Reverse Mentoring: Learning From A 12-Year-Old – Abhijit Bhaduri

Have you tried reverse mentoring? Learning from someone younger in age and experience. I have. I learn from a 12-year-old. There is something new to learn every day. I met him when he was three. I was not too sure if I should hang around with a three-year-old. This kid is popular โ€“ very popular and has millions of friends. My friend is called Twitter.

Reverse Mentoring in action
For a long time, I hung around with just twenty friends. (Here is the list of 20 people I first started following on Twitter). Why did I start with this number? I wanted to get used to the medium. I wanted to learn its grammar and decide for myself if this was useful. These were people who curated the most interesting ideas on things I was interested in. They hung around with interesting people. They opened a pathway for many new perspectives. Today if I were to draw up a list of 20 people to follow on Twitter, some of them would still feature there. Twitter opened up a new universe for me.
As I started getting comfortable handling the flow of ideas from 20 people I started increasing the number of people I followed. I added a few magazines and news sources. I now follow about 100 of the Twitterati. And I keep replacing a few people periodically to keep my news feed diverse.

A time killer?
I spend about 20 minutes in the morning reading through a few links on my timeline. When I am waiting anywhere, I quickly glance through the feed. It is my favourite tool to research an idea I am writing about. These people will often introduce me to other โ€œinterestingโ€ people who can be a rich source of insight for me.

How often should you tweet? The thumb rule I follow Tweet as often as you eat. So two or three tweets a day is good for me. I try to tweet about something that I will come back to later as well. Retweeting everything you receive can be tiresome. Some people post the same tweet three or four times a day. It can get tiresome and generates fatigue. If there is something of value to just one person, use the direct message option and avoid putting it on the timeline.
Be aware that like any place that has free speech, there will be some people who use it for promoting their views on a topic that you may consider offensive. So choose the people you follow.

Can you just be a silent observer?
Yes, you can. But should you? Imagine hanging around with friends and having a lively exchange. Suddenly you notice someone silently observing the exchange. After some time, it would get creepy. So do share your ideas and opinions. Twitter now offers you 280 characters to share ideas. Avoid making a long drawn speech split over multiple tweets. If you have a lot to say on a topic use a blog post and post that link.

Thanks to Twitter, I have heard fabulous music, read books that have ended up on my bookshelf, travelled to a new place; tried a new food; learnt how to sketch note; been encouraged by the inspiring friends I have met. On a day I have felt the writers block, I lean on Twitter to find me something inspiring. I got hooked to podcasts that I am now addicted to. Just look up the list of people I follow and you will find all this and more. Twitter is the university I am enrolled in.

The writer is an advisor to organizations on issues of leadership. [Courtesy: ToI]