Tag Archives: Find
“Find a mentor” leads any checklist for career success. But if you don’t know how to treat the relationship, you can easily turn a potential mentor into a de facto career coach you don’t pay (and instead just annoy).
My mentors have taken me far already in my career — and I’ve never asked anyone for their time. Here are a few simple tricks I’ve learned to find mentors without ever uttering the words “pick your brain” or embarrassing myself by offering coffee as compensation.
Find the right person.
Like most of my peers, I followed a lot of bloggers when I started writing. Many had useful tips to share about the craft or business of writing, and a few had careers I could learn from.
One writer, Alexis Grant, had a career I loved, a mix of traditional journalism and online media experience that was unusual in the space at the time. The clincher? She was just a few years ahead of me in that career path, so I could actually see myself in her shoes one day — not so easy when you try to emulate the best-known players in your field as an amateur.
Learn from a distance.
I gobbled up every career and writing tip Grant shared. And I watched what she was doing that she wasn’t writing about: What kind of work did she take on? How did she promote herself? Who was she connected to?
It wasn’t as obsessive as it sounds. (Probably a little, though.)
I didn’t follow her path exactly. That wouldn’t have done me any good. Instead, from what she did, I learned how my career could possibly look. Especially when you’re not following a well-beaten career path, that’s invaluable.
Lead with your value.
When you’re ready to connect, don’t simply by ask for someone’s time. Figure out what you can offer to earn it.
When Grant was editing a new site, I pitched stories. When I ran an interview series on my blog, I invited her. When she launched a new site, The Write Life, I contributed posts. When her budding content management firm needed freelancers, I was available.
“When I see someone with potential,” Grant told me when I asked for her perspective on our mentoring history, “I get personal satisfaction by watching or helping them succeed — which serves as an incentive for me to send more opportunities their way.”
I offered my value in exchange for the effort she’d spend telling me about her work or editing my stories, so I could connect — and, therefore, learn — directly without wasting her time.
Know their value, and don’t miss out.
I never thought of Grant explicitly as a mentor, because I’d never sought one. I just admired her work and enjoyed working with her, so I paid attention and learned without blatantly asking her to teach me anything or open any doors for me.
When she joined The Penny Hoarder in 2015, as always, I jumped at the open writer positions. I landed a job and moved from Wisconsin to St. Petersburg, Florida, to join the company as hire No. 10.
I’d never been to Florida or worked in an office, and I was only vaguely aware of The Penny Hoarder — but I knew Grant surrounded herself with smart people and took on exciting challenges, and I wanted to be part of it.
Three and a half years later, the company has grown to more than 100 people and landed three times on the Inc. 5000 — and I’ve grown from a staff writer to an editor managing five people.
Learn to love saying ‘yes.’
I’ve admired and learned from many people in my career besides Grant (I told you: not that obsessive). She’s just had the greatest impact thus far and has represented the myriad types of mentors I might have sought in my career if I’d paid attention to those checklists.
For finding all my best learning opportunities, my best tool has simply been a willingness to say “yes.”
As I’ve shown my value, Grant has invited me to work on projects well outside my comfort zone: social media, design, video, staff training, developing editorial processes, launching a daily newsletter, speaking at a conference and even reorganizing the company’s Slack channels.
“The real test is whether someone maximizes those opportunities,” Grant said. “If they do, it motivates me to help them even more. If they don’t follow through, I wouldn’t put my energy into them the next time.”
Every opportunity is intimidating, but I never say no. Each one comes with a chance to learn from her and other innovative leaders — and I’ve never had to offer to buy anyone a cup of coffee.
For anyone who follows NBA basketball, there’s a war going on right now.
Meanwhile, in the Western Conference, it’s exactly the same scenario.
The Golden State Warriors are loaded to the gills with superstars like Steph Curry and Kevin Durant, but they play like a well-oiled machine. James Harden, meanwhile, is one of the most talented players we’ve seen in years and a likely league MVP–his dribbling and shooting prowess makes you do a double-take. Yet, it’s hard to ignore the fact that everyone else on the Houston Rockets (except Chris Paul) is often on the court standing around, waiting to see what happens. Four teams, but two completely different strategies. We’ll soon find out which strategy will prevail in the next few days.
