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S1E01 - How to get a mentor without telling them (Erin Fox)


Inside this episode

Host: Aaron Rackley https://aaronsserver.co.uk twitter.com/aaron_rackley
Guest: Erin Fox https://twitter.com/erinfoox
Book Recommendations:
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art by James Nester

Show Transcript

These transcripts where auto generated by Descript. If you see any issues, please do reach out and we can rectify the issues.

Aaron Rackley: [00:00:00] Hi everyone, and welcome to the first episode of Tech Leadership Podcast, the podcast where through conversations we unraveled the intricacies of leadership in the tech industry and provide insights on how to become a top performing leader. Today we are having a discussion with Erin Fox about her talk, how to get a mentor without telling them.

If you like this conversation, please do remember to subscribe to this podcast on your favorite player and stay tuned for upcoming episodes and if you would like to come and have a conversation with me back. A subject you are passionate about, please email me at contact tech leadership decoded.com. And with that, let’s go straight into the conversation.

Okay. Thank you Erin for joining me today. How are you doing first of all?

Erin Fox: I’m doing great. Happy to be here. Talk about a fun topic. Um, really excited.

Aaron Rackley: Yeah. Yeah. So obviously we are here to talk about, be getting a mentor without them knowing about it. What was the official title you had on the [00:01:00] talk that I saw you?

Cause I’ve seen you twice. I first saw you live in person at React Advance London. Mm-hmm. In 2022, and then I saw you on the online Tech Leader conference at 23 doing the same talk. So what did you officially call your title in the talk?

Erin Fox: Yeah, so officially it was how to get a Mentor without telling them, but then I kind of added and secretly get a mentee, so, It kind of goes on both ends of the spectrum.

If, if you’re looking for a mentor or if you’re, um, a more senior engineer and you’re looking for a mentee. But, um, thanks for coming to all my talks. You must be really, really into the subject. I love that.

Aaron Rackley: Yeah, I think the first one was in that tiny side room off the main event. So that was, that was very mess.

Oh, it wasn’t that

Erin Fox: tiny. I was still on the

Aaron Rackley: stage. Right. It wasn’t that tall. What was that? Yeah, well it was, it just scared me being on that stage and that’s for sure. Um, [00:02:00] so yeah, I like to start off the podcast just by basically introducing yourself. Just letting everyone know who you are and kind of why the subject matter we’re gonna be talking about is important to you and why you’ve done talks on it essentially.

Yes. Go from there. Yeah,

Erin Fox: absolutely. So, um, to make, I guess, my career a. Journey quick. Um, I have a master’s in communications in gender studies, and I had a terrible job and I hated doing it. I was doing paid social media, decided to quit. I did a bootcamp for three months in New York City. It was the hardest thing I ever did.

Cried at the bathroom, had no idea what I was doing. Uh, but I ended up being the absolute best thing for my life and career wise, I ended up working at, um, major League Soccer, um, working on React Native, and now I’m a. Full stack software engineer at Convert Kit, where I, um, help creators earn a living online.

And I like work now and Web React, um, in Rails. Not my favorite, but, [00:03:00] um, but throughout my journey and everything, I’ve always been very good at finding mentors and finding people to help me. I think it’s because when I joined MLS as a junior engineer, I just had. A great environment and a great mentor there to teach me and guide me and, um, really show me what a good mentor was.

And so I’ve always wanted to reflect that back on who I work with, how I can mentor others, how I can help mentors be good mentees, be good. Um, I’ve always been like passion of mine recently. I didn’t know I was doing it this full time until my manager brought it up. But, um, yeah, I’m really, I’m really into helping people and, and feeling good about your career and, yeah.

Aaron Rackley: Okay. Yeah, no, it’s really interesting. In your experience, I know lots of different places have different approaches to mentored, mentor mentees, like some companies I’ve worked for in the past. They just basically give you like a buddy, but that’s not necessarily a mentor. So how would you describe what a mentor is?

Yeah. I

Erin Fox: think [00:04:00] for me specifically, like an engineer, mentorship is, mm-hmm. You really teach what you know like to a mentee and you teach them how to teach themselves. And in, in most mentorship relationships, there’s usually a mentor and a mentee. And, um, I think throughout these relationships it can flip back and forth and like a constant learning from each other.

