21st Century Skill Stacking with Udacity

Jobs of tomorrow will require a workforce that doesn’t necessarily have a mastery, but an understanding of:

  • Programming
  • Analytics
  • Marketing

And maybe some Machine Learning.

Scott Adams, of Dilbert fame, had this to say regarding personal success:

If you want an average successful life, it doesn’t take much planning. Just stay out of trouble, go to school, and apply for jobs you might like. But if you want something extraordinary, you have two paths:
1. Become the best at one specific thing.
2. Become very good (top 25%) at two or more things.

The internet has been an amazing place to learn new things for free to become good at two or more things, but what happens with self-guided learning is people often fall into the ‘dabbler’ pattern as described in George Leonard’s book Mastery: The Keys to Success and Long-term Fulfillment(see here for a more in-depth review of Mastery)

The ‘dabbler’ path follows this example:

A person starts learning something new, makes progress, then hits a wall. Whenever the learning becomes too hard, the ‘dabbler’ is likely to give up and pick up something else. I believe part of the reason for this now is a majority of free courses come with no skin the game or feedback.

So what can we do?

Skin in the game and feedback are two of the main reasons why I have been using the Udacity Nanodegree programs to teach myself 21st century skills. By paying for a course monthly, I am incentivized to work at the course daily. Fast feedback by industry professionals helps me see where I am lacking or what I am doing well.

I have been in sales for the entirety of my career to date, and while I don’t see that changing anytime soon, I view the Udacity Nanodegrees as an opportunity to build new skills that are applicable wherever I end up working in the future.

I am currently enrolled in the Digital Marketing Nanodegree. When it was announced, I viewed the syllabus and realized that while I have a mental model of every course that is part of the degree, none of my understanding was very deep.

In 2016 I completed the Front End Web Developer Nanodegree, so I am skill stacking the Digital Marketing Nanodegree with that and building up competence is how to build websites and market them. Looking to the future, I can see myself completing the Back End and perhaps one of the Analytics Nanodegrees as well. These skills can be applied to forming my own bootstrapped company or wherever I choose to work.