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From Failure to Philosopher and full-time Data content creator

Updated: Oct 3, 2022

MindSpeaking Podcast Episode 7 - Harpreet Sahota, Data Scientist at Comet

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Introducing Guest

Gilbert Eijkelenboom: So, let's do it. Let's start mind speaking. Today on the mind speaking Podcast. I'm talking to Harpreet sahaja. If you like a bit of a deeper conversation about philosophy, about life and about work that you will like this interaction. In this episode I talked to Harpreet he has is a data scientist working for Comet is a statistician. He is also the podcast host of artists, the artists of data science a podcast I definitely recommend. Yes, over 40,000 followers on LinkedIn. And he also hosts the weekly open office hours next to all that he's also the principal data science mentor at Data Science dream job. He's a busy man, so I'm lucky to have him in the podcast. I really enjoyed this episode about all kinds of things. It's more of a conversational episode. So if that's what you like, you will enjoy this conversation. upgrades. Welcome to the show. Man, thanks for having me. I'm really excited for today. I remember being on your podcast and actually there was my first podcast appearance ever. I was really nervous. And but you call me down and you gave me some good feedback to improve author as well. So I really appreciate that. And it's so fun, so much fun to look back. It's how we interacted and how we collaborated. And now being in this podcast again to speak so thank you for making the time.

Harpreet Sahota: Absolutely.

Gilbert Eijkelenboom: Did I know it was your first podcast? I don't think I knew that. I don't think I don't think I told you so. It was overdue.

Harpreet Sahota: It was great man. So if you guys are listening to this, go check it out on my podcast, the artists and data science. It was great, man.

Who was Harpreet in High School?

Gilbert Eijkelenboom: In between podcasts a lot, and we'll dive into podcaster later a bit more as well, because that artists have data science is a great show. And, of course, many people know you from LinkedIn or other platforms like medium. But some people don't. And I will. I also know you, but I would like to discover more about you. So let's start at the beginning. What type of person was was our creed in high school and where did you grow up? Grew up and tell us a bit more about that. I grew up in South Sacramento, California.

Harpreet Sahota: So the the region I was in was called like the more subnets slash valley high area. So if anybody's from Sacramento, you know, that's where I'm from. In high school man, like the first few years I think I was a pretty decent kid like I was on the right track. I had big aspirations and the honors and all the honors classes and stuff like Don't bad shooting just hanging around campus not doing stuff. I didn't get my act together really? Until I was like 21. And then at that point, I was like, Well, you know, I kind of don't want to be delivering pizzas forever. Like normally that's not a good use of my time. He just tried to do the school thing. But then even then, when I went back to university, it was still the same stuff, right? Like I still managed to find myself in the same type of predicaments with the same type of people doing the same type of stuff.

Gilbert Eijkelenboom: Why do you think that is? That happened,

Harpreet Sahota: it's just it's just, you know, maybe I just have a proclivity to waste time. You know, take the easy, easy route wherever possible. I mean, maybe I just didn't have a lot of role models growing up like you know, I mean, like my mom's uncle, my mom's brothers who are my uncle's are all great are great. Role models. But nobody really was, was there to kind of show him that, hey, maybe you shouldn't do that. You should try to do this. And even if they were I probably wouldn't have listened. I don't know why that was.

Gilbert Eijkelenboom: Do you have any conversations with them? Did they bring you into a conversation about what was happening or trying to influence you?

Harpreet Sahota: None of none of that? Right? Like, none of that.

Role Model

Gilbert Eijkelenboom: And they were a role model in some sense. Do you imagine so?

Harpreet Sahota: So my uncle was, you know that my uncle's only pizza restaurant called Mountain Mike's pizza, and they opened that up and they made sure that I work there because I'm glad I worked there. It did keep me off the streets and it kept me from probably doing even worse things that you know, some of my other classmates and cousins got into and so that was great, but at the same time, it's like alright, well, you know, you just showed me how to deliver pizza be like a small business owner, whatever. Like it just wasn't, wasn't. Wasn't enough, right? Like I just didn't, I didn't have many examples around me of what success actually looks like or what is actually possible. Yeah.


Gilbert Eijkelenboom: Right. And what what I see in you, when you interact with people, when you do presentation for your outings on social media, I see a lot of mentorship and maybe trying to be that role model. Is that is that a right observation? Or how do you see

Harpreet Sahota: the mostly reminders to myself, I would say and maybe just just putting some positivity out there. I don't know if I'm like a role models anyone think they should consider the role model? I think you are. Or a mentor? Yeah, maybe as possible. But yeah, like there's mental shifting that I got into was kind of by accident. Like, you know, none of this stuff was predetermined or planned pre planned. Like I've never would have thought that I would be in a position where I can give people life advice or difficult career advice and they take it and it works for them. And yeah, I'm gonna answer a question.

