepreneurs with leadership and branding knowledge, so that they can project their brands, make their customers happy and create more wealth.
Remember that your business is hinged on four pillars: your business model, business vision, business mission and business values.
These four pillars should guide your value proposition and help your brand stand out.
Work on each.
Your path to thought leadership in your area of business requires you have and diligently build a platform.
Develop your CREATIVE LEADERSHIP.
Your creative abilities are enormous. As young entrepreneurs, your creative leadership speaks much of your leadership brand.
We were taught to believe most things around us from childhood before we learnt how to question them.
See your business beyond buying and selling stuffs; rather, see your business as an idea.
This idea is what sticks to the mind of your customers after a contact with you.
For example, most of us stick to some brands because of the idea of satisfaction we derive; the happiness we have from our interaction with their products.
The same can be replicable for your leadership brand.
While I plan to conclude this session, it’s important to note this: please GET DIGITIZED.
That word may not be used in the English dictionary, but I hope you know what I meant.
Get DIGITIZED. Get online. Embrace the use of digital technology to aid productivity.
What do I see when I do a Google search of your name or your business name?
Take some seconds away from this chat and do a search of your name on Google.
Can you proudly share the screenshot?
[You can, if you are proud of what you see.]
You need to curate both your home-base and your embassies.
Your embassies are your social media accounts. They are your representatives in ‘foreign’ lands.
Do you know how funny people might take your brand, when you say you are into clothing and all we see when we check your social media timelines are news of something entirely different?
For those with a good online presence, create a different brand for your business.
There is the possibility that your business will grow to a stage where you will have to hand it over to someone else to run.
Start planning for that, from now.
You CANNOT AFFORD to run a ONE-MAN business.
As starters, we can. However, let’s start planning towards expanding your businesses.
Start a blog, or website.
In this age, it is important for all serious businesses to have an online presence. It is your ‘defacto’ home-base.
Once you have a platform, create credible contents.
Contents can range from blog posts, images, videos. They reflect what your businesses stands for.
Don’t just SELL your products via your platforms. Rather, enlighten people on the essence of embracing what you do.
People seek enlightenment. Provide it and you become valuable.
There are two types of content. Contents that get you attraction and contents that get you sales.
The key thing in being an authority of repute is to share these types of content.
You can make it 80% attraction and 20% of sales.
And finally, be true to what you do. Be a reflection of the value your business offers.
Establishing your leadership brand requires time. It requires credibility and integrity.
I know you can. Let’s get to work!
I’m here to answer possible questions. Let’s get practical.
As we go to bed, let’s take down these challenges.
1. Write down your brand statement. Make it clear. You may get in touch if you need help with that.
2. Work on your brand. Get online. Work hard in creating quality contents. Practice. Practice. Practice.
3. Share your testimonies.