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Transcript for Episode #114:
Empowering developers at the Hidden Genius project

Recorded on Saturday, May 20, 2017.

0:00 Michael Kennedy: As most of you know learning to program opens doors. It takes everyday people and turns them into creators. Once you know programming and Python, you've passed through a door to a place with much more opportunity. Now, consider the impact this could have if you grew up in an environment with less opportunity, with fewer people you knew leading the way into software careers. Today you'll meet Sean Valentine and Landon Miller helping run an amazing project. And Muhammad Abdullah and Malik Poole, who gradated from this project. It's called the Hidden Genius Project, and it helps young black men become developers and entrepreneurs. This is Talk Python to Me, episode 114, recorded live at PyCon 2017 in Portland, Oregon on May 20th, 2017. Welcome to Talk Python to Me, a weekly podcast on Python: the language, the libraries, the ecosystem, and the personalities. This is your host, Michael Kennedy. Follow me on Twitter, where I'm @mkennedy. Keep up with the show and listen to past episodes at talkpython.fm and follow the show on Twitter via @TalkPython. This episode is brought to you by Intel and HIRED. Please check out what they have to offer during their segments, as it really helps support the show. Welcome to Talk Python.

1:36 Sean Valentine: Thank you, glad to be here.

1:37 Michael Kennedy: Yeah, it's great to have you guys. It's always wonderful to see people who have relatively fresh eyes looking at technology and programming and all the stuff that goes on at these types of conferences in this ecosystem. And just hear how it's working for you as relatively new people into programming. So, I'm super excited to have you on the show. Malik, let's start with you. How did you get interested in programming and get into this project that we're gonna talk about?

2:03 Malik Poole: I guess it really started off when I was kinda young. I knew I wanted to be an engineer from like a really young age because I just loved messing with crap.

2:12 Michael Kennedy: Yeah, that's awesome.

2:14 Malik Poole: I've broken and occasionally fixed a couple of remotes like when I was really little and stuff and that's actually how I got involved with NSBE, which is another program the National Society of Black Engineers. We always had these robotics competitions and there were of course different jobs for building the robot, handling the wires and stuff. My favorite part to do was the computer sequences, right. To determine what the robot was gonna do. And that's where I first found out that I really liked doing computer science and stuff like that. From there I heard about the Hidden Genius Project and just jumped into it.

2:51 Michael Kennedy: That's really an inspiring story. That's awesome. Muhammad how about yourself?

2:54 Muhammad Abdullah: I would say for me in high school I was part of the computer academy and through that we learned the front end of programming languages. And I really got interested in that. But I would say the major focus, when I really got into computer science is when I joined the Hidden Genius Project. Being able to build your own software through that program and connect with other companies I think that really gave me the interest into going into computer science.

3:23 Michael Kennedy: Yeah, that's really cool. I didn't know how it was for you guys growing up. I was never super into math and science and engineering when I was in high school. Once I got to college I really, really loved it and went all in on it. But programming always seemed like this thing that super smart people do that that's not really a thing for me, when I was younger. Do you feel like this whole experience has made it a little more like I can totally do this? Like this is a world that I fit in and I'm excited to be part of?

3:50 Malik Poole: Definitely, yeah. The whole Hidden Genius experience and of course coming here to PyCon and everything. Yeah, I definitely feel like this something I can dive into.

3:58 Michael Kennedy: That's awesome. How about you Muhammad?

4:00 Muhammad Abdullah: I would say as far as coming into the computer science field, into that field not a lot of representative diversity. Not a lot of diversified people in that field. So I think being able to work with the Hidden Genius Project and Code for Girls, a lot of these programs that aim to bring diversity into the field, I think that's been really a major focus in today's era.

4:23 Michael Kennedy: And I think that's really great. In this community we have a long ways to go.

4:28 Muhammad Abdullah: Yeah.

4:30 Michael Kennedy: But there are some steps that are being made. Like for example five years ago, 10 years ago I'm not sure, the number of speakers who were woman, there was like 1%. Last year I think it was 40%. There's a big move in this community to really be welcoming and I think this Hidden Genius Project is just awesome. Have you guys got a chance to meet the Django Girls over there?

4:50 Malik Poole: No, actually.

4:51 Michael Kennedy: They're a special outreach group for women in programming. Obviously a different group but similar challenges that are highly under represented. So awesome. All right Landon let me ask you a couple of questions about this project. What's your involvement in Hidden Genius?