Gilbert Eijkelenboom: Yeah, this works, because it leads to the next question as well. About, you know, giving advice and helping people and having an impact on people. You think. Do you think people should be mentoring more often taking care of others or guiding them? But do you think so,

Harpreet Sahota: for me, this is kind of like my, my journey for mentorship, like, people should always take care of themselves first, first, and foremost, like, you're responsible for yourself, and just take care of yourself first. You know, that's, that's why I say about that. But mentorship does give people an opportunity to get better. So I was part of this program, data science dream job, which I don't know when this episode's gonna be released, but it's going you know, the businesses closing. But I was part of this thing back in 2018, just as a student myself, and people were asking questions in our Slack community. And these questions. I was like, Dude, this is the most easily Googled question like if you just put in the slightest bit of effort, you could get the answer to this question relatively quickly. But then I said, alright, well, that's an interesting question. I kind of want to know the answer to that myself. So let me go look it up, find the answer, accumulate the knowledge myself and then give it back to you. And so if it wasn't for those types of opportunities, where people are just asking questions, and I'm like, Oh, this interesting question that like no, the answer to that. So let me look it up and give you the answer. Like, that was probably the thing that accelerated my knowledge in data science and machine learning the quickest. So there's completely selfish motives I guess for how that planned out that panned out for me, was I just use that as an opportunity for me to get better and more knowledgeable. And then part of it is just people people are saying thank you, right. And that's so helpful. Thank you for doing that. That kind of feels good to men like don't mean it. And you kind of want to get more and more of that. So that's kind of how my mentorship getting started, was just finding opportunities for me to learn more by answering lazy people's questions.

Gilbert Eijkelenboom: And it works out very well. Because I because of all those people asking questions stupid or not, you found the honest answer. You found more knowledge, you got more experience, you got feedback from people that it was helping. So that's how you kind of understood what was important for you. Maybe you discover more of your values, what do you want to do in life? And part of that is also understanding what matters to read, becoming more self aware, and doing introspection. What what do you see of the what you see is the role of introspection and self awareness and in your journey.

Harpreet Sahota: That's the stuff that has really helped shape me over the last few years like all this introspection, self awareness stuff. I probably started doing that like I'm 38 years old. 39 In May 2022. Right. But even then, it wasn't until 2018 2017 late 2017 early 2018 where I started, like being exposed to more ideas, you know, books like killed blacks, mindset, Angela Duckworth, grit, and Charles Duhigg power of habit and reading those books just started kicking off thoughts in my head and it's like, it made me think about the way I thought about stuff. Right? It really shook some of my core beliefs for the better. So through that bit of introspection, to be exposed to those ideas, made me audit and kind of audit and question my own belief system, and then tear down the ones that just I feel we're holding me back and then rebuild a whole new belief system.

Gilbert Eijkelenboom: And how did you create that because From experience I know it's very hard to kick old beliefs or habits and talk to us about how you got kicked those and adopted a new mindset or or belief systems.

Harpreet Sahota: Just like the thought processes I was having like the beliefs I had, they just weren't helping me like I've lived in my life as a kicker I'm 35 years old, educated right by a master's degree in math and statistics. Has to from actuarial exams. I was in a biostats biostatistician with no kind of brainy job, but then I just wasn't progressing. Like I wasn't using my time wisely. I wasn't climbing up my career like I was stagnant like five years in that role. And a lot of it had to do with just the what I believe right, like a belief that okay, well, this is this is it. This is all there is for me, like I can't do anything else. I know. I'm too old. I can't learn a new skill. If I can't pivot. Things are too hard. You know, this, this is just complacency. Like, it doesn't matter. You know, it doesn't matter if you stay in this job or not gonna fire me I can slack off whatever. It was just, it was bad, right? Just these beliefs that I had these thoughts that I had, were just not, not helpful, really useful. And so I kind of had to get out of my own head, right, like you're in your head all the time, like some thoughts you have. And you sort of associated yourself with these thoughts. Like I was just firmly my thoughts, but then I was like, Wait, hold on. I'm thinking like, these are stupid thoughts. Like, what is it that you're actually believing? Like, why are you believing this stuff? And since I just dismantled a whole set of beliefs are holding back like, things have just been crazy. Crazy from your elite? Yeah. What's the positive? The positive has been like a hockey curve. Yeah. And the hockey stick curve.

Self Awareness

Gilbert Eijkelenboom: Also my like I you described that talking about your own thoughts, you know, and looking at your own thoughts and I think you need a pretty high degree of self awareness to be able to do that to look at yourself and look at your own thoughts and say, Hey, this was useful in the past, but I'm putting it down. Now. I'm choosing for a different route. And one of your blog posts you also mentioned the word non portable. So can you talk to talk to us about remember so now I'm comfortable?

Harpreet Sahota: Comfortably now? Yeah. Yeah, man, this complacency feeling like like it's very it's very easy to take the easy route. But then the easy route leads to more hardship in the future, right, because it's kind of a paradox of life. So it's very easy to feel complacent, like you know, oh, I'm where I am right now. Because this is easy, like I'm coasting like I got a decent job, like, you know, I could, I could spend my afternoons or evenings just watching TV all day, and, you know, and he's just getting these habits and, and it's just comfortable. And you kind of get stuck in that routine. Right? Exactly. It Yeah, I mean, it's just it's


Gilbert Eijkelenboom: so easy to stay there because it takes so much courage so much wisdom through to know where you want to go right but also you need to jump before you know exactly, just explore the unknown and, and this also relates to one of the quotes from that same blog post you wrote, it's an excellent blog, by the way, I'll put the link in the show notes. It says, It doesn't matter what other people think about what you're doing, as long as you have a clear vision of what you're trying to achieve. And then the My question is, how do you create that clear vision or how have you created that? You touched upon it already a bit, but maybe you can explain?