Um, and there’s like good characteristics of a good mentee and, uh, a good mentor and I think. Overall, um, mentorship is just connecting with someone of a different skill level that can help you and teach you and guide you, um, to what you wanna know.

Aaron Rackley: And if I am someone who’s looking for a mentor, what kind of fears do you think people generally have of approaching asking for mentorship?

Erin Fox: Oh, totally. Yeah. That it, it is very scary. I think I like to give [00:05:00] this kind of metaphor of. When you’re meeting someone for the first time, mm-hmm. You. If someone comes up to you straight up, like really in your face, hard eye contact, it’s very intimidating. So if someone comes up or DMZ says, I want you to be my mentor, it’s kind of like a lot to deal with.

You’re like, oh my gosh, I don’t know this person. I don’t know what they need. I don’t know if I’m smart enough to help them. So I think the traditional tactic of going up to someone or DM someone will be, my mentor is kind of old school now, and I think the way to find. A mentor, if you’re looking for one, is find someone that has similar, that has achieved goals that you have and ask them a question that can, that you need and need help with.

So say, I really wanna get back into React native. I haven’t used it in a while and I just, I don’t know much about it. I’ve done some research but. I want some help. [00:06:00] Um, have a following on Twitter. Maybe I’ll mention someone. Um, hey, like thinking of getting back into React native, haven’t really done mobile development in a while, but do you have 10 minutes to give me the scoop on like the five things that I should really focus on?

And if they say yes, great. If they’re too busy, move on. Um, but if they give you those five things, I’ll go back, study ‘em, maybe apply for a few jobs. Maybe I got a job and then you could go back to them and say, Hey, thank you so much for helping me. I was able to use your five things. I got the job. And so I think being able to form a mentorship more organically other than going straight up to them in their face and being like, Hey, leaving my mentor.

Um, yeah, I think there’s like tactics that you can use that can really help you learn, even like knowing specifically what you need to learn from others. Can really help you kind of sneakily

Aaron Rackley: get a mentor. I noticed that you mentioned, you know, calling out on Twitter or potentially other social [00:07:00] media aspect, looking for a mentor doesn’t necessarily mean finding someone within your own organization or.

Really does it. You can look anywhere, I assume.

Erin Fox: Yeah. And you also don’t have to have one mentor. Um, I have many mentors in different kind of corners and pockets of what I wanna learn, but I think it depends on what you wanna learn. If you want to get better at, say you just joined the company and you know nothing about Rails, Ruby, and um, they’re senior engineers and you just put out maybe a slack of, hey, I’m new here, like learning, trying to learn all this magic that Rails has apparently, like everything just happens.

Um, and I don’t know why we’re calling these controllers, controllers and all this stuff. So yeah, you can um, just ask a question of like, Hey, does anyone have 10 minutes? Love to get some advice. Um, that could be a form of mentorship too. I have someone that I asked for career advice specifically, so I don’t wanna go to that same person and say, Hey, You know, is this like, do you think my career is going in a good path?

[00:08:00] Or, or you know, so like, depending on what your goals are and what you wanna learn, you can have multiple mentors. Um, but yeah, you really gotta find out where they hang out. You know, like if, where, like, if someone like you see is really great on Twitter of like talking about, I don’t know. Salary negotiation and you’re like getting a new job and you wanna get some pointers on that.

Um, definitely try and reach out to them. But, um, I think the, the main thing is like you really need to focus as a mentee. You really need to focus on yourself in what you wanna learn and then go find those people that are really good at it.

Aaron Rackley: Yeah. Okay. And as you as highlighting there, some of these relationships don’t have to be long lasting.

They can be very short period of time for what you are. Aiming for in that moment compared to long-term visions like your career, if you’ve managed to find a mentor who is willing to help you in your endeavors, do you have any kind of skills or approaches that you take to nurture that long-term relationship?

And do you kind of like meet regularly? [00:09:00] Do you check ins? Like what, how does that kind of relationship seem to

Erin Fox: work? Yeah, I think depends. I think it, if it’s someone that’s like in your company mm-hmm. That you’re working with, maybe you can meet. Once a week for an hour because you’re working on a project to help you learn more about like, I don’t know, react state or something.

