A few weeks ago I started teaching myself to code. It actually doesn’t feel quite right to suggest that I’m “teaching myself.” Besides benefitting from Paul’s guidance, there are so many freely available resources that I feel like I have multiple teachers (Codecademy, Ruby on Rails Tutorial, etc).
Paul has been suggesting for awhile that I learn to code, or at least have a working knowledge of the framework Treatings is built on. I think I’ll shirk all responsibility and blame my initial resistance on my Economics degree at Vanderbilt. Namely, the concept of comparative advantage. I was taught that a country has a comparative advantage at producing something if they can produce it at a lower cost than anyone else. The theory is that countries should produce only the goods they have a comparative advantage in, and they should import all other goods and services. Countries that specialize and trade for what they can’t produce as efficiently can consume more of everything.
So, my thinking was that since the country Paulistan has the clear comparative advantage in coding, instead of being a JV coder I should specialize in other tasks. Here are the flaws in that thinking:
- Very early in a startup, there aren’t many tasks outside building the product (talking to customers is another big one)
- While product management doesn’t require the ability to write the production code, an understanding of the work required to tweak/add features is important in determining the highest leverage inflection points
- I don’t need to follow in Paul’s coding footsteps. While he has been shifting focus to back-end database management, I can have a meaningful impact by diving into front-end code. Next time I have a revolutionary idea (capitalizing a letter or moving a button two inches to the right), I can do it myself
I don’t have a set coding goal. I will say I’ve been enjoying spending time on an activity where problems have actual solutions. I can spend hours writing website copy or drawing out wireframes, but it is difficult to evaluate progress because there is no “right” answer. On the other hand, with coding there is a right answer (often many of them), and it is rewarding to have that resolution.
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