I thought I would learn to code... what was I thinking?

The following is the original and the rewrite can be found by clicking here.

In magazines, definitely in social media streams, and even in a best selling tome... in one form or another, we have all seen this:

                                    "The 10 things you need to know to be successful!"

Sometimes it's eight and sometimes it's fifteen, but nevertheless it is a list of "proficiencies" that you need to know to be successful; I have noticed a tendency to emphasize the list and not so much the definition of success, but that is neither here nor there.

I was reviewing a list a while back, because hey, "we all want to be successful" and one of the suggested "success points" in this particular list was to learn computer coding*. The reasoning was that with the continued personalization of computer programs to manage our daily activities, having a basic understanding of how to code will be crucial.

                                                        This actually made great sense to me.

I should mention that before three weeks ago I had never taken a computer course, a logic course and had always avoided making "macros" in Excel because it was something so foreign to me... a little reminiscent of when I decided to learn to ride a motorcycle. Coincidentally, it seemed a good friend of mine had also read the same "Top 10" and was already into his online lessons. He is in finance and his motivations were slightly different than mine... he wanted better insight into the basics of computer programming so he would know if his IT people were bullshitting him about costs, deadlines and the such. My reasons, besides being more successful, were slightly different.

I've been at it for about three weeks now** and below you find the code I put together for a simple "Pig Latin Translator"... when you enter a word it moves the first letter to the end of the remaining word, and adds "ay". It really works !

print 'Welcome to Pig Latin Translator"
pyg = 'ay'
original = raw_input('Enter a word:')
if len(original) > 0 and original.isalpha():
    print original
word = original.lower()
first = word[0] 
new_word = word[1:len(new_word)] + first + pyg
print 'empty'

What am I really getting out of this?

Do I have a goal to ultimately be competent with basic "Python" code and able to program at a basic level? Yes! 

Is that my only reason? No way... in fact there are many reasons:

  • Trying something new offers me the opportunity to connect and network with new people... I find myself constantly looking for people in "the know" and am introduced to people I would not normally connect with. And based on my humble experience, they are very interesting people.
  • I am forced out of my comfort zones, my habits, my routines and into something unknown. I have to switch off my "autopilot" and think differently. This is the simple formula for discovering wonderful new things.
  • New things compliment old things. In the case of coding, proof reading the code itself, the indentations and the colon placement is making me a better proof reader when I write with "good ol' letters"
  • What I am doing contributes to that Top 10 List for Success because as you know, "constant learning" is always close to the top of that list.

                                                                                  And one last thing,

As my finance friend mentioned, it's a sign we haven't given up... not by a long shot. He is very smart by the way.


PS: Let me know if you see something wrong with my code.

* I understand that in some circles there is a debate as to whether the appropriate word is "coding" or "programming. In my world, I am using the word "coding" because it has less letters to type.

** I am using CodeAcademy (on-line) and I really enjoy their approach; as modest as it is, I am leaning something. I am constantly forgetting to indent and add a colon, but am told this is all quite normal and "to keep at it". 

It is interesting how people define business on LinkedIn...

The following is the original and the rewrite can be found by clicking here.

"It's only Tuesday and I am having such a great work week. Enjoy everyone!"

"Sorry, but I am having difficulty understanding the context of this message as it applies to LinkedIn. Is it not better suited to Facebook and your friends who might care?"

"Thank you for your comment <name removed>. The context of my post is everyone can identify with how their work week is going and this is part of my social media strategy, as this is a social media platform. I'm a visual merchandiser so hence the engaging visual and hey, it's summer"

"LinkedIn is a business networking site. This is not an outlet for 'how peoples <sic> work week is going'. It is about education and insight NOT Fluff."

I will say with full disclosure that this post and exchange is real, and the person who made the initial post is my daughter; as you may appreciate I am working really hard to be constructive with what I'm about to say. (Add "winky face" emoji... unless you are reading this on LinkedIn, then please disregard as I understand it's for business only.)

I initially found out about this when my daughter sent me a text explaining she was a little upset. I will admit it took me a moment to suppress my fatherly instinct to PROTECT and DEFEND but quickly settled into a more "constructive mindset". My daughter is a very capable and industrious young lady so after a quick discussion I left her to her own devices. I then did what any good father would do; I stalked the person on LinkedIn.

He is an executive sales professional with extensive experience, solid picture and a face that commanded authority... all very credible.