Harpreet Sahota: Yeah, how you come up with that clear vision and it's thinks a lot of work. I'll tell you that. It takes a lot of effort. Because you have to sit down with your thoughts and actually see, okay, like, what is it that I actually wanted? She writes so for me, you know, there's been many many moments, right to sit down and think about what it was I was trying to achieve and then deconstruct the thing going backwards, right. So first is like, Okay, well, I want to be an actuary, right? That's 1012 years ago, that was the case like, I want to be an actuary. Great. Well, how do I become an actuary? Well, first we need to find a community of actuaries and talk to them and find out about their journey, and then see what kind of advice they give me then collate all that advice and kind of come up with a plan for yourself, right. But it all starts. It starts with just the realization that you just got yourself stuck. In some type of position, right? And once you figure okay, like, you own up the fact that you know what, like, I got myself stuck. I'm in a position that I don't like, like, I'm working a shitty job. You know, I'm doing something I do not care about. And I'm just complacent and I'm just living everyday like, like, it's the same day without any real clear vision or goal a acknowledge that fact. And if there's like, Alright, cool. Let me figure out a plan. Right. Let me figure out where in my day, I am misusing time and then figure out how I can use that time to set me up to get to where I want to go, right. And for me, like, it doesn't matter if it's trying to become an actuary. It doesn't matter if it was trying to learn Python or machine learning or become a data scientist or learn anything. It was just coming to a realization that I was stuck and I need to formulate a plan and spend every waking minute that I have attacking about plan, right? It doesn't matter if you got a full time job doesn't matter. If you got family wife and kids wake up early and you start just doing the thing, right? And just attack. Attack like your life depends on it. And out Oh man, it's I don't know if that's answering the question there. But I think he just started just realizing that, you know, if you if you're in a position that you feel like yourself stuck at, acknowledge that effect, figure out where it is you're trying to go. Devise a plan to get there, and that plan might be listening to other people's story might be reading blog posting might be reading people's posts on LinkedIn or reaching out to people figuring out how they did it.

Gilbert Eijkelenboom: That makes total sense. And I did that and it answers the question. And I think once you admit to yourself that you're stuck or that you don't want to you want to go move to a different place where you're not right now, I think that's a big hurdle. Right? Once you have done that, the rest is more clear, because it's really clouded by your unawareness of or an unwillingness to admit that you're not in the right place. And then once you define those steps, I think everything becomes clear. And I think we often make those steps too big. Right? Okay. I want to move from, from finance to data science. Yeah, where the hell do I start? But I think you'd have some very practical tips about, you know, following people on LinkedIn or reaching out to them or joining a community, I think that's very helpful.

Harpreet Sahota: Yeah, I think just like, like anything in data science, computer science, whatever it says, taken a big problem, a hard problem, just bring it down to smaller smaller chunks, right. Like if you're trying to make that career transition. Okay, like you've been trying to get into data science from whatever type of role you're going to i Well, what are the core skills I need to get the data science right? What are the fundamental skills, identify the fundamental skills and pick one at a time and attack that one skill for you know, three, six weeks, move on to the next skill. Do that for three to six weeks, run the next skill three to six weeks and go back to that first? Skill? And then can we keep this loop until you know you've acquired the knowledge you need? But then acquiring the knowledge you need isn't really enough because you need to apply it and do something with it. Right? And there's so many career paths out there that are permissionless where you don't need to be in a job to do the work where you can just do the actual stuff without anyone's permission. You know, that's the wonderful thing about tech and data science, right? Like you don't need anyone's permission to go download a dataset. You don't need anyone's permission to set up Python VS code established, you know, a local database or database in the cloud. Like there's so many things you don't need permission for. So back in the days, like doing this, like you and I like recording something, broadcasting it when I was growing up, that was impossible. You'd have to go to a public radio station, pay them I think 150 bucks an hour. And then even then you were only available on air for that. One hour, right? Like now it's like there's no we don't need anyone's permission to do this man. Like you don't have the everything that you want to do. Like I guarantee you the barriers to entry are far lower than you think they are. So yeah, that's for tirade there. Sorry about that.

Gilbert Eijkelenboom: No, that's okay. I love the messenger because I don't think enough people realize how, how many opportunities there are right now. Because, right, and with opportunities, I mean, not just jobs, but opportunities to learn. And indeed 20 years ago, 10 years ago, it was much more difficult to to access all of that information, access all those people write up via LinkedIn, you can send a message to anyone, even the most famous authors or public speaker or whoever, and they might respond as well. And I think their response rate is pretty high. If you're, if you're a kind person is communicating the kind way and I believe most more people are willing to help and we realize so and it's something we can benefit from.