5:05 Landon Miller: Well me personally, I'm a site coordinator. I'm also an educator. I work with the students, educating them and site coordinating, making sure that we get everything done we need so we can continue to grow and expand as we continue to move on.

5:20 Michael Kennedy: That's awesome. So this is primarily a high school oriented thing? You more or less gotta be at some stage in your high school career to join this project?

5:26 Landon Miller: Yes, correct.

5:27 Michael Kennedy: How did it get started? I guess let's start there, it's four or five years old you guys said?

5:32 Landon Miller: Yes, so we're in our fifth year in Oakland, California. And we are now actually starting our first year in Richmond, California. So our first expansion.

5:41 Michael Kennedy: Oh, how exciting. What was the motivation to get started? We gotta do something this is not right that there is this under representation. Why are these guys not going, "This is what I should be doing. This is amazing."

5:52 Landon Miller: Even bigger than that, one of the things with these young youth especially African American boys, this stigma that has been dropped on us that you have to work twice as hard for half the recognition. And when you look at the computer science field, this is really the field where your work can actually speak for you first before your name is seen, or your face is seen your work is normally seen. And so this was an avenue where we could actually show the creativity, the value in how much we can actually can touch our communities first hand and let our work speak for us. That's really one of the stronger motivational factors is being able to expose this lane, this avenue to these students and to our geniuses. So that not only can they move forward in a career if they choose to in this path but also know how to advocate for themselves in entrepreneurship.

6:45 Michael Kennedy: That's such a great message. I really think we have a long ways to go to be purely a meritocracy, it's just what you do that speaks for you. Because obviously what you get exposed to growing up if your best friends dad is a programmer it seems really like if he does that I can do that. But there is a lot more meritocracy here. There's a lot more I put this open source project up it was really cool, people checked it out. And maybe they don't know anything about you and a lot of your work does speak for you and that's really interesting that you guys are identifying that basically as an avenue.

7:19 Landon Miller: And I have to quote our program's director, "Tech is wherever you're at." And so a lot of people look at the demographics of living in a separate way but you don't necessarily have to be in Silicon Valley. You can be right where we're at and actually operate yourself with the internet and whether it's building apps or building connections showing these geniuses how they can actually be where they're at and it can actually be a reality right where they stand. They don't have to part of a certain society, a certain community, or be of a certain stature to actually have an impact.

7:54 Michael Kennedy: That's so true. And I think communities like Python where primarily the tools here are free. Python has free open source. You don't buy a thing to use it. If you have a computer and you have the internet you have this thing that you need, right? So I guess the barrier is pretty low, right? There's not like you've gotta pay $1,000 for some fancy editor that's gonna make it challenging.

8:15 Landon Miller: And that's the thing, you actually have to know that because regardless if there are $1,000 programs out there people will sell thinking that that's what you need. But when we give the knowledge and the tools and sow the seed that they can go out, what we call fishing, go out and fish for yourself and find these avenues that you don't have to necessarily be a part of these $1,000 and $2,000 and $10,000 programs to actually get the job done.

8:43 Michael Kennedy: I think that's really awesome. That's really awesome. So tell me a little bit about the entrepreneur side as well. I think the tech is super empowering but there's also this entrepreneurship side you say?

8:52 Landon Miller: Yeah, so the entrepreneurship side is allowing the students and geniuses to be able to advocate for themselves in business. And not only using tech for somebody else's need but to be able to control what they do. So not to just operate as an employee but to actually be able to advocate for themselves and operate as a business with tech instead of just being an employee.

9:17 Michael Kennedy: That's really awesome. One of my favorite quotes is, "If you don't build your dreams someone will hire you to build theirs." I think you're giving them the power to build their dreams. And I think that's really amazing. Super cool, super cool. Let's switch it back to the alumni. Malik let's start with you. Let's start by talking about your experience going through this program. You were about to wrap up your year-long program, right?

9:40 Malik Poole: Yeah, actually I'm already an alumni. I graduated last summer.

9:43 Michael Kennedy: Okay so you just graduated. All right, so tell me how does it work. It's a year-long program at your high school right?

9:48 Malik Poole: No, you have to be in high school it's not at. It's a two year intensive program. It starts during the summer. We have six weeks during the summer, or seven weeks.

9:59 Michael Kennedy: Like an intense kick off. Let's just all get together and really learn this.

