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Leo Burnett Chicago
35 West Wacker Drive
Chicago, IL 60601
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Maggie Shepherd

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Mark Renshaw: UberMentor

Leo Burnett’s chief innovation officer takes an Uber and dispenses advice

Leo Burnett Chief Innovation Officer Mark Renshaw can now add one more impressive experience to his resume: UberMentor.

In partnership with The Startup Institute and in celebration of Thank Your Mentor Day, ride-share startup Uber created UberMentor, inviting select leaders in business, tech and media from across Chicago to hop in a car and offer 15-minute one-on-one meetings to anyone with a smartphone.

We caught up with Mark after his mentoring sessions to see what he learned, and what he thinks brands can learn from exercises like this.

How was the experience overall?
It was great fun watching everything come together, from the initial customer request to picking up the passenger and getting to know them and hearing about any challenges their business might be facing. Most people wanted help with how to market their companies, or how to use social media or content marketing, and were grateful to get a quick consult. I was very happy to help them and offer them advice on how they could improve.

What did you take away from the UberMentor experience?
It was great to see the excitement in people when they got some advice and perspective. It was an interesting experience, given that I could have walked past any of these people on the street and not known them or the issues they may be facing. I also think the idea of Uber as a platform to connect people seems like a really interesting idea. If something like this is possible, who knows what else they could deliver to people.

What was the most interesting part of the day?
The most interesting part was how easy it was. It was a great experience for everyone. Even my Uber driver loved it, he said he learned a lot just by being there and getting to listen. Everyone we picked up was thrilled to be chosen. Most were shocked that they got a mentor session, as their friends said they would be lucky to get picked up, given the high number of requests. I was able to connect most people I talked with to someone else or a offer resource that could also help them, so it was something that started off as a one-on-one experience, but evolved into much more.

What do you think brands can learn from an event like this?
It might sound trite, but the people that requested a mentor session simply just wanted to talk to someone. I think brands sometimes think that interactions with their customers are a cost, or just part of being in business, but it’s really the other way around. If we are not really listening to people and trying to help make something better, then what are we really doing?

From a marketing and brand perspective, as UberMentors, we put ourselves out there today, with no prep and no background, just simple, on-the-fly engagement. Brands need to be able to do that, too.