Harpreet Sahota: Yeah, so that's probably the biggest world shaking. A belief that I've acquired over the last few years is just that the things that I once thought required someone's permission to do are actually in fact permissionless. Like, you do not need to ask anyone to do a lot of things. You just do it.

Challenges in communication skills

Gilbert Eijkelenboom: Awesome. I would like to talk a bit about communication skills and you as a statistician, and data scientists, what have you experienced in terms of communication? What challenges have you faced and what did you find difficult and what did you What did you experience,

Harpreet Sahota: man? Do I have communication skills? I don't know man. I guess that's my phone some math, it's tough question. Because I don't I'm still I'm still working on it. Here's my communication skills, right? Like I still don't think I have got solid communication skills. Like I feel like there's a lot of work that can be done. It's one thing to be able to sit and write down your thoughts and clarify and distill those. It's another thing to communicate verbally, but I think it all comes down to just a few key points, right? Like versus just have empathy for the person that you're speaking with, right? Especially if you're trying to convince someone to persuade someone to do something you first need to have. Putting yourself in their shoes and understand what kind of emotions might this person be feeling? The perspective taking is putting yourself in their cognitive thought process. Okay, there's one thing to understand how some And then if you get those two that that you can get closer to, to influencing people.

Gilbert Eijkelenboom: And I think it's about I think it's something I mistake I made many, many times in the past I still do sometimes to be too eager to jump to persuasion, right, because you have the data already you have the facts, so why not present them right away and not take so much time empathizing and, you know, getting the perspective of the other person because you have the truth already. So why why why bother? But how many times people are not listening and I only, you know, try to give them more facts and more details. Maybe they don't really work out that can tell you Yeah, and like is that because

Harpreet Sahota: yeah, we sort of like it's hard trying to convince people with facts, right. I feel like that doesn't do the work as often as you think you would like cuz you're like, I'm a rational person. Like I understand the facts. So why don't you understand the facts like here they are. Let's look at the truth.

Gilbert Eijkelenboom: Yeah, yeah. And I think most or most many data scientists, data analysts, they have a pretty rational perspective, which is very helpful in their job, but it also can be detrimental when you try to convince or collaborate with other people. Because, I mean, we're all emotional, whether we like it or not. Some people are a bit more emotional, and especially for those people who skip the emotions. You will never get them on your site. Yeah. And you say you are still working on your communication skills. Well, I can tell you you're doing that every day because you're out there a lot right? Writing LinkedIn posts, creating content having to open office hours, your podcast. So a lot of a lot of the time you're you're out there communicating your message, and it means you're in the spotlight quite a lot. Do you enjoy that? Yeah.

Harpreet Sahota: It's tough, man. Like it's really hard. Like it's one thing to be in the spotlight when it's kind of a premeditated kind of thing, right? Like when I do a presentation, like I know what I'm going to talk about, like that all mapped out. When I'm doing the podcast interview, like, I know what questions I'm going to ask. I put in work, I've understood the author's work, but it's like situations like this where it's like I you know, I kind of go away and, and thinking of, you know, the seat of my pants or whatever the phrase is, these type situations are really tough for me to be good to go into like an unknown and just formulate and clarify my thoughts on the spot. So in terms of like, communication like that, it's challenging for me. Because if you guys are still listening, you know, 25 minutes into this podcast, you notice that I have a tendency to just ramble and go off on tangents, or ethics, sometimes I'm not addressing the question correctly. So those type situations are always tough. But in life, you are more often in these situations than you are in premeditated situations. So from that respect, like like when I write a piece, like like, that is hours and hours of work, research editing that goes into that, that helps communicate it when I write a LinkedIn post the same thing a lot. Of that's premeditated. But, you know, the ability to clearly communicate your thoughts on the spot in conversation to me is something that I feel I'm not good at, and I need a lot of work at. Again, not not directly ask the answer your original question. And just actually including different questions, but I will say this tough being live a lot like I've mixed like, Alchemy, opening and expose people are not nice. I mean, on average, people are nice, but there are people out there who just are just mean just because they want to be right. And that stuff will stick out and so forth. And how are

Dealing with negativity

Gilbert Eijkelenboom: you looking for? I wanted to ask how do you deal with that with the negativity or people that are insulting or trying to offend you or whatever? Yeah,

Harpreet Sahota: I just realized it's not actually doesn't have anything to do with me. Like, this person's reaction to the content I'm creating or what I'm saying, actually has nothing to do with me. It has nothing to do with me. But it's got more to do with them. That has to do with me. And I think that's just the markets are really set ignoring what goes on and other people so no one ever came to grief that way. That's kind of like the thing I remember and you know, other people's thoughts and opinions and objections, they are their own. They have nothing to do with me. They might be directed towards me, but doesn't mean that it's anything to do with me. It's a subtle shift. I think realizing that. It has been helpful.

