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Just how big is the “learn to code” movement?

“Coding Camps” provide not only an opportunity to learn computer languages but also open the door to opportunity. A massive survey sheds some light on the how’s and why’s.

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Big data for a big undertaking

FreeCodeCamp’s 2016 New Coder Survey is providing an unprecedented glimpse into how adults are learning to code. There is so much data from over 15,000 coders who took the survey (raw results are here). I’ll touch on some of the demographics in a bit but allow me to map out a scenario that hopefully will allow you to connect the dots in a much broader fashion.

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Consider: Coding isn’t just for the cybergeeks anymore. Understanding even a little bit about coding can pay off in a big way. Coding is a valuable skill for marketers and any other members of a business team. Forget about sustainable algae farms, I would posit that learning to code has evolved into a global movement and is fast becoming one of the biggest phenomena of our time as there are literally millions of adults around the world who are learning to code.

Why code?

So what does coding allow you to bring to the table? Let’s break it down for you:

  • Use HTML to fine-tune some wonky text paragraphs. Even the smallest bit of HTML knowledge can be helpful when dealing with finicky content management systems.
  • Communicate better with your company’s programmers. Maybe you don’t need to be a programming pro yourself, but having basic code literacy will help you relate to the coders in your workplace and better understand how and why bugs occur.
  • Optimize and test landing pages. Basic HTML and CSS are crucial if you want to optimize and test your landing pages. And trust me–you definitely want to be doing those things!
  • Cut down on IT managers. While you’ll likely still need some head IT honchos, more coders means less workout for the IT team.
  • Empower creators. Understanding code opens up huge opportunities to create original, unique content, whether in the form of websites or through app development.

And not only that, there are plenty of sources where you can learn coding for free or pretty close to it (we’ll get to that shortly).

Learning to code: Just a school thing?

So we’ve established that learning to code can open all sorts of doors for you. It’s a career path that is age and gender neutral. But here’s the dilemma: Do you go to school and get into debt trying to maneuver through the coding jungle or so you try to just “pick it up” and learn by doing?

I’m glad you asked, and here’s where it get’s interesting. A recent study about the New York tech industry found that half of New York City’s technical work force doesn’t have a traditional college education (I’m using New York as a template because I happen to live in New York). That’s where a coding conduit like FreeCodeCamp comes in: FreeCodeCamp (and similar “institutions”) is an open source community that helps individuals learn to code. Students work through self-paced coding challenges, build projects, and earn certifications. As you learn you can get connected with people in your respective city so you can code together.

Take it one step further and you’ve got schools like Flatiron in NYC, General Assembly and Galvanize with locations across the nation, or Austin Coding Academy that are all trying to keep tuition to a minimum while teaching students how to code. Faster than you can say HTML, you can see that coding IS becoming a phenomenon and really is opening all sorts of doorways for young and old alike.

The survey

And now I can take the discussion back to the 2016 New Coder Survey. FreeCodeCamp’s Quincy Larson, who led the survey project, explains his goals quite simply when he states, “The more data we all have to learn from, the better we can understand why and how individuals are learning to code.”

With the trove of demographic and socio-economic data that is surfacing, researchers can better understand a coder’s employment goals, and their strategies for getting there.

Like I said earlier, the amount of demographic data is staggering and I encourage you to check it out here. Or follow me in Part II of this report and dig deeper together and see what we come up with.

#LearningToCode

Nearly three decades living and working all over the world as a radio and television broadcast journalist in the United States Air Force, Staff Writer, Gary Picariello is now retired from the military and is focused on his writing career.

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Business News

Leadership versus management: What’s the difference?

(Business News) The two terms, leadership and management, are often used interchangeably, but there are substantial differences; let’s explore them.

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Some people use the terms “leader” and “manager” interchangeably, and while there is nothing inherently wrong with this, there is still a debate regarding their similarities or differences.

Is it merely a matter of preference, or are there cut and dry differences that define each term?

Ronald E. Riggio, professor of leadership and organizational psychology at Claremont McKenna College, described what he felt to be the difference between the terms, noting the commonality in the distinction of “leadership” versus “management” was that leaders tend to engage in the “higher” functions of running an organization, while managers handle the more mundane tasks.

However, Riggio believes it is only a matter of semantics because successful and effective leaders and managers must do the same things. They must set the standard for followers and the organization, be willing to motivate and encourage, develop good working relationships with followers, be a positive role model, and motivate their team to achieve goals.

He states that there is a history explaining the difference between the two terms: business schools and “management” departments adopted the term “manager” because the prevailing view was that managers were in charge.

They were still seen as “professional workers with critical roles and responsibilities to help the organization succeed, but leadership was mostly not in the everyday vocabulary of management scholars.”

Leadership on the other hand, derived from organizational psychologists and sociologists who were interested in the various roles across all types of groups.

So, “leader” became the term to define someone who played a key role in “group decision making and setting direction and tone for the group. For psychologists, manager was a profession, not a key role in a group.”

When their research began to merge with business school settings, they brought the term “leadership” with them, but the terms continued to be used to mean different things.

The short answer, according to Riggio is no, not really; simply because leaders and managers need the same skills to be productive and respected.

This editorial was first published here in June of 2014.

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Business News

Does Raising Cane’s have the secret to combatting restaurant labor shortages?

(NEWS) Fried Chicken Franchise, Raising Cane’s, has turned to an unusual source of front-line employees during the labor shortage- Their executives!

