When looking at a potential coach or teacher, I find myself often using the following criteria to help me make a selection.
- Openness: Do they expose their ideas and opinions in public forums? Do they allow discourse and feedback on their material, or is it a one-way channel?
- Prior Art: Research material authored by the coach: articles, blog posts, videos, code, tweets, publications. Are ideas clearly expressed and compatible to your mode of learning?
- Bias: Do they present multiple facets to ideas? Is there personal incentive for endorsing one idea over another?
- Interpersonal: The “Play nice with others” factor. How to they behave in a group? Do they foster relationships and enable growth? Do they advocate for peers in their profession?
- Referral: Use your network of both people you know or online personas you respect and see if any of them approve or refer to the trainer or their material.
- Experience: Review the individual’s listed skills, credentials, and experience. Can you trust them to bring authentic information that you believe applies to your needs?
This is not a comprehensive lists (all models are flawed). What questions do you ask yourself when evaluating potential mentors, coaches, trainers, or teachers?
On my first day in my new job, my boss threw out a challenge to me: submit a proposal to CAST for a conference talk I could give. The submission due date was is 42 hours…
CAST is the annual Conference for the Association of Software Testing. It does not align with my typical impression of conferences: payed for by industry corporations, presenters with hidden agendas to line their pockets, and a general feeling of a shark-tank with chum. Instead, to me it sounds more like a University type of conference: sessions meant for discussion and growth for both the attendees and the presenter, and not linked directly to profits.
So, back to my challenge. I succeeded at selecting a topic of interest to me and outlining enough information that I believe I could grow it into a 40 minute presentation. I wrote up a proposal and emailed it into the cyber-nether.
My letter made it to Bernie Berger & Paul Holland, the co-chairs of the conference. And most surprising to me, I have been selected to present this August in New York City!
It is a big responsibility, and definitely an honour to have been selected. I have a lot of work ahead for creating an engaging and educational presentation that is worthy of the time of my peers.
It will a first for me in many regards: trip to NY, attending a conference in my profession, presenting to a crowd outside of my employer, planning and booking travel to the United States of America, preparing myself for my first encounter with the TSA scanners… 🙂
Wish me luck !