Parents, if you love your children…

Get 'em started early

Last week, I was having the typical modern Silicon Valley conversation about how ridiculously challenging it is to find technical talent.

We covered all the typical bullet points:  the best thing you could do is build those skills yourself, you’ll need to be willing to give up significant equity, you might want to offer free food, massages, and funsies at the office, etc.

One of my favorite entrepreneurs (Jason, who happens to be launching an education startup at FormativeLearning.com), piped up, laughing, and quipped…”well, what I did was start reading HTML for Babies to my 1-year-old daughter.”

“Are you joking?”

“No!  I’m not!”

“Awww…yeah!  That’s so awesome.”

And while I think this is hilarious, and I’m sorta kidding.  I’m also not kidding.  The thing is, HTML is no more complicated than math, or grammer…and we definitely teach THAT to our kids.

Most kids these days end up taking 4-8 years of foreign languages, and year-after-year of math classes, and oodles of literature and european history, etc.

But how many of our kids are given a basis, at an early age, for learning the technical skills that are so desperately coveted?   We are living in the midst of this crazy employment oxymoron…we live in a country where unemployment is extremely high, while at the same time, companies are tripping all over themselves to hire people who know how to program…

Job Postings: Web Design vs Geometry

Don’t believe me?  Check out the graph from Indeed.com, showing the trend in job postings over the past few years.  As a hint, the one that is huge and growing is “web design”, while practically no one gets a job because of their skills in “geometry”.

Now, I’m not saying we shouldn’t learn geometry and I don’t mean to pick on this skill.  In fact, geometry is important to web design, as well as being a well-rounded individual.

But what I AM saying is that our children ought to be AT LEAST as skilled (and fluent) at software development technologies, like HTML, as they are at things like Geometry and Shakespeare.

So parents, if you really love your children, give them the gift of code this Christmas…and start them on a path toward fantastic job security…start them early…with books like HTML for Babies.  (A more serious look at the hot skillsets forthcoming…but HTML is a good place to start).

Yes, your children (along with everyone else) may think you are extremely strange (right now), but they will thank you in 2035 when they’re making plus salary…while coding up apps for your wall-mounted touch screen tablet television.

The Book I Read 3X To Get Into to Stanford GSB

"MBA Admissions Strategy" Book I Read When Applying to StanfordSo on Wednesday, I went to a Stanford MBA Admissions session in Bangalore, to be on the student panel.  It was a lot of fun talking to the applicants about the program, about our classmates, the courses, etc.  I was there with Dan, my buddy from South Africa, and Vasily, my buddy from Russia, as we were all interning in India for a month.

The session was fun and the questions were interesting.  But, once we broke into small groups, the obvious and most frequent question was ‘how should I write my essays?’, ‘what are they looking for’, etc?  Answering those questions is almost as impossible as writing the essays is.  The only advice I could tell anyone was to read THIS book.

MBA Admissions Strategy. Getting in to top 10 MBAs

When looking for the right book to read when I was applying, I skimmed the table of contents of every relevant book and thought this was the most useful…I felt that this one did the best job, to me, of explaining (1) what the admissions committee is thinking and (2) what the question archetypes are and how to respond to them.

I read the entire book, cover to cover, 3 different times over the course of my application preparation and essay writing process.  It was literally my reference guide every time I got stuck writing my essays; I marked it up, re-read certain passages many more times, etc.

Everything about the entire application process requires so much personal introspection that it’s REALLY hard to give applicants advice…the usual lame stuff like ‘be true to yourself’ is really unhelpful, so the only advice I can possibly give is, “read this book and do what it says.”