Ruby On Rails: Saying Yes, I Guess

When it comes to new experiences, the philosophy I have very recently adopted revolves around saying yes now and figuring out the rest later.

I’m not particularly brave. If I can say yes, then the hardest part for me is already over. Giving myself permission to do something I have no skills in and knowing I probably won’t be good at it, violently goes against my control freak nature.

As part of my current personality like to know that the environment I’m going into, I will not just survive in, but also dominate. It’s not the best trait in the world, and I’m not always proud of it, but it does keep me on my toes when I use it to my advantage.

When I was younger I would only do the things I knew I could do. For instance, I wouldn’t climb the advanced ladder on the playground because I knew there was a chance I could fall off. My ego would, and still does, get in the way of me attempting anything that might make me look a little bit tragic and idiotic.

Understanding that this was a part of my subconscious thought process, came through theatre actually. I did Ballet and other styles of dance for ten years, and every year there would a concert. Every year when I was younger I would get hopelessly nervous before performing. I didn’t come off as nervous just grumpy and irritable, I fitted right in.

Then every time when I performed, no matter how sick or how stressed I was, as soon as the lights hit my face with their heat, and the audience was there, watching me, my body would kick into action. I never froze up, no matter how many times I thought I was going to. After a few years, I started noticing this and I guess it became a positive feedback loop in my head.

I convinced myself that on stage, no matter what was happening, my body would be there to kick into action. And because I had convinced myself of this, there was no way for me to not believe it. I became a walking, talking placebo effect when it came to performance.

But hey, if it works it works. To this day, I have never ever frozen up on stage. And when I started acting I never forgot my lines or my stage directions. On stage is the only place in the world, I feel like I am unstoppable.

The stage was and will always be my happy place.  

Looking back on this placebo effect now, I think this is really just my urge to control whatever situation I was in. Except it came through as ‘Talent’. My ego or vanity or whatever it is, is not going to physically let me screw up in front of what it perceives as an audience.

Upon understanding this about myself, I started saying yes to things that were hopelessly out of my comfort zone. I went to NYDS, worked professionally in the film industry and I voyaged on The Spirit Of New Zealand.

I’ve started trying to take advantage of this competitive, egotistical side of me and put it to use furthering my experience and knowledge of the world around me. With age and a little maturity, I’ve tried to push myself to become better at looking and feeling like an idiot. I’m proud to say I’m almost quite skilled at it now, and I do it almost every day.

It’s still a struggle but with that to balance the ego, this match made in heaven makes up my learning process.  

I never know if I’m going to be actually good at something or not, but I know that if I throw myself in at the deep end of the swimming pool, my body and my mind will not let me drown. I might not swim, but I won’t drown.

And I think that’s just how I learn new things.

So with the ridiculously high hopes of not being so terrible I break all the computers in the building, and delete all code ever, my sister and I were booked on a flight for Wellington the coming weekend to attend RailsBridge, an introductory coding course for the programming language Ruby.

Ruby On Rails: I'm Not A Hacker

My father had found out about the course that covered an introduction to computer coding, almost a year ago. We had tried to sign up then but they had been full, or it was too late to sign up, I can’t remember.

This year, we were a little more proactive, and by we, I mean my father was. I received a text early one morning, six thirty or something, ‘Want to attend a coding course designed to encourage women and other minorities to get into the tech industry?’

I had absolutely no knowledge of any computer languages. I had signed up for Code Academy when I was twelve, after deciding that hacking into NASA could be quite a sexy skill. It would fit with my black hoodie and future scorpian tattoos. I had watched the Matrix and started reading The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo at the time, which may have been influencing my asthetic.

Code Academy hadn’t lasted long and other than playing around with Minecraft my experience with computer programming is exactly nill. I hadn’t even managed to install Modpacks to Minecraft. To this day I’ve never experienced the Shaders Modpack.

I did once manage to change every block of grass in Minecraft to a picture of my face, which I was very proud of however, the endeavour wasn’t completely successful. I had to delete Minecraft because I had managed to break it so drastically, that actually every single texture was a picture of my face and I couldn’t walk around or interact with the world in any way. After that, I didn’t mess around with the coding stuff.