Gilbert Eijkelenboom: Yeah, it's a subtle shift, but it makes us a big impact of you realize that you know, it's not personal, personal and if you don't take anything personally, which is difficult. But in the end, nothing is nothing is very personal, because it's personal to that person that is in a certain certain state at the moment that minutes or maybe a month or a year or life even. But it doesn't have so much to do with you. It's more to the trigger. But it's so difficult to think because I like good relationships, right? I like I like to be in harmony with people. So when people say something like that it's easy to set that done that

Harpreet Sahota: it was tough to to ask the original question I do I enjoy being open out there all the time. Yeah, probably because otherwise I wouldn't have I wouldn't do it so much but it's draining Right. Like I'm naturally like an introvert. Right? Like, just this month, the month of January rather. I was live streaming, you know, 10 hours live streaming. Plus, you know, 234 hours giving presentations at conferences and things like that. That's super draining. October October 2021. I live stream I think 30 hours. That's crazy. So hot, right. And it's definitely burned. You know, got to point I did get burned out right. I had three or four podcasts interview scheduled beginning of February. And I can't cancel all them. I was like, I just can't like it's not going to be the best version of me. interviewing you. I just can't I can't do it. If I had to cancel a few interviews that I had lined up. It's tough. It's not for everyone. Open yourself up a lot, but

Handling burn-out and being an introvert

Gilbert Eijkelenboom: it's fun. And you make a interesting comment there. Her comment? I would like to hear more about because you're saying you're an introvert, right? And many people see introverts not as people that are in the spotlight. But it does drain you you're not to have a lot of hours of life. How do you balance that apart from you know, canceling podcasts if you're really burned out? How do you how do you do that now, because I think there's some things to learn from for me, because I've been too stressed in the in the last six months. So maybe some lessons for me. And maybe the

Harpreet Sahota: man is weird because I do spend a large majority of my time by myself in my room, right? Physically just by myself in this office. You know, my wife is working my babies at the grandparents house. So I spent a lot of time by myself in this office. But the majority of the time that I spent by myself in this office, I'm usually on calls with other people. I'm either in meetings, I'm doing conference presentations, I'm hosting, podcasts, officers, all sorts of things right. And that stuff is draining because like it's given away so much energy, right? Like it's just it's draining to do that and what's helped me to really, really kind of combat that is I spend a lot of time every morning just the the writing in the journal or reading books, or just spending quiet time that is just for me, right? Yeah, so this is so weird. Mally, the Zoom world that we're living in, spend all of my time by myself, but yet I'm with other people from all over the world all the time and it's draining. You know that just to be talking and and giving away all energy. So yeah, just just carve out time. There's actually just for you, where you do your thing, right so for me, you know, every morning I'll do a 20 minute run 10 minute meditation, take my shower, come downstairs. do live in journaling, a little bit of pain. I mostly read a lot of philosophy and philosophy. And from there just just kind of ease into the day

Rapid Fire round

Gilbert Eijkelenboom: on things one way many people get energy or get inspired and what they do when they are drained they go traveling right so I'm gonna go to rapid fire round and the first question is about traveling. That's why I tried to make that bridge but it didn't really work out but anyways, the first question first,

Harpreet Sahota: I burned the bridge, man.

Gilbert Eijkelenboom: So the first question in the rapid fire round is what's your favorite place to travel? Yeah, so

Harpreet Sahota: I haven't been able to travel much the last couple of years. I've heard there's like this virus going around. And people can't really travel much. But I mean, first and foremost, man, it's always going back home to California. That's always my favorite place to travel. I haven't been inside my home in California for two and a half years and I'm home back in a week from now. So looking forward to that. So always love going back home to Sacramento. First and foremost a place to go but then after that. My wife and I have taken a lot of trips like the Mediterranean region. We've done the Croatia we've done Malta and don't hurt us being there, I guess kind of Mediterranean ish. And please, Palma de Murthy. Yeah, I don't know if that's really Mediterranean is that. Yeah. I like the Mediterranean region like that. If I can. If I can always go somewhere every year it will call the Palma de Majorca that is love it now what do you like about it? It's just chill man. super relaxing is a beautiful island. It's just absolutely gorgeous. And so chill like it gets not hustle and bustle and busy. It's just it's cool management seems like a nice place to to take the baby right? Like my wife and I went there in 2019 and I was just like, Dude, this is like the coolest place to hang out with your family with the baby and just relax.

Gilbert Eijkelenboom: As I have a wedding. On my orca the summer. So it's Hey, congrats. Yeah, looking forward as a wedding of my girlfriend. The second question is, that was the first career you dreamed of having as a kid.

