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CIRKEL: Real Life Story of Intergenerational Mentoring for Men and Women

We check in on a two-way intergenerational mentorship introduced by CIRKEL to learn about the experience

CIRKEL is a startup that connects professionals across ages for two-way mentorships and knowledge exchanges. CIRKEL members are virtually introduced to someone new outside their “age bubble” every month. Over 70% of introductions immediately plan a second meeting or plan to stay in touch, and these conversations continue as ongoing mentorships, friendships, and even hirings or project partnerships. 

In March 2021, CIRKEL introduced Lynn Power, former CEO of J. Walter Thompson and founder of haircare brand MASAMI, and Lauren Cooper, a fashion industry maven and the Director of Marketing & Partnerships for Rosie Assoulin & Vivanterre. 

Here’s an update on how this initial conversation went and what each woman gleaned from the other’s generational perspective.

What was your first reaction to the opportunity to meet someone younger/older than you and share career advice? How did the experience change or reinforce your view of other generations? 

Lynn: When I was at J. Walter Thompson, we had a reverse mentoring program which I really enjoyed. So I was definitely looking forward to the conversation and it didn’t disappoint. I like learning new things and I find that digitally native generations are always very plugged in. Lauren was also quite business savvy and had done a lot of research on the direct-to-consumer product landscape and industries where she may one day want to start her own brand.  

“It was cool to be reminded that your career can ebb, flow and evolve at any age”

Lauren: It was a really enriching opportunity! Lynn had such an impressive career rising to the top of a renowned advertising agency and then pivoting onward to launch her own sustainable hair brand. She’s experienced elements of the creative industry and as an entrepreneur that I have yet to experience but aspire to, so it was really exciting to learn from someone who has been in the thick of it. Lynn was so open to sharing so I really appreciate her compassion and insights. 

I think we also often lose sight of the notion that you can have different phases of your career beyond the typical “30 under 30” story — it was cool to be reminded that your career can ebb, flow and evolve at any age, and it’s never too late! 

What was the most helpful thing that your CIRKEL intro shared with you?

Lynn: Lauren and I are on similar journeys in terms of entrepreneurial dreams and ideas and there are a ton of intersections with our love of great products and innovative marketing plans. It was great to hear how she’s approaching her go-to-market strategy and compare notes. We might even find some opportunities to collaborate in the future.

“She made me feel less alone in my journey”

Lauren: I’m a millennial, and while many assume we’re a generation who is self-assured, I’ve never quite felt that way. In fact, I actually think we’re a generation filled with self doubt and imposter syndrome, especially as women. 

It was really invigorating to hear from someone like Lynn, who has real conviction with her decisions both in her agency experience and in her decision to launch her own brand. And while this is an inspiring part of her, she also made me feel less alone in my journey. She reinforced the notion that it is okay and normal to question myself and rethink my approaches, and that these traits don’t make me less qualified or capable.

Lynn really helped me to see this doubt as a means of restraint and balance. It’s easy to get caught up in big money, big titles, and rapid growth, especially with today’s media and social climate. However, it’s also important to think slow, steady and sustainable, and Lynn was really helpful in rooting and reaffirming the latter.  

What were you looking to learn from the other person? What did you enjoy teaching/sharing with her? 

Lynn: I was hoping to get some perspective on social selling platforms and social channels like TikTok. We were able to exchange our experiences with a number of platforms, from live streaming to podcasting to social which was great.

Lauren: I was hoping to hear another entrepreneur’s real life experience…not the often glamorized stories we hear of founders in the media. I enjoy working with relatively small, young brands that have an entrepreneurial spirit. 

Lynn was so open and willing to share her experience, which I really appreciate. I hope I was able to help Lynn with some insights and thoughts around social media and emerging platforms (though she might be best served with a Gen Z match for that next month!)

“I find some of the best ideas come from people outside of your regular circle”

Why do you think it’s important for professionals to learn from others outside their typical peer group or age bubble? Any tips for how to make an intergenerational connection successful?

Lynn: It’s very easy to become very insular and I think the beauty industry is particularly guilty of thinking they are unique and will only deal with “beauty people.” I find some of the best ideas come from people outside of your regular circle — outside of your industry or your category or from a very different world. I think the key to making these connections work is to have an open mind and a generous spirit.

Lauren: I think it’s important to surround yourself with diverse perspectives and voices. Diversity can be racial background or religion, and it can also be age. Without diversity, we can become so insular and it’s more important than ever to be aware of other perspectives and experiences…that’s how we can all learn, grow and challenge ourselves to be our best selves. 

Especially after a year plus of social and physical distancing, it’s just been wonderful to have the opportunity to connect with another person on a human level, where we set our phones (and all the distractions that come with it) aside and spend time getting to really listen to one another. 

“I think we’ll have a lot to discuss long term!”

Going forward, do you plan to stay in touch? If so, what do you plan to discuss or follow up on?

Lynn: Yes, absolutely. I’d love to follow Lauren’s progress and hopefully I can help her with learning I’ve had on MASAMI — and also apply what is working well for her and not so much to MASAMI too.

Lauren: I’d love to stay in touch with Lynn to share our experiences and hopefully one day collaborate! We share an ethos around a brand’s responsibility to its community and our planet, so I think we’ll have a lot to discuss long term! 

Any other remarks or reactions about CIRKEL or the person you were matched with?

Lynn: It was a very good use of time and I would encourage anyone looking to expand their network to consider CIRKEL as a great resource to do that.

CIRKEL is a startup that connects professionals across ages for two-way mentorships and knowledge exchanges. CIRKEL members are virtually introduced to someone new outside their “age bubble” every month. Over 70% of introductions immediately plan a second meeting or plan to stay in touch, and these conversations continue as ongoing mentorships, friendships, and even hirings or project partnerships. 

  • Members receive personalized 1:1 introductions to other members and get access to small peer support circles to work on common career challenges.  
  • It’s all about co-mentorship: forget hierarchy — everyone is a student and a teacher. CIRKEL creates connections where everyone can learn from each other and provide support, regardless of age. 
  • CIRKEL has helped its members pivot careers, get hired, start new businesses, and form meaningful friendships. These connections have been particularly important during the pandemic. 

The one thing CIRKEL members have in common: they’re lifelong learners. Our goal is to help them learn, grow, and continue working for as long as they want to or need to. 

Meet the people who will make a difference in your career. Apply to join CIRKEL today. 

1 COMMENT

  1. This is a fantastic initiative. Thank you. Although I already reach out to whoever has the knowledge I’m looking for…I never thought of this as an initiative to “match” the right individuals. Awesome! I love this article.

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Charlotte Japp
Charlotte Japp
Charlotte Japp is the Founder of CIRKEL, an intergenerational networking platform that connects people from different ages through cultural events and co-mentorships. She is based in Brooklyn, NY and is usually found lost in thought about the future of work, design, or puppies.

 

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