The Mentoring Experiment – Closing Thoughts

Andy wrote a post today called The End of the Mentoring Experiment, which is something we’ve talked about for some time. In fitting with the decision, and perhaps justifying it further, we decided to do this a few months back, but as with many things, we haven’t gotten to it until today.

I remember when we started this, and we were very excited and interested. The first cycle of matches, using 8 people we hand picked, consumed a lot of time, and while it was successful, it was difficult to scale. We continued on a couple other cycles, trying to tweak to process a bit, but never found a way to manage this effectively, given other parts of our lives, and were never quite comfortable with automating too much of the experiment away.

We also struggled with the idea of accidently making some mistake, breaking someone’s privacy, or causing harm to another’s career or life. Andy wrote a few things about this, and it made sense to us.

We do believe in mentoring, and I hope that those of you looking to grow your careers take time to look for mentors. If you need advice or want help, ask. There are lots of people that will probably give you a little time. It’s not a sign of weakness to need or want a mentor. It’s a sign of maturity.

For those of you with some experience, keep an eye out for someone that might ask for help, or maybe just seem to be lost. Tread lightly, and carefully, but offer to be a sounding board if they’d like one. You can really make a difference in someone’s career with a little effort.

The Mentoring Experiment is taking applications

If you would like a mentor, we’ are taking applications at The Mentoring Experiment. We ran this last year and it went well. We’ve been slow to get another round going for a variety of reasons, but we’re finally moving forward.

If you would like someone to help mentor you in your career, apply. We have many more mentors that volunteered their time this year, and there should be a better chance of getting matched.

NOTE: This isn’t training. A mentor isn’t there to teach you Reporting Service, or Service Broker. They are available to listen and help guide you in making decisions and choices in your career and life.

Apply today.

The Mentoring Experiment – Cycle 2

It’s been a long time, almost a year since Andy Warren and I kicked off The Mentoring Experiment. We had a successful cycle 1, and are not in the process of looking for mentors for cycle 2. Once we get an idea of how many people are willing to be mentors, we’ll start taking applications for mentees.

If you are interested in helping out a fellow SQL Server professional, apply today.

Cycle 1 worked out well, and I know a few people expressed interests in cycle 2 late last year and earlier this year. My apologies for the delays in getting started. Both Andy and I have been busy and this was one of the projects we were working on that suffered. We hope to get things moving a little more quickly and smoothly in the future, so subscribe and watch for more announcements on the Mentoring Experiment Blog.

Fun Networking at the PASS Summit

Once again I’m a part of two fun events at the 2011 PASS Summit that I hope you’ll join me in attending.

The Mentoring Experiment – Monday Night

Andy Warren (LinkedIn | Blog | @sqlandy) and I started The Mentoring Experiment earlier this year as a way to try and help people grow their careers. It has been going well and we’ve rented out Lowell’s in the Pikes Place Market on Monday night from 6pm-9pm. Please feel free to come by and join us.

Register at EventBrite

We rented the space, but each person is responsible for their own food and drink. That should not, however, deter you from offering to buy a new friend a drink Winking smile

The registration is for planning, but even if it shows full, come by if you have time and would like to meet a few fellow Summit attendees.

The Exceptional DBA Awards Party – Tuesday Night

For the last eight or nine years, SQLServerCentral has hosted an opening night party, just after the official PASS opening reception. We’ve tried a few things, but settled on a casino themed party for the last 5 or 6 years and it’s been great fun.

This year we have arranged for it to happen again, and you can join us for some networking fun and also meet the 2011 Exceptional DBA award winner. We will once again have a casino caterer, allowing you to get some virtual “fun” money and enjoy various games. Come join us and have fun with fellow attendees on Tuesday night.

We will have a cash bar available and there will be lots of random prizes, so try your luck at a few games and you might come home with a fun prize.

We are selling tickets in advance for $20, or you can bring $30 to the event and pay at the door. Details are below:

When: Tuesday 11 October 2011, 8-11pm
Where: PASS Summit, Seattle – Room 2AB, Washington State Convention Center
Tickets $20 – book yours now via PayPal to

What’s Mentoring?

We have just kicked off The Mentoring Experiment after talking about it for months. There has been a lot of interest and quite a few applications submitted. We’ve even had a lot of people ask if we needed help mentoring people, which is great. If you’re interested, you still have a couple days to submit an application.

The past week or two, after getting started, I’ve been surprised just how often I’ve seen or heard the word “mentoring” used in many ways. I’ve seen it talked about on TV, on the radio, and in various Internet spots. It’s almost like our experiment kicked off a slew of other projects from other people. That’s not the case, and my guess is I’m a little more aware of how often mentoring is used by various people.


Webster’s dictionary says that a mentor servers as a guide or advisor. Wikipedia sees a mentor as a counselor, friend, or teacher that helps to advise a protégé or serve as an example.

Those tend to fit my definition which is someone that is providing some counsel, advice, and perspective to another in a way that has the best interests of the mentee or protégé at heart. It’s private, at least to the extent that the mentee wants it private, and there isn’t any exchange of money or quid pro quo for the time. It’s a volunteer effort on the part of the mentor.

Mentoring is part setting that example in your own career, which allows the mentor to help the mentee learn from experience. This experience and wisdom should establish the respect that is needed for the mentee to take a mentor’s advice under advisement. Mentoring is also acting as a sounding board, almost as a psychiatrist does, in listening to the mentee, asking questions, and helping to give an outside perspective on a situation or decision. 

A mentor should act as a guide, helping and leading, but not setting the direction or goals, but helping the mentee to find their own way to a better career.