Speaking, Mentoring & Teaching This Winter

By Jason Li

2015 January 23

I took part in a series of speaking, mentoring and teaching gigs this past winter:

Mentoring at Startup Weekend Hong Kong

Me making my evil mentor face

Startup Weekend Hong Kong #7 took place November 14-16, 2014. This was my third time mentoring at Startup Weekend here, so I have a pretty good routine as a startup mentor worked out:

  1. Aim to go for 2-3 hours (but allow time to stay longer if things run over). This makes scheduling easy: I might not be free for a weekend, but a couple hours out of a weekend is generally do-able.

  2. Hunt around for teams that I have chemistry with. There are teams that I won’t get along with (social dynamics), or teams working on products I don’t care about (industry knowledge). I duck in and out of teams, find one that wants my help, that I connect with, and spend time there. (Never mentor a team who’s resistant or unwilling – see the next point.)

  3. Don’t over talk. I see this a lot: mentors holding court in the middle of a group, talking on and on while playing the “I know better” card. (Hell, I’ve fallen into this trap myself.) The reality is most teams are short on time and are often only listening because they’re too polite to tell you to go away and let them do their work. Watch out for those glazed eyes!

Moderating a K11AF panel on art x technology

The K11 Art Foundation invited me to moderate a panel on the intersection of art and technology on December 17, 2014. I had a great time putting on my engineer hat (I majored it in during college) and chatting with three super-talented, Hong Kong-based artists (Samson Young, Isaac Leung, Ellen Pau).

Teaching Bootstrap and design at Women Who Code HK

Me making funny hand gestures while talking

On January 12, 2015, I taught a Women Who Code session on frontend development and design using the Bootstrap framework. The primary challenge was that the participants had varying levels of technical expertise, so I had to plan meticulously to make sure I didn’t alienate anyone. (But I was still adamant on making it a hands-on session, since nobody ever learns programming by listening to a lecture.)

By equipping the students with tools and tasks, I largely succeeded: depending on their interest and skills, people worked on sketching their designs, learning the features of Bootstrap and integrating Bootstrap into a simple website.

My one surprise was that by allowing the session to be loosely run, with relatively little structure, the students seemed to enjoy it more. While some were intent on making the most of their time designining and coding, others were happy to just pass by after a long day of work, learn about something new, and chat with fellow students. (It was, after all, a free event that provided food and snacks.)

By Jason Li.

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