10:02 Malik Poole: Right.

10:04 Michael Kennedy: And then you kind of carry it on throughout the year?

10:05 Malik Poole: Yeah, Monday through Thursday is like the normal programming where we have our coding classes. And then we have our entrepreneurship classes. Then we have a portion of the day called Leadership. Which is more or less a space for us to talk about life in general, really. And also to try to develop and correlate leadership skills and things that we'll need to be successful in life in general. So that's Monday through Thursday and on Friday during the summer we'll take trips, field trips to actual tech companies within the Bay area. We visited Google, Facebook. We visited Square, all that.

10:41 Michael Kennedy: Yeah, you guys are in the right location. I grew up in Kansas City, there were not so many tech companies to go see. Everyone visits the newspaper I guess. It's not the same.

10:52 Malik Poole: After the end of the summer program it starts again in like September. And Wednesdays we meet up at Claremont middle school which is also out in Oakland. That's where we basically have the same little programming we had during the summer, Monday through Friday and all that. On Wednesdays we'll have short programming times and we'll just keep doing the same thing after school on Wednesdays that we did during the summer. And on Saturdays we'll have like every month the first Saturday of the month I think we'll have like even larger meetings like at the Glover Center where Hidden Genius is based from. And so that goes through the school year after your first summer. And then during your second summer it's more or less the same thing except your more independent your second summer really. It's more about developing your own personal project. Whatever app you decided to create in Hidden Genius that's your time to actually start working on that app.

11:45 Michael Kennedy: And so you guys have different technologies that you cover? I know you did Python some of the time and also you said JavaScript.

11:51 Malik Poole: Yeah, JavaScript, Python. We did C++, Ruby. We actually started off in a program called Scratch. Which is basically like your basic drag and drop, block stuff. Like little animation stuff. We made little games and stuff. That was basically just to get the algorithm part of it. That's one thing one of our mentors, Bob Alatmen always said was," We always have to get the algorithm first, before we even touch the keyboard." That's a lot of what we focus on at first then we focus on each individual language. I don't know about your call but mine, we started out with HTML and JavaScript and that's how we started out. And then we got into Python and after that Ruby and C++.

12:34 Michael Kennedy: What did you think of the different languages?

12:35 Malik Poole: Definitely liked Python and JavaScript the best. I think those are the languages I'm more proficient in.

12:41 Michael Kennedy: C++ at the end where you're like what is all this.

12:50 Malik Poole: We tried, we tried to take a C++ course that was a different story.

12:55 Michael Kennedy: Yeah, C++ is a good skill to have but you shouldn't do it day to day in my opinion. You should pick something like Python or JavaScript that's more productive right? It will serve you well but I know it's a painful experience to get through.

13:06 Malik Poole: A very painful experience.

13:07 Michael Kennedy: All right Muhammad, same question to you. Tell us what your experience was like going through it give us a summary.

13:13 Muhammad Abdullah: So I was a part of the cohort too like I said. The first year, same thing two year program. Intensive summer work but for my first year we focused on programming language which is like Python. Python was a major major focus. HTML, CSS, we worked with APIs with Flask, JSON, all those other ones that connect with that.

13:35 Michael Kennedy: A lot of back end web technologies and all that.

13:37 Muhammad Abdullah: Yeah, yeah. And then throughout that first year building empathy with our cohort members, to connect, have that one closeness I think that's main focus of the whole program. Being able to connect with each other. So the first year we did that and our second year we built our software. I used Python as my backend as my major backend. My app was called Spend Wisely. Spendwisely.today actually.

14:05 Michael Kennedy: It's online now?

14:06 Muhammad Abdullah: Yeah, it's in alpha mode right now. It's being worked on. The whole goal of it is to help teenagers buy things based on their interests at the lowest price. I did this because we had a cohort member in our group who would come in every week and he'd buy these shoes for $200. And I'm like this guys wasting his money. Come on I said. So we look at the problems that we face and then try to build solutions for that. So throughout those two years we've learned a lot of intensive programming language.

14:43 Michael Kennedy: That's really cool. You're idea for the app came from basically solving the problems you see around you. I think there's a lot of that in technology. There's a lot of that in the start up space. I see something that's hard for me so there's probably a million other people who would like to solve this problem as well and maybe I can make a company or a product or something out of it right? You guys spoke about how a lot of the goal of the program is like social and working together and peer mentoring. Was it surprising to you to learn that software is kind of a social thing. I think the prototypical idea is you go sit in a basement by yourself with a computer and it turns out there's actually this group effect. I don't know, what were your conceptions? I mean maybe you didn't think of programming as sitting in a basement. That's what it was when I started.

