When I first applied to Praxis, I was really focused on the apprenticeship. I was ready to jump in and get to work at a fast-growing start-up. I’ve been in the program for a little over a month, and I now see how the bootcamp is truly an invaluable part of the program. The time, community, mentorship, and skill-building activities the bootcamp offers are crucial to putting me in a position to crush it at my apprenticeship. Here are five “superpowers” the program gave me in month 1:
SUPERPOWER #1: THE POWER OF GRATITUDE
During our first Praxis call, we were told the importance of saying thank you after interviews, after group calls, after someone does you a favor, or provides you with some value. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate; a quick thank you email is enough. I’ve done this without fail this month, and the practice has had a remarkable effect on me.
When I say thank you, the recipient knows how I feel, and I get a sense of peace that from that understanding. When I say thank you, that nagging feeling that something is undone dissipates, and I get a sense of completeness as a result. Too often, the work of people in our lives goes unacknowledged and unappreciated. When I say thank you, my sense of justice is satisfied, and I get a feeling of pride at having acted rightly.
I saw a movie many years ago in which one character says,
“What you feel only matters to you. It’s what you do to the people you say you love that matters. That’s the only thing that counts.”
The statement has stuck with me ever since because it’s a great reminder that other people don’t have access to your thoughts and emotions unless you tell them. If you want to be understood, you must communicate. Sending thank you emails has helped me put this belief into practice. Thank you, thank you emails!
SUPERPOWER #2: THE POWER OF ITERATION
Before I officially started the Praxis bootcamp, I had already begun working on some of my projects for the program. I had spent several weeks leading up to my start date developing my pitch deck, and by the time month 1 came around it was already done… or so I thought.
After posting the pitch deck up to the Praxis Workplace, I received feedback. Much of the feedback was positive, but a lot of it suggested ways the pitch deck could be improved. I made the changes and posted the pitch deck again. It was better than before, and now it was done…
Nope. I got more feedback. While my pitch deck had lots of great examples and testimonials showing my skills and experience, it was missing a narrative arc that tied everything together and told my story in a compelling way. I couldn’t help but agree. I decided to revise it again.
I had a great brainstorming session with one of my advisers and ended up axing a lot of the content I had worked so hard to create. It would have been easy to cling on to that work, but that wouldn’t have served my purpose. The third version of the pitch deck was far and away the best, and instead of tossing out the cut content, I was able to repurpose it into a blog post and a page on my website.
After learning the power of iteration through my experience with my pitch deck, I’ve implemented a similar process of seeking feedback and making bold changes in my website and my LinkedIn profile. This is only the beginning; I’m determined to harness the power of iteration in all my future endeavors.
SUPERPOWER #3: THE POWER OF PROMPT COMMUNICATION
Before Praxis, I was notorious among friends and family for not responding to text messages and calls for hours, days, or even weeks. In professional communication, I was better; I responded to emails and calls within 24 to 48 hours.
Of course, I had a reason for being so tardy in communication: I was an in-the-moment kind of person. I was immersed in and focused on my at-hand experiences and didn’t want to distract myself by being attached to my phone or my computer.
However, when Isaac and T.K. stressed the importance of prompt communication on our first Praxis call, I decided to be open-minded and give it a shot. I resolved to go all-in so I could see what would happen if I was radically prompt in all my communication.
Now, I always respond to an email, text, or call, immediately after I see it. At the very most, I respond within 1-2 hours of seeing it if there is some other research I need to do or action I need to take beforehand. After one month of prompt communication, I can firmly say I will never go back to my old ways. There have been several times just this month, when I would have failed to deliver for a client or friend if I had not been so on top of my email and texts.
What’s more, practicing prompt communication has actually helped me avoid distractions and be more in-the-moment. Before, I always had a nagging sense that I had forgotten something or a nagging guilt that I was neglecting someone. Now, I have the serenity of knowing that I am always up-to-date with my communication to-dos. Before, I would spend hours knowing I had to respond to someone. Now, I spend a few seconds or minutes actually responding. This mental clarity helps me be less distracted and more engaged in my current moment.