The war raging between “team” and “superstar” has been around awhile. In business, you might be tempted to rely on a small group of overachievers. Yet, nothing quite compares to a larger group of people all working together in perfect synergy.
I was watching the Cavaliers the other night and realized the “old school” approach of driving the lane, passing the ball to the superstar on almost every play, and hoping that one person scoring 42 points is a good strategy matches up perfectly with how some leaders operate in business. “Give the ball to the superstar” is a common tactic.
It doesn’t really work, and part of the reason has to do with how teams function. In my own experience, individuals who can ramp up sales quickly are like a meme or a viral marketing video. It’s a big hit, but it doesn’t really lead to long-term success. I agree James is one of the best ever, but you could easily argue that one-guy-driving-the-lane has not worked. It has not helped the Cavs win an NBA Championship. Only when James surrounds himself with exemplary players, not pawns in a chess match, does he usually win the final series.
It won’t help your prospects as a leader, either. Teams in business who work together are far stronger, far more productive, and find far more success than a couple of greats.
Here’s an example of what I mean.
In one startup, I remember hiring someone who had exceptional graphic design skills. She could make Photoshop dance. And, she could crank out brochures and other items faster than anyone else. At meetings, she was always a little bored. But the other team members were also hungry to learn. Over an entire year, the other team members eventually learned how to use the design apps, shared ideas with each other, found workarounds, and built up their repertoire. In meetings, they would come up with far better ideas as a group. That one superstar was wildly talented, but had to rely on her own prowess.
Eventually, we ended up switching her to a different department, one that needed a solo producer. The rest of the team flourished, grew creatively, and became way more productive. There’s something about how a team of, say, five people working together creates more productivity than five individuals working alone. Each person fuels the entire team, generates new ideas, and pushes every project forward.
Watching the Cavs lately reminds me of that designer. Just give the ball to LeBron is not a great strategy against teams like the Boston Celtics. It becomes one against five. We’ll see how it all works out, but I’ll still hold to my view. Teams win in the end.
Google does a lot to infuriate traditional media companies, but one of its most controversial policies has for years been “First Click Free,” in which it demanded that publishers have to give a certain number of articles to readers for free in order for those articles to appear high up in Google’s search results.
Publishers are increasingly moving their articles behind subscription paywalls, rather than relying on digital advertising for their revenue, so this policy has become increasingly troublesome. For example, when The Wall Street Journal stopped giving free tasters of its content earlier this year, its traffic from Google users plunged by 44%. As Google has a global search engine market share of over 90%, that level of control matters for any publisher.
Something had to give, and on Monday it did. In a blog post, Google News chief Richard Gingras announced that First Click Free was being replaced by a new policy called “Flexible Sampling.” Instead of being forced to serve up three free articles per day, publishers will instead be able to set their own number of free monthly samples—Google recommends 10 a month.
“Publishers generally recognize that giving people access to some free content is the way to persuade people to buy their product,” Gingras wrote.
Google also promised to work with publishers on making it easier for people to subscribe to their articles. Judging from Monday’s announcement, it appears Google wants to ensure that its services become central to that process.
“As a first step we’re taking advantage of our existing identity and payment technologies to help people subscribe on a publication’s website with a single click, and then seamlessly access that content anywhere—whether it’s on that publisher site or mobile app, or on Google Newsstand, Google Search or Google News,” Gingras said.
The Wall Street Journal quoted News Corp CEO Robert Thomson as saying the move was “an important first step in recognizing the value of legitimate journalism.”
Google and Facebook pretty much own the digital advertising market between them and, if subscription models become the norm, they will be vying for control of that mechanism too. Like Google, Facebook is also working on support for paywalled articles within its social network.
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(PRWeb March 09, 2016)
Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2016/03/prweb13257365.htm
10,000ft Insights is a new tool for desktop and tablet that clarifies the design process.
The post This New Tool Helps Designers Find Better Insights appeared first on WIRED.