Impostor syndrome is when a person doubts their accomplishments, feels that they don’t deserve it, or think that their achievements (a promotion, a raise, etc.) are the result of luck. The impostor syndrome can affect anyone, especially women and minorities who fear they owe their accomplishments to affirmative action.

What if we do the following when the impostor syndrome surround us?

What if we pretended we didn’t feel it?

What if we acted as though we were more confident and more competent?

What if we showed appreciation for what we’ve accomplished and behaved as we thoroughly deserved it?

What if we told our friends and family how happy we are about our accomplishments and how the result was expected due to all of our hard work and persistence?

It takes a lot of work to do this, it takes a lot of effort, more so than any of us is able to cope with.

But what if we did it every time the impostor syndrome shows up?

It’s possible that after doing the above for a while and acting as if we deserve our accomplishments, perhaps we would teach ourselves to take what we deserve and see the outcome we have always hoped for.

 

In response to those companies, hiring managers, interviewers who keep asking the same question:

Where can I find great developers?

A developer becomes a “great developer” when the company, team, resources, projects, recognition, etc., are compatible with that person. Under that logic, I believe any programmer can be great if they desire to do so and find the environment and motivation to thrive.

Most technical interviews fail to find the right people because interviewers and hiring managers usually go at it with an “idea” of what a “great developer” looks like to them. In most cases, everyone ends up hiring people who don’t work out and miss out on people who could have become the “great developers” there were looking for in the first place.

It’s been cloudy in the city of Austin for a few weeks now, and while this isn’t uncommon for this time of the year, it has been impactful for me as it reminds me of the type of weather we’ll find in Seattle. Why is this impactful to me? Well, my family and I are planning on moving to the Seattle later this year, and I certainly cannot wait for it. Seattle is a city I enjoy visiting, which I have multiple times and during different times of the year. Yes, I am aware that there are many days where the word “overcast” is the standard word coming out of local Seattleite’s weather experts, and I am OK with that. You see, overcast weather makes me feel inspired and creative, don’t know why. Cloudy days have a positive effect on my energy and state of mind. While it relaxes me, it also brings good energy to me and the need to write, read, code, or do something creative like that.

Rainy days are beautiful in my opinion, and I am not referring to stormy weather but those rainy days that if you are lucky you’ll see from time to time, and hopefully you’ll give yourself some time just to see it and enjoy it. I am a coffee drinker, and also like to enjoy a hot cup of chamomile tea sometimes. Rainy weather makes me want to drink more coffee and more tea. Drinking coffee is like a drug, and I don’t fight against it, I just enjoy it and to be honest, I just cannot resist it even if I wanted to when it is overcast or rainy outside.

There is also the colder temperature; it is common for the temperature to drop just a bit when it is overcast or when it is raining. There is something about having to wear a jacket or a hoody that I enjoy; it just feels right. And while it might be cold outside, it is far more comfortable to be in colder weather than to have to deal with hot temperatures as we do here in Austin, Texas every summer… and fall.

I don’t know about you, but I usually see more people reading, writing, or just having a conversation with each other in public places when it is cloudy and rainy. Perhaps since the weather is “bad,” people tend to stay indoors and talk to each other more than if it was sunny and warm outside, I don’t know. Also, are you less hungry when it is raining? I am, which is yet another reason I have perhaps more time to read, write, code, chat, or any other activity but eating. I overeat, consistently, and I don’t feel guilty because enjoying food is still one of my favorite pastimes.

It’s been cloudy and rainy in Austin for a few weeks now, and I love it. I think this is the world preparing us to be ready for Seattle weather, or at least that is what I tell myself. Oh, and yes I know Seattle doesn’t get as much rain as other places in this country, but they certainly have a fair share of overcast and rainy days, and I am looking forward to it.

If you are reading this chances are that you have the ability to travel. Many people out there, entire cultures even, don’t have the ability to travel, at least not outside of their own country. Think about that for a minute. We have this amazing opportunity to go out and discover new places, new cultures, new people, new food, new perspectives. It is all out there, waiting for us to be discovered.

Travel, not vacation

People who travel beyond popular places like beach resorts and the like are people who understand and appreciate people who are different. It opens up your mind and your understanding of new and different ways of living and doing things. You see, people fear things that they don’t know and don’t understand. When you travel, you become a global citizen and start appreciating the differences between you and other people. It’s hard to appreciate or not be afraid of what you don’t know or don’t understand.

