At this time many of you may have heard about the official Sitecore Mentor Program, run by Nicole Montero from the Sitecore Technical Marketing Team. Mentor Program celebrates its second year with a significant growth of positive outcomes and success stories from both mentors and mentees. I am going to share mine with you, and this one is special.
As I sit down to reflect on my journey as a mentor over the past year, I am filled with a sense of accomplishment. The same exercise I did a year ago, after my initial year of experience as a mentor. You see, back in 2022, I dabbled in mentoring for the first time. It was a toe in the water, a test drive. I was figuring out what it meant to be a mentor, what I wanted from this experience, and how I could truly make a difference. I’ve always been a bit of an “all-or-nothing guy”, never happy with just intermediate results of skimming the surface. So, when I decided to take on mentoring again in 2023, I wanted it to be totally different, much deeper in terms of communication, more personal in building the relationship, and what is most important – ultimately expanding one’s potential.
Finding the right mentee
The search for the right mentee wasn’t about ticking boxes or fulfilling desired criteria. Being cognizant of time, I wanted to make sure my efforts commit to the maximum value:
- I did not want to find someone who was not just ready to be a part of the Sitecore community: in both knowledge and their mentality or state of mind. I’d be happy to help them at the later stages of their career, of course, but it should be the right time.
- At the same time, I also felt uncomfortable picking up a person of my caliber or ever who’s probably more skillful than I am and could definitely find their own way to success, who did not need my help.
Both above cases happened to me in 2022, and here’s what I learned from it: it was about finding someone with that unignorable spark—a burning desire to grow and achieve, but perhaps unsure of the path. Someone who can bring big value to the Sitecore community (remember what the letter ‘V’ in the abbreviation MVP stands for?) and who really needs my hand to break a “ceiling glass”. Who else but me was there, striving for recognition at the MVP status for many years before it finally became a reality?
Meet Tiffany Laster
That’s where I stumbled upon Tiffany Laster. It wasn’t some grand plan; it just happened during a routine call where she was discussing Content Hub implementation. The passion for the subject and the big level of detail and nuance in her presentation caught me straight away – that you don’t come across every day. A strike in my mind! We had never met before, but I knew right then she had something special. After some time beyond his call, I made some references, and it became absolutely clear that Tiffany is the right fit for the Mentor Program.
Later, I remember telling her, “As for me, you’ve already got all the makings of an MVP, but let’s prove it to the rest of the world. It’s not going to be a walk in the park. Are you in?“. That was our starting line.
Exclusive Mentorship Program
As I said above, I learned a lot from my first year of mentorship in 2022 so 2023 was about rewriting my own mentorship playbook. One of the things I wanted to change was picking up just a single individual with the right potential and committing myself exclusively to mentoring that person. That’s where the term “exclusive” applied to the “mentorship program”.
So, I launched what I called the Exclusive Mentorship Program, a personal initiative that went far beyond any formal structure. It meant being available for Tiffany whenever she needed, breaking the mold of regular, scheduled meetings. I’ve always believed real progress doesn’t follow a timetable; a genuine workload is always spontaneous and unpredictable.
Therefore another thing that I learned from year one of mentorship was my total dislike of conducting regular meetings: that’s the one thing most of the other mentors typically do. Our typical contribution load is not linear, nor granular. You don’t need to wait for a meeting just to talk through some things. Or the other way around – attend without having anything achieved in the meantime. In that case, some people tend to simulate progress rather than create actual one which may need more time to do things properly. What should be chosen instead – meetings on demand. Anytime I am needed – I’ll be there!
At the same time, I wanted to formalize this professional engagement with a written agreement with plenty of terms, such as our declaration of the contribution, acceptance of the scope, etc. Since Exclusive Mentorship Program is a superset of the Sitecore Mentor Program – it went in full compliance with its terms. It also happened that we both work for the same employer – this agreement also respects all the terms of our employer’s code of conduct for the employees. From the other formalities – the main communication channel was chosen as Telegram, as proven to be exceptionally effective for such a format of communication; we even signed for both parties to stay fully committed to this program in an unlike case of either of us losing a job. So, we figured out the formalities – agreed, signed it and focused on real, meaningful interactions.
Our partnership was intense. I shared everything I could—resources, opportunities, insights. But it was never just about passing down knowledge. It was about sharing a journey, learning from each other, and growing together. Seeing Tiffany evolve, and find her making her mark in the community, was the real reward.
I endeavored to employ all the best of mine in offering assistance:
- as Tiffany is an expert in Content Hub and CDP/Personalize therefore I offered her to become an editor for the corresponding Sitecore Telegram channels.
- used all my connections in the Sitecore community to allocate speaker opportunities: user groups, meetups, etc.
- it also worked well facilitating Tiffany’s expertise for the Content Hub round of the Sitecore Tips&Tricks series: who else knows that better?
- encouraged to apply to SUGCON conferences, and helped tailor and position proposals which resulted in TWO(!) chosen proposals – impressive!
- as a Technology MVP working with Tiffany as a genuine strategist, I provided some of the missing technology enablement – to get the best of both worlds.
- over the whole year explained the Sitecore community, MVP Program goals and expectations, and the best routes and options.
- without any doubt, there were many more tactical steps we did over the year, which simply went out of my mind with time – dozens of them.
Sitecore MVP Award
And then came the day of the MVP announcements. I was a bundle of nerves, probably more anxious than Tiffany herself. When she received that email, it wasn’t just a win for her; it felt like a shared triumph, a testament to our shared journey. A newly recognized Sitecore MVP has emerged, and I’m pleased that my assistance was well received.
This experience has been a revelation. It taught me so much about myself, about mentoring, and about the power of genuine connections. I owe a lot to the Sitecore Mentor Program and Nicole Montero for their guidance. But most of all, I owe it to Tiffany for reminding me what mentorship is really about.
Four more mentees!
Initially, I aimed to exclusively mentor a single individual; however, life sometimes has bigger plans for us. Over a year, I encountered four other experts who possessed keen intellects, a strong desire for personal and professional development, and an unmistakable enthusiasm for their field. Recognizing my potential to assist them, I found myself drawn to their magnetic personalities and decided to extend an invitation to join the Sitecore Mentor Program too.
We were all geographically distributed – Canada, India, USA. I often found myself scheduling meetings with overseas mentees at midnight or even 1AM of my local time. That’s fine, as soon as it helps. Regrettably, they joined the Mentor Program mid-year, limiting our opportunity for more contributions, yet we achieved significant success: presenting at SUGCON, and producing numerous blogs, webinars, and other valuable contributions. I am confident that each of these four possesses all the necessary elements to deem it a success in the coming year.
As I look ahead, I feel excited and ready. Ready to meet more passionate individuals, ready to embark on new journeys. If you’re out there, eager to learn and grow, and ready to put your all into it, know that I’m here, ready to dive in with you. Let’s make something amazing happen, together.