Today has been light for a number of reasons – the first being that we’re getting back into the swing of things from a major holiday and very few of us actually did any work (and writing). The second is because, starting at 3:30am this morning, I found myself driving up to Greenville, SC from Atlanta and would spend most of my day there.
I was spending some time mentoring and coaching the second cohort at The Iron Yard, a technology incubator and accelerator. I had the distinct pleasure of coaching the first cohort as well and many of those teams went on to raise rounds of venture capital as their startups grew and flourished.
I love spending time with other entrepreneurs and sharing my experience with them – the fact that I can give back at such an early age is a gift that I don’t take for granted; my own personal growth and success was born out of other people investing in me and I knew that it was a part of what I wanted to do as I continued in my own vocation and work.
But something happened early on in my own growth during a previous venture where one of my board members told me that, in a candid conversation, that he wished he had started investing back into the younger generation earlier. I remember him pulling me aside after a significant board meeting and after giving me some great feedback he casually commented:
I wish I had started mentoring you young guys earlier – I could have helped save more of you from making really bad decisions.
And this gentleman was right – he had helped me a few times already steadying my aim for a previous venture and helping me secure a new round of capital without giving away the business and without sacrificing the original vision.
Later that night, after a great meal, he told me that I should highly consider investing in others early – not in 5 or 10 years after I’ve “proven myself” but rather right now, today, because what I have (my own experience) is more than enough to give to others, especially those that are following in the same footsteps.
I would have liked to say that I said “Yes!” and went immediately on a mission to educate and invest in others but it took me a few years since that pep talk to actually go do it. But I eventually did and it’s been 110% worth it.
You see, besides providing incredible value for others and helping these leaders and entrepreneurs grow their respective companies, I was getting back just as much (if not more) in return. These other entrepreneurs challenge me, provide an even more wide and more creative perspective, and introducing me to new technologies and methods of execution as well as thought that I hadn’t previously encountered.
And that is both my responsibility and opportunity to my own teams – it’s my responsibility to lead creatively and to lead well. To do that I must take advantage of every opportunity, even in the form of educating and mentoring others, to gain new insight and renewed motivation.
I think this is why the WordPress and open source communities in general can be very, very helpful because at their core is a philosophy of this giving with abundant receiving.
I want to challenge everyone to give back – to give back to not just WordPress but to pass on what you know to others. Continue to publish blog posts, do podcasts, video tutorials, or anything that can help you export your knowledge into others.
This is what will make our community great, not just sustainable. Let’s be an example of collaboration, not just competition.
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