Logo for eMentorConnect, creator of Mentoring Software

The Importance of Receptivity as a Mentee

The Importance of Receptivity as a Mentee

How an epic e-commerce fail delivered an awesome opportunity.

By Nancy Wolk, eMentorConnect Founder and Principal

I recently ordered a new jacket online, in eager anticipation of a fall trip. Performance wear is not something I would normally purchase online, but I had already gone to several stores and, as we are in the dead of summer, found the available inventory to be sorely lacking. I ordered a snappy forest green waterproof jacket with lots of pockets, sat back, and waited with eager anticipation. When it arrived two days later, I received my new jacket – and a surprise. 

This was not my jacket. The jacket in the box on my counter was in fact not at all snappy. It wasn’t even the same style of jacket as the one that I had ordered. The only aspect of this garment that resembled my order was 1) it was in my size, and 2) it was “green”. I blinked twice and looked at the garment tag: ‘green’. It had a lime accent color, of all things. This was a style I would have never chosen for myself. 

I stood in my kitchen with the jacket at arms’ length, making the kind of face that only receiving the wrong item can prompt. My partner Hayne walked in at that moment and, after exploring how this logistics travesty could have happened, we determined that the only thing to do was for me to try it on. Five minutes later, I was walking the runway in Not The Jacket I Had Chosen. My audience of one gave comedic applause, which then slowly turned into an earnest assessment: It looks awesome! (Hayne’s word choice, not mine)

In thinking back on the experience recently, I had to smile as it reminded me of the mentor matching process offered by eMentorConnect’s cloud-based platform. Our unique algorithm will match mentors and mentees based on a predetermined set of variables: department, personality type, geography, position within the company, etc. During initial registration, mentees put their ‘order’ in by picking topics that will be used to match the mentee to their mentor – but you don’t know exactly what (or, in this case, who) you’re going to get. As creatures of habit, we secretly hope it will be the same blue jacket with the polka dots like we’ve always worn… but if it isn’t, are you still willing to try it on? 

During the program evaluation stage, feedback from both mentees and mentors determines the success of the program. Invariably, in every program, a handful of mentees report that when they first read the profile of their mentors, they thought it was a recipe for disaster. (“Where are all of the pockets?? It’s seafoam green, and not navy blue!”) They reported that the partnership ended up being a life-changing event, and one of their best career experiences.

Not every algorithm-driven match has such a strong contrast, and we aren’t always in the brain space to be receptive to such opportunities – me included. But if you’re ready to try it on and hit the runway a few times, you might find some wonderful, out of the box surprises.

That’s it for now. I have to order a few more items for the camping trip… let’s see what the Universe delivers this time!

Mark Brodbeck, MSW

Director of Marketing at eMentorConnect. Passionate about people intent on elevating others, and other examples of enlightened self-interest. Frank Sinatra said it best: 'It's one world, pal. We're all neighbors.'