I've never been much of a mentor to people, partially not having the chance, partially focusing too much on myself, and partially, well, I haven't thought aobut it enough.
However I've had some discussions with Andy Warren lately about mentoring and I always find them interesting and intriguing. He's actively trying to mentor someone and putting effort into thinking about what he should and shouldn't do to help someone else grow their career. I admire that effort and to some extent I wish I'd had someone that mentored me. The closest might have been the guy that I used to work for at Virgina Power. That was a year where I learned a lot, he helped push me and taught me a lot about business dealings with clients. Not all of it good; some was taught with the "don't do this because I'm making a mistake", but it was all enlightening.
The other day we were talking about reading and how his young protoge spends time on the Internet and watching TV/movies, but not really reading books other than technical ones. We debated a bit on whether encouraging him to read, especially non-technical books, would be a good idea and what value there is. I think both Andy and I agree that there is some value, and while we don't want to unduly influence someone to just read what we enjoy, there's some cultural intelligence and awareness of things outside IT that you can gain by reading all sorts of books.
So Andy asked me for some recommendations and I need to sit down and think. My first reaction was to flip through some books on Amazon, link between the recommendations, and pick the things that struck me as interesting to the person I'm buying for. I've done that in the past and had good success with friends and family. However I also need to come up with a good generic list and I'll put down a few that I remember as standing out:
- The Last Juror - John Grisham - It's fiction and invovles a crime as most of his books do, but it mainly follows a small town newspaper owner that grows up with the town and events there. It's a slow, down home kind of book and I liked the introspective parts
- On Writing - Steven King - For anyone that writes or wants to write, read this book.
- Odd Thomas - Dean Koontz - Kind of a spooky story, but Odd is everyman, and ordinary guy that just wants to live his life.
- One Year Off - David Cohen - the story of a family that literally packs up and takes a year off from life to travel the world. Not for me, but it'sa great story and everyone should consider it. We had friends that did this.
I owe more on a list, but I need to think about what I'd pick.