Side note: I also managed to play with, then break, my Sim’s 3 computer game. It was downloaded onto my computer, I played happily for a couple of years until the rhythm of creating a character and making it marry the richest Sim in the city to get money, got boring. I created various cults for my families and when that got boring as well I found the cheats. After being able to do almost anything I wanted became boring, I decided I wanted to be able to edit the environment directly. By that I mean the land and roads and buildings in the city.

So, I started playing. The game glitched out and wouldn’t load. So, I deleted the game. The wrong way. I didn’t uninstall it with the uninstall application, I just dragged it to the trash. So as far as I can tell the game still thinks I’m logged in, and because I had done this a few times already, I had used up how many times I could log in. Now the game won't let me reinstall Sim’s 3.

This could be quite a good thing because it’s meant I’ve spent my time on things other than turning my virtual city into a post-apocalyptic dictatorship. But I do miss it a little bit, especially the building and interior design aspect, so if anyone has a solution for this I would be extremely grateful if you could let me know. 

Anyway, back to my point, the only experience with coding that I had was breaking things.

So, I said yes to the RailsBridge course that was being held in Wellington a couple of weeks away, naturally. 

More coming soon, thanks for reading..!

How To Stop Waiting (For Your Serenade)

I think everyone secretly wants a song written about them. I know I did, the only problem was the fact that I didn't have any dashing young human's, who were completely in love with me and trying to win me back after a theatrical argument, over something silly near the end of the movie.

But this minor detail was not going to deter me from achieving my goal. 

I've been wanting to make a short film that showcases footage of myself as a little kid, in contrast with footage of who I am now, for a long time. It seemed poetically perfect to do it in my eighteenth year. 

I tried to write a monologue for me to paste over the footage. But then, because I've been really getting into my poetry recently, it started to rhyme. Usually, that's great, but I wanted a nice three minute, angsty summery of my life and then to cap it off, a couple of paragraphs about how I'm looking forward to the future. 

So then I decided to write a poem. But then, everything stopped rhyming. It was a very frustrating process, to say the least.

Then I had an idea. What if I got someone to write a song based on my life, poetry, and writing? 

First of all, I was met with the usual self-doubt and self-discouragement that comes with almost every idea I have. What if no one wants to do it? What if people think I'm just vain and full of myself? What if people are so offended by the idea of requesting my own serenade, that they hunt me down and kill me with their acoustic guitars and hipster buns. 

Then I decided to go for it. Whats the worst that could happen? Death by acoustic guitar would at least be a pretty original thing to put on my gravestone. 

I posted to the NYDS Facebook group stating my cause. I couldn't pay them any money, because I'm working with a non-existent budget, and I didn't really have any strict criteria apart from the fact that the song couldn't be longer than five minutes. 

Within an hour five people had messaged me saying they were 'keen'. That was thrilling in itself. 

Within forty-eight hours Reagan Dunphy, a fellow NYDS student, had not only reached out but actually written a complete song.

I was almost in tears as I listened to it. She has a beautiful voice and the lyrics were beyond perfect. 

I'll be using her song in my next short film: A Self Portrait. And, you can check out her Instagram here

So, the moral of this story is:

Stop waiting. Stop waiting for whatever it is that you're waiting for. Take ownership of what you want and go out and get it. Just start asking, it's that easy.

So, stop waiting. 

Thanks for reading..!

Create Conflict and Disagree

Conflict is something that, like most people, I’m very fond of avoiding. Conflict is exhausting and makes most people very uncomfortable. Because conflict is rejection. And humans aren’t great at rejection. We like to believe we are absolutely fantastic in every way and get a bit cranky, to say the least, when someone dares to shatter that illusion.

If you’re at a dinner party, it’s not common practice to go around disagreeing with everyone's opinions. People don’t like being told their idea is stupid, who would have guessed?

But if we have an idea that has never been challenged, how do we know that it’s a worthy idea. We naturally assume it is majestic because nobody has ever bothered to tell us it isn’t.

I’m slowly coming around to what I like to call ‘positive conflict’. Actively seeking out conflict around my theories. Finding people that disagree with my ideas, opinions, and beliefs and getting them to argue their contradictory viewpoint.

I say argue but I mean it in the most philosophical way. This kind of conflict isn’t malicious

Malicious conflict isn’t worth anyone's time. And it’s important to understand the difference between malicious conflict and positive conflict.

Malicious conflict is when somebody wants to pick apart your idea without offering a constructive argument against it.

