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Positively Speaking: Learn as you go

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By Toby Moore

For Capital Region Independent Media

Toby Moore

When my father, his publisher and I set out to build a web platform for independent filmmakers, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. Immediately, I was required to learn to do things I had never done before.

It was the first time I managed a startup. My background before this was almost strictly in the arts.

The thoughts ran through my head: “I’ve never built a web platform before, I don’t have the qualifications, and I don’t know how to code!”

I voiced my concern to my father, and he enthusiastically replied, “You don’t need to know exactly what you’re doing in order to start doing it. Just Google what you don’t know, and we’ll get it done.”

Before I could argue, I realized he was right. There was too much to learn, too much to do; I’d have to learn as I went.

I chuckled to him, “As long as I don’t have to learn to write computer code, we’ll get it done.” At this point in my life, the only thing I knew how to do on a computer was to send an email. He said, “Don’t worry, we will hire someone to code; you won’t have to learn that.”

The biggest hurdle we needed to overcome was fundraising. To raise the money we needed, we felt it was best to write a white paper for investors describing the type of online platform we wanted to build, what kind of problems it would solve, and our customer base.

There was only one problem: I’d never written a white paper before. As I contemplated what to do, I remembered my dad’s advice and thought, “I’ll find the answers along the way.”

I sat down at the computer and started typing while also Googling how to write a white paper. After much work, I developed a top-notch investor white paper with my dad and his publisher’s help.

There were seemingly an infinite number of things I needed to learn how to do — financial projections, a pitch deck, a business model, a go-to-market strategy, and much more.

Google became my best friend.

I was learning, growing and making progress; the best part was that I didn’t have to learn to code!

A few months later, when all was running smoothly and according to plan, we lost our developer. Quickly I realized that I was going to have to learn to code.

In many ways, this was my worst nightmare. Still, after enrolling, I daydreamed that after graduation, I’d be an expert computer programmer, knowing everything there was to know about computer languages.

On my first day of school, I was surprised to learn that instead of teaching me everything there was to know about writing code, they would teach me just enough so that I knew how to teach myself.

The field of computer programming is so vast that my school’s only objective was to teach me enough so that I knew how to find the answers I needed on my own. In other words, they wanted me to start coding, even though I didn’t know everything I needed to know.

Using Google efficiently is a core job skill in computer programming, but it’s not just for programmers. With the internet, we all can learn as we go, looking up whatever we need to know at a moment’s notice.

Some of you are still evaluating whether or not you should move forward with your dreams and goals because you don’t feel that you have the proper schooling, connections or money to make it happen. 

There are probably people out there who are not as bright as you and not as talented as you, but are making things happen because they started doing what they could and figured the rest out along the way. 

Jump in and get started; don’t be afraid. You’ll always be learning. You don’t have to know everything about what you want to do to start moving in that direction. Be excited to learn, grow, and maybe, just maybe, you won’t have to learn to code!

Toby Moore is a columnist, the star of Emmy-nominated “A Separate Peace,” and the CEO of Cubestream Inc.

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