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White paper sign with black text reading "Help Wanted."

I wouldn’t call myself a fried chicken aficionado or anything, but since chains are designed to blow up everywhere, I have experienced Raising Cane’s.

I’m pretty sure the Cane’s sauce is just barbecue mixed with ranch, but hey, when you’ve got a good idea, keep with it.

In the further pursuit of good ideas, the company has resorted to an intriguing method of boosting staff in a world where the lowest paid among us are still steadily dying of Covid, and/or choosing to peace out of jobs that they don’t find worth the infection risk.

Via Nation Restaurant News: “This is obviously a very tough time, so it was a joint idea of everybody volunteering together to go out there and be recruiters, fry cooks and cashiers —whatever it takes,” said AJ Kumaran, co-CEO and chief operating officer for the Baton Rouge, La.-based quick-service company, from a restaurant in Las Vegas, where he had deployed himself.”

The goal of this volunteer mission, which involves 250 of the 500 executives deployed working directly in service roles, is to bolster locations until 10,000 new hires can be made in both existing locations and locations planned to open.

It’s obvious that this is a bandaid move – execs exist for good reason, and in terms of sheer numbers (not to mention location and salary changes), this is hardly tenable long-term. But I can say this as someone who’s gone from retail to office, and back (and then forth…and then back again) several times – if this doesn’t keep everyone at the corporate level humble, and much more mindful of employees’ needs, nothing will.

The fast-food world is notorious for wonky schedules only going up a day before the week begins, broken promises on hours (both over and under), horrendous pay, and little to no defense of employee dignity in the face of customers with rank dispositions. With the wave of strikes (Nabisco, John Deere, IATSE) making the news, and lack of hazard pay/brutal physical attacks over mask mandates still very fresh in workers’ minds, smart companies are hipping themselves to the fact that “low level” employee acquisition and retention needs to be much more than the ‘work here or starve’ tactics that have served since the beginning of decades of wage stagnation. The best way for that fact to stay front-of-mind is to go out and live the truths behind it.

In Raising Cane’s case, the company also announced that they’re upping wages at all locations — to the tune of an actually not totally insulting $2 per hour, resulting in a starting wage of $15 and a managerial wage of $18.

Ideally, paying people more to cook, clean, and customer service all in one job will actually attract people back to fast food work. Seriously consider the fact that the people cleaning fast-food toilets are the same people making the food that goes into your mouth. The additional fact is that it’s better for everyone’s health when they’re paid enough to care about what they’re doing and stay healthy themselves.

Of course, one does also need to consider how much inflation has affected the price of goods and housing since the ‘fight for $15’ began almost a decade ago in 2012. Now, raising wages closer to the end point of multiple goods still might not be enough!

AJ Kumaran continued, “The chicken prices are through the roof. Logistics are very hard. Shipping is difficult. Simple things cups and paper napkins — everything is in shortage right now. Some are overseas suppliers and others domestic suppliers. Just in poultry alone, we have taken significant inflation.”

That’s global disruption for ya.

It remains to be seen whether this plucky move can save Raising Cane’s dark meat, but I’m very pro regardless. Send more top-earning employees into the trenches! No more executives with 0 knowledge of how the sausage sandwich gets made.

No more leading from behind.

Why not? What are ya? Chicken?

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Business News

Unify your remote team with these important conversations

(BUSINESS NEWS) More than a happy hour, consider having these poignant conversations to bring your remote team together like never before.

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Cultivating a team dynamic is difficult enough without everyone’s Zoom feed freezing halfway through “happy” hour. You may not be able to bond over margaritas these days, but there are a few conversations you can have to make your team feel more supported—and more comfortable with communicating.

According to Forbes, the first conversation to have pertains to individual productivity. Ask your employees, quite simply, what their productivity indicators are. Since you can’t rely on popping into the office to see who is working on a project and who is beating their Snake score, knowing how your employees quantify productivity is the next-best thing. This may lead to a conversation about what you want to see in return, which is always helpful for your employees to know.

Another thing to discuss with your employees regards communication. Determining which avenues of communication are appropriate, which ones should be reserved for emergencies, and which ones are completely off the table is key. For example, you might find that most employees are comfortable texting each other while you prefer Slack or email updates. Setting that boundary ahead of time and making it “office” policy will help prevent strain down the road.

Finally, checking in with your employees about their expectations is also important. If you can discuss the sticky issue of who deals with what, whose job responsibilities overlap, and what each person is predominantly responsible for, you’ll negate a lot of stress later. Knowing exactly which of your employees specialize in specific areas is good for you, and it’s good for the team as a whole.

With these 3 discussions out of the way, you can turn your focus to more nebulous concepts, the first of which pertains to hiring. Loop your employees in and ask them how they would hire new talent during this time; what aspects would they look for, and how would they discern between candidates without being able to meet in-person? It may seem like a trivial conversation, but having it will serve to unify further your team—so it’s worth your time.

The last crucial conversation, per Forbes, is simple: Ask your employees what they would prioritize if they became CEOs tomorrow. There’s a lot of latitude for goofy responses here, but you’ll hear some really valuable—and potentially gut-wrenching—feedback you wouldn’t usually receive. It never hurts to know what your staff prioritize as idealists.

Unifying your staff can be difficult, but if you start with these conversations, you’ll be well on your way to a strong team during these trying times.

This story was first published in November 2020.

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