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For those who recall their classical literature, the term “mentor” is a bit dated. It traces back 2,800 years or so to The Odyssey in which Ulysses asks his trusted servant, Mentor, to provide his son with instruction that covers “every facet of life — physical, intellectual, moral, spiritual, social, and administrative development.” Clearly, Ulysses recognized the worth of personal tutelage, and his dedication to instruction should inspire us today.What is needed is a new odyssey — in our pharmaceutical world and elsewhere — to rediscover the value and opportunities that mentoring offers to those at the top of the corporate ladder and those who are on the way up. Two primary factors have contributed to the decline of mentoring. First is the exigency of survival in a remarkably tough economic environment. Second is the fact that the average tenure of today’s professionals at a company is only two to three years. Both factors have contributed to a CEO focus on the short term versus the long term investment that mentoring takes. But investment is precisely the point. Mentoring is an investment — in an individual, a company, an industry, and the future. It’s an emotional and mental investment as well, rewarding both the mentor and mentee with a close bond and other benefits that can last a lifetime. Mentoring has great value when it comes to the imparting of values. The economic unravelling recently seen from Wall Street to Main Street may well be attributed to a lack of values and guidance — the moral, philosophical, and sound business practice type of guidance — that mentoring provides. For our industry, mentoring offers an introduction to the culture of healthcare, including a sense of responsibility and the desire to help others. Mentoring is also an ingenious way to tap a veritable fountain of youthful energy and skills that are so relevant right now. Younger employees, immersed in emerging technologies, can help those higher up to use social and viral media and other interactive resources to reach physicians, patients, and others in more involving ways. In return, we can help hone their business skills. Mentoring provides the chance for reciprocity on an even higher level, allowing those who have succeeded to give back. To me, that’s not an option — it’s an obligation. The Job of Mentoring Job requirements for mentors include acting as a nurturer, instructor, role model, and friend who sponsors, supports, trains, counsels, provides feedback and engages the mentee in activities that foster professional and personal growth. One of the primary jobs of a mentor is also to recognize that mentoring is not only about teaching a job. A mentor develops the whole individual, including nurturing the passion that is required for great success. Those on the way up have two primary ways to become involved in a mentor program. Asking someone you admire for help is always welcome and a proven way to elicit support. Observing also works. Younger people can observe the behavior or skills of one or more individuals they admire and emulate that behavior. It doesn’t matter whether the person they’re observing holds a senior or junior position; what’s important is emulating exemplary behavior. Mentoring with more than one person is also a good idea in order to learn a variety of skill sets, from marketing to account management. A lot depends on career goals, which are something mentors and mentees should always consider before structuring a program. A Structure (or Not) for Success A mentoring program doesn’t need to have a formal structure. In fact, the opposite may be true since a formal program can force some one to mentor who does not have the emotional connection to a mentee, which is so critical to success. At Purohit Navigation, I always meet with my managers and ask, “Who is your rising star and are you willing to mentor them?” That methodology, though seemingly simplistic, has never failed to produce shining stars and sometimes meteoric rises to the upper ranks. How To Know When Your Work Is Done There seems to be a natural evolution when the younger person moves from becoming a mentee to becoming a colleague.That’s when you realize that teaching may be over, but an even deeper relationship can begin. I know. I’ve had four mentors in my life — one was my moth er, two were professors, and the fourth was a partner who nurtured me and fanned the fires of my passion as I journeyed along my career path.They are all still an important part of my life today — not as men tors anymore, but as collaborators, counselors, and most importantly, great friends. Mentoring may not be a cure for all of today’s ills, but it can still be a total stimulus package that everyone would agree can spur the kind of growth we need to keep our corporate and personal odysseys on track. Spend some time considering the value of mentoring and invest in it. PUROHIT NAVIGATION is a full service, integrated healthcare brands solutions company that creatively navigates the full potential of small to midsized specialty brands. For more information, visit purohitnavigation.com. A New Odyssey to Rediscover Mentoring Ahnal Purohit, President and CEO A new odyssey is needed — in our pharmaceutical world and elsewhere — to rediscover the value and opportunities that mentoring offers. Purohit Navigation BRANDSCAPING CREATIVE No brand is impervious to the twists and turns of the shifting pharmaceutical terrain. If you’re trying to put your brand on the map, turn to the integrated solutions of Purohit Navigation. To begin charting your brand success, contact Anshal Purohit at 312.341.8100 or email@example.com purohitnavigation.com