15:32 Muhammad Abdullah: I kind of went in without any real conception about what would really lie ahead of me.

15:36 Michael Kennedy: I'm gonna build stuff. I'm gonna meet these groups and I'm gonna totally do it.

15:41 Muhammad Abdullah: Yeah, yeah.

15:42 Michael Kennedy: Well that's awesome. I think it really quickly introduces you to the fact that this is a social thing with a big human component even though it's just typing on a keyboard, it doesn't seem like it.

15:53 Sean Valentine: It's funny the way they respond to your question. They truly didn't see the community part of it. I don't think that Malik or Muhammad didn't see the community part of it, I think they were introduced to it as a component and so their idea of the coding of the programming never un-included. It was just that from the start. We build cohorts intentionally. They build their relationships like Muhammad described and the empathy for each other from the start. So they've never coded in a room alone. They never approached it as an alone thing. They've always approached it as a part of their community. And you talk about why we do it and a lot of times I seen where Landon part of our program scene will talk about how we intentionally aren't doing this to supply the job market out there but to inspire these youth to become creators and add to society in a way that's a value add and not just another, you know we love our social media tools. We want to inspire the lives of these young men and make sure they're creating change within themselves and their communities.

17:05 Michael Kennedy: Yeah, I think that's a really, really good point. I'm glad you brought it up. Teaching technology often gets confused with computer skills. I can work with Word or I can surf the internet or whatever. And what we end up with is a lot of people have computer skills who are basicaly are consumers of technology and not creators. And I think what society needs and could benefit from is having more creators and you guys are basically instilling all the ingredients these guys need to be creators and not just consumers of technology right?

17:38 Landon Miller: And more so not only what we're giving them but that environment that they have where that they can pull from each other. You hear them just talk now, I am part of cohort two. I am part of cohort three. It's not necessarily I used to be. We have 100% retention rate here and it's to the fact that they're always a part, it's inclusive, so even when they finish their program and they graduate they are still a part of Hidden Genius Project. They are still a part of their cohort. I remember that same stigma that you talk about where you think of that guy in the basement with his computer, that was what we looked at as computer guys. But the way of the environment that they have they're actually pulling from each other's geniuses and each other's strength by being with each other. And so they're always around. And so even when they finish theirs they come back to start mentoring the next cohorts and now we even have junior educators where we're sending them out to not only take the information that they have but to be able to give that to others. It is a continual process. So this is something that they weren't just a part of for 15 months. It's a track for their life.

18:55 Michael Kennedy: That's really great that you guys are doing that. Do you guys feel like this is something that is on going? You know there's two areas where it kind of resonates a lot where I feel like it's a little bit imbalanced. The meritocracy stuff I said, a lot of times it's meritocracy but sometimes it's not. Where it's not, if you go to places like MIT you have connections to all these people who are starting these companies and have access to all this stuff. If you're in one of these YCombinator, accelerator type places the cohort that you went through they all stay together and connected and help each other out. And a lot of people for me in particular I didn't have that. I learned programming really well but I didn't have this social component. So it feels like your bringing this really powerful support group and sort of success amplifier to the cohorts.

19:42 Sean Valentine: It's part of foundation. Our founders were brought together by a scholarship fund that took high school students from all over the country and supplied them with scholarships to Ivy League schools. And those young men after graduating, two of them, came back from Harvard one from Pittsburgh and one from Compton and wanted to develop a software company or a gaming that's on financial literacy through mobile gaming. And when they came to the Bay area, if you're gonna create something that's where you go, the issue was they could not find any, not any, they couldn't find the right kind of talent to help create the game from the African American community. And they thought that was ridiculous right? You have this heavy African American population right in the heart of Silicon Valley and they're not involved. It would be like going to the Bronx and you can't find break dancers. This is where rap is and you don't have any break dancers.

20:40 Michael Kennedy: Exactly.

