Be Yourself

Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.

– Oscar Wilde


Mr. Wilde

One of the exciting challenges of building something new is finding the right team to help build it with you. I’ve been spending most of my time in the last week or so gearing up to go into “interview mode” for The Iron Yard‘s open positions where I’m reaching out to the network I’ve acquired over the years to find the people to work with.

It can be very tough because these people have to be not just talented but be in a place where a significant shift and change can actually occur. Being at the “right place” at the “right time” can be a more difficult hurdle to overcome than just the technical requirements.

Needless to say I’ve had many great conversations that start (and end) with “Amazzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzing opportunity! I would join you if I wasn’t already involved with ____________________.” I’m not disappointed nor surprised since I like to network with high-capacity and talented individuals and those people don’t stay put without work for very long (if ever). As they say, those that can, do.” and I’m quite happy for all of them.

With timing aside it’s a neat challenge to walk through and I’m currently drowning in emails to “get together” and “have coffee” and had more Github profiles (fascinating how that is a “thing” these days – I don’t actually agree that one’s Github activity is as strong of a signal as some people make it out to be) and resumes in my inbox than I’ll ever really get to.

Aside from the typical questions that are being generally asked I always encounter far too many people posing to be someone that they are not. People who tidy up (or flat-out doctor) their CV, in whatever form it might be, to be someone very different. This is unfortunate because I believe that the best “fit” for any role is one that does not necessarily require you to change much of who you are in the first place.

You are who you are while the challenges, context, and organization will change. You do yourself a grave disservice by changing the things that are the most fundamental to you. I empathize because I know what it’s like to see an exciting opportunity and just know, deep in my very soul, that I’m not the right fit but desperately wanting to be the right fit and if somehow I can just change this here and that there then it’ll all “work” out somehow.

As you know, it’s a terrible way of doing life and a terrible way of creating value for all those involved, especially in roles like the one I’m hiring for that require you to give more than just technical knowledge to others but that require you to grant access to the full spectrum of your experiences, your perspective, and your heart in many ways. Educators bleed for their students and it is their mission to create immense value that changes lives. You simply can’t do that if you’re posing as someone you’re not.

Oscar Wilde has said it best – just be yourself as everyone else is, and forever will be, taken. Now, back to that stack of links and CVs…