Thinking About the Power of Words

wordsToday, I’m thinking about the power of words. Two days ago, I was having one of those days at work. It’s month-end in a Finance group so we’re working on the monthly close schedule. Towards the end of the day an issue was discovered the needed to be fixed. This combined with our system running a little slow caused me to stay about two hours later than I originally thought.

After leaving work, I headed to the T stop to go home only to find out the T was broken down. Another train didn’t arrive for almost an hour which increased my almost hour-long commute by more than thirty minutes. I didn’t arrive home until 8:30pm.

I opened the door to my house to find my son, post bath with still slightly damp hair, sitting on the couch with his milk and a piece of bread waiting patiently to read a story before bed while my wife was changing our daughter in the next room.

Then I heard it, “da,” which wasn’t coming from my usually talkative son. “Da,” I heard again. Then, “da-da-da-da-da,” in succession. I walk over to my wife and little girl, who until today had not said a single word. My wife later told me that she had been saying it all day. I picked up my little girl and gave her a big hug and a kiss like I usually due after I get home from work.

It got me thinking about the power of words. On that day, I wasn’t having the best day. I got stuck at work. The T broke down on me. I got home really late. Then I heard one word from my little girl and it turned that day into one of the best days of my life. That’s why I’ve been dedicating so much time on improving my writing and public speaking. These are the two things that determine the amount of success you’ll have in life.

You can be successful by being a great engineer, accountant, or programmer but if you can’t articulate what you’re working on, creating, proposing, or trying to sell then you’ll never get anyone to buy your product or follow you.

Words have the power to change your life, company, or society. It only depends on how you’re willing to use them.

I’m thinking about a lot of different ways this article can go. The good and bad ways that written and spoken words have impacted our society. The importance of creative people in our society to create works of art that move us. It could also be about why I think a liberal arts education is still important, and why removing and discouraging it is a detriment to our society. I’ve written about the importance of liberal arts education in the past even though I don’t have one.

One of the biggest issues I’ve seen in my work experience is how other employees and myself have struggled to articulate ideas. It’s why I’ve worked hard to improve my writing and speaking.

It’s really the main purpose of this blog.

Must Love Data Mondays: R Programming

The next course in Johns Hopkins University’s Data Science Specialization offered through Coursera is R Programming.  It’s a four-week course that starts today, so I’ll be spending the week completing the week one reading and assignments.   I’m looking forward to start learning the main programming language of the course and start using R for data science. I’m also looking forward to this course requiring a little more of a time commitment and hopefully it worth my time.  I’ll right about whether it’s worth my time in a few weeks.

Are You an Entrepreneur or a Freelancer?

Seth Godin has created a few great courses and podcasts on Entrepreneurship. One of his main questions is, “Are You an Entrepreneur or a Freelancer?” It’s usually the first question he asks and he says that you need to decide right now whether you want to freelance or be an entrepreneur. Are you the person who would rather create art (freelancer) or do you want to start a business that scales (entrepreneur)? Think about it this way, if you can leave your business and it keeps running without missing a beat than your an entrepreneur. If your business would fall apart because you create all the work people pay for than you’re a freelancer. Seth is a freelancer, his goal is to create art and ship his work. You can try to do both but you’ll be unhappy in the long run.

Currently, Udemy is running a Seth Godin course about freelancing. There is a large discount until 4/30. These courses have me thinking about if I’m a freelancer or an entrepreneur. It’s a question I’m looking to answer this week.

Are you a freelancer or an entrepreneur?

Must Love Data Mondays: A Few Articles & Links

Last week, I completed the second week of the Johns Hopkins’ The Data Scientists’ Toolbox on Coursera.  Updated my GitHub account, learned about Markdown, and downloaded some packages to Rstudio.

I also tried to read a few good articles about Data Science.  One of the best sources I found this week was, Data Elixir, a weekly collection of news, resources, and inspirations from around the web.  Every week a new issue is delivered to your inbox.  This was my first week receiving Data Elixir and all of the articles I’m posting come from this source.


  1. Reddit “Ask Me Anything” with Andrew Ng and Adam Coates
  2. Customer Data: Designing for Transparency and Trust
  3. 8 Possible Alternatives To The Turing Test
  4. The data science ecosystem, part 3: Data applications
  5. Recommending Music on Spotify with Deep Learning

Data Resources

A major question of mine about data science, is how do I find the data I’m looking for online?  My next question is why is this data not publicly available?  Here are two good sources from this week’s Data Elixir issue.

Code Bootcamps at Community College

President Obama wants to make Community College free which is great but I’m interested in what kind of education these hopeful students will receive.  When I was graduating high school, I decided to attend community college because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do in college so I decided to spend my time at community college learning about a number of different topics.  I had to pay the full tuition cost because my parents made too much money for me to qualify for student aid.  I’m not really complaining, community college was much cheaper than the average semester at a four-year school but most of the low-income students I knew where already going for free.  They actually were making money by attending college no matter if they passed or not.  Many of these kids didn’t receive anything from this free education and some barely received there two-year degree which wasn’t much of a use to transfer to a four-year school.

I think community college is great but instead of just giving people a two-year degree that can’t give them any type of decent paying job.  Why don’t they work to make community college give put real opportunities like the new bootcamps, schools, and nano degrees like Flatiron or Zipfan.  These programs offer subsidized education to students in need and they seem to be a great opportunity that I wish I would have know about before getting my graduate degree because they are really what I wanted to do.  Are they easy? No. Do you need to commit to them and work hard? Yes, but they actually lead to real jobs that pay a salary that someone can support a family on.

I think free education is a good goal. I know a lot of people are complaining about the cost but doesn’t our society benefit from everyone receiving more education.  I just think we should only be worried about making education free, we need to make this education worth their time.

3 Keys to Success

  1. Input
    1. Gather, read, and listen to consume information.
  2. Analyze
    1. Analyze the information you’re receiving to create assumptions, decisions, and ideas.
  3. Export
    1. Be able to quickly export those ideas, decisions, and analysis through writing, speaking, or art.

Must Love Data Mondays: Online Certificates, Nanodegrees, & Boot Camps

Today, I’m thinking about the different online options to learn about data science in the form of online courses, certifications, nanodegrees, and boot camps. This topic is geared to someone who is interested in the field but might either need a refresher or more education. Obviously, if you have an advanced degree in Data Science or Machine Learning then you probably don’t need these courses.

While completing my research on the field of data science, I stumbled across a lot of online course, certificates, boot camps, and nanodegrees. It’s easy to get lost in all of the selection and I could probably write a years worth of weekly blog posts on the different options.

I’m interested if anyone actually views these different training options as relevant. Are they just theory or do you actually build something? I personally learn best through solving problems and building. It’s why I like, Learn Code The Hard Way.

The next few weeks, I want to discuss a few of the online education resources I’ve found. In the Let no one ignorant of calculus enter here post, I briefly discussed a few of these options. Each week, I’ll give a more in-depth look at the following sources in the three main topics I’ve found Math, Programming, and Data Science Education.



Data Science

For each of these resources I want to answer the following questions:

  1. Is it free? If not, how much does it cost?
  2. How long do they take to complete?
  3. Do you receive a certificate, degree, or nothing?
  4. Is it worth anything? Would you actually put this on your resume?
  5. How relevant is the information?
  6. Is it more theory based or Projects based? What will you build?
  7. What languages or skill will you learn?

These are the types of questions I’m hoping to answer for each of the above sources. I’ll start next week with the Math section to talk about what Khan Academy offers to help you refresh or learn the high level math skills you need for a career in data science.