Guest Post: Jason Thompson, Analysis Exchange Mentor
(This is a guest post from Jason Thompson, one of the great Analysis Exchange mentors that have been working to help us create an entirely new way to train web analysts while also providing free analytics to nonprofit organizations around the world. Jason blogs at http://emptymind.org and can be found banging around Twitter @usujason.
We are offering a complimentary pass to this year’s X Change conference in Monterey, California to one mentor and one student who distinguish themselves in the program.)
There is a concept in Zen Buddhism called Shoshin, meaning “beginner’s mind”. This concept refers to being open and eager or as Shunryu Suzuki puts it, “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.”
When I first steeped foot inside The Analysis Exchange, I did so as a mentor or in my mind “the expert.” Sure, I had a warm, fuzzy feeling deep down inside about giving back to the community, sharing freely of my knowledge, and showing my altruistic side but really I was there to teach, after all, I was the expert.
For those of you who may not be familiar with The Analysis Exchange, let me take a step back. The Analysis Exchange is a unique community of non-profit organizations, web analytics beginners, and industry experts, each willing to give of their time in order to reap their own rewards. For organizations, they gain access to free resources that help analyze data, train future analysts, and establish measurement road maps. The students, well, they get to attend school for free and learn on the job while they are mentored by the industry expert — not to mention it’s a great bullet-point on their resume. The mentors have the opportunity to share their skills, help shape the future of the industry, and yes, get a nice stroke to their ego.
It was not long into my first project that I was reminded of why Shoshin is so important. I was greeted by a student and an organization who were open to any possibilities and best of all were eager and excited about what web analytics had in store for them. Their child-like exuberance rekindled a flame inside me that had slowly faded away as the years of segmenting data past by.
The team quickly bonded and in 3 weeks we delivered an executive presentation highlighting low hanging fruit that the organization could quickly change and realize huge results, needless to say, this made our project manager look like a rockstar. It didn’t take much, a barebones Google Analytics implementation and a student full of bright ideas.
As extra credit, we delivered an implementation guide that the organization could use to beef up their data collection and an analytics road map to help successfully guide them down a path of measurement maturity.
I came to The Analysis Exchange as the expert but by the end, I had become the student. Those with the beginner’s mind had much to teach and I am grateful for the gift of a rekindled passion that they gave me.
(I am humbled by Jason’s description of his experience. Will you join Jason and make a difference in the world by mentoring a web analytics student and helping a great organization?)