Learn Python like a Google employee

Nick Parlante is a member of the Google developers staff and created a course for other Google employees to learn Python from the beginning. The aim was to help people with basic programming skills in other languages than Python to get into this topic within 2 days. Therefore, this universal course was created together with little coding exercises to make this aim possible. The whole 2-day-training was also recorded on video and published along the text-based course for free. The chapters of this course are set up, basic introduction, strings, lists, sorting, dicts and files, regular expressions and utilities.

I liked taking this course. Before doing it in 2016, I have only worked two times with Python before for projects in my bachelor modules and so I saw myself as a beginner. Going through the chapters I could skip sections I already knew and focus on the things I did not know and the exercises. This is especially good for people like me, who get impatient when confronted with redundant information.

The stated learning goal was to introduce people with little programming experience to python and I achieved this goal. I already had experience in other programming languages, so I knew about the concepts like variables and loops. I just wanted to learn about the python specific things and was able to do this with help of this course.

This course is used internally within Google to introduce Python to people, who have just a little experience in programming. It is created as a 2-day class for employees, but I was able to get through this course in a few hours including the exercises. So yes, the time given sufficed.

The design is kept very simple, straight and clear, which I prefer in generally every area in life. There is a main navigation menu on the left site, which separates the chapters. Next to this, in the center of the screen, there is the content of the chapter, which is scrollable through every section, but instead of scrolling all the way down, you can also use the second navigation panel on the right-hand side, which includes the chapter’s sections and is fixed in the top right corner at all times, even while scrolling. Every element in the content, including texts, pictures and code examples, use easily-readable fonts and colors, which encouraged me to focus on the content. Good job, I think.

The course starts at the total beginning of Python programming. How to install the development environment. I like this, because, if you have never had contact with Python, you need this info and if you already know about this, you can simply skip this chapter. I like it, when courses take you by the hand from the whole beginning, so do not have to search other sources to set up everything. The only negative aspect I see, is that some advanced topics are not covered, so you want to take other advanced courses after this one.

This course is not a full compendium. Reading further about Python after taking this course, I learned there is more to it. But the audience of this course are beginners, who have never heard of Python before. So, with the learning goals fulfilled, the good design and coding examples and even a video version of the whole course, I think I will rate it 9/10.

There is a bulletin board linked from the course to directly ask questions to the Google Developer staff or everyone else, who is willing to answer your Python-themed questions, which is helpful.

Take the course

How to really beat procrastination

This video is the record of a discussion Dr. Tim Pychyl from the Canadian Carleton University held in November 2012 about procrastination and how to help people deal with it. Dr. Pychyl has worked on this topic for over 20 years and published many papers, books, blogs posts, podcasts and videos about this topic. Basically, the summary of the techniques explained in his video is:

1. Procrastination is not a problem of time management, but of managing your emotions. People procrastinate, because they have negative feeling towards task they have to do and postponing these tasks gives them a better feeling for the moment. But eventually procrastination always leads to a negative outcome.
2. The feeling of accomplishment from finishing a task should be used to get even more tasks done.
3. If you do not know where you are in life or where you are going (lack of identity), you are more likely to procrastinate, because you do not have big life goals, which can be separated into smaller tasks towards these goals.
4. You are more likely to get things done, if your motives are intrinsic and not determined by other people or society.
5. If tasks on a to do list are to vague, they are more likely to never get completed. Every task should be broken down to concrete steps.
6. Secret formula: In situation X, do behavior Y to achieve sub goal Z.

Someone recommended this video in the comment section of a post on reddit
and I took a look on it. In the past I read many articles and books about
procrastination and time management, but this 60 minutes video was
honestly offering the best techniques to overcome procrastination I have ever
seen. Very soon after I started watching the video I knew that this man knows
what he is talking about. At first, I watched the whole video and after that I
looked through the single frames again to make screenshots of the
PowerPoint slides included in the video. I also took notes, which I always do
when learning something important for my personal development. Before
watching this video, I was already managing my tasks with Trello and Google
Inbox, which combines emails, tasks and notes. But I realized that some of
my tasks where in fact too vague and for that reason got postponed to later
dates too often. Separating those tasks into smaller pieces and assigning a
sub goal really helped me.

The learning goal was to help students deal with their procrastination
problems. I am a student and it helped me a lot. So yes, I achieved this goal.
Of course, I did not get cured immediately after watching this video, but it is
more of a long-term task for me to change my habits regarding the
postponement of tasks, I should do rather earlier than later. I think, I am on
my way to reach this goal, though.

The platform used here for publishing the video lecture was YouTube, which
is the best video platform I know, because of the speed of the servers, the
quality of the videos, the simple, yet highly functional design and the big
userbase, leading to many comments, of which some a really helpful.
The video itself had not the best quality, but it is also 5 years old, so maybe
the camera used back then was not as fine-grained as todays cameras. I
liked, that the producer of the video put the actual PowerPoint slides inside
the video, so I did not have to try to decipher them from the beamer slides
captured by the camera. I would have liked however to have the complete
PowerPoint file used in the presentation added as a download link in the
description, because it would have saved me the time for taking the
screenshots.

A big issue of most lectures I watched on YouTube is the audio quality. I
once watched a lecture about the PageRank algorithm by an Italian professor
speaking English with a thick accent, where the microphone was cheap and it
made it really hard to understand the topic. This video course however had a
real good audio quality and the professor – being Canadian – had a good
English pronunciation, so there were no problems in understanding his
words.

There is not much to criticize here. The video could have been a little bit
shorter, if the professor would not have included some stories about his
family or former students, but I liked it, because it made the presentation
more personal.

