Why you should learn SQL, Ness Labs' course, New Website

Guess who's back? Back again.

Hello there! It has definitely been a minute since we last spoke. Sorry for completely ghosting you, but it's been a wild and busy few weeks for me. If you didn't already know, on top of writing online I'm also a third year medical student and going through my clinical rotations this year (basically going to the hospital and actually seeing patients). It's all very exciting and I'm loving it so far but the hours can be long. Most recently I was on my internal medicine rotation which is one of the two "big" rotations (the other being surgery). It's about 10-12 hours a day in the hospital + studying afterwards so writing kind of went to the wayside. I am sorry I haven't been sending out weekly emails!

But don't fret - I'm back (there was a Baby, I'm back reference there somewhere but I did not find it). I'm on my family medicine rotation now (primary care) and am actually doing telehealth which means I should have more time to do more creative work. Looking forward to writing more frequently again. As always, you can also find me on Twitter.

Also another quick update - I built a website! You can find it here. It's a work in progress (peep the Change Log tab for updates) but all of my long form content will now live there instead of just going through the newsletter. I'll still link to all my articles in the newsletter so that you can easily read them. If you have feedback and suggestions on the site, find things that look wonky, or just want to give me your two cents, I'd love to hear it!

How Learning SQL Taught Me to Think Systematically

This week I've written an article on the benefits of learning SQL and why I think you should learn it even if you don't directly interact with databases in your day job. I picked up SQL to do side projects at my first job and liked it so much that I ended up working in analytics and data at two different startups.

There is an obvious benefit to learning SQL if your company has data that you can interact with - it removes the bottleneck of having to wait on data scientists or engineers to parse through data that you need. However, even if you don't work with data daily, the lessons learned with SQL help you become a systematic thinker. Like any programming language, you learn to be more structured and develop frameworks to solve problems. Having this skill alone can help you in domains like project management, communication, and even medicine (if you're like me!).

I also make the argument that SQL is more accessible to the average person who doesn't code because it is much simpler than other programming languages and we all have a general understanding of how tables work (especially if you're an Excel user). You can check out the full article here.

Collector to Creator

This week I started Ness Labs' new course Collector to Creator. I've never done a live online course before (mostly because of time and price) but I've been a fan of Anne-Laure Le Cunff's work for a while now and thought it was worth it to spend the time learning about her process (she was also very kind and hooked me up with a student discount).

So far, we've had one session and it's great to be present with like-minded people who are also trying to write, grow, and learn. It's also great to see familiar faces and names since I've met so many people just by being a part of the Roam community on Twitter.

Online courses are all the hype these days especially in the time of Covid and I want to write a longer post about the pros and cons of online courses and what the future may look like for them. For now I'll say that I think the biggest gains come from "breakout rooms" but also there is value in keeping smaller groups together over time to cultivate a relationship and group vibe. I've seen this happen with my small groups in medical school, on clinical rotations, and even in my past jobs. Staying with a small team allows people to open up overtime and cultivates better relationships over time.


  • Podcast: Breaking Benford: Radiolab has been one of my favorite podcasts because they do such a good job of doing background research and storytelling. This episode is all about Benford's Law and how it has come up in the recent election. If you don't know what Benford's Law is, it's basically the idea that there are more numbers that begin with 1s and 2s vs 8s and 9s in the world. So across anything (baseball stats, bank account balances, etc.) most numbers will start with 1 or 2. However, this isn't the case in elections!

  • Podcast: Dispatch 3: Shared Immunity: Another great Radiolab episode, this one is from early this year when Covid was getting started and is about the idea of plasma transfusions and why people were looking into transfusions as a way to treat Covid. My favorite part is the end where they interview an oncologist who talks very bluntly about death and Covid and why it is especially difficult.

  • Podcast: Roam FM with Joel Chan: This one is a shoutout to #roamcult - Roam FM always does a great job with his interviews and this one with Joel Chan was no different. Highlights for me include talk about analog note taking systems (i.e. what Darwin use to do) and also the idea of focusing too much time on your productivity system that you don't actually get anything done. I can definitely relate to that!

Thanks for checking out the newsletter! It feels good to be back writing and I hope that you found something valuable from this issue. If you ever want to reach out with feedback or just say hello, you can find me on Twitter. Also, I'd greatly appreciate it if you shared this issue with one friend that you think would enjoy reading it! Helps me out a ton to grow the newsletter and keep putting out issues!