I caught the bug for effective learning during the Quantic MBA, which is a mobile-centric version of a business school built for the 21st century. 7% acceptance rate, results on par with top schools that charge 20x the price.
I’m now 33 years old (it’s Feb 2020 as I write this). I’ve been in school since I was 6 – so that’s well over 25 years of studying in one form or another. I have the usual GCSEs, A-Levels, and a Bachelor’s degree. I’ve got two Master’s degrees and a post-grad cert, and you’d have thought that my years of ‘formal’ education should be sufficient by now.
But I want to learn more. It’s a never-ending process of improvement. Kaizen personified. Small constant progress.
Yesterday was graduation day for my cohort of Quantic School of Business and Technology’s Executive MBA and rather than rest on my laurels I’m inspired to continue the efficient and practical study path I’ve been on for the past 14 months (I began Jan 2019).
I want to focus on a further program of study which is not too long in duration (relatively) and not too costly (again, relative to ‘normal’ alternatives of bootcamps (10k+ share of future earnings) another degree (3-4 years and 20k+) or hapless disorientated self-discovery).
Things can be efficient if you choose to make them so.
In December last year, I enrolled on Computer Science for Business Professionals (CS50 by Harvard) and discovered an excellent education doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. I took this type of study one step further and did the Executive Data Science Specialization by Johns Hopkins University on Coursera. I was hooked. It was high-quality content that had the matching branding to go with it.
So, what am I going to do? I will teach myself the top tech skills!
A quick caveat: The phrase ‘self-taught’ is a bit of a myth, imo. You learn from somewhere or someone and definitely don’t just stumble upon the knowledge yourself unless you’re inventing or pioneering something entirely new. That aside, I will be focusing on self-directed learning and courses which are highly regarded and taught by world-class professionals… And that place is found on Coursera.
I’ve defined for myself a clear objective: ongoing ability to obtain and keep a cool job in tech and remain a very useful asset to modern businessesObjective Josh Igoe 2020… and beyond
I will achieve this objected goal through a combination of relevant industry skills to complement my existing experience (two+ years in blockchain tech companies) and aforementioned existing education with my newly created curriculum laid out in detail in this blog post.
You Have to Reverse Engineer the Process
If you want to achieve something in life, you don’t have to discover it by yourself, instead, be smart and look at people who have already gone there and attained what you are striving for.
Looking through the top 25 in-demand jobs in the UK was the inspiration for me. It’s about finding (or creating) a job with high autonomy (you set your day to day workflow, largely), high job satisfaction (you like what you do, for the most part), and high availability (lots of open jobs and high demand in the market).
The process is simple: Look at a selection of these jobs. See the required skills. Then build those skills.
Action plan: I signed up to Coursera Plus at $399 for a year and set about to design a bespoke curriculum which would improve my skills and enable me to prove it through projects and certifications.
I’m focusing on specializations because they are a stack of courses which are built on top of each other to deliver a well-rounded outcome for the student. I am further stacking these specializations on top of each other to create a master’s level curriculum to ensure I have a broad and deep knowledge of key concepts complete with capstone projects which are important in showing not only the understanding but crucially the application of acquired skills.
Without further ado here’s the list of courses I am taking:
— STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT + OPTIMIZATION of tech businesses
- Agile Development: Virginia 220 hrs
- FinTech: Finance Industry Transformation and Regulation: Hong Kong UoT 100 hrs
- Software Product Management: Alberta 96 hrs
— DESIGN, DEVELOPMENT, DELIVERY in tech businesses
- UI UX Design: CalArts 128 hrs
- Search Engine Optimization: UCDavis 59 hrs
- Full-Stack Development with React: Hong Kong UoT 196 hrs
- Google IT Automation with Python Certification 200 hrs
— CLOUD, DATA VIZ + PREDICTION for tech businesses
- SAS Visual Business Analytics Professional Certificate 48 hrs
- Data Visualization with Tableau: UCDavis 112 hrs
- IBM Data Science Professional Certificate 108 hrs
- Data Engineering with Google Cloud Professional Certificate 76 hrs
According to Coursera’s recommendations, the total time estimated to complete these courses is well over 1200+ hours. That’s more than the equivalent of a master’s degree in terms of the hours of study required. I think this challenge will take 18-24 months to complete, perhaps more.
I’ll keep this post updated to keep myself accountable.
I’ve also structured the courses in such a way that allows for groups of skills to be acquired together, such as the skills required for designing and managing the building of a product coming first, then the actual heavy labour of doing the product, followed by the data analytics and cloud skills at the end. These are three distinct groups of tech skills, but having a background in each of them helps to complement each other.
