I almost failed computer classes in school. I taught myself to code and taught over 500 girls to code and I started a tech startup. All without an engineering background.
When I left my corporate job, I knew I had to start a tech startup, the problem is I had no idea about tech. My biggest contact with technology was Excel.
But let’s go way back because my fear of technology was rooted for a long, long time.
I was 7. It was our first exam on how to use a computer. And I mean basics. The big task was how to add a new page on word. And I froze!
I didn’t know how to add a new page. Something so simple!
I didn’t know how to do it so I pressed the spacebar again and again until I got a blank page.
My hands were sweating. I was so afraid someone would find out I was pressing the spacebar because I didn’t know how to use the return button. I was afraid of people knowing the truth that I knew nothing about computers. Back then, I didn’t even have a computer. My only interaction with computers was that one hour class we had once a week.
When the teacher came to my place, he realized that there was something off. He was looking at my screen and turning to see me. Like everything looked right, but when we tried to navigate through my page, he realized I had one page with a ton of spaces.
Truth, I wasn’t technical. I wasn’t born a techie. I made myself one.
I’m telling you this story not only for you to laugh that in time I didn’t even know how to use the return button. But to show you that no matter where you are starting, we can all learn technical skills.
On top of my own fears, I had many people tell me I wasn’t technical, and I would never make it. We all have that one love one that worries about our future. I was crazy for trying to learn to code on my own when I already had a successful career when I already had a path in front of me. Starting developing this skill set feels a lot like starting over. But we are always moving forward.
To be honest, nowadays coding is not my favorite thing to do anymore, but around that time I was so fired up. I used all those voices of “I can’t”, including my own, to be the fire that kept me going. I end up not only learning to code but making a coding camp for girls to learn to code. So they never had to pass for the same thing I passed once. When you make your personal struggle to your why on how to serve people, it gives you more energy than you could ever have. You stop doing this [learning to code] only for you but to everyone that was told they can’t.
Helping those girls was also a way to help myself, as I learned more and faster than I ever had. By having them share their questions and their thoughts I had to learn things I probably on my own I would never have questioned myself. I learn how to code websites and apps in a week. This ability was very useful, and the best is that I learn how to do apps and websites with no coding altogether.
I learned that no one limits you unless you allow it. No one gets to tell “you can’t”, “you are not [technical]”. Unless you listen to it and never try it on your own. It’s not real.
You can learn any skill. Re-skilling is a natural thing, and we all can do it.
A baby doesn’t just stop trying to walk because they didn’t walk the first time they tried. We as adults don’t go telling babies: “you know I think [walking thing] is not for you”. We encourage them, we are patient with them. Be kind to yourself.
We are all learning to walk in different shoes all the time.
So, how do you start a technical startup without being technical?
By allowing yourself to be the baby, learn to walk and take one step at a time.