Um, if it’s you just wanna do a check-in and like a pulse check of your career, I think you could just kind of. Maybe message them on LinkedIn or like whenever you have a question or, um, things like that. But I think one of the main things is if you don’t have like a constant weekly mentorship one, if you do have like once every couple months, it’s important to follow up with them to let them know how their advice and how their teachings really affected you and how it helped you.

Because I think it makes it so much worth it for the mentor. To say, oh, this feels great. Like, I’m actually giving someone advice. They’re listening to it or practicing it and it’s working. Um, [00:10:00] so I think there’s like a full little like life cycle circle of, of how those meetings should go. Um, but it really just, I don’t know, depends on your workload on how much help you actually need, how much time the other person has.

It could be completely over like dms or on LinkedIn or anything like that. So I think if it works for you and it works for them, Um, it could be situational, but

Aaron Rackley: how can you tell if you, the mentee, the mentor you’ve chosen is good or bad? Like, how do you know if it’s going wrong or it’s going well? Yeah,

Erin Fox: I think that’s, yeah.

I think, uh, you said mentor, right? We’ll talk about Yeah. Yeah. A good mentor first. Yeah. Yeah. So I think a good mentor is someone who, Is really willing to like share their knowledge and help others. Mm-hmm. So if they’re constantly putting out content or if you notice that they do great blog posts or, I don’t know, they’re just like, Willing to listen to you, and they could explain hard concepts [00:11:00] maybe in a handful of different ways and different perspectives.

Mm-hmm. I think engineers that you keep asking like, why, or like, I don’t get it. And they keep, they keep being able to explain it. Like so many different perspectives are probably the smartest people that I’ve worked with or know. Um, but yeah, they just, I think a good mentor really provides. Guidance, um, in the right direction and not really doing everything for them so they don’t take over the screen, they don’t take over the keyboard really, like I mentioned earlier, kind of teach them to teach themselves.

Um, so yeah, I think a good mentor really just shows you. How to teach yourself by like, how they’ve, they’ve guided you. Um, yeah, but also with like plenty of mentors, there’s, you could also have a bad seed or a bad mentor, um, which, which happens.

Aaron Rackley: Okay. So to [00:12:00] flip that round, uh, um, to you as a mentee, how do you be, be a good mentee towards your mentor?


Erin Fox: I think. It was, this was hard for me because when I first started out, I was so excited. I just wanted to learn everything and I had this really great mentor and I was like, I don’t wanna disappoint them. What are the rules? I’m a big rule follower and I couldn’t find much out there. Um, so I started like writing and keeping notes and now I have a blog post called How to Be a Good.

How to be a good pair partner in pair programming. Okay. Um, but overall, I could just give a scoop on that is so being a good mentee I think is also open and willing to learn. You show up prepared, um, you’ve googled the topic, you’ve watched videos, read blog posts, searched the company slack, which is awesome.

It’s just a great, great tip. Um, you found the, like maybe you found the file but you don’t know the right syntax. Um, you have a list of questions. You just come very prepared cuz you don’t. Waste anyone’s [00:13:00] time. Um, I think, um, one of the biggest things that you really, um, can do for a good mentee is, or how to be a good mentee is ask questions.

Um, I think sometimes, If you have a more senior engineer, they just don’t realize some things or like realize what you know or what you don’t know. So if you keep asking questions, I think that will really help you become, um, a great mentee and eventually a mentor. Mm-hmm.

Aaron Rackley: Yeah, and I think I. If I’m remembering this correctly, I think in your talk you mentioned a little bit about knowledge swapping as well as a mentee, a mentor.

Do you wanna talk about that a little bit as well?

Erin Fox: Yeah, absolutely. Um, so personal experience of mine, I have been, um, in a mentorship relationship with someone on my team. Uh, well, technically he’s on another squad, we call it. We have squads. We have about five squads, but we have an engineering team.

Mm-hmm. And, [00:14:00] um, He has primarily been working on the backend is really wise with Rails and Ruby and all that. And I mostly, my heart’s always been on the front end, even though I’m full stack. But I’ve been, when I joined about three years ago, I was having difficulty just understanding the backend and rails and Ruby syntax and all that.

