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Never Say 'I'm Not Technical' Again

If this business school grad can teach himself to build a submersible robot in just one year, then certainly you can become technical too.
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Just about everyone agrees coders, makers and geeks are the golden boys (and girls) of the current economy. Employers fight over them, and their salaries reflect that demand. Plus, building cool things and getting paid well for it just seems like so much fun.

But sadly, you’re not technical. Whatever the reason, somewhere along the way math and science became intimidating and you decided you definitely didn’t have what it takes to be a techie.  

News flash: you’re almost certainly wrong.

You may not be technical now, but thanks to the wonders of the internet, there’s almost nothing stopping you from learning whatever technology skills strike your fancy. Here’s how one technologist who is driven batty when people proclaim their tech ognirance explains it: "For me the most dangerous language is when a person tells me he or she is 'not technical,'" Jesse Hammons, a software engineer who has worked at a number of start-ups said.

"Creating an 'in group' and 'out group' around technology gives implicit support to the idea that there is this  priesthood of geek-nerds that is closed off to you unless you are smart enough to be 'technical.'  When people say 'I'm not technical,' usually the way it sounds to me is different than if they said 'I don't speak French.' With languages it is clear that you could learn French if you put in the time and effort. With the 'I'm not technical' narrative, more often than not the impression is people are saying 'I can't ever be technical.' The truth is in this day and age with enough googling anyone can do anything.  Speak any language.  Repair any machine.  Program any device," he said.  

Don’t believe him? Then maybe this inspiring video from the Kauffman Foundation will convince you. In it David Lang, co-founder of OpenROV, explains how he went from a completely non-technical business school grad to a guy who builds open source submersible robots in about a year using the crowdsourced knowledge of the the internet. Surely, if he can do that, you can learn whatever technical skill you’ve been dreaming of mastering:

What tech skill would you learn if you just believed you could?

 

Last updated: Jul 23, 2013

JESSICA STILLMAN | Columnist

Jessica Stillman is a freelance writer based in London with interests in unconventional career paths, generational differences, and the future of work. She has blogged for CBS MoneyWatch, GigaOM, and Brazen Careerist.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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