Never Underestimate Initiative


I attempt to spend time with every single Academy cohort @ The Iron Yard so that I might pour into them as much as I possibly can so that they can have the most success when they leave the program.

I have a few presentations that I give covering blogging, personal branding, product development, entrepreneurship, and pitching for Demo Day. These talks are some of the best part of my job even though it often requires a bit of travel.

The blogging and personal branding talk is one of my favorites because I believe it can create some of the most value for our students.

For some, this is the very first time they’ve ever intentionally thought through their own personal brand and how they specifically communicate and talk about who they are, their skills, and ultimately how they can create unique value for an organization.

I lean in hard and ask them to be introspective a bit. It’s not always pleasant but the result is a greater appreciation and understanding of the opportunities that they have as new software developers.

At the end of each talk I tell them that I’m available to chat and have 1:1’s if they would like. I do this because I genuinely believe that the value that I can bring to a student is amplified 100X when I can get them one-on-one. I am a much better coach individually than I am corporately.

Sadly, the numbers speak for themselves as most students never actually take this opportunity to engage with me. Historically-speaking, only 1 or 2 students ever ask for a 1:1.

It’s not that I’m the most amazing person full of eternal wisdom and the keys to their future – quite the contrary. Instead, what I do best is contextualize their fears and anxieties through my own experiences and provide some insight into the decisions that they will need to make. I listen. I empathize. I care.

But the most important thing is that they engage. The very fact that they do this is impressive in and of itself. I tell them that they should never underestimate initiative as it will be a guiding principle and act that will serve them the rest of their life.

I can literally hear my father whispering these very words into my ear one evening when I was young: “Take the initiative, be the first guy to show up.” Much of my success has been based on just that.

I don’t have to be the very best nor the most gifted and talented but I’m unafraid to try and, if I can, I’ll do all that I can to be the first one to show up – that can often give me all the advantage that I need.