Worlds Away, Spreadsheet Basics, and Learning Foreign Languages with Mike Watson9:40 with Michael Watson
In this episode we talk with Treehouse COO/CFO, teacher, and artist, Mike Watson.
Hi, I'm Craig. 0:00 Welcome to the Treehouse Show. 0:01 The Treehouse Show is our weekly conversation with the Treehouse Community. 0:02 [SOUND] In this episode, we'll be talking to teacher and Chief Financial Officer, 0:06 as well as Chief Operating Officer of Treehouse, Mike Watson. 0:13 Thanks for being on the show Watson. 0:18 >> My pleasure to be here. 0:19 >> Real excited to talk to you, because you have so 0:20 much stuff that you do here at Treehouse. 0:23 I would like to talk about how you got started in technology. 0:25 >> So, I grew up in the Bay Area, I grew up in Palo Alto, 0:28 and I used AOL from day one, I installed it with a laser disc. 0:31 >> Nice. [LAUGH] 0:36 >> And I remember creating websites, 0:37 using just HTML and CSS in line. 0:39 >> Okay, what kind of websites were you making? 0:41 >> I was in middle school, making websites for girls I had crushes on and 0:44 things like that. 0:48 >> [LAUGH] >> So anyway, yeah, I was doing that and 0:50 using ICQ and playing. 0:53 There was this massive online game called Worlds Away for Dreamweaver, 0:54 which I have no idea what happened to, but I was obsessed with that, I loved it. 0:58 And that’s how I started. 1:03 And long story short, eventually found myself in business school and 1:04 had a kind of idea for a startup. 1:09 And I didn't know how to code anymore, a long time had passed between the AOL days. 1:12 And I started teaching myself how to code. 1:16 >> How were you doing that? >> I was with Treehouse. 1:18 >> No way. 1:20 You were using Treehouse before? 1:21 >> Before I joined. 1:23 >> Wow, okay. >> Yeah, so I was using Treehouse. 1:23 I really can't remember how I stumbled across the service, but 1:25 I immediately fell in love with it. 1:29 And I started using it, and literally, 1:31 I'm going to some of my business school classes cuz I was so hooked. 1:33 I was learning from Nick Pettit, Jim Hoskins, Jason Seifer, and 1:37 had nicknames for all of them. 1:40 >> [LAUGH] >> Nick was the Mohawk or something, 1:42 I can't remember. 1:45 >> Sure, yeah, the faux hawk. 1:46 >> The faux hawk, and then Jason was the Smile. 1:47 So yeah, and it was super effective. 1:50 I made a website in three weeks. 1:52 It was responsive, and I was super impressed with myself. 1:54 So fell in love with the product and thought hey, 1:57 this would be a really interesting company to work for. 1:59 Ad I got lucky timing-wise, and when I sent off an email, they were hiring, 2:02 so here I am, five years later. 2:06 >> Where did you start out? 2:08 What was your first position here? 2:09 >> So I was a sales rep. 2:10 I joined the sales team. 2:11 And then actually, before I joined, another position opened up that they 2:14 wanted me to consider, which was, at that point, called the jobs team leader. 2:18 We used to have a team here at Treehouse that was focused specifically on finding 2:22 jobs for our students. 2:26 In that, we had some wins, and we learned a lot, but realized that it was better for 2:28 us to focus on the curriculum side of things. 2:33 And then partnering with organizations to help our students get jobs, so, 2:36 hence our relationship with companies like Launch Code. 2:39 >> Yeah, totally, awesome, cool, so okay, so then you move from that to? 2:42 Where did you go from there? 2:47 >> So jobs team lead, I did that for four months. 2:48 And then on January 24th, 2013, 2:51 I was promoted into my current role, which is CFOCO here at Treehouse. 2:53 >> Wow. >> So yeah, 2:58 it was just really lucky timing. 2:59 I think when I joined the company, there was not someone who had the kind of 3:01 experience and skills that I had learned through my previous job, 3:05 which was doing private equity work in southeast Asia. 3:08 So I learned a lot about scaling businesses and helping them grow. 3:12 And there was an opening, and I got lucky, fortunately. 3:16 >> We got lucky, too, let's be honest. 3:21 >> Thanks. 3:23 >> So on top of being a CFO, recently, you've been releasing courses. 3:23 Is that right? 3:28 >> Yeah, yeah. 3:29 >> I don't know how you're finding the time to do all this, but let's talk about 3:29 the courses that you've been- >> Yeah, so 3:31 I've been working on data analysis content for Treehouse. 3:33 We have people focused on SQL and building up that. 3:37 And we know that for students that are interested in learning about data 3:41 analysis, knowing how to work with spreadsheets and then some of the more 3:44 basic fundamental concepts around data analysis are important. 3:48 So since I have a lot of experience with that and I'm super passionate about it, 3:51 I figured, hey, why not try to help our students a little bit? 3:54 So, I've been trying to find some extra time to create some of that content, 3:57 and data visualization is the next sell. 4:02 It should be coming out later this month- >> Nice. 4:04 >> And there's a bunch of plans to create more content. 4:06 I think the next one will be a sort of case study 4:08 on return on investment analysis. 4:11 >> That's great, that's wonderful for the students. 4:13 That's really cool, man. 4:15 So you said you were living abroad. 4:16 Where were you living? 4:17 >> While I was in college, I did an internship in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. 4:18 >> Okay. 4:22 >> Colloquially known as KL. 4:23 So towards the end of college, they offered me a full time job. 4:25 And I went and lived in KL for three years after living in Boston for school. 4:29 And I loved it, it was an amazing experience. 