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M&M 42: Mentor

Louie Bacaj
Louie Bacaj
5 min read
M&M 42: Mentor

Hey Team,

I was accepted to be a mentor in two Cohort Based Courses for the next two months. This is my second time mentoring.

Whenever they ask me to introduce myself to the entire group in these things or talk about myself, I get nervous.

So now, before I start, I tell everybody, "I am Louie, but as you'll see, I am nervous and awkward." And believe me, even though I preface the intro, it still shows. My voice trembles; sometimes, the wrong words come out too, which can get awkward.

But I've embraced what I am—an awkward and introverted Engineer that came from the bottom. I mean, it's hard not to embrace it; they can hear all of that in my voice; they can even hear The Bronx come through.

Why do I bother putting myself through all this shit? Why mentor and speak in front of 50+ people and sometimes hundreds?

It's because I feel fortunate and proud to teach people who happen to be where I was a few months ago. People that are nervous about putting themselves out there, publishing publically, sharing their ideas, telling their story, and growing.

The other thing is they handpick mentors. And coming from the bottom like me, I'd rather be damned than not try and seize a good opportunity to learn and grow.

Impressive and high-caliber people come through these Cohort Based Courses. Real people show up with real problems. Some are founders, entrepreneurs, VCs, indie builders, engineers, product people, designers, creators, CEOs, CMOs, CTOs, etc. All are trying to put themselves out there more. Through the sessions and one-on-ones, they confide in mentors real stuff they are struggling with.

As a mentor, you realize that you just went through that same stuff and survived. You realize you can help them. For me, this has the effect of making me more courageous because now I've committed to help these people. And even if I still have fears, I need to be brave and fulfill the commitment.

Then, later on, that courage starts to make me feel like I might be able to conquer other fears.

But more importantly than that, mentors learn that if they can help even a few of these people overcome some of their fears of publishing and putting themselves out there, they start to think better. It's what happened to me; through writing 100+ essays last year, I realized I wanted to chase my dreams of entrepreneurship.

Before writing, I hardly had any time to think. I just went from Zoom call to Zoom call for work.

So if those people I mentor start thinking for themselves, as I did, they too might decide to chase their dreams and question everything.

Then with more humans thinking for themselves and being free to chase their dreams, we end up with a better world. I get that this may all sound like a stretch or like I've gone crazy. But these days, I genuinely believe you could make the world a better place by helping people write more, think, and chase their dreams.

So that's why I am putting myself through all this again. It's why I am choosing deliberately to mentor; if you happen to have similar opportunities, in your job or wherever I hope you decide to take them because investing in others is a form of investing in yourself.

Two great articles I ran into this week

Forecasting is hard. And not because people aren’t smart, but because trivial accidents can be influential in ways that are impossible to foresee. I did a talk with a high school class last week and someone asked how I decided to become a writer. I said I didn’t, it was never planned. The path that …

This article by best-selling author Morgan Housel is excellent, and the story he tells illustrates the randomness of the world incredibly well. Something I've become a big believer in since taking Small Bets.

Also, a fun fact about Morgan is that in Write of Passage (one of the courses I will be a mentoring in), he joined us live and told us he never takes notes, which shocked everyone.

But it's true, everything he writes, he does so by going on long walks, thinking a lot, then writing—a small snippet from that live session.

Belonging to Amazon’s Principal Engineering Community
Peter Vosshall, one of Amazon’s Distinguished Engineers, kicked off the 3-day offsite with his traditional greeting: “The State of the Union is strong.” Here we were, the three hundred or so…

Gergely Orosz shared this excellent article on Twitter by Carlos Arguelles, some good insights into what sonority means for engineers.

On a side note, I recently subscribed to Gergely's paid newsletter, The Pragmatic Engineer, and there are some excellent evergreen articles there that I will be sharing more on soon.

But a few I loved so far are onboarding to new companies and preparing for annual planning. But my favorite by far that overlaps with what I am deep into these days is becoming a better writer as an engineer.

A few tweets from this week

I had a chance to meet Marissa through the Small Bets community, and she is an impressive engineer turned entrepreneur. I am learning a ton from her about building a good remote work culture.

It's true.

Two Memes from this week

This Meme is awesome not only because people are writing too many Twitter threads but also because my brother and I are placing a Small Bet by building a Twitter Thread writing tool designed for people to get feedback on threads.

A rough reality but if you are still writing code, even occasionally, you will understand the feeling.

Thank you for reading and have a great weekend.


P.S. you can respond directly to this email and I will reply! I'd love to hear from you.