20:41 Sean Valentine: And we're laughing but we're laughing the same way, like this is ridiculous. And they went out right and they recruited from their cohort, from the Ron Brown Scholarship. Our founding executive director, Brandon Nicholson is a recipient of that reward as well, from their cohort picked the talent. And then put together a team that picked kids from off the street, not in a literal sense but we grabbed students that were an arm reach away and just started bringing them in the office early. And while we were creating the game we were mentoring and teaching the students how the coding aspect, the entrepreneurship aspect, and the leadership aspect that has built into what we see today five cohorts later a programs director, a programs coordinator, innovative educators, a solid team of African American males that have the desire to give back to their communities. If you're founded on that and you hire on that it's so much easier to emit that type of energy so the students pick up on that and utilize that within their own cohorts and their own cells. You can already see the domino effect being that we're five cohorts deep.

21:53 Michael Kennedy: Yeah, you guys are five years in now. How many people have been through the program?

21:56 Landon Miller: 50 students, 50 kids and that's in our intensive 15 month cohort. If you want to talk about the number of students overall we've touched, we're in the thousands.

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23:13 Landon Miller: Because outside of what we do in our intensive emergent we do catalyst programs or one offs or 6 week programs with like-minded organizations, or organizations that are mission aligned. We work with foster kids with the Casey Foundation. And you could see why that demographic wouldn't be able to participate in a more intensive emergent but we still debunk and introduce and share the knowledge and the skill base with that demographic. We operate out of juvenile justice hall. We go into the cell blocks of these young men and teach these young men. That is another demographic that is looked over. We work with student athletes as well. Oakland Unified School District, Fam First with Marshawn Lynch. Also with the Warriors, we do sports coding, drawing out the analytics.

24:00 Michael Kennedy: There's a whole data science in sports that you can go crazy with that right?

24:04 Landon Miller: And so making sure that the students are understanding that technology can help them meet their passions as well. And so it's not something that's not, again everybody has that connotation that coding has to do with a few guys in this dark room and all you see is monitors. But there is so much that tech touches that these young men need to be exposed to so they can start contributing to society and have a value add.

24:29 Michael Kennedy: Yeah, that's really great. Especially going to the juvenile hall where you're basically helping these guys where they have no direction. See look here's a direction with cool technology that you can go in that can really change your life possibly, right?

24:44 Landon Miller: Yeah, I mean they're in there 23 hours a day without any recreation. And then if you've seen a jail book cart.

24:53 Michael Kennedy: It can't be too engaging right?

24:54 Landon Miller: It can't be too engaging. And then the basketball, so what are we telling them that they will be able to do when they get out of here. But once you see that inspiration after someone has created something. Even through Scratch, it's hard to bring in more advanced technologies into the system.

25:10 Michael Kennedy: You have to build up over time with a real programming language.

25:14 Landon Miller: So we use Scratch to introduce it. But just that spark of inspiration you can't take it back.

25:19 Michael Kennedy: Yeah, that's true. You can't take it back.

25:21 Landon Miller: Even an idea like you can do something different and showing the impact of that. It may not be their situation it might be somebody they know that's in the situation. It's the same idea that we introduce in the emergent program which is why you heard Muhammad say, "I looked at one of my peers and that gave me the idea for the app that I came across." The fact that you can actually make a difference. A lot of times you have ideas but you just don't know what to do with them or how to go forth with them. And this is showing a path that you can actually make a difference and you can actually affect your community.

25:59 Sean Valentine: We had one of our alumn's come back and he talked about when people pass on. And usually we expect our loved ones or people who have died in the past to surround our bedside. He said what if you saw your opportunities and your ideas around your bedside the ones that you didn't bring to life. And what if they were crying out to you because you didn't push forward and do what you needed to do to bring them forward.

26:24 Michael Kennedy: That's a powerful visualization.

26:26 Sean Valentine: It's mind blowing and so with that as a staff, as a cohort we kind of strive to make sure that those opportunities aren't crying by our bedside when we pass on. We don't die with those great ideas.

26:41 Michael Kennedy: Or so often concerned about taking a chance or trying something new and not being good at it, or failing or whatever. But it's really the regrets that we look back on like why didn't I try this. Rather than I tried and failed and I'll just try to invent something else later, so it's amazing. I'm gonna bring it back to these guys but I have one more question for each of you before I do. How do people get started, especially in sort of two angles to this. In Oakland if guys are listening and they want to be a part of this program, what do they do?

27:09 Sean Valentine: Go to our website, www.hiddengeniusproject.org you can apply online. All our contacts are listed on our website.

