Last night I watched Soledad O’Brien’s CNN Black in America: The New Promised Land - Silicon Valley special that offered a lesser known perspective on an industry I know well. The special followed black entrepreneurs who participated in the first annual NewMe startup accelerator. After the special aired, I watched Mario Armstrong’s Town Hall and heard plenty of great advice from accomplished panelists of different races and backgrounds. In just an hour and a half they covered a range of cultural problems and shared opinions on solutions.
The best thing about pieces like this is that they focus on a problem and hopefully, get us all riled up to fix it - but do we? One of the audience members stood up and reminded the room that the change wasn’t going to come down from the panelists, but come up from them - that they had to make the change for themselves.
Right here and right now, I’d like to do something to address this problem. We heard over and over again the importance of networks and of having the right conversation with the right people. Entrepreneurs were advised to “insert” themselves into social circles of Silicon Valley. I agree with panelist/engineer/founder Hank Williams that taking baby steps is the key to both programming and life, so here’s my step for today:
I’ll be hosting open video chats specifically to mentor people who aren’t already in my established social circles.
Here’s My Open Mentoring Availability, starting with
- Thursday, November 17 at 1:00pm, 1:15pm, and 1:30pm ET
- Wednesday, November 23 at 2:00pm, 2:15pm, and 2:30pm ET
My goal is to make it less uncomfortable for new people to get involved in tech and startup communities.
I hope to see other leaders of these communities offer their time and guidance as well. I’ve written some and talked a whole lot about personal scheduling and efficiency, so I want to be clear that this is a relatively small, effective commitment - I plan to give 45 minutes to conversations with up to three new people and to spend the remaining 15 minutes of my alotted hour following up or laying the groundwork to help those people. This will amount to roughly one hour a week. If you’d like to help, too, consider joining the Ohours mentoring topic.
If you or anyone you know aspires to be an entrepreneur, engineer, teacher, computer scientist, wielder of data, or perhaps is now a girl scout, military brat, data lover, amateur organizational psychologist, blonde - or maybe none of the above, but would like to talk with someone who is - please send them my way. My door is wide open.