Hacker Career Advice

An End to Hero Worship

They say you should never meet your heroes, because they’ll just disappoint you. I don’t know if that’s true, but I do think our culture fetishizes hero worship and Horatio Alger stories about “making it big.” The thing is, idolizing Steve Jobs & Elon Musk isn’t going to help you get a job.

My advice? Focus on networking instead. Celebrate your success and get other people hyped about it. It’s way more productive and can actually help you find your next gig.

Now, even if you’re gregarious AF, networking can be daunting. The key is to listen first and talk second. Walk into your next meetup or job fair with a simple goal: I’m going to meet 5 new people today.

BTW, meeting new people is easy. Literally, just walk up to them, smile, stick out your hand, and say “Hi, I’m Neal.”

After that, ask them open ended questions to learn about their interests, their work, and try to draw out issues they’re having, problems they’re trying to solve, etc.

Then, think through own your accomplishments, work, hobbies, and try to make a connection. Have you worked on a similar project? Did you recently see or read something related? How did your solution differ from theirs? Can you recommend an applicable podcast? How about something you saw on Product Hunt or at a hackathon?

At its simplest, good networking is just active listening. And more importantly, the people you interact with will remember it and they’ll remember you.