FAQ: Data Science -- Where to Start (continued)?

In my previous post "Data Science -- Where to Start?", I enumerated a few specifics regarding my answer and pointed out several Python online courses to effectively jumpstart your data science career. Now, I would like to suggest a specific book to read that will help you focus on an aspect of your professional career and gain insight on a principle that is not adapted by most. This is particularly applicable when you are reaching the age of 30, whereby you have relatively gained experience in a few professional endeavors.

This post in many ways answers the question: "Is it better to focus on my strengths or on my weaknesses?" The book to read is Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath. And right there, the answer to the question is already a give-away. And, in more ways than one, your knowledge of yourself and your strengths are immensely helpful.

This is how the book looks like.

Strengths Finder 2.0

The book initially discusses the example of basketball's greatest Michael Jordan -- why can't everyone by like Mike? Way back when, my friends and I wanted to be like Mike and the book has a very good explanation of why everyone cannot be like Mike. It begins by quantifying his strength when it comes to basketball. Assuming that on a scale of 1-10, his basketball skills are rated 10 (being the greatest player). Assuming mine are rated 2. More like 1, but for the sake of comparison, lets put it at 2 compared to MJ.

To be able to make it easier to understand, the book quantifies the result of focusing on strengths by taking a product of the rated skillset or strength and the amount of effort put in honing it. I'm quite positive it is exponential in nature not just multiplicative but to illustrate, if MJ does work related to basketball with an effort of 5, that results to 50. Simply put if MJ focuses on basketball and plays to his strength, this goes to a potential of 100.

In contrast, with a rating of 2, I could only go as much as 20. That just requires meager effort from MJ to match. Given the possibility of exponential product from having the innate strength in the first place, the answer to why everyone can't be like Mike could not be any clearer. This is why it is important to know your strengths.

Coincidentally, MJ shifted to baseball. Did he have a successful season like what he had in basketball? History has recorded this outcome and his return to basketball cemented his legacy.

Bundled with the book is a code you could use to take the Strengths Finder exam. It is a series of questions that when evaluated together produces a profile of strengths. I took the exam a while back and my top 5 strengths are: Strategic, Relator, Learner, Ideation and Analytical. The result goes further to describe my top strength as: "People who are especially talented in the Strategic theme create alternative ways to proceed. Faced with any given scenario, they can quickly spot the relevant patterns and issues." The rest of the strengths are discussed as well.

Also included are "Ideas for Action", one of which is: "Your strategic thinking will be necessary to keep a vivid vision from deteriorating into an ordinary pipe dream. Fully consider all possible paths toward making the vision a reality. Wise forethought can remove obstacles before they appear." As I read through my profile, it's like I was reading the explanation of my past experiences. It explains why I behaved that way and why the decision I made was that. More important is why I am who I am now.

I compared my results with others who took the exam, having the Strategic strength and the descriptions are different. Likewise, the ideas for action are disparate. Having similar strengths doesn't mean having the same overall theme. Strengths also boost each others effects. With the exception of Relator, my strengths are bundled along the "Strategic Thinking" domain.

RELATED: Data Science -- Where to Start?

Although knowing your strengths (and "playing" to your strengths) is not entirely data science related, it helps to know. In my experience, the investment in acquiring a copy of the book Strengths Finder 2.0 for myself is definitely worth it, plus the Gallup Strengths Finder exam. If you have taken the exam, share with us your top 5 strengths and how it has helped you with your career so far.


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