Arment Dietrich

Mentoring Young Adults

By: Arment Dietrich | August 18, 2010 | 

Guest post by John Christianson, CFA, founder and president of Highland Capital Management and author of the Wealth Clarity blog.

On my blog, Wealth Clarity, I talk a lot about the journey of significance and creating a life of meaning, alignment, and authenticity. When asked to guest blog for Spin Sucks, I wanted to pass along some thoughts beyond my wealth management expertise. Knowing that Gini Dietrich does a lot of work helping young adults not only find jobs, but also educating them on where they want to go, I thought it would be appropriate to discuss mentoring young adults.

A few weeks ago I wrote about finding mentors and how this is something that I’m working on in my own life. It wasn’t a skill I gained from my upbringing, but I now see the value.

Looking at my own 20-something boys, I realized that helping them in this area could be a valuable life skill. I have found that as my children have grown older, gotten taller than me, and stronger, there has been a magnified level of tension between us. From my perspective this plays out as: Dad doesn’t know anything. From my boys’ perspective this plays out as: Dad is preaching again (not listening). And they only resist my sincere attempts at helping. They just aren’t able to hear me.

So, several weeks ago a good friend of mine asked my son Trevor out for coffee. He offered to talk to him about setting work and financial goals this summer, making adjustments when he fails, and being accountable to someone. My friend isn’t sharing the content of their conversations so that it can be a safe environment for my son.

When I asked Trevor how their meeting went, he said, “It was great.” He told me that Robert was able to talk to him about things that I would have said, too, but I wouldn’t have listened. Wow!

This was a great reminder to me that there are some things I can teach my children and there are some things I can’t, or, better said, shouldn’t. Sometimes these things need to be taught by an uncle, grandfather, or adult friend who can communicate and discuss important life issues in a way I can’t. It doesn’t mean I am not a good father; it just means I am teaching them the important skill of building caring people around them who can speak truth into their life.

I am definitely not perfect in this area and find myself slipping back into the “preacher” role often, but it is something I am working on and aware of in a completely new way.

Are you a mentor to any young adults? What are you doing to encourage your young adult children to find and build mentor-like relationships?

John Christianson, CFA, founder and president of Highland Capital Management and author of the Wealth Clarity blog, has provided financial and investment advice to individuals and families of significant means for more than 20 years. To learn more about living a life of authenticity, he invites you to join the Highland Capital Facebook fan page.

  • I really like this post. Having mentors and role models is incredibly important, and it is always so amazing to see how many people are willing to help out.

    Having a mentor is such a confidence-booster. It feels good to have someone on your side. There’s something to be said for independent learning, but I really think that one-to-one mentoring leads to success inside and outside of a business.

    Coming from a twenty-something, don’t take your kids’ lack of listening personally. I think it’s just hard-wired into our brains to rebel, and sometimes we just need to learn from people other than our parents. If you’ve taught them to accept the help and guidance of others, you’ve probably done something right.

    Tom Miesen

    • Helping to introduce them to a few people can really jumpstart the process because if left alone to figure it out probably means it won’t happen. Thanks for your comment.

  • John! LOVE this post (and thanks for the compliment)! When I started my business, I didn’t have a mentor or anyone to bounce ideas or ask advice, which is why I try to give back as much as I can. We all should give back to our industries to college students and new professionals. It’s important and the karma is 10 fold.

    As for the kid not listening issue – my brother will call me and say, “Child #2 isn’t listening to us. Will you talk to him about this topic?” I say the same thing my brother and sister-in-law are telling my nephew, but it’s coming from me, not them, so it’s golden.

  • I really enjoyed this post. In a perfect world, all of our parents have friends or siblings who are willing and able to give advice on how we should tackle an obstacle, whether it be for your career or life. I personally have had someone since the age of 5 who nurtured me in ways that I believed my parents couldn’t (or perhaps they could, but I wouldn’t listen). This woman, who I refer to as my ‘aunt,’ encouraged me to pick a career in college that I fascinated me, then edited my resume when I entered the workforce. Soon I found, taking advice from her about my advertising resume was probably not the best option, as she is a successful banker who suggested banking terms and layouts. Now, having experienced that ‘life-assistance,’ from someone, I know the value and would like to find someone who works in the industry I am in to bounce ideas off of, ask questions and seek opinions. Being two mentors who have found success in your industry, where would you suggest I look for someone who is willing to listen and make suggestions…

    • I read somewhere recently that most influential people would welcome being asked to be a mentor, but seldom are. We all use negative self-talk and other excuses as to why they wouldn’t be interested in this type of role. I sure don’t have it figured out, but one thing I am working on myself is starting a list of the 5 most influential people that I can think of, or want in my life for various reasons, and then just simply going for coffee (or calling) to ask them. You might also ask others in your circle of contacts who are the most important people in your industry that are in your area. It is amazing how easy it can be to get this information and then to just ask for what you want. Hope that helps.