Iceland

Traveling is all about learning about the place where you are, and you do this by eating where locals eat, visiting the places that aren’t necessarily popular with tourists, learn about the people who live there, about what they do, etc. In my experience, walking a city gives you the best opportunity to learn about it. Walk everywhere and you’ll find the small shops you wouldn’t find otherwise, appreciate the architecture, see how the city runs, etc. I also understand that walking long distances or all day might not be feasible to everyone, use public transportation before you try a taxi or a Lyft, Uber or whatever private car service is available in that city.

But travel is expensive

Traveling requires some money, but it doesn’t have to cost a lot unless you travel as if it was a vacation. Traveling as opposed to vacationing is less expensive. When you travel you don’t need to stay at expensive hotels or any hotel, in fact, staying in a house, a bed & breakfast, or a hostel is usually less expensive and it gives you a better sense of the culture and the people who live in that city. When you stay at a hotel, it’s nice because everything is taken care for you, but what you end up experiencing is the hotel’s culture and what they want you to see and feel. You are in a bubble, and there is nothing wrong with that, but if you are there to travel and live like a local, this isn’t what you want. It is commonly more expensive too.

Brooklyn apartment
Airbnb in Brooklyn – July 2016

Below are some resources to find places to stay when traveling:

When you travel you want to eat at locally owned restaurants, markets, and also cook your own food. This will save you a ton of money and it will give you the opportunity to taste local food, and usually very authentic too. If you are a foodie, this is an opportunity to discover new flavors, so have an open mind and eat what locals eat.

Florence, Italy
View from B&B in Florence, Italy – 2014

Another difference between traveling and vacationing is that when you travel you can still do some work and earn money. If you travel abroad and are planning on staying at a place for several weeks or months, try getting a job there. There are many opportunities to work abroad, and a job abroad could potentially cover all your expenses while you are out there.

Below are some resources to find work while you travel abroad if you are interested:

There are many more resources, a simple Google search for finding work while traveling abroad will return many results.

Pack light

We all know that when you go on vacation we should pack light but most of us never do it. In most cases it isn’t a problem as most people have a destination and bringing a lot of stuff isn’t much of a problem. However, if you are planning on traveling and not vacationing, make sure you pack light and that you bring only the things that are absolutely necessary. Think about it, if you are traveling around a country or many countries you’ll be hopping on planes, trains, buses, etc. It is impossible to do this if you bring lots of luggage. Instead, bring the things you’ll need like a good pair of sneakers, a few t-shirts, a pair of pants, and a jacket.

Haleakala
Haleakala National Park, Hawaii, 2015

Think about it, if you are traveling around a country or many countries you’ll be hopping on planes, trains, buses, etc. It is impossible to do this if you bring lots of luggage. Instead, bring the things you’ll need like a good pair of sneakers, a good travel backpack, shorts, jeans, t-shirts, and a jacket. Most other things such as toiletries you’ll be able to find almost everywhere you go – unless you are truly traveling to a remote location, then just buy it before hopping on the airplane.

Here is an excellent article from Lonely Planet with detailed information on how to pack light: tips from an expert packer.

That’s it, and by the way, if you need a little bit of motivation, watch Given on Netflix, it inspired me to write this post and it is a great movie/documentary.

Thanks for reading! 🙂 If you enjoyed this article, hit that share button below ❤ Would mean a lot to me and it helps other people see the story.

Last week I wrote an article where I mentioned we need more color in tech leadership roles. This was the second of a series of articles I am writing on the topic of diversity. I received a lot of praise for the article but also some unexpected reactions to it, like the example below:

 

The purpose of that article wasn’t to force or pressure anyone into doing anything they don’t want, obviously.
Oh and by the way, here is the definition of people of color in case another person out there starts making fun of that term again.

Thankfully, most of the feedback I received about the article was positive. And the reason of this post is an answer to a question that has come up repeatedly.

Where do I find qualified people of color for tech leadership positions?

My answer to this question is simple, reach out and build relationships with us, people that aren’t white and with no European parentage, also known as POC.

Hiring managers, executives, and even recruiters are overwhelmingly white women and men, and it isn’t uncommon that their personal networks aren’t filled with POC.

