How Early Exposure to Technology Led Me To Become A Chief Technology Officer

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I vividly recall getting off the bus and asking my Mom to rush home. After weeks of watching my brother play computer games, I decided today was the day I’d try to start the game myself.

I had memorized the steps from hitting the power button to putting in the correct floppy disk [yes, they still existed!].

A few minutes after sitting in front of the computer, I hit the enter button, and there it was. My game had loaded, and I transitioned into this imaginary world where I was a hero in my own story.

That was the beginning of what is now nearly 15 years of tech career and a never-ending desire to keep learning and growing.

I’ve ben asked by many parents what their seven-year-old, or even as young as four years old, can do to learn coding or digital skills.

A common fear for a parent and educator is technology addictiveness or the lack of direction for children using technology. Here are four different reasons I feel my experience was more productive.

1: Micro goals

From my very first experience, I was providing small achievable goals. Want to play a game? Figure out how to turn on the computer yourself by observation first. Want to learn how to make a website? Start by observing websites and understanding what content goes on the website first.

This method of easy-to-achieve micro-goals allowed me to feel accomplished and focused along the way to a bigger goal.

Outside of goal setting, this also gave me an important lesson to split technology projects into small parts to avoid being overwhelmed.

2: The end product

The end outcome for any work I do with technology has always been a critical factor. I recall learning how to code in school for the first time. While the experience was always thrilling and exciting, I was left a bit demotivated when the end product wasn’t something that I could ever really show or use.

To drive my intrinsic motivation, I always worked on technology projects with a real-world application. This way, I always had an end product I’d be proud of.

This real-world application and the focus on the end product allowed me to deliver high-quality results for my clients and customers consistently.

When I started BSD Education, I made sure to keep the real-world aspect as a founding principle on our curriculum and platform.

3: Normalizing fails

Technology can be unforgiving; we have all experienced it fail one time or another. I can no longer count the number of times I’d be left puzzled or frustrated by my code not working. I was fortunate to experience this so many times early into my technology experience that it felt like a normal part of learning.

That resilience benefited me in other aspects of my life, from tests and exams to sports. Later in my career, I discovered how important it was for business leadership when It helped propel me into management.

Today, I always encourage parents and educators to allow failure to be part of the experience. We cannot change the world for the better if we cannot fail.

4: Don’t start with a blank canvas

I recall learning a new programming language, so I did what most aspiring developers did in their teens and picked up a book. The only problem was that almost every book I would read forced you to open a blank file and start typing or ‘copying’ more accurately. By the time I’d get anywhere to have a finished project, I’d be distracted and bored.

One of the benefits of technology is that you rarely have to start with an empty canvas. In school, I always found myself downloading a template or using a pre-existing project as a starting point to launch into my creations.

The key to doing this was to keep looking for starting points that suit your style, even if it meant going through a dozen pre-made projects and templates. What was surprising was how much I could learn from pre-built templates or open-source code.

This habit made me very resourceful when working on complex projects. One of the requirements to becoming a great CTO is understanding how to use existing resources to their potential. Although, as the saying goes, “Do not reinvent the wheel,” this helped me stand out in a pretty competitive environment early on as I was able to offer solutions quicker and more cost-effectively.

I love seeing how teachers are now experiencing the benefits of our scaffolded projects on BSD Education. Nothing is more exciting than a student showing off a project that they built in a week, which would take months and cost thousands in the market to produce today.

Hopefully, these tips help you or people you are helping learn technology more enjoyably. I look forward to seeing how you Build Something Different.

about Nickey
Nickey is a Co-Founder and CTO of BSD Education, Refugeek, and the Founder of Collective Global. He is an expert in infusing technology and digital solutions into businesses.
He heads up innovation projects to evolve products and services using a combination of Design, Development, UX, and Marketing skills. He works on large scale digital transformation projects, digital marketing, and the effective use of social media to drive business success and harness the power data. Nickey is a Co-Founder of BSD Education, Refugeek, and Collective Global.

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