Become A Software Developer Without A Degree, A Second Chance.

One month. Just enough time for you, if you are 18 to 28 years old, to learn the basics of programming  languages like C#, C++, Java, Cocoa on shiny new iMacs, and enroll on a 3 years long hardcore computing program. No degree required, just a fierce willingness to learn and  be a part of this “renaissance” movement which is happening in France right now.

Welcome to the new amusement park of the French entrepreneur Xavier Niel. A building that incorporate a dark cubic form in which these young people will lay on the floor,hang their clothes up the banisters, crash in front of their computers after midnight.  This is project 42 , and it’s a premiere in France a country  where the unemployment rate is a staggering  10,3%.


For years, only rich parents were allowed to send their kids to renowned high schools, which pumped  self important new graduates into companies asking for more competitiveness, ROIs and quick results.  African or foreign parents put way more money out of their pockets, without seeing their younglings for years. Ask to any graduates why they would not take less salaries –it’d make sense in an unstable economy- they’d yell at you “Do you know how much these studies cost me?! No way!! Out of question!” – Wrong.

This is how the French education system failed, by letting those who had big dreams but no money, no education and complicated backgrounds down –immigration’s children–. Failure is a necessary part of success, tell me about it! But what to do in a country which always have blamed failure?  Basically the government policy answer is “We know you’ll  fail but don’t  worry you’ll be on comfortable welfare, we’ll take care of you” – Wrong again.

My parents’ choices has always prevailed. After graduating from high school, I went to France and studied Pharmacy, because my dad told me to do so –he is a pharmacist– and It was a sure way to make money like him. I failed once; twice. It sent me into a tailspin. Between odd jobs, money came slow, over years I bought a Wacom tablet, a laptop, a camera and lenses –the dropout is when you buy all the things unrelated to your tuition fees–.

To accelerate my fall I discovered World Of Warcraft, an online game with a beautiful world to dive in, where you are leveling a digital avatar. It was like a drug. Sometimes I went to college –with the money my then girlfriend gave me – sometimes I didn’t. I was lost. In my distraction I started buying all sort of books that I devoured in the university’s library when I was supposed to attend to exams. Books on how to start a company, master creative software,  there was also a paperback  about Java. It looked like a big blue  cinderblock. I remember sending an email to the author asking: ”Your book is so complicated, are you sure it’s for beginners?” I was chocked. “I don’t understand, I wrote it in a way everybody could get,” he said. From this day, I knew that coding wasn’t for me. I found drawing, music, design and photography more compelling.

To succeed you need to lose yourself, and then find yourself while doing tons of non-sense.

We need to reboot the entire education system. Build costumed career paths for our children and not be ashamed/afraid of their choices. In a perfect world a father might say: “Alright son! You want to be a plumber because you’ve spent too much time playing Mario Bros? Okay do it”. Plumbers, these folks are making a living  after all, and a  good one. At the end of the day, a college degree is just a $107,600 piece of paper as Emily Bowen cleverly put it in her article.

During an interview, Xavier Niel said that there’s no degree delivered after the 3 years program “We can’t promise them a degree but we’ll give them the tools they need to be better off in a promising industry.” Companies like Google or the Nasa have visited 42 , and are already making selections. Xavier knows what he’s doing, he has justbuilt himself a reservoir of talented programmers, and they love him. You can tell by the amount of cheers and claps he gets every time he enters the room.

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I’m not disparaging education. It’s necessary. What’s more necessary though, is to find what you love. It’s also our duty to send the elevator back down, because we were all also lost once. Knowing the solution, pass it on to others and watch how they elevate themselves to new heights is priceless.

What is your true call? How did you find it? How did it inspire others?


It’s Just a Job, The Thrill is Gone…

“Something is wrong I hold my Head, values ​​gone, society’s dead” it might have been Kanye West’s lyrics in “All of the Lights”Here’s the funky thing. Whenever I run into someone and we talking about work, (everytime) I’m asking do you like your job? Are you happy?” I get a big “yes, yes!” or “yeah!” I reply “Oh yeah? What make you so happy doing it?” and then I hear an echo asking myself How can we be so hypocritical to ourselves sometimes?”I don’t know what happens in the corporate world today. But the truth is: people are not happy with their jobs.Photo (2)

I listen to musicin my office, I’m on facebook; always online, and people telling me on the chat “You lazy a**! Get back to work!” they don’t realize something: I’m actually working. I take breaks, sometimes I get lost in -crazy–  conversations with my colleagues, it doesn’t affect my productivity and I‘m very lucky. In most creative businesses, work atmosphere is like that: grown children, always joking and laughing, but there’s a heavy work rotation beneath.

I repeat: I am blessed and very lucky to do a job that I love: creative designer (running my own company)
And when the deadlines are coming, i’m like this:

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Here’s a video of Marina Shifrin which is all the rage right now on YouTube and generated up to 8 million views (it’s amazing, that’s the score Rihanna does when she heats up.)Anyway, instead of sending a resignation letter to her employee Next Media Animation, she decides to go on the internet to express her frustration. And now comes Kanye West, who’s song is playing in the background, why we had to involve Kanye in all this? The man still has the ghosts of Taylor Swift on his back, paternity to manage, and he steams all this stress off on the paparazzis…

Usually, in job interviews, the candidate’s motivation is high: great career development and salary, great colleagues and shiny premises. In the IT companies we lucky enough to stumble upon table tennis, table football or pools.

