Why I Decided To Learn How To Code?

"Everyone should learn a computer language because he teaches you how to think." - Steve Jobs

Why I Decided To Learn How To Code - Edouard Barbier - Blog Post - March 2016

Passionate about technology and innovation, I’ve always known that understanding how apps and websites worked under the hood would be highly valuable … but I majored in Business. My first experience with Computer Science goes back to 2009 and an attempt to take a minor in programming at university which I failed badly… like miserably!

Leaving university with a Master’s degree in my pocket in 2013, I remember thinking to myself: “Awesome, I’m finally done studying!”.

"It didn't take me long to realise I knew next to nothing."

When I joined a tech-startup following my graduation, I was the only non-technical member of the team. At that time, I strongly felt that my lack of technical knowledge was undermining my credibility within the team as well as my ability to contribute to decisions related to our product’s pipeline. It was highly frustrating but I couldn't picture myself mastering the skills software engineers had spent years learning. One thing I did realise, working with these developers, is how easy it was to create small programs (bots) that could automate tasks and make our lives easier (bear with me here, it will makes sense in a bit).

One day I read “The 4-Hour Workweek” written by Tim Ferris and this book literally blew my mind. It opened my eyes on the concept of passive revenues. Fan of music, I launched my first side-project, a YouTube Music Promotion channel (yes, I know… very original) with the objective to generate advertising revenues using Google Adsense. On paper, easy… but I had no budget to promote my content and the competition on this segment is simply insane. Luckily, I knew some growth hacks we were using in my startup. But creating bots would require some coding.

"I knew I needed to learn how to code but I had no idea where to start."

A few Google searches later, I was signing up for the “Introduction to Computer Science” course (also called CS101) on Udacity.com. This free, video-based course explores the core concepts of Computer Science using Python (an easy and widely used programming language). This class taught me that programming really pushes you to think logically, to solve problems and to always look for a simpler/better solution to make things work. Learning Python is an excellent way to prove yourself that you can learn programming as the syntax is simple and easy to read.

CS101 - Introduction to Computer Science - Udacity

What was supposed to take 3 months took me only 3 weeks as I started to enjoy understanding the things I used to consider way too complex for a simple Business student. I somehow got addicted to this new influx of knowledge and it led me to start writing my own Python scripts.

A few weeks later I had a functional bot generating thousands of real views on the videos hosted on my YouTube channel which was already generating ~10€ per day. I will always remember this amazing feeling I had when I realised I was generating revenues while I was sleeping. A year later, just before the channel got taken down for copyright infringement (obviously…), the advertising revenues kept growing to a point where I was generating about 500€ a month.

So yes, I had lost a substantial source of passive income but somehow I had no regrets.

I had taught myself how to learn.

I could have launched another YouTube channel and re-used my scripts to bring the revenues back up but I realised I could do so much more than coding bots. With my expertise in digital marketing and my new found interest for Computer Science, bringing my ideas to life wasn’t a unreachable dream anymore, I just had to keep learning.

Fast forward 18 months, and after more than 10 online courses completed, I’ve now learnt how to develop iOS applications for iPhone & iPad using Swift and I've published my first app (Gluten Free World) on the App Store.

So now let’s be honest, who never had apps or websites ideas? This is the perfect time to stop keeping them in a corner of your head but actually start carrying them in your pocket!

In my next blog, I will go through all the courses I completed, review them and give tips for those who would be interested to get started. I will also share some thoughts on the learning curve, some of the misconceptions I had, that now have changed and how this new knowledge has impacted my current job.

Oh yes by the way, I’ve had a day job during the whole time so the “I don’t have enough time in a day”-type excuse doesn’t apply here. You’ll have to find better…

To be continued ... :-)

Edouard Barbier
October 24, 2016

Tags: #skills, #programming, #iOSDeveloper

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