And so being able to, this was actually like a planned mentorship where we, if you wanted to join, you can sign up and get paired up and, um, I think. The way that it really helped is like sometimes. I’m the mentor when I’m helping with react and front end things, and he’s learning a lot in that way. And then other days we totally flip it and I’m the mentee and he’s the mentor and he’s teaching me about a lot about rails things.

And so I think with some specific mentorships, it could be a flip flop back and forth of constantly like learning from each other. Um, you could also, if it’s just someone you’re getting [00:15:00] career advice for, they could. Give you some advice, you do it. You come back to them, you say, Hey, it worked. Then I think that mentor is also learning like what advice is good to give and then they can mentor other people or maybe it didn’t work and they’re like, oh, okay, let’s try something else.

And so, um, I think. With, with mentorships, it’s felt, it usually feels very concrete of like, I am the mentor. Yeah, you are the mentee. Um, and I kind of like to break that up a little bit and flip it around because you could constantly be learning from, from either of

Aaron Rackley: you. Okay. Um, now when I was watching you at the React London, there was a slide.

That I remember very fondly. Um, and it was when you were talking about the seagull effect and I, I remember taking a screenshot and having to, well, with my phone, I was on my computer, so, but I took a photo and I immediately tweeted it cuz I remember the phrase. And I’ve got it up just to [00:16:00] remind myself, but it was like when someone is trying to help but craps all you over your code and then flies away.

Now I’m just pulling that out because I think you need to tell everyone what the Seago effect is because I loved this part of your talk. Sure, yeah,

Erin Fox: absolutely. Um, so yeah, we’ve basically talked about great experiences with mentors and mentees so far, but sometimes they don’t go well. Sometimes you have a bad mentor out there and, um, Thes effect really has been a counter example of that.

And it’s from a personal experience. I was working, um, on a team in pair programming with a more senior engineer. And each week I kept feeling lost after the pair sessions and more confused. Um, my code was a mess. None of my tests were passing. I was really just like the code was spiraling out of control.

Um, and so, yeah. Um, and that’s where I kinda like, Come up with or bound, uh, the si effect. And yeah, as you [00:17:00] mentioned, it’s when like someone comes in or flies in crops. All of your code makes all these changes. And then goes away. Um, and it doesn’t really just apply to para programming or, or engineering mentorships.

You could really have many seagulls in many life situations. So they attempt to help you make a bunch of changes and then they leave you hanging because maybe they ran outta time, they got overwhelmed. Um, they didn’t know how to solve it, and they didn’t wanna admit that they didn’t know how to solve it.

Um, but overall, you’re just like left with no solution, no confidence, maybe questioning your career life choices, um, when really you should just be like flying and working together in the same direction. Not having someone crap all over your stuff and then fly away. Um, and if this is happening or if you are single yourself, that’s okay.

The first step is to, to. Realize that you are. Um, but yeah, take a pulse check, uh, be more direct with what you need, what’s not working. If you’re just too overloaded with work, [00:18:00] you just have pressure to finish a project and you don’t have time that week mm-hmm. To help a mentee. Just be honest with that.

Um, and if it’s not working out, maybe just have very different learning styles. Yeah. Just take a pause. Um, say, hey, like, um, It’s not working for me. Maybe right now there’s a lot going on and I wanna try this on my own and maybe ask some other people on the team for some help. Um, I think that’s one of my secrets of if I do get too overloaded and I don’t wanna hurt anyone’s feelings, or if the mentorship isn’t really working out and, and.

Either of our favors, I’ll say like, Hey, things have been a little crazy lately. Do you mind if we take a pause on this mm-hmm. For a few months or a month? And then be able to pick it up if our schedules allow it. Um, but yeah, overall the seagull effect is, it’s very fun.

Aaron Rackley: Um, that’s a great slide to have in your, in your, yeah.

So you mentioned there, um, like you mentioned a couple of techniques in there for, um, [00:19:00] The conversations you’re having. And I, I know you mentioned peer programming just then as well, so mm-hmm. Is peer programming a technique you use during your mentorships, or is, is there other techniques that you can recommend for people trying to be effective?

