Monday, August 22, 2016

A Discovery I made about two people I admire a lot

So one of my favourite websites of recent has been Quora and I've fallen in love more with it over time based on the simple concept of random people answering random questions on random things. More like a Yahoo Answers Reloaded but with more swag.

So today, one of the questions was about what to do when you don't know what to do. This was the particular case I was in today, but as usual the most upvoted answer was spot on. The answer was simple, do something. When you're stuck, then do something about it, pause not stop if need be and review what it is you're not doing right. In those moments, you'll most likely find clarity.

Fixing that Android
So last week, I was at the famous Computer Village in Lagos, Nigeria to help my niece fix her virus-infected phone and in that split second as I was about to part with precious cash, it dawned on me that I could actually fix this thing. So basically, the phone was infected with an adware virus [opens unsolicited ads on every little action you perform on the phone, eventually clogs the phone memory and keeps shutting it down].

Initially, I did a hard restart with some button combinations on the phone...Oh you can already guess it's an Android device if you're a techy. Oops, that reminds me, I need to turn off the debugging mode on the phone. That's a task for tomorrow.
So as I was saying, I decided to take the phone back and gave the technician an excuse of being in a hurry and went home.

After three hard restarts, no show...so I decided it was time to go 'Code Red' which meant 'flashing the phone'/reinstalling the OS or whatever it meant to completely wipe off everything and have a fresh Operating system. Heck, this is not a tech blog but allow me to brag a bit. Lol...anyways I fixed it and it worked. Yay!

A question on Mark Zuckerberg's Success
So, the real reason why I wanted to write this blog post was something I read on Quora again a while back.
Someone asked a question: How did Mark Zuckerberg become a programming prodigy?, which I immediately was answering in my head and wondering what the answers would be. I tried to imagine which programming language he had immersed himself with from a young age or how many cans of endless energy drinks and coffee were consumed to reach that competency level of coding. But, to my surprise, the answers all mostly pointed to the fact that his coding skills were seen as at then not to be top of the game but his success is mostly credited to his business mindedness more than his techy-ness which was just an enabler.

This comment hit home for me:

"Zuckerberg is not a programming prodigy. The application he wrote was not unique, and not all that well-made - that is, not a brilliant, exemplary piece of programming. We can leave it to IT historians to come to a definitive answer for why he was so successful, but my belief is that he happened to strike on the right combination of timing, marketing, and features in a fairly crowded space."

While this is not an excuse not to be good at coding [if you have the interest that is, cos sincerely I HATE programming and everything that looks like it], my point here is that, success is not a one-way street. The key takeaway for me here is that while I strive to improve on my technical skills, Soft skills such as people, negotiation and communication skills are equally as important, if not more important. 

Elon Musk, one great mind
While I was still pondering on that, I stumbled on another Quora article asking about one of my idols, Elon Musk, the mind behind Tesla Motors [electric self driving cars], Space X [private space travel to Mars], Hyperloop [redefining transport from what we know], co-founder Paypal, etc.

So the question went thus:
How did Elon Musk learn enough about rockets to run SpaceX?
Well, learning from my previous experience, I tried to imagine what business skills he had, or right team he was surrounded with and I missed it yet again.

Surprisingly, the top voted answer was not from a random Quora member but Jim Cantrell, a founding member who worked directly with him when He wanted to start SpaceX. Interestingly, Jim had written a book on rocket propulsion and gave Elon Musk practical advice of his grandiose vision of planetary travel that it wasn't going to work.
Wait a sec, it's like Isaac Newton telling you things about Gravity and you are doubting him, who does that? Well, except you're an Einstein who probes and comes up with the Relativity Theory or an Elon Musk who wouldn't just take NO for an answer. THIS is one reason my love for Elon Musk has grown so much.
Image Credit: theodysseyonline.com/elonmusk

Here's an excerpt from Jim Cantrell's observation on Elon Musk:
"So I am going to suggest that he is successful not because his visions are grand, not because he is extraordinarily smart and not because he works incredibly hard. All of those things are true. The one major important distinction that sets him apart is his inability to consider failure. It simply is not even in his thought process. He cannot conceive of failure and that is truly remarkable. It doesn't matter if its going up against the banking system (Paypal), going up against the entire aerospace industry (SpaceX) or going up against the US auto industry (Tesla). He can't imagine NOT succeeding and that is a very critical trait that leads him ultimately to success."
 This just made my day. I believe the best way to start any task is from a position of possibility. It opens us up to new ideas, new ways of doing things and its refreshing and liberating. It's easy to settle for the familiar 'easy' ways but the future sure belongs to those who are ready to take on the tough questions and challenges that have been left unanswered for centuries. As rightly described in the book I'm currently reading 'Zero to One', that is the way to create groundbreaking discoveries and for me, this is my goal regarding the education sector in Nigeria.

P.S. It's sad to know that Mayowa, the lady who fought Ovarian Cancer that I talked about in my last post has passed on. May her gentle soul rest in peace. To all the wonderful women out there, remember early detection is key. Get your pap smears done, go for regular checkups. God bless us all.

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