3 Subjects You Hated In College But Will Make You A Successful Person

Reading time: 4 mins

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This blogpost is the sequel to piece that I wrote awhile back called 3 Subjects You Hated In School But Will Make You A Better Person. Period.

There’s a lot of changes happening in Education and The Marketplace at the moment. There’s lots of arguments on whether modern education is still relevant and whether the education system needs a massive makeover to keep up with the huge technological and social challenges that we face in the near future.

As I have previously blogged before, we are now living in the Information Age and the 40-40 plan (40 hours of work per week for 40 years) is dead. As a teacher, I have felt often that we are not preparing our kids for the Real World – although it’s great to learn about how many wives Henry VIII kicked it with, it will not help you land that dream job (unless you are Tudor historian).

In my short life, here are 3 subjects I believe that you may have hated in college (6th form/upper high school) but if studied can make you materially successful…

1) Psychology

I just wanted to be honest: there have always been 2 groups of people that I have been scared of: clowns (have you ever seen Stephen King’s IT?!?) and psychologists. Everytime I meet someone who turns out to have studied psychology, I get the heebee jeebees as I feel that they can ‘see through me’ and they are studying my every movement. I feel like they reading my mind like a pre-Logan Professor X…

profx

You don’t have to be this man to read minds…

But of course this is not the case. Us human beings are a complex lot. We a mass of walking contradictions: thinking that we are rational but doing exactly the opposite and the scary thing is that most of us don’t understand why we are doing them! Understanding psychology gives you the unique ability not only to understand others but yourself which can help you safely navigate and progress through your college, your workplace and life.

Malcolm Gladwell popularised the ‘10,000 Hour Mastery Theory’ but he also mentioned that the secret sauce to becoming a rockstar programmer, athlete, politician and well… rockstar was a great dose of Emotional Intelligence. You can be as talented as you want but let’s be honest, no one wants to work with a douchebag and eventually this will call your downfall (please reference Julius Caesar, Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair or… Son Goku…).

Understanding other people’s motivations, gaining leadership skills and how to deal with conflicts will be a skill that will never go out of fashion and in fact take you right to the top.

2) Economics/Money Management

Money is like sex. Everybody does it but no-one talks about it. I’ve always found it interesting that in school, we can learn about all the cultures of the world, unravel the mysteries of nuclear fusion but our National Curriculum doesn’t offer a simple class on what debt is and how to select the right credit card. I would take it a step further, putting on my conspiracy theorist tin-foil hat on, that The-Powers-That-Be don’t WANT us to know how to handle money (more on that on a future blog).

This is not to rant against the dangers of our Post-Modernist Capitalist society but we must face the facts… Until World War III destroys the world and we go back to exchanging hair brushes and goats, money as a means of exchange is here to stay OK?

scrooge-mcduck-warehouse

If you tried to do this in real life, it would really, really hurt…

Considering that money is such an important part of our lives, I slowly realised that in order to get ahead, I needed to have a very basic understanding of how things like mortgages, debits, credit cards and balance sheets worked.

And no you don’t have to be Warren Buffet either.

Understanding how to make a household budget, shop around for better deals on your bills, save 10% of your income and invest safely are absolutely vital to you and your family’s financial future. Don’t skip money class.

3) Sales

Whenever someone says the word ‘sales,’ images of a balding middle-aged car salesman, selling you a dodgy ‘motor comes to mind. ‘Sales’ has become a dirty word and it feels… sleazy.

pushy-car-salesman

No. Don’t buy a car from this man.

But from a very young age, we are learnt how to become professional sales people. Have you ever:

  • persuaded a friend to watch a film that they weren’t to sure about. That’s sales.
  • Talked your boss into giving you a promotion. That’s sales.
  • Asked someone to marry you? That’s sales.
  • Got your Mum/Dad to come to pick you up in the middle of the night? Sales, sales, sales – you get the picture

In fact I would argue that every single day, everyone of us is selling. But sales are not about tricking the other person to buy something that they don’t want. In fact, great sales are just the opposite: Great sales are about understanding the other person’s needs and meeting them. That’s it. If you meet the other person’s needs again and again, they will give you more money/benefits/time/love or any other value you can think of and everyone is happy.

I worked in retail/sales jobs for almost a decade before I became a teacher and I still use a lot of my training today – selling education to the students.

Don’t ever stick up your nose to retail job – For me it has been the best education in learning how to understand people (point 1), how money works (point 2) and taught me how to sell (point 3).

Thank you for reading! Are there any subjects that helped you progress in life? Write a comment below or tweet at me @karlwebdev.

Thank you as always and see you next Thursday!

Karlwebdev

3 Things You Should Do When You Are Rejected – And Why Its OK To Be Bummed

Reading time: 4 mins

nero thumbs down

Well no matter how bad it gets at least you don’t have to face the lions…

We Regret To Inform You…

3 weeks.


