The best professional mentor I ever had

If you close your eyes and try to think of people that have had a positive influence in your character and professional skills, I’m sure a few faces will come to mind. The ones that pushed you out of your confort zone and coached you until that confort zone became larger, on so did your confidence. The ones that offered you a role model to follow and inspired you to try harder and work smarter to become the professional you wanted to be. Or the ones that simply showed you how to enjoy doing what you do for a living, because life’s to short to be doing otherwise.

When I close my eyes and think of the best professional mentor I’ve had in my career, the following image comes to my mind

Admittedly, I could have asked for a professional mentor that would evoke less visually disturbing images (the above is the least disturbing I could find). But in terms of professional mentoring qualities, I couldn’t have asked for more.

I’m sure you didn’t come to this post just to see disturbing images, so here are the 5 main things I learned from fannybaws.

1. Let your team take responsibility and make their own mistakes. Let them grow.

One of the hardest parts of becoming a manager is that you need to give up control of how things are done and allow others do it their way. Many managers – especially those who know have been executing the work for a while- will fail at allowing their team do things their way, make mistakes, learn, grow. If you fail at doing this you might get what you are doing today done faster or better, but you will be jeopardising your team’s future potential.

2. Treat your team member’s work output as the byproduct of their development

One of my favourite Ted Talks is the one from Simon Sinek, called ‘How great leaders inspire action’ (I’m sure that if you are reading this post you have probably watched it by now. If you haven’t, watch it. Now.)

One of the things I have realised recently is that every time I tried to make an important decisions and I would bounce off ideas with fannybaws he would ask me “why?” and let me answer, think, answer again. If it all made sense, we would stop there. If it didn’t feel quite right, he would ask me why again. Always start with the why.

3. Get your priorities right. Put important things first, then the rest, then admin. If you do, it will all fit.

A meteorology professor stood before his Meteorology 101 class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly he picked up a very large and empty glass mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a jar of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles, of course, rolled into the open spaces between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar and of course the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with an unanimous yes.

The professor then produced two cans of beer from under the table and then proceeded to pour the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the grains of sand. The students laughed.

“Now,” said the professor, as the laughter subsided, “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things — your family, your partner, your health, your children, your friends, your favorite passions — things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.

“The pebbles are the other things that matter, like your job, your house, your car. The sand is everything else — the small stuff.

“If you put the sand into the jar first,” he continued, “there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for your life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you. Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your partner out dancing. Play another 18.

“There will always be time to go to work, clean the house, give a dinner party and fix the disposal. Take care of the golf balls first — the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.”

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the beer represented. The professor smiled. “I’m glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of beers.”

Source: http://www.theweatherprediction.com/humor/life/

4. Learn to have a healthy work/life balance . Make sure your team does too.

 

“Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling some five balls in the air. You name them – Work, Family, Health, Friends and Spirit and you’re keeping all of these in the Air.

You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four Balls – Family, Health, Friends and Spirit – are made of glass. If you drop one of these; they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged or even shattered. They will never be the same. You must understand that and strive for it.”

Work efficiently during office hours and leave on time. Give the required time to your family, friends and have proper rest.

Value has a value only if its values is valued.

 

5. Sometimes it’s better to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission  

This one might sound oversimplified but is important to keep in mind when the barriers of the corporate world are frustrating your efforts. If you know that what you are doing is right, sometimes the only way forward is if you bend some rules. That is if you want to make a difference.

Although this article is called “The best professional mentor I ever had” which technically implies I don’t have you as a mentor any more, you are not going far away and I’m hoping I will still be able to learn from you. I don’t think I have learned everything yet. In any case, I will miss having you around but everything you have taught us will live on and I trust it will transcend to generations of SEOs to come.

Farewell fella. You will be missed.

Epic Speeches

Some speeches can leave you absolutely… speechless. I personally feel fascinated by the power of a well structured convincing argument and try to achieve the same results when articulating my persuasive messages. In that sense, I consider’s Anthony Weston‘s Rulebook for Arguments an incredibly helpful book which I recommend to anyone interested in writing persuasive arguments.

I also have a special place in my heart for those speeches that manage to persuade you with the power of emotion or just plain oratory awesomeness. So I decided to put together my favourite speeches.

What about you? Do you have a favourite speech? Let me know in the comments!

 

William Wallace: Address to Scottish Army at Stirling

 

Aye, fight and you may die. Run and you’ll live — at least a while. And dying in your beds many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance, just one chance to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they’ll never take our freedom!!!

Charlie Chaplin’s final speech in The Great Dictator

I’m sorry but I don’t want to be an emperor. That’s not my business. I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone if possible; Jew, Gentile, black men, white. We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each others’ happiness, not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone. And the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way.

Greed has poisoned men’s souls; has barricaded the world with hate; has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed. We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge as made us cynical; our cleverness, hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery we need humanity. More than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost. The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in man; cries out for universal brotherhood; for the unity of us all.

Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world, millions of despairing men, women, and little children, victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people. To those who can hear me, I say “Do not despair.” The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed, the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress. The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people. And so long as men die, liberty will never perish.

Soldiers! Don’t give yourselves to brutes, men who despise you and enslave you; who regiment your lives, tell you what to do, what to think and what to feel! Who drill you, diet you, treat you like cattle, use you as cannon fodder! Don’t give yourselves to these unnatural men—machine men with machine minds and machine hearts! You are not machines! You are not cattle! You are men! You have a love of humanity in your hearts! You don’t hate! Only the unloved hate; the unloved and the unnatural.

Soldiers! Don’t fight for slavery! Fight for liberty! In the seventeenth chapter of St. Luke, it’s written “the kingdom of God is within man”, not one man nor a group of men, but in all men! In you! You, the people, have the power, the power to create machines, the power to create happiness! You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure. Then in the name of democracy, let us use that power.

Let us all unite. Let us fight for a new world, a decent world that will give men a chance to work, that will give youth a future and old age a security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power. But they lie! They do not fulfill their promise. They never will! Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people! Now let us fight to fulfill that promise! Let us fight to free the world! To do away with national barriers! To do away with greed, with hate and intolerance! Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men’s happiness.

Soldiers, in the name of democracy, let us all unite!

 

Rocky’s speech to his son about life

Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get it and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward.

 

Carl Sagan’s famous ‘The Pale Blue Dot’ speech


Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”

 

Garry Marshall’s Speech on Louie Season 3 Episode 10

I love this one. It’s a bit less known, but still very good imho. Starts at 5:14