Why should anyone care about my development and my goals enough to help me?
I don't know. Should they? That is the question I am currently asking myself.
As I wrote in my previous post, I am currently on the lookout for the opportunity to get under the tutelage of someone wiser than myself. Without further context, my post might be taken to mean that I am wishing for Prince(ss) Charming to come and swoop me under their protective arm and ride to the sunset teaching me everything I need to know.
To be fair, at the time of writing, I really did not have much of a picture on how this should and could go forward. It was just necessary for me to structure my thoughts into something semi-coherent. Within 24 hours of posting basically 'I need a mentor' there was a tweet by London Real — a community whose founder is the host of the first link at the bottom of my previous post — titled "Webinar: How to find a mentor".
It was too serendipitous for me to pass up so I went forth and got me some of that knowledge. And boy did that take me for a ride. But regardless of the details, one of the key points I have learned during the past two weeks is that I should be attacking my goal of getting a mentor like a sales situation. I cannot just walk up to someone and propose to them 'Will you be my mentor?'. Looking at this from their point of view is the first step. If they are wise and skilful, they are busy. That is a fact. Not busy as in not having any time, but needing a proper reason for divvying that time for someone new.
Why should they care?
I don't know yet, because I haven't figured out my elevator pitch. I haven't mapped out my skills and competencies to find out what is my USP — unique selling point.
Because I have been part of a handful of software companies in more-or-less their startup/'growing up' phase I know how important an elevator pitch is for a smallish company trying to close deals with little street cred in the market they are trying to penetrate. But if you can summarize the problem you are solving and, especially, the value you bring with, in 30 seconds flat then you have distilled your essence down. You can now proceed to sell like it's the end of the world and within 30 seconds you should either have them hooked or at least caught their attention vs a 2 minute incoherent 'we build good products, yes'.
But an elevator pitch for myself? Jeez Louise! That means either putting away my BS-o-meter and come up with a marketing spiel (no, just no.) or actually digging deep and, without shame, accounting my skillset and determining what sets me apart.
What is the value that I want to bring.
It might be different than the value I am able to bring now.
Boiling it down will help me recognize my unique selling points - be they here and now or just around the corner waiting for activation.
I have some inkling to the direction my elevator pitch will start to develop: I have always chosen the path of the Generalist over that of the Specialist.
And maybe that sort of big picture view of IT / software development / devops / security is the thing this Mr/Ms. X requires.
Maybe they don't have my hacker mentality of gluing pieces of independent software together to make them co-operate in new and fascinating ways.
Maybe they need some ways to automate tedious tasks as plugins in their tool of choice that I might not yet even know about, but they lack the development skills to make it happen.
Or maybe it is something totally different. I don't know, but that's ok. I have just taken the second step on my path to being an expert. There are quite a few steps left to take, but this is the second. The second step was impossible without first figuring out what I was missing. Now I can hunt them down.
Reminds me of a quote from a Liam Neeson movie:
"I don't know who you are. I don't know what you want. If you are looking for
ransompayment, I can tell you I don't have moneywant that. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a verylong career. Skills that make me a nightmaredream for people like you. Something something hunt you down... The end."