While speaking with Peter, I got to think about and reflect on a couple of things, namely the role of failure in success, a reminder to follow your curiosity, and the power of a collective work in creating impactful programs.
1. Failure is the staircase to success (excuse the cheesiness, but it’s true)
Peter speaks openly about his first two projects that were partially unsuccessful. Failure is painful and it bruises the ego--that is uncontested. However, I believe that it is one of the most important milestones if failure is done right. Speaking to Peter about his failures reminded me of my conversation with Doreen where we discussed one of Ubongo’s principles which was to “fail fast and fail forward” which resonated with me quite a bit. Peter’s failures on his first two projects were done in exactly that fashion. He is able to comment on areas that he fell short, namely lack of managerial and leadership skills as well as skills to build a team. Peter, realizing this, attempted to gather support to meet these demands and address these gaps. The result was a progressive improvement - from the first project that did not go well, to a second one that went partially well, to a third one (SkillsHub) that shipped and is still growing.
2. Following your curiosity down the rabbit hole can be one of the most fulfilling adventures you go on--we just need to get out of our comfort zones (speaking to those of us who love to watch entire seasons of series after a long workday)
Towards the end of the episode, Peter and I joke about our need to relax at the end of a long work-day and how comforting that can be. On the other side of that coin, however, is finding that thing that piques your interest and following where it leads. Whether that be photography, mountain biking, coding, mountain biking, you name it. All these are part of ourselves and to deny them is denying what makes us whole.
Peter first started in a major that he was not particularly keen on, but he followed his curiosity and interest in computers with an intense interest which allowed him to boldly begin projects and take on gigs in a field he did not study in college.
3. Collaboration is powerful
Not only do you lift some of the weight off your shoulder, but you also get to tap into the creativity and skills that others do that you do not have. Often, this kaleidoscope of skills and approaches enriches the project in a way that a single person could not single handedly create on their own.
I find this approach especially effective when tackling new projects where there’s a need to focus on multiple ideas and explore a number of options (all overwhelming for a single person, but becomes manageable when it is a process that involves more than one person).
On the other hand, harnessing the thinking power of multiple people in and of itself is enriching. Not only do they add on different facets to the program, but also expose to you potential pitfalls. Peter’s approach to creating content for SkillsHub learning content does exactly this and I think it is done. He works with creatives from different areas of the tech industry and from different experiences - each of them bringing not only a different skill set they impart to learners by way of learning content, but also their collective experiences.
I also think that this approach is especially relevant and useful in our East African context because it reflects the diversity in thought and in culture that we have hence likely to create more relevant content.
Peter's Book Recommendations