When I was younger I was into Samurai films and manga—so much so that I would watch them back to back, day after day. I loved the mythology, the history, the drama and the melodrama.
Don't worry, I'll bring this back to mentoring.
One film/manga in particular was Lone Wolf & Cub, a film (actually, six films) and a long-running manga series about Ogami Ittō, the Shogun's executioner who is falsley disgraced and banished from his clan, to live a life roaming Japan with his three-year old son Daigorō. Working as a lone assassin and seeking revenge on the clan was hard, but every episode and issue held a life lesson for the young son.
At times, Daigorō himself would teach his father something.
And this is my point for this last piece in this series on mentoring.
When approaching a mentor you're going to feel like they're the Lone Wolf and you're the Cub, eager to learn and soak up all of their knowledge. Don't eliminate the possibility that you also, can teach them a thing or two.
In 2006, I met Nguyen Le, we hired him as an intern when I was working for digital agency Igloo at the time. He joined our team, eager to learn and soak up knowledge, experience, projects and increase his already outstanding skills on the tools.
The few of us who had years of experience under our belt—compared to Nguyen's weeks—became his mentors. Each day we would impart a small bit of knowledge and insight on our 'young Cub.'
In the years since our experience together at Igloo, Nguyen worked in other digital agencies and amassed a wealth of knowledge and experience of his own. As Creative Director of BlissMedia he shaped and scaled the work to the high calibre that it currently experiences and is now working for himself—a lone wolf.
Almost ten years later, I bumped into Nguyen and we now share and swap stories and insights. When I listen to Nguyen talk about design, user experience and process, I'm the one soaking it up. I'm the Cub.
Lesson? Leave your ego at the door, embrace being a sponge and remember that you have something to offer too, because one day your mentor will probably be the one that will seek knowledge and insight from you.
Nguyen now runs Verse, a resource similar to this one that focusses on the tools, resources and the process of design—a complimentary journal to what I'm doing here at The Business of Creativity which focusses on the business side of things.