Erin Fox: Yeah, I think it, um, for, at least for me right now, like where I’m at in my career, I. Want to get better. Like, I feel like I’m very good with my, like my soft skills, my communication skills. Mm-hmm. My negotiation skills and my, where I would need to improve is like my, my backend code, my more complex projects and just kind of leveling myself up as a full stack engineer.

And I’ve found the best way that I can learn and level myself up is through pair programming because that my goal reflects around code. Um, but. I, I love parents. Okay. Mean so [00:20:00] much short, especially working remote because I get a little lonely with the whole, you know, remote and I’m like just here in my house, just by myself.

So, um, being able to meet up with someone, then pair program and it’s just, um, one that fills that loneliness hole for me. And two, I’m like, I just learned so well from others. Just mm-hmm. Like screen to screen, face to face. Yeah. Um, But it’s also, especially pairing remote is so much better than pairing in person because like two people huddled around one screen, one keyboard.

It’s not fun for me at least. But then when you’re able to screen share and like. Do notes and like if they wanted to just take over real quick and write a left code. Um, I think para programming is a great way to force people to explain code and like use their words. Mm-hmm. Um, which helps them comprehend it more if they can explain it.[00:21:00]

Um, yeah. Overall just, yeah, big fan of pair programming. Oh, also one of my favorite things about pair programming is you learn the other person’s tricks.

Aaron Rackley: You’re like, oh, how did you do that? I didn’t, yeah.

Erin Fox: It’s like, I didn’t know you could do that in BS code. Or like, someone had, uh, GitHub co co-pilot turned on when I was pairing with them, and I was like, what is this magic?

Like, what is GitHub co-pilot? And now I have GitHub co-pilot, and it’s just, it’s also fun to just see their tricks and tips on how. They are more efficient with their mm-hmm. Coding.

Aaron Rackley: Normally, whenever I’m doing pair programming, people just like to complain that I’m using the mouse too much. Ah, I have not learned all the shortcut tricks in my life yet.

I, so they go, why are you moving your mouse to get the file open? I’m like, I don’t know. It’s just muscle memory at this point. I’m too old. Yeah. But, um, yeah, well basically, um, This is one of the reasons I started the podcast in general is like, as you were saying, just in your, your goal right now is [00:22:00] to improve your backend skills in, and you’re looking for mentors for that.

Whereas my aspect right now is I’m trying to get better at public speaking and communication and I thought, Having the podcast be a great way to kind of do that without too much of the pressure of having to stand on a stage. And so I applaud you for having done that many times. But, um, my goal obviously, um, is by.

Probably the end of the year or beginning of next year, is to sign up to try and get a talk onto a platform somewhere. So this is a way to kind of build up that confidence, that build up some skills list, learn from everyone else, uh, the people that have done it. So yeah, I am, I agree with you, finding the right platform for what you’re trying to learn.

If you’re learning to co-program. Pair program is definitely, I am a big fan of it as well. Especially I do a lot with junior developers and especially with VS. Code now where like click of a button and you’re internet ID and you’re coding alongside them. It’s [00:23:00] amazing how quick that works. Absolutely.

Yeah. We’ve specifically got, in your title you said how to get a mentor without asking them, and I think that’s, that’s an interesting key. Part of that is like, do you have examples of how you’ve managed to do that? Because obviously we talked right in the beginning, like, how do you approach people and how do you.

You know, have that conversation without being too blunt, but how do you do this trick where you don’t, they don’t realize they’re being a mentor? Yeah.

Erin Fox: Yeah. Actually

Aaron Rackley: I have a, that’s not too cheeky to say it that way. Like, no, you know. No, you’re like deciphering your information.

Erin Fox: No, that’s totally acceptable.

It’s like, this is your talk title and you haven’t even talked about the talk title, so that’s completely fair. Um, but yeah, I have a, a handful of examples. Um, so. Personal examples for me anyways. Um, when I joined Convert Kit, uh, they were just starting a mentorship program. It wasn’t very that formal. It was fill out a Google spreadsheet, what are your goals, and then [00:24:00] whoever wanted to join could join.

