I recently attended a Leadership Montgomery session where we talked about the state of education in our fair county.
We are fortunate to have the superintendent of schools, Josh Starr, in our class, as well as the sitting president of the school board, the immediate past president of the county PTA, a school principal, and others who are on the front line of education.
In his remarks, Josh talked about how the greatest issue facing public schools today is the democratization of information. As he put it, “Do you need to memorize a fact if you can Google it?”
Your 21st Century Skill Set
The most important thing I look for when I’m interviewing a potential programmer or writer or designer is this: is this the kind of person who can figure shit out?
I taught myself to code websites. Out of a book. Unsurprisingly, given that I’m an unabashed English major.
But the truth is, in programming (and I would argue, in any job), you can’t know everything you may one day have to know. You have to be able to figure it out on the fly.
When someone asks if you can do a thing, you say “Yes!”
Way back when I started the Collective, I was coming off of a job where I had managed the development of a custom, web-based CRM. Heady stuff for 1999.
Note, I hadn’t built anything - I had only worked on a theoretical level, managing the smartypants who actually did the coding.
My first year in business, some of my former colleagues had spun off from that company and asked me if I could build a system like that for them.
I said “YES!”
Then I went to Barnes and Noble and bought a book called Data-Driven Websites or something like that.
When you have the ability to figure shit out, you can do that and get away with it.
You’re not a fraud.
I have many friends who are entrepreneurs of all stripes, and they ALL say the same thing.
When somebody asks if you can do a thing, you say “Yes!” And then you go figure it out.
These days, the interwebs being what they are, it’s a lot easier to figure stuff out on the fly. Use that.
Because not everyone can do it.
If you can, you win.