It’s like destroying that kids tower of blocks, then just leaving all the pieces on the floor and walking away laughing and rubbing your hands together basking in the glory of your evilness.

Positive conflict is destroying the tower of blocks so that you can show them how to build what you believe, is a better tower.

As soon as they’ve gone, we decide to knock the tower down. But maybe their tower has a really structurally sound base, so we keep that and use it in our next tower.

Positive conflict is a way of thinking something through, in a way you couldn’t by yourself.

This means looking for people who have different belief systems, thought processes, upbringings and past experiences who understand what you need from them. Who understand the difference between positive and malicious conflict.

It means resisting the urge to gravitate towards the people that are very similar to you at that dinner party. Instead, striking up a conversation with the crazy, eccentric, old uncle.

Because it is only through the process of having our ideas and opinions deconstructed and proved wrong, that we can see what can’t be proved wrong.

Thanks for reading..!

Money Making Ideas

If you’re just getting into the ‘entrepreneur thing’ then you’re probably all geared up to have a idea and start your business.

The struggle comes at the beginning of that process. The struggle is coming up with that idea that is actually going to make you money.

Personally I’ve found that a good place to start is scratching your own or somebody’s else’s itch.

Brainstorm over problems you or your friends face, then think of ways you could solve them.

Another great way to come up with good ideas is to get into the practice of brainstorming ten ideas every day. They might be terrible ideas, but at least you’ve come up with ten ideas.

Eventually, if you’re in the practice of coming up with ideas every single day you will stumble on a half decent one.

Thanks for reading..!

Writing Reviews For Money

I’m no stranger to the blogging world thanks to my Dad. Back in the good old days when blogs first started to become a thing he was already fully on the bandwagon.

We sat down together at the kitchen table and used one of those horribly slow ‘Build Your Website’ internet apps to customize my very own blog.

I tried to find the original blog so that I could link it here, but I think it’s been lost to the sands of the internet.

At the time, I was probably about eight or nine and I was obsessed with reading. I had moved into the realm of chapter books and have devoured all the Famous Five, Secret Seven, Hardy Boys, Three Detectives and Trixie Belden books.

Dad had started to buy me thicker and thicker books so that it was worth his money to purchase the book in the first place.

So we decided that my blog should be centered around book reviews.

He helped me with formulating a structure for my reviews, little did I know he was training me on how to write essays

I think I only managed to write three or four but around the third one, we realised we could hook up the reviews to Amazon or Fishpond. I can’t actually remember which one it was.

Anyway, we hooked it up and I wrote another few reviews then moved on to something else and forgot about my book review blog.

A couple of months later a actual real life check showed up in the mail, made out to a Miss T Smith for $34.40.

I don’t think I ever managed to write another review and my account with whoever was paying me has long expired, but I still remember that day as one of the proudest days of my life.


 

Grand Cookie Selling Escapade

After selling bookmarks for a two dollars each to my grandparents, and writing book reviews for Amazon I decided I needed to expand my enterprise somewhat.

So ten year old me set to work researching. My research involved sitting, cross legged, in my room with my arms folded stubbornly waiting for my billion dollar idea.

Read More

Brainstorming In A Bus

I’ve been doing a lot of travelling and probably will be doing even more these next coming weeks. And I’m someone who used to find the lack of productivity involved in travelling irritating.

I envy the people who can type on a bus and read in the car.

So here's a list of some ways that I maximise my productivity while traveling, without feeling nauseous the whole time.

Podcast or Audiobook

A four hour trip through winding hills is a great excuse to listen to that audiobook that you never make time for at home.

I’ve been listening to The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business by Josh Kaufman on Audible.

A great podcast worth a listen is Tim Ferris’s Michael Pollan - Exploring The New Science of Psychedelics.

And if you just wanted to sooth the nasua with some gentle fiction you should definitely go for Neil Gaiman's American Gods. It’s not exactly gentle, but his voice will calm even the most anxious of flyers.

Journalling

I find I can usually journal on a train or a plane. So I will take the time to brainstorm, plot and scheme my future plans.

Or take notes on my current listening material.

Exercise

If you are in an airport or train station, have some time to kill and don’t really mind looking like a bit of a doofus you can do a subtle traveling workout.

  • Lift your bags up and down. The heavier the better. If anyone asks, just say you were checking the bottom of the bag to make sure your drink bottle hasn’t spilled.

