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Kids These Days

Senior staff hopelessly out of date? Younger mentors can help them keep up.

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This story appears in the May 2002 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

One of the most valuable things Judy Kirpich has learned is that some of the best ideas come from people who were barely born when she started in marketing 23 years ago. "I routinely get technology information from younger employees who have grown up on computers," says the 49-year-old CEO and co-founder of Grafik Marketing Communications Inc. in Alexandria, Virginia.

What Kirpich is doing is reverse mentoring--matching younger employees who know a lot about the Internet, wireless commerce or some other field with senior managers who aren't so up on the latest digital domains. Joining youthful insight with elder influence can have long-lasting benefits. Kirpich says she was cool to technology in the 1980s, but invested in computers at the urging of the younger set in her company. "If I hadn't listened to the younger people," says Kirpich, "we'd be out of business."

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