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Kids These Days

Senior staff hopelessly out of date?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

By Mark Henricks

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

One of the most valuable things Judy Kirpich has learned is thatsome of the best ideas come from people who were barely born whenshe started in marketing 23 years ago. "I routinely gettechnology information from younger employees who have grown up oncomputers," says the 49-year-old CEO and co-founder of GrafikMarketing Communications Inc. in Alexandria, Virginia.

What Kirpich is doing is reverse mentoring--matching youngeremployees who know a lot about the Internet, wireless commerce orsome other field with senior managers who aren't so up on thelatest digital domains. Joining youthful insight with elderinfluence can have long-lasting benefits. Kirpich says she was coolto technology in the 1980s, but invested in computers at the urgingof the younger set in her company. "If I hadn't listenedto the younger people," says Kirpich, "we'd be out ofbusiness."

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