The main skill themes I expect to gain and grow:
1 – Developing products by designing and developing websites, software, digital goods and services
2 – Gaining insights, telling stories, and making predictions with data
3 – Automating processes by effectively using the cloud
Tools/languages/skills/methodologies I will have good knowledge of after finishing:
These skills are highly employable because they are highly valuable in the marketplace and are used in a multitude of tech jobs, by tech teams, in real tech companies from start-ups to huge multinationals.
Jobs I could realistically do after finishing:
Front-end Developer, SEO Specialist, Software Developer, Mobile Developer, Product Manager, Data Analyst, Business Intelligence, Cloud Engineer, DevOps Manager, Project Manager and similar tech-related jobs.
I’m co-hosting the Darkside of the HODL Moon podcast with my buddy Kade. Check out our homepage: https://darksideofthehodlmoon.com
Growing up in the UK, learning German was not seen as particularly cool nor encouraged by peers. Although it was an option as a foreign language during secondary school, not many people took it seriously, myself included. Dad’s Army was still on TV. Prince Harry was appearing as a Nazi at fancy dress parties. This was the typical image problem it had amongst the Brits of my generation.
Fast forward to 2019, a few days away from 2020, and here I am as a Korean speaker, which is considered a level 5 difficulty language by the FSI. I’ve seen it first hand that speaking a niche language is pretty interesting and it opens up a lot of doors. I discovered the joy of learning languages particularly late in life. I spent a few years in Thailand and picked up Thai basics using Pimsleur courses. Since living in Korea, I have used a variety of methods but I now focus on Pimsleur on long drives, Duolingo on short commutes, and YouTube videos of native speakers using the language in natural situations (not language lessons, but just typical prank videos and other trending topics).
Recently, I had a business trip to Vienna, Austria. It is the most livable city in the world. It was very nice. It got me thinking. Over the past few years, I have been to Frankfurt, Germany, a couple of times for business, too. What strikes me about both of these places is that they are both really nice, and most people are relatively well-off. Switzerland, also officially German-speaking, is really nice too. Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, also pretty minted. Even the German-speaking part of Belgium is well-off. Notice a theme here? Where the German language is native, the people are well-off, mostly well educated, the people are safe and the standard of living is high. That’s the kind of place worth living. Therefore, that’s the kind of language and culture worth knowing.
While certainly, English is the lingua franca of global business, one thing that struck me is that German is the lingua franca of continental Europe and absolutely without question, Germany dominates the direction of the EU. As my British-born now naturalized German colleague notes, “What I can say is that German really is the lingua franca of Europe. Especially if you go to Eastern Europe; Hungaria, Slovenia, Slovakia. A lot of people in those areas speak German. If you also consider Turkey there is a large Turkish German-speaking diaspora. I always found that it was a good language to have next to English.”
I can hear you now. But what about Spanish, or French, or Chinese?
Well, yeah, there are of course a lot more Chinese, French and Spanish native speakers in the world and the basic logic follows therefore that perhaps more opportunities for entrepreneurialism and business exist. While that may well be true, however, it’s only a surface-level analysis. In the vast majority of those places which use one of the above languages as an official language, the typical person is not having a great time and in general, these places are rife with corruption and bureaucracy and basically not very good places to live, work, and raise a family, with some caveats of course. Outside of Spain, the vast majority of Spanish speaking countries are in Latin America, which is notoriously corrupt and mob justice still largely prevails. Outside of France, the French language is most widely spoken in former African colonies and requires a willingness to live in and amongst abject poverty and again, face a mountain of corruption, in order to get anything done. Chinese is basically only spoken in China as an official language and well, unless you’re a member of the CCP you can’t really make huge strides in that country either, unless, of course, you are backhanding some officials; corruption is the common theme in these three places. Doesn’t sound much fun really if you’re learning a language to better your life. You will have to learn a whole bunch of extracurriculars along the way to even have a shot at it in these places.
German, on the other hand, is spoken as the official language in rich, modern, well-developed countries, and I mean well-developed in the fullest sense of the word, both culturally deep and infrastructurally sound, with very high social mobility and high business and entrepreneurial opportunities, and with very limited almost non-existent corruption – especially in comparison to Latin America, post-colonial Africa, and China.
As a betting guy, I think it’s a far safer bet to learn the German language and do business with or work in native German-speaking companies to become middle class and well-off in an already well-off place. Rather than try to learn Spanish, French, or Chinese and attempt to become ultra-rich in one of these places which would require luck, playing the game with the local gatekeepers and getting around all of the inherent corruption, and not be sure if some bureaucrat finds (or invents) a technicality somewhere and then takes it all away from you on a whim.
Where German is spoken, people are generally rich, well-educated, and happy. Sounds good to me. So that’s why I’m learning German.
Now then, so what’s Kanban and how does it compare to Scrum?
Like Scrum, Kanban is just a method for executing Agile software development, except it’s not as strict as Scrum in terms of meetings and times.