27:16 Michael Kennedy: Is there a fee?

27:17 Sean Valentine: No, there's no fee actually, the kids get to enjoy each other and don't have to worry about the pressures of fees or anything of that nature. We try to keep the barrier to entry as low as possible. We want to inspire lives we're definitely not in it for the money.

27:34 Michael Kennedy: That's cool. And if people are listening in other cities saying I'd like to do this myself. You've got any advice for them or anyway they can get started?

27:43 Sean Valentine: Yeah, contact us.

27:43 Landon Miller: Contact us.

27:45 Sean Valentine: Contact at hiddengeniusproject.org our program's team and director is eagerly awaiting. We want to get across the country. We want to be in a city near you. The problems and the issues that these young men are facing are the same and we want to inspire opportunities to all of these young men throughout our nation.

28:02 Landon Miller: I think it's extremely important that we collaborate and work together. So any other cities definitely reach out. A lot of times what we do, we start up all the organizations we start up all these names and we all start pulling from the same resources and then we start pulling against each other. So with that being said, what we're doing is across the nation and we're willing to be able to be a part of that in any city.

28:29 Michael Kennedy: That's awesome. Yeah, very cool. So if you're out there listening and this sounds like a great idea, you want to be a part of it, reach out to these guys. I'll put the links and all the show notes so they can get to them. Let me ask you guys a couple of questions about the conference here. So you get to come to this conference so there's like 3,000 people in this great hall just totally geeking out about technology. What's your impression of this conference?

28:50 Muhammad Abdullah: Well this is my first conference at PyCon. First impression, it's a big thing being able to come together as coders from all over the world to be able to come together and discuss ideas. I like to go by this quote where it says, "Small minds discuss people, average minds discuss events, and great minds discuss ideas." And I think this is what we're doing here. We're collecting moments not things. It's amazing.

29:21 Michael Kennedy: Awesome I'm glad you're enjoying, that's a great quote. Yes, Malik?

29:27 Malik Poole: The first thing that I thought was it was pretty cool. I saw a lot of stuff that I recognized here. A lot of stuff that I've actually used over the course of all the things that I've done in coding and stuff. I could really see myself one day with my own business, my own project just setting up shop here in PyCon or any other real coding convention and just talking about stuff that I'm working on. I'm just really enjoying it. Like you said everyone's just here geeking out so I just came here to geek out with them.

29:56 Michael Kennedy: Yeah, we're definitely taking it to another level in geeking out. It's awesome, I love coming here every year. This portion of Talk Python to Me is brought to you by Hired. Hired is the platform for top Python development jobs. Create your profile and instantly get access to thousands of companies who will compete to work with you. Take it from one Hired users who recently got a job and said, "I got my first offer in four days and I ended up getting eight offers in total. I've worked with recruiters in the past but they were pretty hit and miss. I tried Linkedin but I found Hired to be the best. I really liked knowing the salary upfront and privacy was also a huge seller for me." Well that sounds pretty awesome doesn't it. But wait until you here the signing bonus. Everyone who accepts a job from Hired gets a $300 signing bonus and as Talk Python listeners it gets even sweeter. Use the link talkpythonfm/HIRED and Hired will double the signing bonus to $600. Opportunity is knocking. Visit talkpythonfm/HIRED and answer the door. That's so inspiring. Do you feel like seeing these companies and seeing these libraries and the people that create them that you already know and use, do you feel like wow I'm more a part of this community than I realized? A little bit of effect like that?

31:07 Malik Poole: Yeah, yeah. Definitely have that affect on you.

31:10 Muhammad Abdullah: I would say that as well just going to different exhibits. I use certain websites and I see them setting up here and being able to meet them. That's really awesome being able to connect with them, learn from them.

31:28 Malik Poole: And that speaks volumes to more of what you were talking about. It's a real community, technology and coding and all that. That's another thing that's really at the center of the Hidden Genius Project is really trying create that community but making sure we really give back to the community in any way possible. That's really why we have the lens of creating this technologies and stuff. The community problem that I was trying to solve was recidivism. And I made HIRE, Helping Inmates Reach Employment. And so it's just a database list of jobs that is open specifically for people who were once incarcerated. And so that was really targeting you know, Muhammad got his idea for his app from a friend. I got my idea from my uncle who's actually serving upstate right now in prison.

32:15 Michael Kennedy: So there's another one of those things in your life where there's a problem that I really wish I could solve and I bet I could solve it for a lot of people not just me.

