Speaking and Mentoring

I am not an abnormally lucky person. Privileged, yes, but I don't recall getting many "breaks" in my life that were not earned in some way, either by me directly or by my own upbringing. A number of people have commented on not only my success in tech conferences, but generally on the fact that some people "are lucky to be presenting at so many conferences". I'm here to tell you that it isn't luck, these people (by and large) work hard to get where they are.

But the discussion of luck versus privilege versus hard work is not what I'm after in this post. I've been reflecting lately on what I've done to get where I am, and why more people aren't here with me. To start that reflection I have to first acknowledge where I am and try to understand the steps undertaken to get here. I won't bore you with my inner monologue, but suffice it to say that I am speaking at a multitude of events each year, almost all of which seem to be achieved by my own abilities. (I say this because I work as a developer evangelist, but my employer does not buy speaking slots with sponsorship as a general rule.)

Okay, you're awesome, so what?

This also is not a discussion about how awesome I am... in fact, my speaking abilities are really just average in my opinion. That is to say, I see many other speakers with what I would consider equal ability to present technical material, and some much better than myself. So I've told what this post is not, but then what is it? The other realization that I have had the industry has had is the lack of representation of not only new speakers, but of a more diverse range of speakers, in tech conferences. I want to help change that.

Although there are groups to help some demographics (not just women or new coders), I see fewer groups targeting the specific area of getting more conference speakers from these groups. And in my opinion, it's not just about non-white-males either. Part of my privilege has been my ability to attend a great high school and a top university. Many people around the world do not have that luxury.


The punchline here is that I want to help. I have experience and knowledge to share, but as of yet no one to share it with. I want to help mentor people not just in public speaking (there are groups for that as well), but specifically in crafting technical conference presentations (and abstracts) as well as delivering them. But this mentorship could easily go beyond even those parameters. Delivering conference presentations has numerous additional benefits and can lift a career from lowly code monkey to C-level opportunities in time.

Are you interested in this? Do you know of someone who might benefit from it? Curious exactly what this would even look like in pratice? Contact me! This is an open discussion and I'm up for anything.

If you are interested in this opportunity, please send me an email (jordan @ [this domain]). Be sure to include basic information such as your current skills, desires, inner most thoughts... you know, the basics. We can start a dialogue and see how I might be able to help you, or if maybe one of those other groups I mentioned might be a better fit.

"Outside of a dog, a [blog] is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read."

-–Groucho Marx

Published on March 13, 2015