4:34 I frankly couldn't probably accurately locate Malaysia on a map before I had my 4:38 internship there, which is somewhat embarrassing, but anyway. 4:42 Yeah, so I lived out there, I learned a lot. 4:45 The food in Malaysia is amazing. 4:49 I still have dreams about it. 4:50 >> [LAUGH] >> And one of the things I think was 4:51 really special for me while I was living out there is that I was able to travel 4:55 a lot throughout Southeast Asia, both for work professionally and just personally. 4:59 I could hop on a flight, I went to Burma, and I went to Cambodia and Laos and 5:03 spent a lot of time in Hong Kong and Jakarta and Singapore. 5:08 And I lived in Mumbai for three months. 5:12 >> Wow. >> So I got a lot 5:16 of exposure through that, which was just so rewarding. 5:17 I think, if you travel and get exposed to cultures and 5:20 step outside your comfort zone, it's really very useful. 5:23 And it helps you grow a lot, expands your vision of the world, 5:27 and I really appreciate my experiences there. 5:31 I had the tough assignment at the end of three years of getting sent to 5:35 the Sydney office, so I also got to live in Sydney, Australia for a year. 5:39 >> Wow. 5:43 >> Which is a beautiful city and it reminded me a lot of my hometown in 5:44 the Bay Area, the San Francisco Bay, you've got the bridge. 5:47 And anyway, the Opera House is very cool, Sydney is an amazing place. 5:51 I highly recommend visiting if you have a chance. 5:54 And then after I finished at the private equity firm, 5:57 I moved to France and I lived in a suburb of Paris. 6:01 And I went to a business school at a place called NSEAD and 6:04 that was very rewarding as well. 6:07 So I got to live in Europe for a year and kind of travel around and 6:09 see a bunch of different places. 6:11 And now I'm back in the States on the west coast here in Portland, Oregon. 6:13 >> How many languages did you pick up along the way? 6:17 [LAUGH] >> So I think that's always an interesting 6:20 question, because I think the way people answer that is highly subjective. 6:23 I'm super critical of whether or not I can speak a language. 6:26 My mom is Puerto Rican, so I can speak a lot of Spanish. 6:30 I learned a little bit of Bahasa and Malay, 6:33 which is the local Malaysian dialect of Bahasa in Malaysia. 6:35 I ended up meeting my wife, who's Iranian, so now I speak quite a bit of Farsi. 6:40 >> Wow. >> In France, 6:45 I was able to get some conversational French. 6:46 But I think there's this actor called Paul Robenson, and 6:49 he had a quote that I think is very amazing, 6:53 which he said, the more languages you speak, the closer you get to God. 6:56 Now I know that's controversial for some people, but I truly believe that 6:59 being able to converse with different people coherently and 7:03 fluidly in their local language is a just tremendously valuable skill to have. 7:07 >> Yeah, absolutely. 7:11 >> And the more language I can speak, I mean, I just wish I could learn more. 7:12 It's amazing. 7:15 >> I would like to ask you, what's something that the students might not know 7:16 from just watching these courses that you're putting out there, about you? 7:21 >> Yeah, I think there's a few things. 7:26 One, when I was growing up in high school, I was really into painting, so 7:27 that was my big hobby, yeah. 7:32 So I had a sculpture teacher, my junior year, who encouraged me to start trying 7:34 to paint and explore different forms of media other than paper mache. 7:39 >> [LAUGH] >> [LAUGH] So, anyway, 7:43 she taught me a lot about using the mixed media and acrylic. 7:46 And I kinda had a natural talent for it and really got super into it. 7:50 >> Wow. 7:57 >> And by the time I graduated college, I painted about 80 paintings. 7:58 >> Whoa. 8:02 >> And sold half of them. 8:02 >> Wait, you're selling these? 8:03 >> Yeah. 8:04 >> Professionally selling these? 8:05 Wow. 8:06 >> Well, I mean, I've had one gallery exposition, but yeah, 8:06 it's something that I'm very passionate about. 8:10 I wish I could do more of it. 8:13 To be honest, since I started working full time, 8:15 it's been difficult to kind of get that creativity. 8:17 There's something to be said for the energy that is required to go into making 8:21 something that is, I don't know, reflects your creative energy. 8:25 I don't know how to describe it. 8:32 It's very difficult, but after a long day at the office, you come home and 8:33 you kind of just wanna relax and hang out with your family. 8:38 So whereas it used to take me maybe a week to finish a painting, 8:40 now it maybe takes me months. 8:44 And so, my velocity has slowed down quite a lot. 8:47 But I still love it and 8:50 it's something that I would like to be more purposeful about. 8:51 >> Cool, do you have those available some place where we could take 8:54 a look at some of them? 8:56 >> Yeah, I have an old portfolio site which I built in 2012 and- 8:57 >> You built the site, too? 8:59 >> Yeah, yeah, this is one of the sites I learned how to build with Treehouse. 9:01 Now it hasn't gotten much love since then, I'll be honest, but it's shmags.com. 9:04 >> Shmags. 9:07 >> Yeah. 9:08 >> Can you spell that? 9:09 >> S-H-M-A-G-S, I think we can do a lower third here maybe. 9:11 >> Sure. 9:17 >> Right here, [LAUGH] it's an inside joke, I'm a big San Francisco Giants fan. 9:18 And one of the announcers refers to people smoking cigarettes, 9:22 are called cigarette schmags, so it's long story. 9:25 >> Okay, [LAUGH]. 9:29 [SOUND] Thanks for watching the Treehouse Show. 9:30 To get in touch with the show, reach out to me on Twitter, or 9:32 hit us up in the Treehouse community. 9:34 See you next time. [SOUND] 9:35
You need to sign up for Treehouse in order to download course files.Sign up