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Learn In Public

October, 2019

I recently read about the concept of “Learn In Public”. I adopted this list and modified it to fit my needs. This is the result.

Key Takeaways

You already know that you will never be done learning. But most people “learn in private”, and lurk. They consume content without creating any themselves.

Absolutely true. I think this is one of the most dangerous things you can do. Because it gives you the feeling, that you actually achieved something.

Consuming isn’t an achievement. Everyone can consume. We live in a consume-driven world. A dangerous place to be. “Man, I was so busy. I watched 2h of tutorials, then I read this blog, then I read stuff on Twitter.“. And suddenly, 2 months are gone & you stretched yourself for 2h in this time period while copying code from YouTube.

Don’t get me wrong, better done than perfect. 2h > 0h.

BUT: You need to learn the skill of going out alone.

Write blogs and tutorials and cheatsheets. Speak at meetups and conferences. Ask and answer things on Stackoverflow or Reddit. Make Youtube videos or Twitch streams. Start a newsletter. Whatever your thing is, make the thing you wish you had found when you were learning. Don’t stop there. Enjoyed a coding video? Reach out to the speaker/instructor and thank them, and ask questions. Make PR’s to libraries you use. Make your own libraries no one will ever use. Clone stuff you like. Teach workshops. Go to conferences and summarize what you learned. There’s always one level deeper. But at every step of the way: Document what you did and the problems you solved.

Leave your shelter, test the market. Get a lot of feedback. See where you can improve. Most of the time it isn’t your code. Ask for feedback.

If you feel uncomfortable, or like an impostor, good. You’re pushing yourself. Don’t assume you know everything, but try your best anyway, and let the internet correct you when you are inevitably wrong. Wear your noobyness on your sleeve. People think you suck? Good. You agree. Ask them to explain, in detail, why you suck. You want to just feel good or you want to be good? No objections, no hurt feelings.

I think most of the time imposter syndrom comes from all these edited YouTube tutorials, where one guy codes some tool and you are like “That was fast, I need 10x the time.”. This is free coaching. Other people pay a lot of money for coaching.

At some point you’ll get some support behind you. People notice genuine learners. They’ll want to help you. Don’t tell them, but they just became your mentors. This is very important: Pick up what they put down. Think of them as offering up quests for you to complete. When they say “Anyone willing to help with ___?” you’re that kid in the first row with your hand already raised. These are senior engineers, some of the most in-demand people in tech. They’ll spend time with you, 1 on 1, if you help them out (p.s. and there’s always something they want help on). You can’t pay for this stuff. They’ll teach you for free. Most people don’t see what’s right in front of them. But not you. Because you learn in public. By teaching you they teach many. You amplify them. You have one thing they don’t: a beginner’s mind. You see how this works?

Luckily, I was/am this kind of person my whole life. My ego is very small & don’t feel dumb when asking questions. I genuinely love to ask questions. Feedback is a great opportunity. Doing stuff is a great opportunity.

At some point people will start asking you for help because of all the stuff you put out. 80% of developers are “dark”, they don’t write or speak or participate in public tech discourse. But you do. You must be an expert, right? Don’t tell them you aren’t. Answer best as you can, and when you’re stuck or wrong pass it up to your mentors.

I don’t participate in public tech discourse, because I don’t care. I write/develop stuff. I respond to every comment and e-mail I get.

That’s it.

Learn In Public.


Hi! I'm Michael 👋 I'm a Mentor & Educator & Senior Web Developer - I help you to reach your (career) goals.