After Completing 40 Online Training Courses for Pluralsight, What Have I Learned?

Written By John Sonmez

Wow, I can’t believe I have actually reached the milestone of authoring 40 Pluralsight courses

My first Pluralsight course, Introduction to Android Development, was released on April 12th, 2011.  That is just over two years ago.

And my latest course, which makes number 40, if you count my contribution to the Design Patterns course, is Using Glimpse With ASP.NET, MVC4, and Entity Framework, which was published on May 5th, 2013.

The total hours of video content I have published in the 2 years from my first to my latest course is around 122 hours.  That means you could watch my Pluralsight courses for about 5 days straight.

Thank you

But before I tell you about what I learned from this experience, I just want to take a moment to say thank you.

I couldn’t have done this by myself and I am very thankful to everyone that helped me reach this important milestone.

Fotolia_35206134_XSFirst of all, you viewers of my courses who have been so supportive and encouraging and have made it possible for me to make a living at doing this, thank you.

I have interacted with many of you over email and Twitter and I have gotten lots of positive feedback and encouragement as well as some constructive criticism which has greatly helped me to improve my courses and to feel like I am doing something that is meaningful and helpful to many people.

So, sincerely, from the bottom of my heart, I thank you faithful viewers for watching my courses and I commend you on being the kind of developer that cares about learning and improving their skills.

I also want to thank Pluralsight and all of the staff and management of Pluralsight.  When I say that the folks at Pluralsight are some of the best people I have ever had the opportunity to work with, it is no lie. I have never met a more friendly group of energetic people that really care about what they do than the management and staff of Pluralsight.

The biggest lesson from creating Pluralsight courses

You may be expecting that the biggest lesson I have learned during my super-speed course creation at Pluralsight is how to learn technologies quickly, and although I have certainly learned a great deal about doing that, the biggest lesson I have learned is that we can accomplish what we put our minds to if we are willing to not let anything stand in the way.

I don’t have any special skills or talents, besides my ability to say “Hi, this is John Sonmez from Pluralsight.”  I’m just a regular guy who works really hard and stays as focused as possible.

But, I didn’t always have the work ethic that I do today.

One thing that authoring Pluralsight courses has taught me is that when you see an opportunity, you must seize it and make the most of it.Fotolia_49321484_XS

In order to do that, I had to drop many things in my life that I used to like to do, like watching TV or playing games, and focus on my opportunity.

And, yes, the opportunity to author courses at Pluralsight is an excellent opportunity, and I realize that not everyone has that opportunity.  But, we all have opportunities that sometimes are hard to see.  Opportunities that we need to seize and make the most of.

Many of these opportunities are once-in-a-lifetime, some of them come and go.  I’ve had opportunities in the past that I have let go, or I didn’t put my heart into, but with Pluralsight it was different.

I won’t bore you with the story of working a full time job for almost two years and doing Pluralsight courses every single night and weekend.  But, in order to seize this opportunity, I had to put in some hard work and be willing to make some sacrifices.

The reason why I mention this is because, if you are reading this post, you are probably the kind of programmer or IT professional who is already starting to seize an important opportunity to advance your career and skills.  I just want to encourage you that you can do whatever you want to do. You can be as successful as your willingness to work hard and believe in yourself will allow.

I hope that more than learning about a technology or development language from my courses, that I could teach you something much more valuable—the power of believing in yourself and not letting anyone put limitations on you.

Some other lessons

It is really difficult to summarize everything that I have learned over the past 2 years and 40 courses, because there is just so much, but here is a list of some of my biggest takeaways from this whole process.

  • Learning a technology effectively can be broken into 3 steps
    • Create something simple with it
    • Learn the breadth of the technology to understand what there is to know about it.
    • Determine the most important high level topics to learn and only go into details when necessary, you can always fill in the details later
  • Effective teaching is showing people something new in terms of what they already understand
  • Have a goal, make a plan to get to it, and don’t deviate from it until it is accomplished
  • If you fall off the horse get back on as soon as possible
  • Encouragement feels better than criticism, but criticism if much more valuable
  • Writing your thoughts out refines them and sands the jagged edges off of them
  • Redoing work is much harder than doing it right the first time
  • Nothing is the best.  No technology, no programming language, no way of doing things
  • No matter how much you know, everyone and everything has something to teach you, if you will only listen
  • It is very easy to type “HellWorld” and not notice until you’ve finished recording 30 minutes of video
  • The right caption can make any image funny
  • The key to efficiency a repeatable process
  • Videos with just slides are much hard than videos with demos
  • A good microphone adjusted properly makes a huge difference in audio quality
  • Quotas are proactive, metrics a reactive

Onward to 50

So what’s next on my agenda?  Hitting 50 courses of course. Smile

I’ll be working hard for the rest of this year to keep producing courses, since I still have a pretty big list of ideas, but after this year, I’ll probably be slowing down a bit, since I can’t keep up this ridiculous pace forever.

So thanks again for to everyone for all the support and encouragement, and to Pluralsight for this awesome opportunity.