Business Coding Learning Products

Designing A Bespoke Tech Education

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.

Objective: ongoing ability to obtain and keep a cool role and be a very useful asset to any tech business

Me, Feb 2020

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:

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!

Business Learning Making Money

Why I'm Learning German As A Third Language – And Why You Should Consider It Too

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.


Managing Cash Flow

There’s nothing worse than hearing from a business owner that they have run out of cash.

It’s especially painful if they have a good product, good marketing, and a nice offer. They just didn’t have the buying cycle right, or something unexpected came up and they haven’t put cash aside for a rainy day.

The key here is to keep a really keen eye on your cash flow. Look for some lead indicators that let you know in advance if you’re going to have trouble.

In my business, we look at things like how many ads have we run today, this week, and are we on target for the month, and we have a look at how many people visited our landing page in the last 5 days.

These are reliable metrics for me to know what’s going to happen in the coming weeks ahead.

So the big tip today is to always be looking for lead indicators that are the reliable numbers that you can check for and know if you’re in good shape at a glance.