Just then I happened to see one of his posts in my stream (as it was shared by a mutual connection); I just rolled my eyes and smirked as I realized what it was. This "genius" <insert sarcasm>, who called out my daughter for working her social media strategy and not understanding the LinkedIn channel, had just posted one of his company's product banner ads (without even bothering to add any personal content). Any credibility regarding this person's insight into "how to and how not to" use LinkedIn (and social media in general), evaporated.

A Question...

"How is my daughter's post on "How her work week is going" any different than this "genius's" banner ad post for office furniture?"

It isn't any different... other than my daughter's content was more socially engaging and arguably more aligned to the channel. What I find fascinating is how people take on the role of content police based on their interpretation of what business is (which I might add seems to be aligned with their domain expertise)... "Based on what I know about business and what I think LinkedIn is all about, I deem this inappropriate content and should be stopped!"

For the sake of argument and moving this along, let's say business is defined as the "building of relationships that directly or indirectly lead to revenue generation"... deliberately broad, but no less accurate I will wager. If your content is engaging, connects with people and supports the building of relationships with an end game to generate revenue (same as income) then it's business appropriate.

But is it appropriate for LinkedIn?

I guess it depends on what your social media strategy is (as part of your broader business strategy).

For my daughter who was looking for a job and developing her domain expertise as a visual artist, LinkedIn was just one of many channels that included her website, Instagram and Twitter to bring a holistic message to the market; for the genius who started all of this, I suspect LinkedIn is something he uses between meetings to pass the time.  

LinkedIn, like all social media channels is just a tool to be used as part of a larger strategy; I would like to suggest spending much more time learning how to use social media channels, optimize content you drive through the various channels, ensure it's aligned with your strategy, and stop spending any time questioning the business relevance of other people's posts. 

Look, if you don't like what you see in your stream scrub your connections or block those who just don't align with the content you want to see... if it's really, really bothering you, switch to a more affinity based platform like beBee where you can choose your interests.

Just have a strategy because if you don't, it doesn't really matter how you define business content.


PS: It didn't take my daughter long to get a job, thanks in part to her efforts on LinkedIn.

PPS: Left to her devices my daughter "blocked" the executive because she saw little value in what he was saying. I wonder if he knows?

Surrender to the places that seduce you...

The following is the original and the rewrite can be found by clicking here.

Easily missed from the main street if you are not looking carefully; its only marker is a Carlsberg beer sign high over the alcove to the entrance. If not for the neon OPEN sign and THE HOLE IN THE WALL  embossed in gold on a window tucked back in the shadows, you would not know it is there. It may seem you should go down the stairs but don't - That is not the way in.

Inside, the space is narrow and long, with the bar along one wall. There is a rustic feel to the space with the wooden floor, the brickwork walls, and the back lit stained glass over the bar; all complimented by the eclectic style of the booths, the art on the wall, and the music in the background... there is a warmth that invites you to take a seat and sample the many craft beers, try the cocktails they can make or enjoy the food they offer - An oddly familiar sensation of being in a speakeasy takes hold; a bygone era that with a little imagination becomes real. 

The people come in waves, leaving the bar empty one moment and full the next. Standing room only on a Friday or Saturday night with live music filling the air, only ever escaping into the street when the door is opened.

It is a place I keep returning to (alone or with friends), as if being seduced by a forbidden lover. 

I would not go so far as to say I am a "regular" but there was one time my beer was poured and in front of me as I sat down; a brown ale called 10w30 from a local craft brewery. It is my beer of choice, Woodford Reserve is my bourbon of choice, and an incredible bacon cheeseburger is my default for food. 

It is curious how a place can seize you and create a connection never to be forgotten; The Village Kitchen and Pie Shoppe in California, the Ranstead Room in Philadelphia, the Hotel de la Montagne bar in Montreal*, and now The Hole In The Wall - I will carry them with me always. These places spur on the human condition I suppose... they give us a place to savour all of our senses, be a voyeur or an exhibitionist, remain solitary or be social, and allow for engagement in the conversations that bring us together. 

They whisper your name, forever calling you like a great love, "Come join me, I am waiting. We have much to talk about."

Surrender to the seduction, but don't pick just any place.


* I almost broke down and cried when I heard they demolished the Hotel de la Montagne. The bar in the lobby was truly one of a kind.