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Direct from Chicago, the CEO of the American Marketing Association and marketing legend, Russ Klein, spoke with AMA Toronto before the 10th annual Mentor Exchange launch event on October 1st, 2019.

He said mentorship is a concept all cultures understand and a structured program is priceless for mentor and mentee. About 7/10 Fortune 500 companies have a mentorship program in place – so there is no doubt there is value. Studies have shown employees are happier in their jobs and ascend in their careers more quickly when they are part of a mentorship program.

Russ highlighted that Toronto has done a great job of professionalizing the program with serious commitment from both mentee and mentor. “It’s a special and elite program in Toronto and a model for other AMA chapters and organizations.”

Being an external program for participants, Russ continues, the Mentor Exchange takes it to a new level. Mentees are in a confidential setting with a committed mentor. They discuss things they’re often hesitant to bring up with mentors or advisors working at their own companies.

“For myself, I have never gotten anywhere without other people along the way. Next to love, there is no greater feeling than the feeling of being understood. When you can connect to someone, it’s a gift for their career,” said Russ.

“Building a mentorship program comes down to a human relationship – a commitment to build a cadence of meeting together – and to start to understand how someone is wired, their style and coach around the edges – not just generic advice, but a more intimate connection.”

Russ touched on how diversity of thought and mentors/mentees from different companies can be very powerful. He mentioned the study in the book Whiplash about how diverse teams were more successful solving problems overall.

He also had one piece of career advice for marketers: “the more doors you step through, the more options you create for yourself. You never know what happens if you don’t take the opportunities presented to you. You can change your life by going through more doors. Every decision yields more options – and results in more learning overall.”

Be sure to read about the event with more insights from Russ.

About the AMA Toronto Mentor Exchange:

  • The Mentor Exchange is the quintessential mentoring program for exceptional mid-level marketers.
  • The program was founded in 2008, and is run in partnership with the Schulich Executive Education Centre.
  • It was created as an extension to the Marketing Hall of Legends (MHOL), and provides access to some of the most accomplished senior marketing leadership in Canada.
  • Since 2008, the Mentor Exchange has mentored more than 500 mid-level marketers.
  • Mentees of this program receive individual mentorship over a nine-month period.
  • The 50 mentees involved in this year’s program come from a wide variety of companies and business sectors.
  • Full program details, application criteria, and a complete 2019/20 mentor roster are available at

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This article was brought to you through the partnership between the AMA-Toronto and HeadStart Copywriting.

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