Happy n00b Year

Jan 01

I only have one resolution this year: to be supportive and encouraging when people step outside of their comfort zone.

Last night I saw a few posts on Twitter lamenting all of the amateurs out and about, hogging the tables at great food and wine establishments. No place at the overpriced tables for the weekday neighbourhood regulars.

This morning I saw the complaints about gyms and running trails full of “resolutionists“, those January 1 keeners who intend to start off the new year with healthier habits (and usually fizzle within a week or two).

What if instead of moaning about the newbies and the posers encroaching on our fave chef’s table, elliptical machine, tasting menu or hiking trail we took 30 seconds and offered a word of welcome? We know the vast majority of those New Year’s crowds won’t be there in a month. Habits take time to take root. They’re fragile in those early formative days. I’d rather someone drop out of a new thing because they lost interest… rather than because I scowled, or mocked or otherwise belittled their effort to make a change or desire to learn something new.

About a decade ago I was on a wine tour with a mixed group of friends. One wine newbie got up the nerve to ask “if the tasting notes said there was cherry flavour in the wine, did that mean they added cherry juice”. I could have snorted, giggled and mocked. But didn’t. That person today has a more extensive wine cellar than I do, and a more sophisticated knowledge of Italian wines than I ever will. That tiny sliding door moment that meant the difference between a welcome experience and a decade of learning – or mockery and a determination to never take the risk to ask an honest question ever again.

In tech, education and individual desire to stay current is not a luxury, it’s a requirement. Stay still too long and the market passes you by. Those of us who’ve developed a measure of influence and audience owe it to the newbies who express curiosity to be kind, welcoming and open with our knowledge.

Whether it’s that first question on a professional discussion board, first patch submitted for review, first professional blog post, first time at a yoga class or first day on the job. Please err on the side of nice, not snark. You never really know your role in shaping someone else’s decision to come back the second time.

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