In Art & Copy (awe inspiring documentary about the world of advertising), you’re visiting the offices of Chiat/Day, it’s like paradise: a basketball court, a music room, and a sort of giant frog raises in the lobby….right in middle of the lobby! OMG! I want to go there! News Media mentioned a pool at the top of its building (the weather is always shitty there!)  and a sauna…seriously they should do a little better, right?

Quantity over Quality:

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At News Media, I saw a row of boxes, this is the modern version of the guillotine…but upright. This kind of setup is quite popular in call centers or in all companies that have “push the figures” managementAny windows? No! Are you crazy! We want to keep you from jumping! And the turnover rate is stratospheric. (I’m not surprised they are still hiring after this massive taunt.)

The challenge for a company  nowadays is to create a good work environment, while maintaining a certain level of productivity. They should say “Hey how to transform this place to make sure that our employees would fall so in love that they’d spend their nights here

Passion is gone:Passion is burning and contagious.PhotoPeople gives round of applause for this video, standing ovation everywhere, watch the comments out:15

It’s a shame, as I’ve said  we complain being up in an office at 4:30 am, but we easily forget that all the tools that we use today, Windows, Facebook, iPhone, etc. were built by passionate men and women who didn’t count their hours. Some have resigned but the story doesn’t remember the quitters.

Don’t get me wrong, but if you reread the biography of Steve Jobs, wow! The man wasn’t all sugar & candies with his employees. Tyrant in every sense of the word, he even demanded the same level of tyranny to his lieutenants in their own teams. Who was crazy enough to go and tell him upfront ”Hey Steve, I quit! “But it is not this dark side that the public will remember of him.

Perseverance is also gone: 9 months in a company – that’s how long Marina stayed– don’t give you an idea about the directions you want to give to your carreer. We always forget how perseverance and hard work pays off. We should read this story of Hooters waitress who worked her way up to become president of Cinnabon—$1 billion company– tall before the age of 35, she started at 15! I guess she had way more reasons to quit!

Another story of Michelle Obama forcing her two daughters, Sasha and Malia, to play tennis because of its virtues, because life will throw challenges at you, and things you don’t like are part of the package! That’s why when you don’t like something you have to stick and work at it, overcoming it, the rewards will always be great for you, even if you don’t do it for the rest of your life. (We don’t ask you to!)

Success requires a good dose of life balance: Too much work is killing us, mentally and physically. We must find the right balance. Especially when we have a family life, a girl/boyfriend or husband/wife waiting for you at home. There must be other activities and we have to juggle with them. Disconnect from work. It’s hard to remember this rule, when we love our job more than anything, and we just got this career started; Talking about me, my dogs remind me everytime how much they missed me when I finally come home late at night. I know that I should spend more of time playing with them.

Soon after that, Next Media has responded and I think their answer is very classy, although I wouldn’t like to be in their shoes right now. They claim they gave Marina all the work comfort she needed: professional travels etc. Both sides, I think, are saying “We don’t see what we could have done more”. Where do we go from here? We should open that famous book by Dale Carnegie: How to Win Friends and Influence People. Get back to basics.

Something is wrong in this ” youtube and social networks ” society that raised so much “artificial” dust around us, we can hardly see happiness/opportunities when the dust clears. No doubt, this video is rude and against all companies rules. If one day you decide to unravel your problems with your employer on Youtube, make sure you can handle the supina coming.This was disrespectful. On one hand, it reminds me of scandals like Domino Pizza or Taco Bell (same spirit: how to screw a company you working for). On the other hand, there are people in the US and around the world going through their ‘crappy’ job (they often have 3) everyday, simply because they have no choice, have children to feed, they sleep in a car, waiting for better days.We are in a economic crisis, the jobs these days are hard to find, and we cannot afford the ‘luxury’ of slamming doors that quick and brag about it like children.The only positive thing that this video has taught us is that, the view numbers don’t matter. The key is to put all the focus in creativity and good storytelling. Marina’s dance skills are terrible lol (and it’s worse at News Media). Hey! Nobody cares! It’s fun and simple, the secret of good content: she’s just herself.

Oh, before I forget…

Here’s Marina’s conclusion:

No my dear … It is not you against the business world (It didn’t wait for you and it worked like this for decades.) It’s all about you and million workers out there trying to find happiness. The way I see your profile, you’re more the type to open your own business who don’t go by orders. That’s fine, the world need people like that.

How you manage the media impact of your video? Have you find another job? What about your reputation? Still intact? Winning the trust of your future clients after that, will it be easy? Many questions that are now…your problem.

Dear reader, what are yours? Is your boss a jerk? Your Employees don’t listen to you? Colleagues/Customers are unpleasantAwful work conditions? It will always be like that! Work at it! And if there’s really nothing to do about it, leave! But quietly, with class and loyalty! ” They” will reward you for that. Thank you for your time!