Why having a learning engine is important with Zachary Minott

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In this podcast, Robin talks with Zachary Minott; a salesforce developer by day, a writer in his free time, and a life-long learner. In this episode, Zach shares what a learning engine is, the importance of creative problem solving, and why continually building upon your knowledge is crucial for expanding and improving your skills.

About Zachary Minott

Zachary Minott has a background in computer science, game and augmented reality programming and web and salesforce development. Beyond software engineering, Zach is an avid reader and learner. He’s also a talented writer on Medium where he’s amassed quite the following. Zach is passionate about expanding his knowledge, exchanging ideas with others, and finding new ways not only to create but to innovate.

What is a learning engine?

“What a learning engine is to me, is how many components are you going to put into your mind, that will allow you to move forward and be better than yesterday? How many ideas can you fill your head with, positive and negative, to optimize those things to your advantage” – Zachary Minott

A learning engine is essentially the driving force that pushes us to continue learning and absorbing new information so that we can expand our knowledge and skillset.

In developer terms, you can be a good developer if you know coding language but, what makes a great developer stand apart from the good ones is their ability to problem solve creatively. So, it’s not just about the core skills, it’s about adopting skills outside of what is traditionally expected for your work to stand out as exceptional.

Key takeaways 

  • The importance of creative thinking: Sometimes looking out of your own profession, and your own discipline can trigger different ways of looking at things as well.
  • The more you learn, the more angles you explore, the broader your view. And now, you can find connections between concepts like art, psychology and coding and combine them to create a more elegantly and intuitively designed code.
  • Where a lot of developers are missing the mark is going beyond their technical coding skills when rather, they could be diving further into the problems they’re seeking to solve and the experience they’re trying to create for the customer.
  • It takes a certain level of intuitive and creative thinking to go beyond what the technical aspect of programming can do.

“Because when you're creative, but you're not exactly a master at the technicalities, you're able to figure things out on a similar level, just because you're able to see those things in ways that they can't see them.” – Zachary Minott

The best way to develop your learning engine is to just start small. Think of what knowledge can bring you the most value, or is of most interest to you, and then, pick up a book and commit to reading 10 pages a day. Watch videos, listen to podcasts, read newsletters even 10-30 minutes each day. Over time, the knowledge compounds and you easily become an expert in that field.

Segment time stamps

(00:25) Introduction of Zachary Minott
(00:29) The importance of connecting pieces of knowledge to creatively perfect your craft
(10:00) Strategies to build upon your knowledge and tips for building new habits
(17:45) What is a learning engine?
(20:41) Writing as a means to share knowledge and exchange ideas with others
(26:45) Zachary’s advice for someone developing their own learning engine


Links from the podcast