Looking for a personal board of advisors

Posted: - Modified: | career, life, reflection

I won't be going to the Free Software and Open Source Symposium tomorrow because
I'm meeting Stephen Perelgut and a possible mentor for lunch.

I'm really lucky to know people like
Stephen Perelgut, who reminded me in his

And, for the record, you are in a rush. You may not know it yet, but you're
very ready for a mentor. Just accept that the inner-parent in me “knows”.

I need a mentor. I need more than one mentor, actually. If I'm
thinking of being in Canada for a while, I'll need a whole new
personal board of advisors. I miss talking to my parents, my
godparents, and other people back home. It's hard to talk about
everything, though, because so much context is missing. I can't blog
everything, and it's hard to explain things over the Internet! I need
people I can talk to here.

I'm growing rapidly, and opportunities unfold everywhere I turn. I
need to make sure that I'm growing sustainably and in the right
direction(s). I have a lot of hats on at the moment, and I'm having a
hard time fully living up to some roles. Here's what's on my plate:

  • Graduate student (MIE1402, KMD2004)
  • Researcher (IBM CAS project, University of Toronto)
  • IBM 2.0 evangelist – I could do a whole lot more than I am right now
  • Graduate House Council member – sustainable
  • VP Education, Toastmasters – I don't do enough to help out with this
  • Daughter, sister – I don't keep in touch well enough
  • Friend – I don't keep in touch well enough

And somewhere in there is the networking I also care about and love

I have a number of goals, too, and I need help figuring out which
goals really matter to me and how I can go about accomplishing them.
My short-term goals are easy to figure out:

  • Finish my schoolwork.
  • Finish my thesis.

But I'm not spending all my waking hours doing these things because
I'm also trying to build a few more things before I need them. An
excellent professional and personal network. A personal brand. Useful

I remember how my very first roommate finished her project with CAS,
looked up, and found herself without any job offers despite having a
MS from the University of Toronto. I don't think I'll be in that
situation, and even if I were, I have confidence in my contingency
plans. (I can do a lot of cool stuff in the Philippines!) So it's not
that I'm in a rush to do all of these things, to write that
bestselling book, etc. I know there's time.

I have to admit, though, that it's *very* hard to resist the urge to
focus on things outside my short-term goals. I feel that I could make
such a difference if I concentrate on, say, IBM 2.0 evangelism: pour
myself into it, devote my energies to it, make it happen. I feel that
the time would be right for such things, too. Thanks to the constant
reminders of my research manager (Hi Julie!) and the occasional
restraining hand placed on my head (Stephen's figured out how to get
me to stop bouncing, at least temporarily), I do manage to resist it.

This is one of the reasons why I really need a board of directors whom
I can tell about opportunities, ask for advice, think things out loud
with, hold myself accountable to…

And I'm surrounded by wonderful, wonderful, wonderful people whom I am
glad to have as part of my life and whom I would love to include in
whatever successes I may have.

Quinn Fung, Dan Howard, and Jed Smith have taught me so much about
love and friendship. I owe them big time.

Stephen Perelgut is practically on my board already, what with all his
help and support. I'm really, really grateful for his help.

Gabriel Mansour has volunteered to be on my board. He's my crazy-idea
go-to person who can enthuse about my crazy ideas and help me figure
out how to make things happen.

Ian Garmaise has taught me a lot about networking and speaking, and I
look forward to learning more from him.

There are others, but it's 2 in the morning and I need to sleep at
some point. =) And of course, there's my extended circle of mentors,
and that could include you reading my blog: thank you for putting up
with my random thoughts and telling me about everything from how to
prepare really good oatmeal to free software evangelism opportunities!

So yeah, I need a board of directors. They don't have to read my blog
(I write way too much), but I'd like to keep in touch with them
quarterly at least. Probably monthly, as I'm changing so much. I need
that help as I'm growing. I also need to find role models who have
succeeded at the things I want to do, so that I can learn from their

I'm 23 years old. I haven't quite figured out life yet. With your help
and theirs, I'm slowly getting there.

E-Mail from Stephen Perelgut

Random Emacs symbol: ps-mule-plot-composition – Function: Generate PostScript code for plotting composition in the region FROM and TO.

UPDATE: Changed “directors” to “advisors” now that I understand more. =) Dec 10 2009

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