Um, and then we got matched up and you’re allowed to be matched mentorship relationship for about three months. And then if you wanted to continue, you could. You didn’t want, you could get sign up again and get a different mentor. Um, and so that was very easy for me to just, oh, great, yeah, I’m new here. I wanna learn more, more rails back and things.

So I’ll sign up and, um, ended up working out. Great. Um, initially the program I mentioned was quarterly, so you would switch mentors, but I am still with the same person I got matched up with and now I’ve been at the company for three years. And, and I think the cool thing is, is that they use like little match.

Um, mentorship programs can really be started by anyone on an engineering team. Mm-hmm. I don’t think anyone would say, or I hope no one would say we’re not doing this, um, because it takes up too much time or [00:25:00] something. Uh, that would be sad and you shouldn’t work there. But, um, overall it’s, I think, Being able to just set up like a mini thing and gauging people’s interests and pairing people up is just kind of lifts the pressure of trying to find someone for help or trying to find someone for it.

And all you need is like a signup sheet on Google and then like a Google form and to be able to, to sign up. So that’s a sneak away. I got a three year mentor now without really formally asking them. Um, another one, and we just talked about it, is, um, para programming, I think. Uh, peer programming has like little forms of mentorship.

I, um, I probably peer program a few times a week with people on our engineering team. I think it’s a, it’s like, it has proven to be like a great way to learn from each other, like raise a level, like of the entire team. Um, maybe isn’t really everyone’s first thought because. It could be like a vulnerable thing to be [00:26:00] like, Hey, does anyone wanna payer program?

Like, I’m not quite understanding this. Mm-hmm. Um, but I think making yourself vulnerable and putting yourself out there like allows other people to see like, oh. Like Erin’s really smart, she’s asking for help, like I could ask for help too. So I think kind of that working in public and being able to ask to help pair program, um, can really help.

And if they’re just like, yeah, like tiny little things like, Hey, anyone have time to pair today on like, react news effects? Like, I’m creating one, then I’m missing something, then I don’t really understand everything. Um, like I think saying you don’t know something isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s an opportunity Oh, absolutely.

To. Get, yeah. To get yourself to grow and learn and to have others learn and grow with you. So I think overall pair programming you mentioned we’re huge fans. Uh, but I do think it’s like mini mentorship, um, lessons. And if that pair programming really sticks and you learn a lot from that person, it could blossom into a mentorship.

[00:27:00] Mm-hmm. Um,

Aaron Rackley: thing, mentorship thing. Yeah. I think as, um, your, your career progresses as a. A developer, you know, you eventually, hopefully you get to like the level of a senior developer and you become a mentor without realizing it anyway. So you immediately have juniors and mid-level people that you’re constantly having to work with and l help them progress through their stages of their career as well.

And what you said then, just then about not being afraid to ask to, you know, ask a question is something that I. Try to say to every junior or every junior I ever meet, um, I say, I’m constantly asking questions. I, I do. I’m, I’ve been doing this 15 years and I’m still asking questions cuz internet moves so quick.

The web moves so quick, there’s a million frameworks going on. It’s impossible for you to keep up with anything. So, you know, I’m always saying ask questions, ask in the group if generally, sometimes as well, when [00:28:00] people, like, we have a slack at our company and if someone asks a question, Personally, I would just be like, if you ask, can you just ask that in the main group?

Because then more people are gonna have the option to look at it. They might have a different feedback, more people getting into the conversation, and you’re sharing knowledge and mentoring everyone at the same time, and you’re all helping each other, which goes back to that kind of like swapping knowledge aspect

Erin Fox: of things.

Yeah, absolutely. And I also think being, um, having being a mentee and, and having a mentor really. As you’re leveling yourself up, you’re like leveling up the, the mentor. Mm-hmm. Um, example I have of that is another teammate I started working with once a week, sharpen up my friend and skills. Um, also just trying to get to learn more people in the company, um mm-hmm.

And pair programming is a great way to do that. But as I was leveling up, I didn’t really realize that they were also leveling up. Um, I was learning like, Great debugging stuff in front end UI solutions. [00:29:00] Um, but they were learning how to be a mentor since I was setting a good example of what a good mentee could be.