  • Stretching. ‘Just working out the kinks...in an advanced yoga pose on the airport floor.’

  • Pretend you're late for your flight, plane, train whatever and run up and down the station wildly for a few laps.

Thanks for reading!

Can You Teach Entrepreneurship?

So, after starting this blog I hooked it up to Google Analytics. It took a while to kick in, but yesterday I was able to finally view what data Big Brother Google had collected so far about this blog. The most interesting piece of data that stood out to me (the only graph I could actually understand) was in the query section.

The most commonly asked question that leads to my blog is: Can You Teach Entrepreneurship?

It makes sense, I’ve written a little on self-educating and one of the tags I use is entrepreneurship, like every other mildly business orientated blog in the world.

I’m extremely thankful to have grown up in an environment where an entrepreneurial mindset was always present. I’ve come from a long line of hustlers. Possibly some actual hustlers on my mother's side...But that still counts right?

I never thought that the entrepreneurial mindset was something that could be taught. You just had it or you didn’t. To be honest, I didn’t give it much thought.

But now I realize I was surrounded by people who were always working hard my whole life. And although they weren't shoving me behind a desk and giving me a workbook on things like, How To Generate A Passive Income, they were teaching me in the only way I think you really can teach entrepreneurship. By example.

My granddad was a Canadian immigrant who came to New Zealand without any of his extensive family. He employed himself as a door to door salesman selling brooms and vacuum cleaners to provide for his wife and two kids. The youngest of which was my Mum.

My Mum has had a long string of projects that she quietly started without much recognition from us. Then suddenly, a couple of months down the track with very little fuss from her we have all realized that her project is actually very successful.

She has never flaunted her success and will dismiss any suggestions she’s a creative genius with a wave of her hand as she happily makes dinner and does ridiculous amounts of washing.

Her latest project was a Kombucha making business. She got the idea from a children's book she was reading to my little brother. Googling what Kombucha was because she didn’t know she decided to give it a go. A couple of weeks later at a friends house, we tasted the first batch of SmithBros Kombucha . It was awful. Very lemony and bitter enough to make you screw your face up.

She stuck with it. Making batch after batch of Kombucha and batch after batch she refined the recipe until now, almost a year and a half later. It’s the best Kombutcha I’ve ever tasted. People from all around town order it by the bottles and even someone from a different island requested her Kombutcha making kit.

So maybe entrepreneurship can be formally taught. Or maybe it can’t. I still don’t know. But I do know that the best way to learn entrepreneurship is by example. So if you want to get into that mindset surround yourself with people who are making and creating and designing everyday.

 

How To Stop Failing And Start Winning

I firmly believe every new project I start that it is going to be ‘The One’. It doesn’t matter if it's a blog, a novel, or an online course on something random that I’ve decided there is a niche for.

With every new project, I’m certain that one day I will walk towards them down the aisle of success. I shall be wearing the white dress of ‘Young Female Entrepreneur’. And all the guests shall cheer as the officiator states, 'I now pronounce you a financially stable startup’.

I started young on my journey towards business management. Six years old and I was selling handmade “bespoke” bookmarks to my poor grandparents charging two bucks apiece. As I got older the projects got more advanced. I wrote book reviews and linked them to Amazon, sold cookies and negotiated with my parents about the value of my time if spent cleaning their windows. That was the project my dad taught me how to write an invoice.

Then I started getting into blogging, when I checked my old Wordpress account a couple of days ago, I had twenty-seven active blogs. I haven’t touched any of them in at least a year.

I became a YouTuber for a bit but never reached enough subscribers that I could monetize my videos and set up a merch shop. Apparently, YouTube doesn’t care if you only have forty-three subscribers. I even wrote a quarter of a course, that I made my mum and sister do, that was supposed to train you to be beautiful and beguiling but also a bit ninja and badass. At the end of the course you were supposed to have all the skills it took to be like those old Hollywood movie spies. Needless to say, I wasn't overly qualified to teach that course.

All of these projects have failed. Some failed quite dramatically and some just puttered out and got forgotten. But every single one of these projects, for at least a little while, had my unfailing faith.

Over the course of all these failures, I collected a toolbox of skills. When I was a YouTuber I needed to learn how to operate a camera, how to light a subject and how to edit sound and footage. When I was going to be a freelance blogger, I had to learn how to write a blog post somebody actually wanted to read.