Prompt communication has not only been good for my peace of mind, it has been good for my self-respect and for the way I am perceived by others. Now I take pride in being quick and reliable in my communication, and I have been complimented on my promptness several times by people I respect and admire. Instead of being notorious for radio silence, I am developing a reputation for dependability and competence.
I can’t overstate the power of prompt communication. Try it for yourself and see.
SUPERPOWER #4: THE POWER OF SHIPPING
It’s easy to have good ideas. It’s easy to research, tweak, and perfect indefinitely without ever creating anything. It’s harder to finish something and ship it out in the world. Praxis helped me learn to do this in an astonishingly short amount of time.
During month 1 of Praxis, I completed and shipped:
- A personal pitch deck
- A personal website
- A video about myself
- A portfolio project
- 6 blog posts
- A robust LinkedIn profile
Through completing these projects I had to learn to:
- Identify and promote my skills
- Create content
- Write effectively
- Manage my time
- Seek and implement feedback
- Overcome fear and resistance
Not to mention the concrete skills I learned:
- Asking people for testimonials and recommendations
- Finding and using screen capture software
- Learning to use social media to promote a design project
- Converting files to Google Slides
- Finding royalty free music online
- And on and on…
Having to complete projects by a deadline knowing they would be sent out into the world and would be seen by other participants, Praxis staff, and potential BPs was highly motivating. Now, it is very rewarding to look back and have all that tangible work to show for my effort. I am proud of the work I’ve done, and I am grateful to Praxis for creating the environment and the tools to help me create the work so successfully. I’ve built my “shipping muscles” over the past month and will continue to do so now that I see the impact it has on my learning and my ability to show what I can do.
SUPERPOWER #5: THE POWER OF NETWORKING
One of the things I love most about the Praxis program is the opportunity it’s given me to connect with really passionate and interesting people. I’m a people person. I love to meet new people and have conversations about all kinds of topics: business, economics, design, music, tv, philosophy. You name it. Praxis has provided a few pathways for me to do this.
First, the Praxis staff is a group of active-minded and friendly people who have tons of knowledge to share and interesting questions to pose. I’ve developed new frames of thinking and gotten a lot of value out reading their blog posts, video conferencing with them, or emailing with them. One of my advisers spent over an hour helping me refine all the copy on my website and LinkedIn profile. That input will continue to provide me values for years to come. Besides all this, they are also just cool people who are fun to know and talk to.
Second, the Praxis participants are a great group of peers. I love that verse that says “as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” That is how I feel about my connection with other participants. They have provided feedback and encouragement on my work in the program, and I do the same for them. In general, most participants are eager to meet in person and genuinely get to know one another. I have become great friends or acquaintances with many of the participants already.
Third, the Praxis group calls have been a great way to connect with experts in their fields. Every group call I’ve been on has been extremely informative and valuable. The guests are interactive and eager to engage with participants through Q and A. They have always offered their contact information and encouraged participants to connect with them. I even got a job interview by simply contacting one of the guests after our group call and expressing interest in their line of work. (I highly recommend taking advantage of the group calls if you are in the program).
Fourth, the Praxis network has directly or indirectly given me opportunities for professional development outside the official capacity of the apprenticeship. I recently reviewed my graphic design portfolio and discovered that 33% of my projects in there have come from work I got through the Praxis Workplace (which I have been a part of for 6 months) or through word-of-mouth from other participants. People in the network are writing and editing books, looking for freelancers to do work for their business partners, or posting work someone they know needs to be done. Plus, when one considers that the Praxis network will only continue to grow as new participants join and old participants grow in their careers, it becomes apparent that the value of the network is only going to increase with time.
I know at least one participant believes access to the network alone is worth the cost of tuition, and I’m inclined to agree. I am amazed at the quality of people I’ve met, and the potential for future opportunities I may have through these connections.
Want to find out how you can start a Praxis apprenticeship? Download the Praxis program guide to learn more.