Mm-hmm. And so they discovered that they wanted to become a manager based off of, um, some of our mentorship sessions. And eventually a engineering manager role opened up for them and they’ve gained experience and had examples, um, to give. And so mentoring can really open doors for career opportunities as well.

Aaron Rackley: Yeah. And I think, um, it’s important to probably say that mentoring is not just as we were just highlighting a little bit there, it’s, it’s not a one-to-one relationship because you can be a mentor in a group scenario. Like for everyone that’s essentially going to a talk to be is a mentee of that talk and the person giving it as a mentor of that talk, right?

So I think if you want to be an effective mentor, you have to. Practice all aspects of being a mentor, whether that’s individual, public [00:30:00] speaking. I even find personally, I think even writing blogs, that kind of stuff. I find this all the same skill set that you need to be affected by it. Would you think along the same lines or,

Erin Fox: yeah, actually I’d never thought of, thought of mentorship at that wide of a lens, but I think that’s, that totally clicked in my mind of.

I’m writing a blog post on this. I’m sharing my knowledge, others are learning from it, and they can be a mentee and learn from it. So yeah, absolutely. I think there’s many forms of like media out there that you can place yourself as being a mentor. Um, no matter what level that you are. It’s contribute, open source, giving a talk, um, writing a blog post.

The podcast doing podcasts. I think there’s definitely ways to, um, put yourself out there as a mentor and kind of like that also is like a secret way of getting some mentees if that’s something that you’re interested in.

Aaron Rackley: Yeah, absolutely. One more question I had [00:31:00] I’ve written down is about. Mentorship programs.

And I know you mentioned your, the company kind of had a little one, but have you had any experience or know anyone that’s had any experience of like official ones? You know, like you have some companies out there that are willing to try and ma match people up and sometimes you pay fees and all this kind of stuff, but how do you feel that that dynamic compares to ones you, um, kind of like organically grow?

Erin Fox: Yeah. I think those are fantastic. I personally have not, um, done any of the programs, but I’ve heard great success from, from people being involved with them. Mostly because people that are involved with them already are committed already want to be there. Um, so you know that, you know for sure that something’s gonna happen, which is probably reassuring if maybe you want that assurance that it’s gonna happen.

I think those types of programs are, will be. Fantastic. Um, for you and if they [00:32:00] have the type of mentors and that have the goals that you wanna reach, then Yeah, absolutely. Um, I’ve just had more experience organically reaching out to people. Um, mostly cause I’m not scared to ask questions and slid into some dms.

So yeah, I think, I think anywhere you could find a mentor, um, that you feel the most comfortable is, is great.

Aaron Rackley: Yeah. Uh, I think I. Have. Um, so the other day I actually got an email randomly in my inbox from someone who like, had obviously found me from somewhere, found my email address and was reaching out for some advice on just changing their career from, uh, they at university study and theater design, which is kind of what I did back in the day.

So that transition, so, you know, being, not being afraid to ask is definitely the first jump. And, um, my fiance who’s not in this tech world or anything, was very much like, Is that weird? Like someone’s just jumping. I said, and, and it maybe did think about it, it did make me think, is it weird? [00:33:00] And, and I thought about it more and I thought, no, cause I’ve done it many times.

It, for me, there’s no difference in doing it in an email via a Twitter post. Like it’s all the same kind of communication, right? It’s, but just making sure you’re not just jumping, like you said, into someone’s face. You’re just going. Can you help me? Right. There has to be some kind of pretext to it. Um, I think that was just, yeah, that, that’s that an experience I hadd recently, which I found quite funny.

But, uh,

Erin Fox: yeah, so yeah, absolutely. I think it’s only weird the first time you ask after a while. It’s kind of just like applying for jobs, you know? You just like,

Aaron Rackley: keep, keeps going. Just just handing your CV to anyone on the road. Can you just say this? Yeah. Okay. Yeah, so that’s, honestly, it’s been a great, great conversation.

Um, since I watched the talk, I really wanted to sit down and have a chat with you. Um, I just didn’t have time to stop by afterwards and do any q and as, which is a, which was a shame. But I’m glad [00:34:00] we’ve managed to sit down and have this conversation, and I hope that we definitely see each other on a one of these random events sometime, somewhere.

