Should a Non-Technical Founder Learn to Code?

Len Kendall

July 3, 2013 · 2 minutes read

Uncategorized

“Should I teach myself to code today?”

I could spend the next 2 years teaching myself a programming language, and I’d still be a more efficient marketer than coder. I know this, and that’s what continues to hold me back from dedicating time to learn more about the mechanics of the web. Despite the evidence that affirms this hypothesis, this question still haunts me on a daily basis.

A smart person once told me that a good leader today has to know how to manage two kinds of employees:

1) Humans

2) Machines

Not knowing how to code means I as a CEO/Co-founder do not have as much leadership over my machine employees. This lack of expertise bothers me professionally and personally. It makes me feel like an internet amputee (no disrespect meant towards less-than-abled individuals in the world). As much as I’ve championed the idea of a “non-technical hacker,” there are limits to that kind of expertise because ultimately, you rely on the nuances and visions of other builders.

There is no shortage of resources to get me up to speed, of course. I can “do something about it” any time I want. But the reality is that in the near future my “hacking” is only going to come in the form of customer acquisition. That is unquestionably how my time is best spent right now. But some day soon, I hope that I’ll have the freedom to dedicate the time needed (and my brain will need a lot of it) to learn the tools needed to be creative not only through words, images, and tools that other people have built, but ones I’ve constructed with my own 10 fingers.

CentUp’s CTO John Geletka is an inspiration to me (don’t let him know that). He’s a guy who went to school to earn a fine arts degree and later taught himself to program. He can paint things that look like things, and he does the same with code. It’s impressive.

My advice to anyone 50-years-old or younger: if you have free time to teach yourself even the basics of coding, do it. Even if the end result is you become 1% as proficient as a full-time computer scientist, you will walk faster than the millions of others just stumbling along the internet.

Hopefully, I’ll soon be walking the walk with you.

 

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