What do a Victoria’s Secret Model, Instagram’s CEO and the Black-Eyed Peas front-man have in common? Aside from the obvious — that they are famous and wealthy — there is a less obvious link that unites them. All three have learnt how to code.
Karlie Kloss, who has graced the cover of Vogue is also an entrepreneur, operating a cookie business. In an article with Buzzfeed, she mentions that she thought that it’d be cool if she could deliver her cookies via drone, which sparked an interest in coding. She is now such an avid coder that she has set a coding scholarship that seeks to redress the lack of women in coding. As she says: ‘It doesn’t matter if you’re a fashion model or high school student, understanding code is so important because it’s the language that runs our world!’
Will.i.am front-man for the Black-eyed Peas is not only passionate about music, he is equally passionate about technology. Among his entourage you’ll find an MIT graduate who is his travelling tutor and helps him build his apps.
When asked by VentureBeat what is cooler ‘coding or music he replied: ‘[Coding is]10 times better than music. 1 trillion times. I’m making music based on frequencies. With code, I can create operating systems of my own or apps that allow me to make music.’
And while Will.i.am and Kloss seem unusual examples of coders, Instagram Co-founder and CEO Instagram Kevin Systrom seems much more the stereotypical coder. But his journey wasn’t exactly straightforward either.
Intimidated by so many fantastically smart folk in his CS class at Stanford, he concentrated on business instead, taking a marketing role at Google and coding as a side-project. It wasn’t until later on that he decided to focus on coding and his skills went from ‘hobby’ to professional.
What all three examples show is that no matter what your passion is, coding is a skill that allows you to expand your venture into new and exciting places.
You don’t need to be a genius to learn how to code
Coding seems intimidating and the perception is that you need to be a serious computer whiz to code. As Candice, a blogger notes:
‘Computer programming was a super power from an entirely esoteric dimension. Not for a moment , I imagined that I could enter this universe, that learning to code was not only reserved for the super-talented and pre-pubescent few.’
However the reality is that coding is no more difficult than learning any new skill, be it a new sport or a new language.
If you are feeling wary, then just start very small. As many children are learning how to code, a great way to get a sense of coding is to download a kids app and build gradually onto bigger projects
Coding isn’t just for tech companies creating high-level products
A second reservation people have is that coding is too esoteric – what possible use could it have for every-day businesses?
Yet coding is surprisingly versatile. It is the language that allows you to build websites, apps and software. As businesses realise that they need a bigger presence online, knowing how to code can empower you to implement plans for the business, and have a better sense of what’s possible and what isn’t.
For this reason, coding is also very useful in creating prototypes. The gap in the market for those with digital skills means that it can be difficult, time-consuming and expensive to engage a programmer. Learning to code yourself means that you can be more agile and get products up and running quickly and cheaply.
But at a more basic level, a bit of knowledge about coding can allow you to better understand the data that is coming into your business, it can help you to communicate with the tech side of the business more dynamically and also future-proof your business. As Kathryn Parsons, CEO of Decoded says:
'CEOs and entrepreneurs need to culturally prepare for a shift in skills. The future is written in code, so it’s crucial for small businesses to invest in making their staff digitally literate if they want to thrive in a market where innovation is the road to success.’
But perhaps the most overlooked skill coding can give you is the ability to broaden your horizons and change your thinking. It promotes creativity, innovation and critical thinking, all critical attributes of a successful and dynamic business.
If you’re interested in coding some great places to start are:
This fantastic Ted Talks by computer programmer and author Linda Liukas that beautifully dispels the mystery surrounding by coding.
A free forum with a lot of support from the team and from the community. Very clear step-by-step instructions.
If you were at CeBIT Australia this year, you may have seen the CEO Kathryn Parsons give a fascinating talk on coding. Her company offers a range of classes to ‘demystify decoding’ and tackles issues like cyber security, data analysis and digital leadership that caters to professionals on all levels of the tech scale.
A popular beginner offering, Learn Python provides a range of materials for a one-time fee of $30 (and a money-back guarantee if you don’t like it.
For the more altruistic out there, free code camp let’s you work on actual projects for non-for-profit organisations.
We hope that we’ve given you some ideas on how to approach coding with confidence, rather than fear. If you’d like more tips on business technology then you need to download our CeBIT Australia SME Summary Report today.