Habits of successful people

1. Meditation
Try meditation and self-hypnosis. See which one you prefer and do this twice a day. For more information on meditation, check out how-to-meditate.org. You can also get a visual understanding by checking out this infographic from PositiveHealthWellness.com. For more information on self-hypnosis, read this article by instantselfhypnosis.com that explains what it is, how it’s used and even debunks common myths about it.

2. Surround Yourself With Positive People
Join 2-4 networking events in your area of interest and select the one that is the best fit for you. Network with this group at least once a week. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, you can always try meetup.com

3. Affirmations
Make a list of 5-20 (or more) affirmations and read them at least once a day. If you’re doing meditation or self-hypnosis that incorporates these affirmations daily, you can limit it to twice a week. To learn how to write affirmations effectively, read this article by the-guided-meditation-site.com

4. Watch Inspiring or Motivational Videos
Watch a few motivational YouTube videos in the mornings to kickstart your day, preferably just before a workout. Do this at least every couple of days to amplify your drive and motivation.

5. Work Out Regularly
Take a look at your schedule and fit in a workout routine at least three times a week for a minimum of 20 minutes each. You can find ideas for your routine in several different places. I personally like Jeff Cavaliere’s YouTube channel. It’s loaded with tons of free time efficient and effective workouts. Men’s Fitness and Bodybuilding.com also have some good suggestions. Even Buzzfeed has some good ideas for both men and women. Regardless of where you find your information, do some research and find something that works for you and start immediately!

6. Find Your Passion
Explore options that not only give you balance in life but also allows you to do something you absolutely love and genuinely makes you happy. If you are looking for something that you can do as a business or hobby that can generate an income for you, the money will come naturally due to your passion. Couple your passion with something you can do online from anywhere in the world and you’ll be able to pursue travel as well. This route isn’t for everyone, but I would like to inspire others to travel as well. Entrepreneur.com wrote a few articles about turning your passion into profit. It’s a good idea to read them to get some ideas flowing. You can also read about several digital nomads and location independent entrepreneurs and their stories in this blog post by moneynomad.com, it’s a great read.

7. Set Your Goals
If you haven’t already done so, take some time this week and do some goal setting. Figure out what you want out of life and work your way backward. Set weekly, monthly, and annual goals to get them accomplished. Michael Hyatt wrote a beginner’s guide to goal setting to get you started. This article by the late and great Jim Rohn is also a good resource from success.com

8. Listen to a Podcast
Find 2-3 podcasts that motivate and inspire you. It should be something that focuses on your goals and passions. For example, I like traveling, poker, and business. So I might listen to a podcast on each topic once a week. If you’re having trouble finding one on your area of interest, you can also do a search on podcasts.com

9. Read a Book
Browse the kindle store and see if you can find a topic that interests you or better yet go to your local bookstore and get out of the house. This will allow you to get a feel for what genre interests you the most since you can wander around and touch and feel the books. This is something I do regularly and it has helped me grow immensely. I try and read at least one new book each month.

10. Start or Attend a Mastermind Group
See if you can find a group in your local area. Try searching on meetup.com or you can read this article by Smart Passive Income on how to find one. If you’re having trouble finding a mastermind group in your local area, you can always start your own.

11. Take an Online Course
Go to Udemy or any other e-learning platform and look for courses that may interest you. Read the reviews and take a course that will help you develop a marketable skill. This will not only allow you to pursue something you’re passionate about but will also give you another revenue stream should you ever need it.

12. Make a To-do List
Make a daily and weekly task list and prioritize it. This will keep you on track and help you to become more efficient while completing your tasks. You can also use an app that does this for you. I personally like Wunderlist, but do a google search and find what works best for you.

13. Get a Coach or Mentor
Join at least 1 group (online or in person) and surround yourself with other successful people in the field or endeavor you’re looking to pursue (music, e-commerce, blogging, etc.). Hang out where they hang out. Network and soak up as much information as you can. Just be selective in which ones you choose because they are not all created equal and some will just push you to buy things whereas others will give you the practical advice and motivation you may need. Forbes wrote an article on how to formally find a mentor in this article or you can choose to mentor yourself.

14. Find a Hobby
We sometimes make excuses as to why we’re too busy to take this much-needed break. Put your work or your projects aside and take some very important “me time.” If you are having trouble figuring out what kind of hobby you might enjoy or want to take up, not to worry. Here is a list of potential hobbies for you to choose from. Whether you know what you plan to do or not, pick a hobby and practice/do it 1-2 times a week. You’ll be surprised on how much your mental health improves.

15. Eat Healthy
Do some research and find a diet that works for you. Remember that every body is different and what’s popular or what worked for someone else may not work for you. Once you’ve found it, implement it into your life by writing out a weekly meal plan and sticking to it. Discipline is essential here so give yourself an incentive by coming up with a reward for every mile stone you hit without cheating on your diet (1 week, 3 months. etc).

16. Consistent Self Development
The key to self-development is to constantly progress and to continue moving forward. I recommend doing the following activities at least once a week (preferably more) in order to sharpen your skills and to develop your mind:

meditation
listen to a podcast
do a few modules/lessons from an online course (Educate yourself)
read a book
run/workout/do yoga

17. Eliminate Negativity
Do these things to rid yourself of the negativity in your life:

Replace Negative Self-talk with self-loving positivity
Eliminate mainstream media
Alienate yourself from the negative people in your life
Limit or be more selective on entertainment until you’ve created a strong, positive mindset (Music, Television, Movies, etc.)

18. Take Action
Start with your ultimate goal
break down your tasks into yearly, monthly, weekly, and daily tasks
Adapt & learn as you go
START RIGHT NOW despite your fear
Celebrate your victories no matter how small they may seem
Live in the moment and enjoy the process