Innovation Series #3 : Choosing a Mentor

11 02 2008

‘Mentorship’ is one of the key contributors to your persona/professional growth. No matter how educated you are or how many ventures you have started or been part of, Mentorship is very important to realize your dreams. Most successful business people definitely have mentors who must have helped them in one way or the other.

This short write-up on mentor ship is my learning, experience and thought.

Who is a Mentor?

According to Dictionary.com, a ‘mentor’ is a wise and trusted counselor or teacher. Note the word “trusted” because this is very important consideration which cannot afford to miss while choosing your mentor.

How do you choose a Mentor?

There are various articles and many speakers who have defined aspects which you need to consider while choosing your mentor. However, in my opinion, choosing the right mentor is a very tedious task and you will need to spend lot of time evaluating all your short listed people who can be your potential mentors.

Before you begin

Before you begin to evaluate various acquaintances to choose your mentor, you will need to first perform your SWOT (Strength, Weakness, Opportunities and Threat) analysis. This would provide you with what you have and what you need.

Second, you will need to write down what is that you are looking for in guidance and support to achieve your goal.

Third, you will need to keep identifying people whom you have access to, for approaching for mentor ship.

In my opinion, there are two approaches for finding a mentor; One, you have a person with whom you are working with (colleague / boss) and Two, you have a person whom you look up-to as a master in any subject which interests you.

Getting mentor ship in both the situations is not easy. There are challenges in finding either/both of the above mentioned kind of people around you and most importantly, they should be ready to be your mentor (this plays a major role).

Key Qualities of a Mentor

It is your very personal choice of choosing a mentor, however, there are few key qualities which are common to all mentors and you will benefit if you can identify your priorities and then choose your mentor.

Listener – Mentor ship is all about guidance. You are banking on the person to guide you to be successful in your work. ‘Listening’ is a very important quality which you can notice very predominantly in your mentor. If you have made a list of people whom you can look up to for guidance if that person is not a good listener, then you will need to revisit the name again (this is my very personal guidance). You can definitely compromise on this aspect to ensure you learn tactics in handling your business/project, but there will be many times when you want to question and learn from your mentor and hence, listening becomes a key attribute.

Optimist – Being optimistic is nothing short of greatness. The key attribute of successful people are that they are always optimists and this is contagious.

Teacher – You mentor should be able to teach you what you need. True, you will need to know what you want to learn, but your mentor should help get you the information when you are ready for it.

When you find a mentor

  • Understand your mentors schedules
  • Do as much research as possible regarding the person before you choose/begin. You are not obligated; if during your research you understand that your selection is not appropriate, then do not proceed. Do not just choose a mentor, because you have to, choose because you want to learn.
  • Be specific of what your expectations are. Do not approach the person and say “You are good at People Management. Can you teach me all of it?” This will never work. You will need to very specific of what you want – “I would like to learn from you, how you efficiently manage your resources.” Also, before proceeding explain what you do and how you do. It would give a good insight for your mentor as to what your thought process is and can guide you accordingly.

How do you become a Mentor?

Remember – “you take to give”. Do not be selfish and share your knowledge. As much as you want to be mentored, there might be others who look up to you for guidance. Share your knowledge and learning as much as you can.

The qualities you look for in a mentor are the qualities you need to have too 🙂

How does a Mentor choose you?

It is not that you choosing the mentor is important, the mentor accepting your request is also important. Remember the famous saying – “When the student is ready, the master appears.” This is the truth. You might be successful in finding a mentor, but your mentor accepting your candidature is the underlining factor. You will need to have patience and keep following up with your request. Your mentor should see the determination in you to learn.

Once you started working with a mentor, appreciate their time and knowledge and always be pro-active in accomplishing things. It motivates the person teaching you and also shows your interest and respect for the person.

Keep looking out always; you don’t know where you might find another mentor. Meet with people, talk to them and share your ideas.

The above are just my views and this might not be the way which works always. If you have a story or want to share your personal experience, please comment back and share with us.

Advertisements




DevCamp Bangalore

9 02 2008

BarCamp has opened doors for un-conferences around the world (FooCamp started the movement though). In Bangalore, the Silicon Valley of the East, BarCamp has had a profound effect on how conferences are being organized.

DevCamp – A Developer unConference is born to be an annual meet for all the Developers.

