Seeking Mentors

How finding mentors in different areas of your life can help.

Written on January 11, 2014 in Personal.
Adam Fortuna

Hey hey! I'm a developer who lives in Orlando, FL. Right now I work at Code School, listen to a lot of audiobooks, set way too many goals, write at minafi.com and tweet often.

Earlier this week, I stumbled upon an interesting blog post about How to Be a Mentor that included a variety of great advice on the subject. It occurred to me how many tips I could take and also how many mentors I’ve sought out in just the past year or two.

Fitness

One of the major advantages to something like CrossFit is the personalized coaching. Getting a training session with an extremely experienced trainer 3-5 times a week isn’t something that seems unusual. More days than not I start the day with a challenge from Mike, Josh or Jason.

Olympic Lifting

Recently I started attending an Olympic Lifting class at the gym, with a focus on a few select movements – clean, jerk, front squat and snatch. The coach for it, Mike Koenig has been an amazing trainer over the last 2 years I’ve been working with him, and I’m excited to see how the added emphasis on these lifts helps my progress.

Yoga

Another unlikely addition to my fitness regime over the past year has been adding in a dash of yoga. Every Wednesday at Envy Labs, we push the ping pong table aside and do a yoga session. Courtney Singleton has been an amazing instructor at easing me into the yoga world, in a non-sweaty introductory way that has helped my flexibility, and surely my performance in other fitness aspects as well.

After I strained my ankle a little over a year ago, yoga was one form of exercise that felt best for it. By Wednesday I’m somewhat sore from working out, so having yoga mid week has helped as a recovery tool.

Running

Around the office, it’s been Aimee Simone who has continually helped bring people together for runs - often around downtown Orlando. The path around Lake Eola is a beautiful run, and this time of year it’s something to take advantage of. Aimee also spearheaded the Yoga initiative which is always accepting new members.

Piano

Growing up, I remember going to my flute lessons in my karate gi. I didn’t play flute for too long, maybe 2 or 3 years, but left always wanting to play piano. My dad was always an inspiration to me in the area of music. Throughout my early years, the house was filled with piano or guitar strings, which I came to love waking up to.

Last year I decided to take the plunge and buy an electric piano and find myself a teacher. I’d put this off for quite a while mostly because I know it’s not something that’ll happen overnight. For the last year I’ve been attending classes with Al at Winter Garden Music near my house. Al’s the kind of guy who you’d give any piece of music to and he’ll play through it verbatim on the first run through. With his help and encouragement, I’m slowly improving, but I have a long ways to go.

Programming

When it comes to programming, there’s something you can learn from everyone you meet, so it’s impossible to list out any kind of complete list of mentors. My coworkers at Envy Labs push me to learn, teach and grow, especially Eric Allam, Carlos Souza and Gregg Pollack.

Not all mentors are as hands on as the in person list above. Some mentors are idea creators and code writers who you interact with through the product of their work. Ever since stumbling on Inventing on Principle and Learnable Programming, I’ve been following (stalking?) Bret Victor. I’m reasonably sure it’s normal to have Google Alerts setup for whenever his name is mentioned.

Working at Code School and always trying to push the envelope when it comes to how we teach, just seeing these kinds of inspirational ideas helps immensely. Following the specific approaches Bret mentions isn’t the important takeaway, but attempting to understand a concept from a students perspective and giving the tools for them to feel powerful when learning is an important goal to strive for.

I’m still working my way through his lengthly list of Links 2013, but I’m looking forward to reading all of them.

Seeking Mentors

One interest I mentioned in my 2013 Year In Review post was my desire to dive deeper into the JavaScript world. Part is this is reading through more JavaScript code by other people. If you’re reading this and come across any interesting JavaScript code or blog posts the year, feel free send them my way. If for no other reason than it’s more material to cover on the 5 Minutes of JavaScript podcast Carlos and I have been releasing every Thursday.

Seeking out mentors doesn’t happen overnight. Finding programming mentors may be difficult outside of the workplace, but most people I talk are more than willing to guide people - just no one asks. If you respect someone and want advice, don’t be shy to ask them.

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