And now I feel as though all my failures and the things I’ve learned from them are reaching a tipping point.

Obviously, there are still many experiences that I need to fail at in the future. I’m by no means a fail expert yet. And I can’t wait to get failing at the next thing!

But what I’m slowly learning, is that you need to be fully invested in your project, so that you can suck it dry of knowledge and skills. Knowledge and skills you can use to fail in the next project. Until one day, you’ve failed so much that you have enough skills, knowledge, and experiences to stop failing and start winning. 

Design Thinking: Small Wins (Part Three)

In the last blog from this series, I want to touch on a idea Evans and Burnett mention in passing, the idea of setting the bar for success really low and building on small wins.

It’s advice everyone has probably heard, ‘Start small’, but I think it’s important to keep coming back to it. Because, as a society I think we forget. We are quite hard on ourselves. Especially if you are a young woman in business. Naturally we feel as though we have to have something to prove and a comprehensive portfolio of things like ‘Oh yeah I invented the Facebook equivalent and the twitter equivalent, see I deserve to be here’.

But If we keep raising that bar on the portfolio of experiences particularly around business, we are never going to actually achieve anything. And that's okay.

So instead, set the bar really low. Achieve something mediocre. Then something else mediocre. Eventually, all these little tiny wins will amount to something, with only 10% of the mental stress you would have originally had.

Design Thinking: The Way Forward (Part Two)

The next part of the Design Thinking course on Creative Live explores the ever current topic of work-life balance. They argue that it's impossible to simplify work and life down so much.

So they broke the concept down into four categories:

  • Love

  • Play

  • Work

  • Health

We then had to shade them in on a scale depending on how well we felt we were doing in each category. One being dismally and ten being superbly.

They then asked us which of these categories, if we could only choose one, would we like to improve. A few minutes later we were brainstorming actionable steps that we could take either right now or in the coming week to make a significant change to that category.

The interesting thing that stood out to me from this exercise was the idea that not all these categories need to be functioning perfectly all the time. They don’t all have to be at a ten on the scale.

If you’re in the process of starting a business maybe the love, health, and play categories are going to be at threes or fours but the work category is going to be at a ten. And no, that's probably not healthy but it is the balance you need to get the job done.

So to sum up, the idea of a work-life balance is unachievable. Throw that concept out the window and forget about it.

However, if you are feeling overrun or something feels not quite right, you can use these categories to examine where you are lacking and make steps towards improving.

Thanks for reading..!

Design Thinking: The Way Forward (Part One)

The Creative Live course: Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life taught by Dave Evans and Bill Burnett is based on their #1 New York Times Bestseller book by the same name.

I’m about halfway through the course now. I am especially enjoying the high levels of energy and tasteful comedy from Evens and Burnett. The high energy takes the course to another level and leaves you with the feeling that you’ve had three coffees, a red-bull and an extremely productive session with a psychotherapist.

So far three things have stood out to me:

Number One: You Are Not Late

The first thing that really stood out is an idea they talk about only briefly but it was as though the group of people I was doing the course with all breathed a collective sigh of relief. You are not late, you are not too early either. If you are here doing something then you are right on time to be doing that thing.

Number Two: Passion Is A Endpoint

The second thing that stood out to me was how they talked about passion. So often all the books, ted talks, podcasts and well-meaning grandparents preach to ‘Follow your passion’. But Evens and Burnett argue that you can start and successfully finish something without any particular love for it. You can find it uninspiring and uninteresting but with dedication somewhere along the way with enough hard work that passion will turn up. But don’t worry if it isn’t always there to start off with.

Number Three: The Four Pillars Of Thinking

The third thing was about the different thought processes and which one will lead us forward in our homegrown startup, big fancy company or even personal lives. They broke the thought processes down into four categories.

Engineering - A thought process that is orientated around solving the problem to move forward.

Business -  A thought process that is orientated around optimizing to move forward.

Research - A thought process that is orientated around analyzing the way forward.

Design - A thought process that is orientated around building the way forward.  

I personally think that all of these methods of thought are necessary. However, the point Evens and Burnett were making was that as designers you build the future. So to build your own personal future you need to adopt design thinking as a thought process.

Check out the course on Creative Alive

Thanks for reading..!