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Tim Bourguignon πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡ΊπŸ‡«πŸ‡·πŸ‡©πŸ‡ͺ
Tim Bourguignon πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡ΊπŸ‡«πŸ‡·πŸ‡©πŸ‡ͺ

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Michael Kennedy almost learned Python in the 90s... and other things I learned recording his DevJourney

This week, I published Michael Kennedy's #DevJourney story on my eponym Podcast: Software developer's Journey. Among many other things, here are my main personal takeaways:

  • Michael came to programming from the mathematics side. He worked as a student during the summer in the mathematics department of his university, teaching himself to code to solve math problems. He knew he was in trouble when he realized that the parts of the projects that were annoying to him... were the mathematic ones...
  • In order to ease into the industry, Michael found the limited number of things he could do with programming, and focused on this. Like Reuven Lerner said in a previous episode: "better be the big fish in a small pond"!
  • I had heard about eye-tracking usability studies, but never talked to anyone who even remotely had worked on it. Michael did just that. His first job (7 years long) was to assist companies in doing UX testing of their products.
  • A large part of the work Michael did was time critical. It had to work the first time (think watching people watch Superbowl ads). This drove him to invest in and learn a lot about code quality.
  • When Michael didn't have mentors around him, he invested time during lunch to learn something, read a book etc. This had compounding effects.
  • Michael literally found his second job thanks to his public speaking activities.
  • Michael loved podcasts before it was even called podcasts, so when he moved to Python and couldn't find a podcast on Python, it was clear to him he should create one.
  • Michael likes to understand the history of the things he works on and with.
  • When Michael started his own company, he had 3 kids and a mortgage. How's that for pressure to succeed? But looking 5 years down the road, he didn't see himself continue doing the same thing. The economy was good, so failure in this regard didn't look any worse than doing what he was doing at that time! He went for it!
  • The "Talk Python" podcast was essential to the growth of his business. He already had an audience.
  • When choosing which courses to create, Michael also follows the previously described "niche thinking process". That's how he created the "Python for C# Developers" course: "there must be only a handful of other courses specifically tailored for this audience" he said.
  • Michael transitioned from C# to Python as a way to diversify his skillsets, without thinking that it would consume him as it did
  • The reason Python is so popular, is because Python has the least friction to solve a problem. No need for boiler plate code or a lot of programming knowledge, you can script right away.
  • Michael created two different podcasts, because those are tailored for two different audiences and timelines. "Talk python" is intended as a registry of timeless stories, whereas "Python Bytes" centers on the news around the Python world. It is easier to create a community with the second one, but hard to do with a timeless podcast.

Some quotes:

  • "It's one thing to say 'can I build this?', it's an entirely other thing to say 'can I get someone to care?'"
  • "I used to love C++ and think C# was great, and now I look at it and think 'why are all those symbols here? Why so many semi-colons, and who needs that many curly braces?'"

Advice: make sure the life you end up living is the life you chose!

Thanks Michael for sharing your story with us!

You can find the full episode and the shownotes here:

Did you listen to his story?

  • What did you learn?
  • What are your personal takeaways?
  • What did you find particularly interesting?

Top comments (1)

lewiskori profile image
Lewis kori

Thanks for sharing. His podcast is really amazing πŸ˜„