Harpreet Sahota: I remember in first grade. I wanted to be a dermatologist, dermatologist. I don't know why. That's so weird. It's so weird. Whatever the dermatologist or some type of doctor but then I realize that I just didn't like blood and guts and gore and things like that.And I think after that I just didn't I thought maybe being an accountant like this thing, man. I think that's a lot of the reason why I was so lost early in life is because I didn't have a clear goal of what it was that actually to be honest with computers. I didn't know. Like, oh, yeah, be a doctor but and I was like, I don't wanna be a doctor. And I was like, Oh, be an accountant. And I was like, that's kind of boring. You know, that it but then again, as a kid Malley do need to be a like, you need to want to be anything and grow up as a kid, right? Like nowadays. Like, you know, my seven year old nephew, my wife's nephew, asked him we want to be when we grow up. He's like, I want to be a YouTuber. And just like the space of careers that are now open to us are drastically different than what they were when I was growing up, right. I grew up in the 90s. Like, you know, you had a few options, especially coming from you know, immigrant household, Indian parents, you know, lawyer, doctor, engineer for failure. That's really it. But the space of possible careers now is just, it's so wide, and the jobs that are coming, the jobs that are going to be emerging because of all the innovation that is happening now due to machine learning, AI and tech. There's so many jobs wouldn't even imagine. Right? Like it's, yeah. So I think for any kid growing up, like, you don't need to have like, a career aspiration, just aspire to be a well rounded, happy individual. And I think that's, I think it's the starting point.

Gilbert Eijkelenboom: Because just too often where so we all want to have an idea of who what type of job we want, right, what type of career but I think if you start with you as a person, then what makes you happy, the rest will automatically follow. I like that. Yeah,

Harpreet Sahota: yeah. People tend to just identify with their job like their job is their identity. And that's happens you know, Western world Eastern world wherever like the one of the first few questions anyone will ever ask us. Oh, so what do you do? Right? And they want to know what you do for work right? And I don't know, is it some type of status, signaling status Comparison, where we know how do you rank up on hierarchy against me? I don't know. But I don't understand why this has to be the first question. I'm getting to a place where I just still do not try to identify as a data scientist, right like, like I still put on my LinkedIn account with data scientist that identifies as today.

Gilbert Eijkelenboom: Yeah. So why did you do that? What made you do that?

Harpreet Sahota: Because data science is what I do for work. It's activities that are taken. But for me to say I am this thing, like that's too narrow. That's too restrictive, right? When I say I'm a philosopher, that means I'm a lover of wisdom. What does that mean? As a lover of wisdom? That means I just like to learn things like to learn about things. I like to think about things think deeply about things, right? Somebody will message me it's like, oh, you have philosophy. You have the PC of life. Did fucking Plato have a PhD? That Socrates ever PhD like? I don't know. Like, all these people, way back in the day have PhDs. They're still philosophers, right? So yeah, so hopefully, I get to a place where I just don't identify with anything anymore. I think there's a lot of work for me to get there. Yeah, I just do not identify with my career.

Gilbert Eijkelenboom: I identified way too much with with work and my position. I remember you know, updating my LinkedIn profile when I made a promotion, you know, the next day, eagerly showing the world you know, I made a promotion. And I think it's a think it's stupid, because you're so much more than your job right? You're you can be some people are unemployed, but they're amazing people. And you only discover that if you have a conversation with them and listen to them and not neglect them because they are unemployed. I think we need to take more time and more empathy towards anyone and then discover who they really are behind the job title. So what do you answer when people ask? What what do you do?

Harpreet Sahota: Just tell them a philosopher. There's been a lot of my time philosophizing. Which is true, right like I mean, as as what I do, like I I was lucky enough to find myself in this niche and in within data science within tech general like there's definitely she has that advocacy type of role. So a lot of my time is spent just writing, like, doing projects and thinking about things like I spend most of my day thinking about really cool, interesting stuff. So yeah, but yeah, I'm a philosopher in that sense, right? And that's just what I'll tell people. And then I go, Well, how do you pay for me to philosopher say, hey, well, it doesn't matter now. Like, whatever they don't make you rich. Right? Well, the way that that I like that.

Gilbert Eijkelenboom: What's What's one thing that surprises people about you?

Harpreet Sahota: I don't know. It's one thing that surprises people about that's a that's a tough question. And you gotta be stumped there. I guess that'd be a question. I would like to have other people answer on my behalf. What do you find surprising about me? I think we look on my LinkedIn everything looks linear. Like I just had shit figured out. Right? But it's not the case, man. Like, and I've only just begun talking about this right? And maybe part of it, a lot of it. All of it was because of this imposter syndrome. Things like these people actually know how much of a fuckup I was. Nobody's taking me seriously. Nobody's gonna hire me. That's not true. Right. Like I still got a job opportunity. I got more opportunities than I know what to do is keep thinking keep running out. It's time now.

Gilbert Eijkelenboom: Yeah, exactly. And I think it's more the opposite because people see where you're coming from, right that you're not the perfect person with the perfect career and older steps planned out like you had in mind. You had something in mind now I'm gonna fight for this and learn a lot, a lot of did this direction. And then you switch shift shifted to a different perspective. But I think it's inspiring to show that you know, it's, it's not also easy and it was not so easy for you as well. I think that gives people a lot of hope. Wherever they are, whether they have a plan or not. That shows that in five years or 10 years, you could change a lot. Yeah,

Harpreet Sahota: yeah, I think people will find that surprising that the person you see now personally here on this podcast on wherever you catch me like this is not the person I've always been. I just haven't been this other person Mozambique, why we keep reinventing myself, keep changing myself. And maybe people find that surprising that I'm more than willing to just start over and then just start fresh. Like I just don't care. Like if I find if I feel like there's a better thing for me to go do. I will go pursue a way to go do that better thing. It doesn't matter to me how much time it takes, like the time is like, I don't count age, right, like, so time doesn't really mean anything for me. Like people are always trying to get in a rush to get somewhere like, if I study this, how long is it gonna take? Like, who cares how long it's gonna take? Right like that's not the point. The point isn't just do it quickly. The point is to enjoy the thing while you're doing it. Right?

