Knowledge is the New Money


“No one is too young to lead, and no one is too old to learn” – Kofi Annan died in August, 2018 at the age of 80. This article is not a necrology about the former United Nations president and Nobel Peace Prize winner diplomat (although he would definitely deserve one), it’s more about how one of his main principles is connected to the present stage of our team’s evolution. This year is an experimental one for us; from the beginning of the year we are trying new frameworks and new ways of working. This is a period when we invest even more than before time in learning and in trying to get to the next phase of our company’s growth. Directions are more important than anything else before.

Guy Kawasaki explaining how great products are empowering and what are the stage your company needs to go through till success

I remember when I joined the Autofactor team more than 3 years ago how the team was functioning back then. A fine set of people that could use more help on the growth. The good thing on looking back is that I realize how big the milestones are that we did in these years. All together. We’ve come up with an organizational formula which works best for our team, we stabilized the daily routines, we setup the deployment processes, testing routines, communication channels, estimation routine, learning routines. In previous years we were super busy building one of our biggest products, the HELGA software. This year we realized that we need to invest more in refactoring, documenting and learning.

The IT market can be eliminatory if you or the team cannot keep up with the speed of its evolution. Technologies are changing from one week to another, innovative solutions are appearing like mushrooms after the rain. If you lay back and relax you might easily take out yourself from the market. Keeping your mind opened, keeping your interest focused on new things will keep you on track. Information technology is not the field where it’s enough to rely on your experience and that will assure you a place on the work field. IT people are “forced” to stay motivated and interested in new solutions, regardless if it’s a smart company or big corporation, staying up to date with latest technologies will guide you towards evolution.

Excitement and curiosity while launching a new application

Some people are saying software innovation is like magic, coming from discipline, hardworking and persistency. As a team it is a crucial ingredient that everyone is interested in learning and open to try out new ways of working. We mentioned a few times here on the blog when introduced something new, that it wasn’t always easy and smooth, we’ve had our up and down moments when experimenting something new. These kind of things take you out of your comfort zone, make you struggle a lot to learn or to find out what would work best for your organization. Larry Page, one of the founders of Google, says on the Alphabet’s website that “in the technology industry, where revolutionary ideas drive the next big growth areas, you need to be a bit uncomfortable to stay relevant.”

Successful people are always lifelong learners. Barack Obama reads 1 hour per day, he even did this during his presidency, every day he read 1 hour in the Oval Office. Warren Buffett invested 80% of his time in reading. Bill Gates reads 1 hour per day, 1 book per week and every year he takes a 2 weeks reading vacation. The 5 hours rule of spending 5 hours per week reading and learning is the absolute guarantee of keeping your mind trained for new things. The world is evolving faster than ever, learning new skills and information is more crucial than it ever was. Although we had our reservations on many services or projects we built, this year we learned to open our minds to clouding services, to auto-scaling, to functional, acceptance and unit testing, to newer version of Laravel framework, to Ionic for unifying the technology for mobile applications, to build data warehouse, to start planning and building APIs, budgeting products or projects, etc. Of course, this meant more moments of excitement and challenges when seeing the end results.

Delicious cookies sent by Hans when finishing the auto-scaling of Helga

Cookies are always making us happy

Learning become a huge trend of the 21st century, especially that a lot of services like online courses turned out to be free, open source information. Many things got dematerialized in the last few years losing their financial value and becoming accessible for everybody. Video conferencing, GPS, digital voice recorder, etc. all these were chargeable products a few years ago, today these are services available for us without being charged for it. While goods and services are becoming demonetized, knowledge is becoming more and more valuable, and this trend is definitely increasing every year. But knowledge is worthless if it’s not applied and learning became a new form of procrastination. It’s always a good postponing strategy of pushing further and keep continuing learning without needing to actually start implementing what we’ve learned. Learning something new is not a sprint, it’s more like a marathon but even marathons end up at a certain point and newer ones will come.

Internal training on Unit Test writing. New horizon arises for us.

It turns out to be true that knowledge is the new money, the return on investment can be huge if we stay focused, eliminate as much entertainment as possible. According to medium.com editor Benjamin Hardy “entertainment and distraction is the enemy of creation and learning. They will keep you in mediocracy”. However this is a strong statement we won’t be able to exclude all the fun we have in the team. We like having fun, traveling, going to cinema, drinking, eating, laughing, hiking…yes, we do! This doesn’t mean we won’t stay tuned with all the happenings of IT market and its evolution. Our best interest is to keep up with the speed of evolution and continue improving our knowledge and services.

Over Zsuzsa

Zsuzsa has joined Autofactor in the beginning of 2015 and we have been benefiting from her skills ever since. She’s taking care of planning in all of it’s aspects and makes sure that project managers, developers and customers deliver as promised. Her ‘gentle reminders’ also frequently go out to Hans, by the way.

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