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Even Entrepreneurs Sometimes Just Wanna Code

July 2021

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I've posted in the past about how data scientists often are not interested in leadership. I did that because I've frequently heard them say 'I just want to code.'


Sometimes, I feel that way too, which is why I understand the sentiment.


To build credibility, I thought I'd post about my own recent 'I just want to code' moment. As an entrepreneur, I find that I have really great days, some not so great, and some fairly miserable. Everyone copes differently. I cope by taking some time to either write or code.


After my most recent speedbump, I stepped back completely and spent the day coding. Wound up building a text processing tool in Python that will automate parts of the proposal process for me, so I feel like I accomplished something for my business. What's even better is that it actually works. And the next day I was refreshed and ready to get back to my regularly-scheduled career choice.


Spending the time away from my normal business stuff and diving into the rabbit hole of coding - in my workout clothes, on the sofa, the entire day, ignoring my email, listening to classical - was such bliss that I really didn't want to stop for dinner.


Leadership needs to understand that mindset, and understand that deep down all of your data scientists have it.


That's why they became data scientists in the first place. It was their passion. And, it's always there, luring them back like that piece of chocolate when you're on a diet. But, losing extra weight may be a good thing, and so may advancing one's career to leadership and, in my case, entrepreneurship.


There are some data scientists who deal with the transition to leadership better than others. Potentially because they have better leadership support, or have been coding for years and are ready to move on. The ones who don't cope well are not bad leaders, they're just great data scientists who may have been thrust into a management role prematurely. Leadership needs to understand this, and take care not to set data scientists up for failure by dragging them from their keyboard too soon. 


I think there will always be that part of me that 'just' wants to code, just like there's a part of me that finds it very hard to resist chocolate. But I love having my own business now, and leading others to be successful. I love having the chance to strategize and build this business. So, I reserve coding and creative writing for my happy place of recovery from setbacks.

Reach out to Cybele Data Advisory for help with grooming your next data leaders.

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