32:21 Malik Poole: Right and so the Hidden Genius Project just gives us a real platform to really try and solve those problems using technology or even just helping us become creative enough to try and solve it other ways.

32:34 Michael Kennedy: I think one of the really powerful things is I think it's awesome that they're teaching entrepreneurship and if you guys have business that's like the peak that's like awesome. But I think programming and giving you guys this creative programming skill and this back ground of like these are problems I can just solve them, no matter what you do if you go into biology, if you go into music or whatever you can take these skills and just amplify whatever you are. I guess I'm saying this more for people listening, we don't need ten million more programmers we need ten million more creators. And some of those are code and some of those are amplifying with code or whatever.

33:11 Muhammad Abdullah: I would say for me right now just looking to where my focus is, I'm really in to international relations, diplomacy. Being able to adapt technology into that. I work with a non profit Project Feed Yemen and we're helping to combat the starvation in Yemen, the malnourished kids. Fund that country. I'm from Yemen. But the whole thing is being able to adapt technology, so I'm using technology to build a website for Project Feed Yemen, connect with other mentors who need help building their websites, cleaning their website. So having that outside lens through creating different things.

33:51 Michael Kennedy: That's awesome. That's really awesome. So we should probably wrap it up they're starting to do presentations over there and it's probably going to be loud on our microphone. So let me ask you guys one parting question before we wrap this up, maybe two. So people out there listening who maybe are not in one of these programs who maybe want to get started, they don't know anybody in their community who's doing this but they really want to be an engineer or developer, what advice would you have for them, what would you say to that person?

34:18 Malik Poole: Go fish. Like Sean mentioned earlier that's one thing that is really taught in Hidden Geniuses, were never really spoon fed information right? And that's one think that you should never really seek is to be given information. You need to know how to go find it yourself. And that's part of really being a coder. That's one thing that I learned in Hidden Genius that coders are actually pretty lazy. So everything is online there will always be something that you can get from the internet in order to learn for yourself, in order to teach yourself in that aspect. And like you said the barrier to entry is very low for becoming a coder as well.

34:56 Michael Kennedy: It's a lot lower than people think.

34:58 Malik Poole: Yeah, a lot lower than people think. So just try and find a way to go fish. You can teach yourself or you could come join Hidden Genius Project.

35:11 Michael Kennedy: Or if you're not here try to get one started if you're somewhere where there's not. Muhammad what do you say?

35:19 Muhammad Abdullah: I agree with what he said, being able to have that access going out to fish. But I also think it goes back to yourself. Whoever the individual is being able to teach your own self. So go out, go explore. It's an open field, technology is so big now a days.

35:35 Michael Kennedy: Early days even though it looks like it's all well formed there are so many things to create.

35:39 Muhammad Abdullah: Yep, definitely.

35:40 Michael Kennedy: Muhammad, Malik thank you so much for being on the show.

35:44 Muhammad Abdullah: Thank you for having us.

35:45 Malik Poole: Thank you.

35:46 Michael Kennedy: This has been another episode of Talk Python to Me. Today's guest have been Sean Valentine and Landon Miller who work at the Hidden Genius Project. And Muhammad Abdullah and Malik Poole who recently graduated from the program. This episode has been sponsored by Intel and Hired. Intel distribution for Python delivers the high performance Intel c libraries built right in to Python. Get close to 100 times better performance for certain functions in NumPy, SciPy, and Scikit-learn. Check them out at talkpython.fm/Intel. HIRED wants to help you find your next big thing. Visit talkpython.fm/HIRED to get five or more offers with salary and equity presented right up front with a special listener signing bonus of $600. Are you or your colleges trying to learn Python? Well be sure to visit training.talkpython.fm we now have year-long course bundles and a couple of new classes released just this week. Have a look around I'm sure you'll find a class you'll enjoy. Be sure to subscribe to the show. Open your favorite pod catcher and search for Python we should be right at the top. You can also find iTunes feed at /iTunes. Google Play feed at /play. And direct rss feed at /rssontalkpython.fm. Our theme music is Developers, Developers, Developers by Corey Smith, who goes by Smix. Corey just recently started selling his tracks on iTunes so I recommend you check it out @talkpython.fm/music, you can browse his tracks he has for sale on iTunes and listen to the full length version of the theme song. This is your host Michael Kennedy.

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