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Become a mentor

The holiday season is upon us and it’s time to give thanks to folks near and far.

For the last 5 years I’ve been volunteering as a mentor for my local community college. Recently, I was a guest speaker to a 101 programming course and I talked about the importance of developing a brand/portfolio as soon as possible. Over the years the talk has evolved from chatting about soft skills I look for in a team member to the latest, running a WordPress business.

It’s important to me that I give back to a school that taught me a lot about caring for an individual and not just the grade on a paper.

Finding someone to invest in

I have to remember that a majority of these 18 and 19 year old students might not have the focus of a seasoned entrepreneur– yet.

Every new semester I receive a fresh set of kids to mentor. Some are super responsive and others I never hear from. The students I do talk to, seemingly have the drive and passion to go far with their career.  While each person might posses this desire, it’s up to them to execute on it.

Two guys make a game

I’ll always ask the class if anyone is currently freelancing. Selfishly, I want to know who I might be able to bring on to the team and to the same point it tells me who is willing to do the hard work.

This time the answer was different, one of my mentees said he was developing a game for Android. Another student raises his hand and states he’s trying to the same thing. Magic! 

Immediately I tell them to connect and work on “version 1.0” of the game together. Being a solopreneur is not easy.

Next step, find a neutral 3rd party mentor to advise on the progress. Personally, I’ve had partnerships crumble and have witnessed other partnership’s devastate lives — get a neutral party in there ASAP.

That mentor is me

I talked to them after class and told them to contact me when they have a basic plan together. I haven’t warned them about anything yet — like the fact making the game will not be the hardest part — but I will once they reach out to me.

I don’t know if they will take advantage of my time, I’m leaving that up to them. I will not pursue them or check in on their progress. It’s up to them.

My role as a  mentor is not to jump start passion and pursuit — that’s the entrepreneur’s journey.

I’m excited to see if they follow through with this idea.

Become a mentor

The WordPress community is ripe with young startups, developers, designers and business folk.

Folks that I coach often become great friends and it’s wonderful to see their dreams become reality. My hope with this site and events like the WordPress Startup Challenge do just that — we’re introducing young startups to the rest of the world.

In fact I know that Challenge runner-up WP Stagecoach is looking for pricing advice, can you help?

Is there someone you can mentor for the next 30 days? Someone to help see their 2014 resolutions come true? Let’s see if we can drum up some connections on this post.

If you’re up for being a mentor, post your contact info below and connect with someone today!

24 comments on “Become a mentor

  1. That’s a great story Matt!

    I’ve also been teaching at the school I graduated at for the past few years. Additionally, for the past 2 years we had interns in my company, and the high school is a professional technical high school where kids graduate with a final project (as CS university students do at their last semester), so I’ve been leading teams there as well.

    The best thing is discussing technical stacks, business and ecosystem with students. They are normally led by what they know so far – which is what they studied at school and heard from older friends. And what they see at job portals. Whenever you sit and have a quick chat with them, you could see what’s their drive and their plan based on their limited knowledge, how their long-term plan is influenced by “we need to get a junior job asap”, and other aspects that could affect their actual development as professionals.

    I’m also proud with students whom I thought in 2006-2009, currently leading teams at large international companies or successful startups.

    I’d also like to join your initiative and welcome everyone who has accomplished anything in his/her industry to jump on board and regularly mentor new talents.

  2. Hi Matt:

    I recently found your podcast, and it’s one of my favorites now, because it focuses on the business side of WordPress and not just the technical aspects of running a web design business.

    I am extending the offer to help anyone in your audience who needs practical advice about beginning a freelance career or learning web design and development. If anyone is interested, they can simply click through to my site and find me there.

    I also realize that I need mentors more experienced than myself to help me get to the next level on my own journey.

    Have a great Tuesday!

  3. I think this is a great idea. I wish I had a mentor when I was starting out. I love WordPress because not only has it become the foundation of my business, but their is an amazing community where everyone is always willing to share or lend a helping hand. I’d love to mentor someone starting out who might benefit from what I’ve learned. I don’t officially have a mentor, but I’d have to say that people like Brian Casel, Matt Medeiros, Bill Erickson and Chris Lema (just to name of a few) have been an enormous invaluable resource for me over the past few years. I’d be honored to get to know all of them.

    1. Hi Troy. I’d like to take you up on that. I’ve taught myself WordPress and I’m looking to go into freelancing full time in 2014. What I lack in experience and education, I try to make up in enthusiasm and persistence. I could really use the help of someone in the business as I’ve been struggling to find my freelancing groove. Plus I’ve taken a few of your courses and have heard you talk, and will again at WordCamp Phoenix – looking forward to that! I think all I really need is a bit of guidance to get off the ground. Would be grateful for an assist.

      1. Hi Julie, your avatar is actually familiar to me from your enrolment in our course. I like people who are quick off the mark and take action so it looks like we’ll be working together early in 2014. Here’s an idea, how would you feel about keeping a journal of our time together and submitting regular updates for the rest of the community to follow along and learn from. Perhaps Matt would be open to publishing this journal as a series of guest posts during our 30 days?

        Let’s kick this off in mid-January. Email me with your details and I’ll give you instructions on how to setup your first session.

          1. Awesome Matt – you’re a lagend. Julie and I have agreed to start mid-Jan and will be having 2 x 45 min sessions a week to really help her get some momentum. Thank you for this opportunity Matt.

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  6. I’d be happy to be a mentor: specifically I can help more with the ‘Project Management’ side of delivering WordPress projects, so: dealing with scope creep, setting expectations, clear documentation, project delivery, mindset.

    Anyone needs help, contact me via my site.

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