By: David G. Brown
President & CEO – Greater Omaha Chamber

The theme of the 2016 Greater Omaha Young Professionals Summit was “Uncharted.” Of course, the entire day was devoted to the possibilities inherent in actually “charting” a course for participants’ futures. We gave them opportunities to attend sessions regarding community issues, personal development and leadership. We put two exceptional speakers in front of them: an entrepreneur who is fully invested in the reinvention of the City of Detroit and an Internet marketing guru who had a seat at the table of the Facebook launch and has become a social media marketing expert in her own right.

It was a remarkable event, all the more remarkable because we based it on the assumption that young professionals lead a somewhat uncharted life and that in order for them to be successful, they need to have a plan. I have always subscribed to the notion that planning is most effective when done in advance of action, so I understand why we pushed that premise. But I also know that in my own my career, my plan was more a series of goals that evolved over time rather than something I could put down on paper at the beginning of my career. I am most certain that the plan only took shape after I had gained both hands-on experience and “loaned” experience from key mentors along the way.

I wonder if your paths were similarly a combination of analysis, advice from trusted mentors, luck and a willingness to take risks at the right time. I imagine some of your moves were very strategic. I imagine some of them were the result of an “opportunity” being presented to you, either positively or negatively. In either case, there was probably someone you took into your confidence to discuss your options and help clarify your decision making process.

So just how important was it for you to have that person or group of folks you could trust? Do you think that the up-and-coming rock stars in your company have a similar set of mentors who they can depend on to give sound advice? Do you mentor anyone? I know the mentorship programs we all hear about are typically focused not on the post-education professional but on youngsters with a need for guidance. I wonder if we should take a step to more formally provide mentorship to our great young employees. It might keep them more highly-engaged and perhaps more committed to their employers, knowing you cared enough about them to help them build a network of trusted advisors.

Just a thought. Take a look at those up-and-comers in your company and ask yourself the question, how can I help them chart their course to success? The answer just might be in surrounding them with sage advisors early in their careers.

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