It doesn’t seem like much at the time, the way someone reacts in the moment, the fleeting advice they give you, the way they help you pick yourself up rather than scolding you for falling down. But it sticks. Later, much later, you find yourself on the other side of the same situation and then, across the years, their actions, their words, come back to you and you instinctively know what to do. And in that moment you realise the impact they had on you. Twenty-something years into my very unplanned career I realise most of what I’ve done has been shaped by the actions and advice of some quietly fantastic mentors. Their actions were deliberate, their impact was profound.
I want to share with you some of the interactions that have shaped my accidental career – the time I killed the production database, the time the team was imploding, the time the boss was wrong, the time I was the boss who was wrong, the time I tried to quit and failed, and a few others. It is hard to overstate the impact of your interactions with the people who work with you and for you. I hope this talk will help you become more deliberate about those interactions. As poet Maya Angelou said: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” It is all about the people, and no, you’re not stupid.