On Saturday April 7th, I attended Minnebar, a techie conference held at the Best Buy campus. My goal had been to learn more about the latest best practices which I could take back to my workplace for implementation. My biggest takeaway though was an epiphany about myself
The first session, I attended what was effectively a round table on mobile app best practices with the best and brightest jumping in to provide insights into all aspects of the mobile app pipeline. I’ll admit, I got bored early on and based on the overcrowding, a bit uncomfortable. I decided to scrap my second class in that track and instead go to the branding option in the theater where there would likely be more open space and very comfortable seating.
The discussion focused on self-branding and how to line up your personal goals with your business goals. It was the standard exercise of looking at what you wanted to do as a kid and how you can do that as an adult, but this time you had to discuss it with those around you.
I once had a boss ask me about my personal brand and I blithely answered “Green Lantern.” I then proceeded to note that I was inspired/fueled by heroism, had a lot of raw willpower to overcome obstacles, was creative, and valued being able to be a utility player/renaissance man. That pitch didn’t go over so well and I thought about it when I considered announcing to complete strangers that as a kid I wanted to grow up to be a superhero. I decided to drop the “super” from my pitch. I then analyzed that against what I had already thought about with regards to careers and the like, and it suddenly all fit. I felt bad for my associates as I tuned them out after the initial start up conversation because I wanted to test my new hypothesis further. I started plugging in choices I made in the past and trying to decide whether they fit the new model.
For example, when I was in my teens I wanted to be an attorney or a politician because I thought of those jobs as heroic. As they began to lose their shine in college, I considered English teacher (“Oh, Captain, my Captain!” anyone?). When I did my student teaching, the teachers turned to me for all of their technology questions and so I signed up for a Master’s program in Educational Technology. When I didn’t find a teaching job, right away after finishing the bulk of my curriculum, I switched out to web designer as it had been an outlet for my creativity. I then spent a weekend a month and 6 weeks each summer working with Upward Bound. The rest of my free time I spent trying to make the world a better place with the Junior Chamber or exploring heroism in computer games.
As I began to accumulate outliers that didn’t fit the overall scheme, I realized I needed to adjust the model to be more inclusive. I began to see that a large part of my life wasn’t just wrapped around accomplishing heroic ideals, as a man I had certain romantic goals for myself. I found myself equally inspired by Batman and Lloyd Dobler, so I altered it to “romantic hero” and the vast majority of my choices fit. But that’s really the subject of a whole new post as it gets a bit deep and personal.
In retrospect, a lot of what I write about in this blog comes from that root motivation – whether it’s exploring my literary heroes or getting in touch with my courage and confidence through ValleyScare or a ropes course. I’ve decided for the next year, I’m going to re-tune this blog to delve deeper into heroism and my opinions on it. I’ve got an idea on a monthly feature with interviews of real life heroes from the non-profit sphere, but we’ll have to see how the first one fleshes out.