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Discussion on: Who is Speaking On Your Behalf?

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codemouse92 profile image
Jason C. McDonald

Excellent article. Very well said.

I, like many, have had to be my own advocate. One of my obstacles is that I lack a "traditional" work history, due to my traumatic brain injury preventing me from finding or being able to access a standard office job for many years. I instead focused on my own software startup, MousePaw Media. I've built a career for myself, but that would have meant nothing without, as you said, someone to speak for me.

But for the longest time, I knew no one who could do that for me, so I spoke for myself. I crashed the doors of the industry, so to speak. I wrote letters to leading computer scientists, asking for their advice on various topics. I made appointments with professors and career services directors to build my company's reputation with the universities. I learned how to leverage my passion and communication skills to get people excited about my ideas, and then I went and found the people I wanted to get excited! I seldom bother with the "traditional" hierarchies and channels: I just go straight to the person I want to speak to, even if it means bypassing three department chairs and a gaggle of administrative assistants.

Case-in-point, as my goal is to produce educational software, I once cold-called the guy who had been lead developer on a best-selling educational software game in the 90s. That is, I found his name in the credits, researched his work history online, and went straight through his current workplace's corporate switchboard to get to his office line. He was, frankly, flabbergasted that I had found him, and was only too willing to answer my questions.

Of course, many people wonder how I'd even have the guts to try that, but I've learned to have the shameless audacity to reach out to the people I want to talk to. (Of course, I'm always polite and professional about it.) After all, think about it: what's the worst possible outcome? They say "no, go away," and then you're no further back from where you started. That shameless audacity is why I have a signed personal letter from Donald Knuth hanging on my wall, encouraging me to keep at it.

All that to say — if you don't have an advocate, be your own advocate. I'm well aware that I have common bias in my favor, as I'm male and (apparently) white. Yet the best people, the people you want favor and help from, often won't care what your skin color, gender, or heritage is! What I'm talking about is one-on-one communication, not one-on-industry. Beat down the doors if you have to. More often than not, you'll be amazed who answers and invites you in.

Some of those people may even become your advocates.

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borderless_i profile image
Omo Osagiede

Wow! Thanks for sharing your journey! I believe self-advocacy is super important. However, there are some doors that only other advocates are able to open for others. Both sides of the same coin I say.

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codemouse92 profile image
Jason C. McDonald

Indeed. I believe it starts with self-advocacy, by which you'll usually find other advocates.

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unicodeveloper profile image
Prosper Otemuyiwa Author

Wow. Your journey is quite a huge inspiration. Thank you for sharing your story!

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Debbie♠

Thank you for this!!
Cannot even begin to share how truly valuable the experiences you've shared are.

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unicodeveloper profile image
Prosper Otemuyiwa Author

Thank you, Debbie.

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oikechukwu profile image
OIkechukwu

Quite an interesting read there from Prosper. The message was sent was dully received.

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unicodeveloper profile image
Prosper Otemuyiwa Author

Thank you so much. I hope you keep finding it useful.

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Jeremiah Ikwuje

Thanks a lot Jason. I also did this with an outstanding author. This is something that prior to this write up, I find it tough though.

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dyagzy

Wow, Jason your perspective is very impressive. I had to re-read your article about three times so as to get all the points you raised.

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unicodeveloper profile image
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Emmy Steven

A nice perspective on the matter! I'll go with both, I'm an Oliver Twist