It was 3 weeks ago when I wrote that application form. It was for a coding internship at a world renowned media organisation that tackled issues that I cared about. This was the perfect job for me – my golden ticket into the world of Tech. When I submitted the form, although I fought it, my mind started thinking about prepping for the Assessment Centre… then passing the interview & getting the job… meeting my new colleagues… going out for ‘Happy Hour’ and talking about which Star Trek Captain was better James T Kirk or Jean-Luc Picard?


3 weeks of wondering, wishing & waiting.


Then the email appeared. This is it. I opened it & here’s what it said:


“Dear Karl,
          Thank you for your recent application for the ________ internship (so far so good) but we regret to inform you that your application has been unsuccessful…”


My heart sank as I read them say something about ‘keeping my name on the system’ and wishing me ‘all the best.’


To be honest, I’m not made at the organisation – considering the possible thousands of apps they received, I’m grateful that they let me know. But I really wanted that position – like a little 4 year old kid wants McDonalds… and it hurts.


But according to the ‘Motivational Brigade’ it would be because ‘I didn’t want it bad enough so I didn’t manifest it.’


Nonsense. As I grow older, I realised that something’s just won’t work out no matter how hard I try.


So… What do you do? Drown yourself in Ben & Jerrys & give up? Nope. Here’s 3 things I think you should do…


1) Feel Bummed Out

 

“Hold on!” I hear you say. Didn’t you just say being depressed is not the answer?

 

It’s not. I’m saying to call it what it is. If the situation sucks, it sucks.

 

In our hyper-positive, ultra motivated world, we’re bullied into thinking that we should ‘stick a smile on our face and always be happy’ or ‘push through the pain’. But ignoring the problem won’t make it go away. This is like seeing a friend break a limb and then telling them to ‘dust yourself down and walk it off’ – that ain’t happening.

 

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These are the only 2 that can live in Lala-land… Not anyone else

If positivity causes you to deny the situation then that is delusion. Unless you’re Emma Stone or Ryan Gosling, don’t live in Lala-Land. See it for what it is, what it is, mourn what it could have been or what you lost. Give yourself some space.

 

2) Take A Break

 

Apart from learning to code, I’ve also been hustling to whether I could find any internships of paid work experience. Like Gollum with his ‘precious’, I was constantly researching and analysing all the possible routes in. Michael Scofield would have been proud.

 

But after the rejection letter, I decided to take a break. Taking a break doesn’t mean quitting. Sometimes you need to take a break to restore your strength. As I wrote in a previous post, we are not machines – our bodies need the right balance of work and recovery. Sometimes in pursuit of our goals, we forget about about everything else – and risk being burnt out. Taking time out can help with Step 3…

 

3) Take Away The Lesson

 

After taking Steps 1 and 2 will help it easier to take this step. What did you learn? How could it have been handled better? Now for some people, they do this by expressing gratitude or seeing the ‘Silver Lining.’ In our culture, many believe that every bad thing, if you look hard enough, has seeds of good in it. But me being me, I look at things differently: there are loads of different meanings in the same situation both good and bad and ultimately it’s YOU that draws meaning from it. Depending on how big, traumatic or sudden it is, this can be a life long process.

 

Although I’m disappointed by not getting the internship, on the cosmic-scale of things, it’s not Earth shattering. But when facing the bigger challenges of life, death, sickness or relationships, although there maybe pain, I don’t look for the positive, but look at the learning. Learning from difficult situations may not be instant either – sometimes these processes can take weeks, months or even years – but don’t be too hard on yourself, that’s all part of being human. What I have found is once I have fully absorbed the learning then the positivity tends to walk walk behind it.

 

As always, thank you for reading. Do you agree with these steps? What would you add? As always, drop a comment below or hit me up @karlwebdev.

 

See you next Thursday!

 

Karlwebdev

 

3 Career Lessons I Learnt From “Hidden Figures”

Reading time: 5 mins

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I went to see “Hidden Figures” last week and I absolutely blown away! The hype is real! The film is based on the lives of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn and Mary Jackson, black female mathematicians, engineers and computer scientists that worked for NASA in the early 1960’s under the racist Jim Crow and Segregation Laws. Not only did these helped put Man on The Moon but helped advance the fields of Science, Mathematics and Technology and some of this was before US segregation even ended!

At first, I was going to do a straight-up movie review, but a) that would be too easy and b) that’s why Rotten Tomatoes was created… So I decided to write about 3 career gems that I learnt while watching this great film!


