Monday, September 28, 2020

The Value of Frustration

Thought I share a little bit about my attempts at adult learning.

Online learning has started to dominate a large component of my life. 

I have just completed an entire specialization program on Django programming on Coursera and still do not have much confidence in creating web apps. Right now I can take someone else's web app template and shape it to meet my business needs but I am still pretty far from being able to create a web site from the ground up, which means that whatever I can do would not be very innovative. I can create a blog and slant it to the needs of my community, but a non-techie can create something that looks better on Word-press.

So even with a Coursera certification from the University of Michigan, my Django skills are not up to par yet. I am doing a few Light-weight Django projects every day and will probably explore Python Flask next. Later today, I hope to complete a static site generator.

But I can't dwell on web programming too much even though I did a little bit of coding every-day.

My next specialization from Coursera will be on Digital Marketing. It is time I start taking marketing really seriously if I hope to bootstrap my business. Marketing cannot be abdicated by the CEO of a company. So I started on a program from the University of Illinois that covers an entire field on digital marketing and subject myself to another new round of frustration. 

Marketing as a discipline has a lot of fluff and it took me a while to go beyond the 4 Cs to really understand how marketing is really getting disrupted. Now my advancement in the marketing course is so fast, Coursera does not even allow me to open quizzes and assignments for the following topic next week. To keep my breakneck pace, I will launch multiple courses at the same time and do them concurrently within this specialization. 

( Interestingly you are allowed to speed through video lectures, you just can't do the quizzes. )

Why rush through a marketing class? For each month, if I don't complete this program, I have to pay $79 USD.

Stretching beyond software to marketing leads to a lot of interesting and alien ideas that are useful for running a business. I learnt that to spur co-creation, men prefer to participate in competitions against each other and women prefer to participate if it can be shown to benefit everyone. I also learnt that folks who go to stores to browse for physical goods to buy from web-stores are actually a lower population compared to folks who browse websites for information of goods to buy from physical stores. 

My work for October will be more intense. Not only will I be pitching my business to VCs in SMU, but SkillsFutures credit of $500 need to be spent on something unless I want it to go to waste, so I may even have to start on an AI or a Voice course later.

In summary, the best way to learn something is through frustration. 

I try to attack every programming problem on my own and do my own debugging. After dealing with source code that does not work for my newer version of the software, often a problem with borrowing books from the library that are quite dated, I will learn a bit or two about debugging software.

If you are the kind of mid-career guy retraining to pick up a new vocation, you have to stop expecting that the trainer or author has all the answers. Part of qualifying for a career path in software is dealing with bugs even from the official course text. It is impossible to keep your code working for the latest version of programming language or framework. 

Otherwise, go learn Design Thinking lor. 

See whether you can get a real job doing that.





1 comment:

  1. Chris,

    Take it easy. More haste, less speed.