But, um, I’d like to just open it up and say, where could people reach you? Um, if they have any other questions or they wanna see, because I know on your blog you have the slides for all your talks, so mm-hmm. Where, where can people find you?

Erin Fox: Yeah. I’ve tried all the. New Twitters that have been coming out, but I haven’t been really keeping up with those as much.

Uh, so sadly, should I say, sadly I’m on Twitter. Um, but I’m on Twitter. It’s the main place to find me. Uh, my handles Aaron, so it’s Aaron Fox with two os. Um, I check that regularly. I love getting dms of people asking for career change advice or anything like that. So mostly hang out on Twitter still.

Aaron Rackley: Cool.

Um, and I’m gonna throw [00:35:00] one random question at you and I, I, I apologize cuz I haven’t prepared you on any of it. No. Yeah. So, um, I’m, I’m gonna ask everyone that’s on the podcast the same question, which is, if you could get someone in your, your profession to read one book, what book would you give? Send them.

And it doesn’t have to be technology based, it can be anything that you like.

Erin Fox: Wow. One book. An engineer would read it. Oh, this is hard. Um,

Aaron Rackley: one

Erin Fox: book, this one is a weird one and I don’t know why I’m thinking of it, but it, I forget the author, but, um, I’m gonna look at that real quick. Um, I read it about a year ago and it’s called Breath the.

The New Science of Lost Heart by James Nester. Okay. Um, it’s a big [00:36:00] yellow book and it, it, I don’t know, I’ve been really into like meditation lately and mm-hmm. Breath work and just trying to be, you know, more calm, less anxiety and it was just a fantastic study on how we breathe and how if you breathe through your, I dunno, it was just very, Reassuring and just like fascinating on how, um, humans breathe, which is probably so random.

Such a random

Aaron Rackley: book. No, but this, to bring up, this is why I wanted to ask, this is why I’m asking a question very kind of openly, cuz it’s, I’m always interested what people are reading outside of their usual bubble of stuff. Yeah. So like, like if you ask me, I’m reading Oh, go, go, go for it. Yeah. Can I change my answer?

Erin Fox: Of course, yeah. Okay. So there’s that one, that’s number two. But. The absolute best book that I would recommend that completely has changed my life mm-hmm. Is called Quiet by Susan Kane [00:37:00] and I gotta get the right, uh, title for you.

Aaron Rackley: Yeah. So it’s, we put the correct heart of the links. Yeah. Show notes as well.

Erin Fox: So, yeah, it’s called Quiet The Power of Introverts In a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Kane, and I’m a huge introvert and. This book just taught me that I shouldn’t be saying I’m an introvert, you know? Oh yeah. It’s cause it’s just because I’m an introvert. Like it’s a bad thing. And it helped me really embrace, especially like a lot of engineers are introverts, a lot of people that were promote are introverts.

Um, it taught me so much about how I like to work. And how I can work more effectively with others and like how to tell them what I need. Um, so yeah, absolutely Quiet. Um, by Susan Kane completely would write, if you’re an introvert, if you’re, even if you’re not an introvert, just to learn like maybe your, your spouses, your partner is, or one of your immediate reports is you just, it just really is so [00:38:00] eye-opening to learn about how they recharge, how they think, what they need to be an effective leader or like individual contributor.

It’s just, it’s

Aaron Rackley: fantastic. Brilliant. No, that’s two, two new books I need to put onto my wish list. Um, and give a read. Yeah. No, no. Thank, thank you again for coming on and I hope to have you on and again in the future. Maybe we’ll elaborate on some more. Mentor, ET. Mentor. Mentor. I can never say that right Word.

Mentor mentee, yes. I keep thinking man, mentoring for some reason in my head. But yeah. And

Erin Fox: thank you so No problem. Thanks so much for having me. I always love talking about mentorship, so anytime.

Aaron Rackley: If you’d like this conversation, please do remember to subscribe to this podcast on your favorite player and stay tuned for upcoming episodes and if you would like to come and have a conversation with Be Back.

A subject you are passionate about, please email me at contact tech leadership decoded.com and [00:39:00] I’ll see you in the next episode by for now.