I caught the bug for effective learning during the Quantic MBA✅. Quantic is a business school built for the 21st century. Low acceptance rate, results on par with top schools that charge 20x the price. I graduated in Feb 2020. (Here’s a Poets & Quants article for more).
A fire of self-improvement was lit underneath me. Kaizen personified, in small chunks of constant progress.
I realised I wanted to focus on a further program of study which applied the best parts of Quantic, that was not too long in duration (relatively) and not too costly (again, relative to ‘normal’ alternatives) such as another degree (3-4 years and 20k+) by creating a bespoke curriculum based on in-demand tech skills.
Things can be efficient if you choose to make them so.
At the start of the year, 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, after much research, I decided to teach myself the top tech skills.
A quick caveat: The phrase ‘self-taught’ is a bit of a myth, IMO. You learn from somewhere, and one definitely doesn’t just stumble upon the knowledge by oneself unless you’re inventing or pioneering something entirely new.
That disclaimer aside, I’m focused on self-directed learning courses which are highly regarded and taught by world-class professionals… And that place is found on Coursera.
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 and set about to design a bespoke curriculum which would improve my existing skills and enable me to prove it through projects and certifications.
By focusing on specializations and a stack of courses built on top of each other, I created a modern tech curriculum. You can take it too! Modify it, do what you like but this is my list (and progress so far!)
Without further ado here’s the list of courses I am taking:
- Agile with Atlassian Jira ✅
- Digital Product Management Virginia ✅
- Software Product Management Intro Alberta ✅
- Project Management UCI
- Managing the Company of the Future LBS✅
- Full-Stack Development with React: Hong Kong UoT
- UI UX Design: CalArts
- Search Engine Optimization: UCDavis
- Programming with Cloud IoT platforms: PUST
- Developing Applications with Google Cloud Platform
- New Product Development – Technion
- Creating and Developing a Tech Startup – HEC Paris
- Start Your Own Business Specialization – Michigan State
These skills are highly employable because they are highly valued in the marketplace and are needed in a bunch of tech jobs. Front End, Full Stack, Product Management, Project Management, SEO, UI/UX, etc. Any business with a digital presence needs these skills… and in the 21st century, every business needs a digital presence.
Along the way, I am building out my own projects and websites with the skills I learn, so expect updates to my site, and to others I own. The goal is to get and keep tech jobs, but I figure why not also just create your own tech job and start your own startup at the same time!
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!