***MAJOR SPOILER WARNING*** This post will be discussing major plot points of the film, so it you haven’t seen it yet and don’t want it to be spoiled, stop here, watch the film and make your way back here. You have been warned…


1) Be So Good That They Can’t Ignore You

Hidden Figures Day 41

In the film, our three heroines were known as ‘computers’, human beings who could work out long and complex calculations with speed and accuracy. Because of the Segregation Laws, whites and ‘coloured’ people had to be separate which meant that coloured had to put up with inferior utilities, services and be treated as second class citizens. The black computers were segregated in the ‘West Area’ while the white ones in the ‘East Area’. In the movie, the ‘East Area’ needed more talented computers and Katherine Goble (before she got married and changed to Katherine Johnson) was selected as the first black female to cross the barrier and found herself working closely with the Director of the Space Task Group, Al Harrison.



hf-running


However it wasn’t smooth for our dear Katherine. Katherine was treated with suspicion, had much lower pay and her line manager left out key parts of the calculations which meant that she could not do her work accurately. To add further humiliation, in the East Area, there were no coloured toilets, which meant that Katherine had to run to walk 20 minutes to the West Area just to relieve herself. When Al Harrison publicly rebuked her for being away from her desk for long periods of time, she emotionally explained that all the difficulties that she faced being a coloured woman in NASA. Very shortly after Harrison, abolished the toilet segregation rules and Katherine found herself being treated as more as an equal and playing a more pivotal role in the Project.


Although this was heartwarming, there is a very clear fact that emerges: Katherine was brilliant and she was so good at what she did that towards the end of the film, John Glenn refused to fly unless Katherine personally checked the launch calculations. There is an old Bible saying that says that “A man who is good at his work will serve before Kings and not mere men.” Cal Newport in his great book “So Good That They Can’t Ignore You” stated that those who work on critical skills that serve the marketplace can basically write their own life ticket. Work on your skills and they will work for you!


2) If You Are Not Learning, You’re Dying

hf-dorothy-ibm


Dorothy Vaughn, the unofficial supervisor of the West Area, learns that NASA is going to install the IBM 7090 mainframe – a massive room-wide computer that could do thousands of calculations per minute – making the human computers obsolete. Rather than defeated, Dorothy quickly figured out that, although they maybe able to do the calculations, they will need someone to program the machine with correct ones.


hf-dorothy-fortran


Dorothy, after taking a FORTRAN book from the public library, started to teach herself computer programming and also taught her colleagues ready to configure the supercomputer. When the IBM 7090 was fully installed rather than lay off the entire West Area, NASA promoted Dorothy as the supervisor of the Analysis and Computation Division, saving her colleagues’ livelihoods and helping usher in the new Technological Age in Space Travel.



hf-west-area-walking


I love this part of the film! Dorothy created a new opportunity for herself and her peers by leveraging technology rather than being crushed by it and she did this by improving herself. Continuous learning is an absolute must if you want to survive in the Information Age. And this does not apply only to programmer either – with the increasing technological, social and economical changes in our world, your willingness to adapt quickly and evolve your skillsets will be vital to your life success. To adapt 50 Cents famous album cover we now must “Get Skills Or Die Trying.”


3) Nothing You Learn Is Ever Wasted

hf-kath-chalk
In a key part of the film, the Americans were behind in the Space Race – The Soviet Union managed to send a man to Outer Space and complete a full orbit of the planet. They needed to better and fast.


The Americans started the Mercury Program to go beyond and even the odds. The human computers were tasked with coming up with the Math that will allow an astronaut to go into space, stay in circle the planet a coupe of times, then break orbit and return to Earth. The problem was that this hadn’t been done and they needed a new set of Maths to calculate the capsule’s flight – and they have 2 weeks to do this before the launch.


After many long nights, Katherine recalled “Euller’s Formula” an almost 300 year old set of equations to help solve the problem. After a couple of hours adapting the formula, they finally solved the problem and the Astronaut, John Glenn, managed to do 3 orbits around the Earth becoming the first American to do so.


What’s so great about this example is that Katherine’s line manager at NASA described the formula as “ancient.” But this didn’t stop Katherine from using it to get the job done. Before I started to learn coding. I would many jobs from a retail sales assistant, an inventory planner, a music performer/producer and my latest career, a teacher. And as the years go by, I have managed to use most of my skills in my teaching practice. I was intimidated because I didn’t have a Computer Science degree but I soon realised that virtually all my skills in sales, writing, negotiation and organisation have helped me become a better coder.


Take stock of all the jobs and courses that you have studied over the years and see what skills that you use today: you will be very surprised on how these skills give you a unique advantage in your job and can help you get the next one!


I hope you enjoyed this blog! Please go and watch “Hidden Figures”- it’s a very inspirational film. Have you watched “Hidden Figures?” What do you think? Leave your comments below or @karlwebdev.


As always, see you next Thursday


Karlwebdev