Therefore, while we try to increment the number of POC in these positions, white men and women need to make the effort to expand their network beyond people who looks AND behave like them. Diversity in personality is just as important.

Diversity is important, and it is good for business too! I don’t need to list all the benefits of having a diverse workforce, we all know the benefits. My personal favorites are the variety of perspectives and personal networks you find in diverse environments! Both crucial to be a competitive business in today’s world.

How do you expand your network? Reach out to POC within your organization, invite them to coffee, ask them about their ideas, promote them, make them part of your life. Also, attend events and make it a priority to talk to POC.

I host the Diversity in Tech Meetup here in Austin, TX, and you’ll be surprised by the small number of white men who attend the meetup. We need to increase the number of white folks who attend and invite them to be part of the solution, without them, it’ll be hard to move the needle towards getting more diversity in tech and other areas.

We don’t want to exclude white men from the diversity and inclusion programs, everyone is welcome and everyone is needed for true diversity to take place in tech.

What are your thoughts about this? Think of your personal network and decide if it is time for you to reach out to POC and minorities in general.

Thanks for reading! 🙂 If you enjoyed this article, hit that share button below ❤ Would mean a lot to me and it helps other people see the story.

The other day I saw the following tweet from Lara Hogan and it inspired me to do something about it.

The first thing that came to mind was what is the difference between mentoring and sponsoring, then I read the article, and while its focus is about women being over-mentored instead of sponsored, the article painted a clear picture about the differences between the two.

In short, the idea is that while women and other underrepresented minorities are being mentored more than ever, the number of them being sponsored is still low. Sponsoring within the context of helping them get a job, get a raise, a promotion, funding, etc.

This article and the tweet made me think about ways that I could help sponsor women and other underrepresented minorities to get their foot into tech and succeed in it.

Many years ago I was sponsored by a small business owner in Minnesota who believed in me. At that time I was a young Hispanic man who had just graduated from a technical school, didn’t have any professional experience, and couldn’t even speak English clearly (I am still working on it). This person knew that I didn’t have the experience but he saw something in me, he trusted me and took me under his wing. The way he sponsored me was by hiring me to take care of his small office local area network (LAN), maintaining the computers in it, and taking me with him to see his clients where I learned about the business, sales process, and how the business worked. Within a year, I was writing software, meeting with clients to explain the technical side of the projects, and helping with hiring and other tasks.

By the time I left this job to move to Texas (Minnesota winters are long and harsh), I had developed a few web applications, a couple of desktop apps, and an automated process which helped increase the revenue of this business and it also created new revenue streams and offerings to new and existing clients. I acquired experience and self-confidence. It was a win-win.

Today, while I am not in a position to hire or promote someone, I can help others get more exposure and self-confidence. As an organizer of a meetup group and a techie, I can sponsor underrepresented minorities by promoting them, their businesses, and their ideas with the rest of the Austin tech community.

I think we can all agree that diversity in tech (and everywhere) is not only beneficial for the people in these minority groups of which I am part of, but it is also beneficial for the company and people who work around them. A company who embraces diversity and inclusion in the workplace will have the advantage of having access to a variety of viewpoints, increased adaptability, and new perspectives and ideas.

There are already many organizations and programs to help bring underrepresented minorities to a level where they can compete for a job or start a business. However, there is still a lot of work to do to help them get to the finish line, or near it. Once people gain the skills and are ready to start a business or apply for a job, we can still do something to help them get a job, a promotion, a meeting with an investor, etc.

I can help by providing a framework and a platform for underrepresented minorities to expose themselves, their experience, their ideas, and their businesses. There is also a new list on Github that I created today where people can add themselves, a short bio, and a link to their website, business, etc. The goal is exposure and promotion.

This will at the very least increase their exposure and help them create those connections that are indispensable in any industry to succeed.

This is what I can do today.

2016 was a very particular year; it was full of changes, experiences, learnings, and also frustrations and disappointments.

2016 is the year I realized my kids were getting older; my daughter started her senior year of high school (and began to send college applications!), one of my sons started high school, and our youngest moved up to 4th grade. Anyone with kids finishing and starting high school will understand about all the happiness this brings as well as the many, many, many challenges.

2016 was the first year I took a trip with my two older kids, just the three of us. It was fun. We went to San Francisco, and while it rained every day, we had an amazing time together.

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