Gilbert Eijkelenboom: And automatically if you make some turns, and you learn something new and you start over, you learn so much right in terms of skills experience, new new wisdom you meet new people. I think it's time well spent.

Harpreet Sahota: Yeah, yeah. Like just put yourself in tough situations as much as you can, like, apply for a job that seems difficult. get invited for the interview. Don't worry whether you're gonna get the job or not. Just think about how much better you are going to become for the preparation that you did for this interview. Basically, stretch yourself in those type of ways, right? Like, the best piece of advice I've give anyone is just just do difficult things. Right? It just do it like that uncomfortable feeling. Like nobody likes to feel stupid. Like I like to feel stupid like I like to feel dumb when I'm doing something. Because I know that means I'm doing something I didn't know how to do and I'm gonna learn how to do it, I'll get better. So just just embrace it. Embrace feeling stupid, cuz it's never gonna stop and if you if you only try to find situations where you feel smart in the home, you're not gonna go anywhere man. You're going to be stuck. you are going to you're going to be where you always have been. And if you like where you always happen, Okay, that's good, man. if not then comfortable.

Gilbert Eijkelenboom: Next question. What job would you be terrible at

Harpreet Sahota: being a manager. It's like managing people. I just can't, I still want to do it dude like that this is not, I'm good man. Why is that? Because that means I'd have to be meeting with people all the time. And I don't like that. Like I hate being in meetings to like, like, I get seen, when I log in to work. I see a day where it's just like more than more than one meeting. I'm just like, This is not. it's so draining, right. So I feel I equate leadership with just sitting in meetings all day long. Right? And if you're sitting in meetings all day long, and you do that type of stuff, like how much time do you have to go learn and play around and do fun stuff like actual work like not actual work, but you know what? I mean, like, just the hands on stuff. Exactly. Tuesday for me would be cool. This is the project I'm working on, let's say I'm going to develop a tutorial for how to create a generative adversarial network in pytorch, using my company's product. And then I just do that thing, right or just i This is the one thing I'm going to do for that day. I'm gonna do that so I guess the perfect day for me is a day where I just get to do one thing and one thing only and not have my attention divided amongst 100 different tasks. Those are the perfect base week and I have a day where I've got to do this and I've got to do that and I'm going to be here and I got to go there. That's not fun for me because I have no control over my time, I've got no control of my focus or my energy. So perfect days from your days where I'm left.

About the Artist of Data Science

Gilbert Eijkelenboom: that I want to move to artists of data science, your podcast. Can you tell us about the artists of data science? What what is the meaning? Why did you choose that? That title? Yeah,

Harpreet Sahota: I got to take the title from oil. I took the concept of artists from how Seth Godin uses the the concept of artists because artists are people who with a genius for finding a new answer a new connection, or a new way of getting things done. Right. So to me, that's the data scientists. All right, we find new answers, new connections and new way of doing things. And if you're not doing that, as a data scientist, and I look, I don't know, if you actually are like an artist, right? You know, you're just another another cog in the wheel, I guess. That's kind of I just, I love the way he uses that. That, that that word that that concept was so good. And

Gilbert Eijkelenboom: it's such a inspirational guy, and so much wisdom about education as well, and entrepreneurship and how we should look at the world. And I'm wondering, do you consider yourself an artist? Yeah,

Harpreet Sahota: I do, man. Like I do like that. And it's kind of been me my entire life, right? Finding new answers, finding new connections, and doing things in new ways. Right? That's, that's really, I feel like, has always been what I've enjoyed doing. I'm not like, I don't draw paint. I don't sing. I don't make music. But I'm an artist in a different way. And you know, I'm a creative in a different way. So like this, just a Seth Godin, his definition of artists just made me realize that I am one that's not like an artist isn't just a paint person who paints proceedings or dances or does things like that.

Gilbert Eijkelenboom: Absolutely agree. And I see yourself I see you as a as an artist as well. So I'm happy to see that you see yourself one as one as well. But I would like to move to is what what you're working on right now. And what are your plans? Because you're busy man. You're also always working on many different things. What would you like to share about your plans of this year?

Harpreet Sahota: Yeah, so this year, I was really doubling down on writing, like, I'm just gonna be writing a lot more. I'd like to write more about things, not data science related, but it seems to always be the focus of what I write about. So maybe more of the philosophical aspects of data science, I think, is what I'd like to write more about. Less about, you know, here's how you use this particular library to do this particular thing, right, like, so that's what they want to focus on. You know, just always getting better at my craft. There's always something that I want to do more of, and I like to learn and build a public. So growing, my brand on Twitter is kind of like the next stage from you know, do these threads where I just distill down topics, whether it's a technical topic, or topics or books, or just connecting ideas and weaving them into threads.