Today, I am here at DevCamp. The wiki had more than 600 registrations and only the first 225 are allowed. I rushed in the morning forgetting that the weekend has just begun. I reached here at around 9 AM thinking that i might not be allowed, but I was on time 🙂

One of the attractions to this camp is that Martin Fowler is here in person. My expectations were high and was looking forward for some good discussions on open source and technology. When Siddu introduced him to the participants, he just spoke about his participation with other unconferences and did not intend to involve himself here, rather wanted to see how we participated and what we speak. Disappointed a bit….

Sessions began at 10 AM in the four rooms provided at the ThoughtWorks venue. Here is the list of sessions which happened/happening at the event today:

  • Designing a Phishing IDS : Bipin
  • PoshZones – A baazaar approach to the semantic web :  Sriram Narayan
  • DTRACE : Sanjeev
  • CallGraph Skype Indexing : Rajeev Poddar
  • Adobe Integrated Runtim (ATR) RIA’s on Desktop
  • Lightning Talks : Talks in random by participants in 3 minutes
  • Easy Software Development : Prasanth
  • Getting Started with Mrcurial : Biju Chacko
  • Intruder Alert PoC to Sig Snort IDS : Akash
  • Eclipse Plugin development and Android Plugin Internals
  • BDD: Learn from JBehav, do it in JUnit
  • Working with Data in a Natural Way : Bijoy
  • RORR –  Zero to Beta of a Publishing Platform : Gokul
  • Nintendo DS Homebrew Hackery – Siddu
  • Writing wargaming aids in DJango – Manoj Govindan
  • A discusson of Ruby
  • MONADS : Ravi M
  • What really is “enerpris” grade app? Open Discussion : Pradeep BV
  • Mobile Eco-system : Janakiram
  • AAKRAMAN – The Ruby war : Chirag/Akshay
  • MOOSE – A Biological simulation system
  • Building Social application on Facebook/Orkut : Himanshu Baneja
  • Enhancing Firefox, Password Manage with OpenID
  • Load Testing weapps with ERLang : Kartik SR
  • Bringing web application to desktop : Suresh
  • Develop voice/speech enabled web 2.0 application using TringMe API
  • Tye in any Language – on any website
  • Twitter API + WordPress Plugin API: Ujjwal
  • Automation testing for win apps : Vivek Singh
  • Fault tolerance load balancing in JMS : Sandil
  • Mobile application made easy : Mobisy
  • BDD – Liz is painting during this time
  • OpenSolaris virtulization : Ajesh
  • Programming with ANDROID : Selvan
  • Lets Develop a J2ME Game : Zarina
  • API manipulation Rest & JSon : Sebastin
  • Web Security – A Discussion
  • Clutter – Fun with Building Interfaces : Shreyas
  • The state of JavaScript
  • Symantic Web : Harish

Well, the boards are full and so are the rooms. Am heading off now for a session…

I have DevCamp pictures on my Flickr account. Pradeep has few, check them out.

One Day, I would love to co-ordinate in organizing or be part of Burning Man in India. Hope the day is not far away 🙂





Innovation Series #2

9 02 2008

Well Well, the week has been pretty hectic for me. In this issue I have few interesting links to share with you and before that, let me share you interesting information on 1.6 Lakh ($3500) Tractor which is making rounds in news. Bhanjibhai Mathukiya, a small time innovator from Junagadh, has created a mini tractor of 10 HP (Horse Power), after being moved by the plight of the small groundnut and orchard farmers in Saurashtra. This is the power of thinking minds. We definitely need 1 Lakh car and a Rs.10,000 2-wheeler, but we also need innovation at the grass root level to sustain our living. Just imagine having huge building, good houses, affordable and comfortable transport systems etc provide quality of life, however, what if we dont have any thing to eat? Does it make sense? In the last 10 Years, the price of rice which we buy from the dealer has not gone up by more than 5% at the farmers end. But, we have been seeing huge price raise in the rice we buy at regular intervals. This simply means that the more money you are paying the shop is actually going to the trader who is selling rice and almost negligible amount is going to the farmer. There is another similar innovation to the poor farmer – “Bullet Sathi” where there is a lost cost equipment which is fitted to an Bullet (2 wheeler brand in India) which can help the farmer in various activities during farming.The above two are classic examples of innovation at the roots and affordable solutions to the bottom of the pyramid farmers.Found an interesting link on Pluggd.In by Sharada on choosing your firms Legal Avatar





Pocket Tripod for you Digital Camera

1 02 2008

If you are into Photography, there is one thing which always bothers you – shaky photographs. This is more common in Digital Photos. You use a tripod to solve this and most of the times have felt the pain to carry your tripod in your backpack. However, here is an innovative solution for creating your own simple and yet effective tripod, check it out  🙂