On a recent trip to Beijing I was privileged to be invited to mentor a small – and diverse – group of women with a collective desire to gain new perspectives on their business activities. I’m a huge advocate of mentoring as key to personal and professional development, and as a catalyst for innovation and creativity for entrepreneurs – a definite correlation exists between mentoring and success.
Mentoring on the Move
Unusually, however, this mentoring activity was group-based, which introduced a new dynamic to my previous mentoring experience. Moreover, I was asked to perform mentoring on the move!
Never one to refuse an opportunity to contribute in some way to bolstering female entrepreneurship, I found myself walking around Ritan Park in Eastern Beijing, the beautiful home of the Temple of the Sun, with a newly arrived recruit for a German NGO, an entrepreneur who runs a recruitment company in Beijing, and the head of sales with a large corporate. During our walk – which was hosted by Mentor Walks Asia – we talked in turn, asked each other questions and shared experiences, stopping occasionally to take in the splendour and tranquillity of our surroundings, but nonetheless deeply fixed on supporting the entrepreneurial growth of each member of the group.
The Beijing Mentor Walks started in 2013 with the objective of bringing together Beijing’s emerging women leaders community for a morning walk to connect, learn and share experiences. As they walk, they discuss their professional and personal challenged, successes, aspirations and lessons learned.
Walking boosts creative inspiration
As well as being a thoroughly enjoyable process, the conversation during our mentoring walk flowed in a way that it’s hard to replicate in a ‘sit-down, face to face’ context. This is borne out by a 2014 study by Stanford University that found that “walking boosts creative inspiration” relative to talking whilst sitting down, and suggests that the creative output actually increases by on average 60% when walking. There was also evidence in the results of the Stanford study that the environment was less of a factor than the action of walking; so whilst I was really fortunate to experience the benefits of mentoring on the move in the Ritan Park, in reality whether you’re indoors or outdoors, by the coast or in a corridor, signs are that mentoring walks should definitely be adopted if you’re looking for the most impact from your mentoring session.
Where do you walk and talk?
It would be great to hear about your own experiences of walking while you talk – which locations are most stimulating for you, and do you agree that mentoring on the move stimulates a greater level of creativity – do you feel you’ve gained more from the mentoring experience?
For my part, as if the morning’s mentoring walk was not ample privilege, having worked up an appetite during my walk in the park I was then invited for breakfast by Oma Lee from the Beijing Women’s Network where I had the honour of meeting the inspirational Michelle Garnaut, a serial entrepreneur, philanthropist and Founder & CEO of the M Restaurant Group with branches in Shanghai and Hong Kong. All of this and it was still only 10 o’clock! I left the morning’s events feeling energised, inspired and pleased to have connected with such interesting people, and with ‘Mentoring on the Move’ firmly on my list of recommendations of ‘must dos’ for aspiring entrepreneurs in the future.