Gilbert Eijkelenboom: How do you definitely How do you like Twitter, compared to LinkedIn?

Harpreet Sahota: I like it a lot better. Twitter is definitely my favorite platform. Now. LinkedIn is great. It's cool. I just don't feel like I can beat myself on LinkedIn. Just the nature of the platform, right? Like it doesn't like, it might be just a byproduct of those who follow me. But the only type of stuff that I get interaction with is when I talk about like, data science related stuff, or if I just share like a PDF like people just love that shit. Like, I don't understand. So for me, that platform like I'm moving way past it. I mean, I'm grateful for everything that is definitely so far. But I cannot express myself in the way that I truly feel that I can't express myself in the way I truly want to. And maybe that you know, using Twitter, it's because like, I'm kind of new. They're like, I don't have that huge of a following. So I can share things and attract the people who like the things that I talk about. Rather than attracting people who just want to learn how to be data scientist. I just feel like I'm LinkedIn people are just like a lot of the messages that I get on LinkedIn are people who want something from me. They want my time or my energyI can't express myself in the way I truly want to. And maybe that, you know, using Twitter, it's because like, I'm kind of new. They're like, I don't have that huge of a following. So I can share things and attract the people who like the things that I talk about. Rather than attracting people who just want to learn how to be a data scientist. I just feel like on LinkedIn, people are just like, a lot of the messages that I get on LinkedIn are people who want something from me. They want my time they will my energy or my expertise. They just want something for me. And that's really draining. It's still like that. That feeling

Gilbert Eijkelenboom: and how do you see medium because you you're writing articles on medium as well. What's What's your plan with with that? And where can people follow you?

Harpreet Sahota: Well, we have just the size Harpo just pushing more and more content there. You know? Luckily, I found myself a role where content creation is my, my kind of main main thing, right? So that's that's been awesome. But you know, I hope to start writing more about other topics and if people are interested in it, then then then that'd be great. Like you'll see some of it interspersed and mixed in on my medium posts. You know, that it'll be more than just data science stuff. It just, I just don't want to ever feel like I'm bucketed into one thing, right?

Gilbert Eijkelenboom: That's also what I sent from you from your words.

Harpreet Sahota: Yeah, man. It's like people like all you know, my audience expects this for me. And I don't want to confuse it without talking about other things. This This sounds like alright, well, I don't want to confuse your audience by letting go the actual human who has different interests. Like I don't know, like all the traditional like, curls hack wound sculpt growth hacker. Best paths, whatever, like all the traditional things that people talk about how to become an influencer on social media and stuff like that. Like, I've, I've just, it doesn't resonate with me and I don't want to be that person.

Gilbert Eijkelenboom: As you would you mean many very practical or three tips both kinds of posts or PDF posts. But they perform very, very well in terms of likes, people, people love it comments. And when I think about something deeply and write something. What I think is really good. People don't really see it or feel it or it's too. deep or not practical enough so that I keep posting this stuff because I like it. And some people I do appreciate it. But in terms of engagement this, it's way, way less Yeah, I mean I don't know,

Harpreet Sahota: like how much advice like people just get inundated with advice on on whatever social media platform whether it's LinkedIn, Twitter, it doesn't matter how much of that shit are you actually using man I wish that should actually like have you implemented in your life right or do you just like reading them and getting validation or whatever, right, like, like part of the reason like I don't like I've got social media blocked from my computer, but I'm only ever allowed to go on it. Between 9am and 10am and then 3pm onwards, and then even afterwards at 3pm onwards, like you know, either with them at the gym or with family or do some other stuff right so it used to be like this, this constant like epic just circular battle like been working on something and then go on LinkedIn go to go on this, on that, and it's just too distracting. So what am I, man, like I'm just liking posts, but like, like I'm just mindlessly absorbing the post and, you know, I don't think I've actually ever used or acted on advice that I read on a LinkedIn post or a Twitter thread or maybe something Twitter there's definitely helpful but yeah, I'm going off on a tangent. So, I'll just stop.

Gilbert Eijkelenboom: But it's a good question because I think we often do not use the advice that there is out there and also the kind of three tips kind of post that I also do that some people want.

So we're nearing the end. And the last question that I want to ask you is what is one takeaway you want people to take from this episode?

Harpreet Sahota: One life on this planet when I try to do some big

Gilbert Eijkelenboom: well for everyone that doesn't know our breed yet. Make sure to find him on Twitter, still LinkedIn, and artists or data scientists podcast, I'll put all the links in the show notes. I really was a pleasure to talk about life, in fact, to talk about philosophy, a bit about data science, but I felt this was much more spontaneous conversation about life, how to how to design it, how to step into the unknown, and do things that make you feel stupid. So I really appreciate that. You shared all those pieces of wisdom that you made us think you for sure brought a lot of new things to this episode. So thanks a lot for your time.

Harpreet Sahota: Yeah, no, thank you. And hopefully people made the end of this episode if you did great. I'm glad that hope I didn't know you don't feel like you waste your time. Listen to crazy man ramble about things but appreciate all of you who listened up to here. Definitely gonna give me wherever you want to shoot me a message.

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