So you may have actually seen what’s referred to as a Kanban board before.
Basically, it’s a bunch of columns with cards on it that you can move from one column to the other one to reflect a state of that item, like to do, in progress, and then done. See Trello for a cool free example of this you can use today!
However, just because something has a Kanban-style board does not mean that that is the Kanban process.
Instead, Kanban does not use “sprints”.
Also, since there’s no sprints, there’s no sprint backlog, which we’ll learn about, but only the product backlog itself.
So what happens is the team just works on their tickets, they get the job finished, they move it to done and then they take the next task off the top of the product backlog.
And that backlog just goes on forever, it’s just endless.
Kanban is also different from Scrum in that it does not prescribe any particular meeting types like Scrum does with standup meetings, and sprint planning meetings, and retrospective meetings. And there’s one more big difference.
Kanban operates off of the theory that only a certain amount of items can be in progress or in any given state at one time. How many items can be in each particular state is up for you and your team to decide.
Some software teams use Kanban, but it tends to work best with teams that are not very concerned with things like estimation and are continuously moving tasks through the same number of steps pretty quickly until they’re complete.
For instance, customer service teams often use a Kanban-style of working.
There you are then. That’s what Kanban is all about.
Now we are familiar with Scrum and Kanban, the next big question is, which one is best?
Sorry to disappoint you, but there’s no definitive answer here as it depends on what your team prefers to use.
The best process is the one that you like using. As you can tell, Kanban is a more relaxed way of doing Agile development but it has a big disadvantage since it doesn’t use sprints.
It’s going to be more difficult to project the amount of time it’s going to take to complete work.
Don’t worry too much about that right now because we’re going to talk about things like estimations and velocity another time.
So to review Kanban is just another way to implement an Agile type of software development workflow.
It’s a little less prescriptive than Scrum and it does not use sprints.
Got it? Good!
Alright, see you in the next blog post.
Strategize. Adapt. Innovate. Envision. Those words became the headline for my site after taking the Kolbe test.
A rarely used word in the English language which really shouldn’t be so scarce in our daily use is “conative”.
Hell, while drafting this blog post my Google Dictionary extension didn’t recognize it.
Well, it turns out it is a word and quite a useful one. Read on to discover the secret hidden in plain sight.
We’re all fairly familiar with personality tests (such as Myers-Briggs) and cognitive tests (like Mensa and IQ tests). However, the third part of someone’s mind is known as the conative which describes what gives you motivation.
Another way to think about the three parts of your mind is in terms of Knowledge, Feels and Actions.
Cognitive tests tell you your critical reasoning skills and how sharp your intellect is – what you know. Personality tests tell you how you emotionally interact and what interests you – your feels. Conative tests, like Kolbe, claim to tell you about your instinctive talents and how you naturally take action.
I added emphasis to how you naturally take action because this is the crux of the test for me.
Knowing how you are naturally predisposed to tackle a problem allows you to approach it in a way that suits your own personality. Eliminating procrastination and allowing you to flow.
That’s the theory anyway.
I’d never heard of Kolbe before and I must confess I was fairly
I just stumbled upon it while down the YouTube rabbit hole.
As an entrepreneur personality (according to Myers-Briggs popularized by 16personalities.com), I am extremely interested in business and constantly, almost obsessively, watch YouTube business and sales related channels and content.
One of the channels I was watching recently had a seminar on copywriting and throughout his talk, Ed Dale referenced the Kolbe test and how it really changed his life.
Here’s the full video:
His talk was great.
Like I usually do with good videos, I wrote down a bunch of notes in my notepad, and one thing stuck out I had never heard of before – Kolbe testing.
Must be bullshit, I thought, but the nag inside me began nagging.
Naturally, it didn’t take me too long to decide to go ahead and take the test anyway.
Just give it a go! You might learn something and if you don’t and it was bullshit then your initial instincts were right all along. Win-win!My exact thoughts at the time
Sure enough, this natural predisposition to act on gut-instinct is something which was discovered by the Kolbe test itself.
Anyway, my results were pretty interesting to me and initially, I was pretty disappointed.
In my mind, I still hadn’t quite grasped what the difference between conative and personality testing was exactly.
I thought the results were half right and half wrong.
It was only after going through the answers with their explanations that I realized it was incredibly accurate and essentially describing clearly what I had long suspected about myself but had never had any kind of formal insight on before.
Some of my results:
My do’s and don’ts
It was a good experience which I am glad I gave a chance – but then again after taking the
It gave me more clarity to act on my gut instincts. Never second guess myself and just go for it.
If you’re wondering about taking the test, then go ahead and do it.
Personally, it made sense for me and I will embrace the results along with the 16personalities test and the Mensa score I have – all in unison aligned on my path.
It’s time to go for my biggest dreams with nothing holding me back!