What did you learn today?

When I was in the 8th standard, my parents gifted me a ZX Spectrum. That was the first programmable gaming console to hit the market in Indian. You could hook it up to a TV and play video games. But you could also use it to write software programs in a language called GW Basic. I was fascinated. That was before the times of internet. That was before the times of computer classes. There were very few learning resources. It was a struggle to find a few books. One of my dad’s friends knew someone who was willing to help me learn the basics. I would go to that gentleman’s house every weekend and bombard him with questions.

I learnt fast. It was a struggle. But I was hungry. Within a year I was writing small pieces of code and within 2 years I had written a little game of my own!

Once, I made an audio story with only sound effects and no words. I recorded it on an old tape recorder.
Once, I spent an entire summer making dry roses and supplying them to local florists!
Once, I made electronic metronomes and sold them to students at my guitar classes.

I took on many such projects and learnt many such things. I learned by reading, experimenting and talking to people who know.

Recently I met with a friend who has spent 20+ years in a software products company. Now he runs his own firm which creates technology products. I asked him what do they look for when they hire new software engineers. What he told me, stumped me.

He said that those who just go through with their usual engineering course and studies, are usually very unenterprising and dull. They just know some part of what they have been taught and nothing else. But those who have made efforts to learn many new things on their own get the advantage. They have taken on projects, internships and made their own efforts to learn things outside of the college curriculum. These people are enterprising and display the attitude of hunger to learn. They get the premium.

I learned how to make short films recently and it makes me empowered in this world of social media and video.
I did an online course in design and learned how to create smart graphics for promotion online.
I met a friend who taught herself graphology through freely available online resources.

Learning is fun. More that what we learn, the process of learning instills in us the confidence that 'even if I fail, I will learn shamelessly and rise!'