A tribute to my “secret mentor”, Quincy Larson

quincy larson and his family

Two weeks ago, I shared my first baby steps in web development. Thanks to the advice given by Derek Sivers, I read two useful books from the Head First series (HTML & CSS and Javascript & HTML5 Programming), and was encouraged to join the Free Code Camp (called FCC below) community.

There exists dozens of websites and online communities aiming at helping people get a foot in the door into the web development world. The first thing I asked myself was: “What makes FCC distinctive, and why should I follow this curriculum instead of any other?”

I started by inquiring about its history, since the genesis of a project or a community usually reveal its heart and purpose. And I quickly found out that there was one man behind FCC’s birth and stunning growth: Quincy Larson.

No surprise, I wanted to know more about him, what led him to start FCC, and what was his vision and agenda. It turns out that it’s pretty easy to learn about him since he’s incredibly prolific and present across many media channels:

As I learnt more about him, I became more and more impressed by the man. Here are some inspiring facts from his life:

  • He’s pledged to keep FCC forever free, and he even put the “Free” in Free Code Camp’s name to force him to never be able to change his mind.
  • Even though he’s getting more and more famous in the tech world and could make a lot (a lot!) of money using his influence as well as his writing and coding skills for a company, he’s currently living very modestly on his savings, and is content with it.
  • Whenever he describes himself (for instance on LinkedIn), he uses the job title “Teacher at Free Code Camp” instead of more pompous titles that tech entrepreneurs are fond of (CEO, leader, founder, etc.).
  • He’s encouraging every camper (that’s how we call FCC’s students) who graduates to apply their new-found skills to develop and ship a software product (website, mobile app, or anything else) for a high-impact charity that doesn’t have the money to pay for high-quality software. If you want to know more about this initiative, you can check this inspiring article.

And on a personal level, when I joined FCC’s community, I also joined their 43k+ members Gitter channel (Slack’s Open-Source equivalent). And what I found most surprising was that Quincy himself took the time to send me a personal message to welcome me and to get to know more about my desire to learn web development:

discussion in gitter between sam and quincy

He then regularly checked on me to see how I was doing and wanted to make sure that I stayed motivated.

So here was a guy, leading the largest open-source community in the world without getting any financial benefit from it, taking the time to follow-up on a random French guy who joins his community… That’s humbling!

During my research about him, I got hooked by everything he wrote, and so I started taking hours to read his articles on Medium and his answers on Quora about web development and the evolution of the tech world. Everything he says is usually backed up by serious sources, and he seems to have a lot of wisdom about the current state of the web industry and where it’s heading.

I thus decided, without him knowing it, to make him my “mentor”. Here’s a few steps I took to get to be more influenced by him:

I intended to write a post about FCC but I realize that 1000 words into it, I’ve only written about Quincy! Well, I guess this was a tribute I had to pay.

If you haven’t heard about him, I encourage you to follow him on Twitter and Medium. If you are into web development, his voice is definitelly one to hear.

@Quincy: If you come to read these words, know that I’m truly thankful to have crossed your way. Your influence in my young software developer career has been and continues to be felt everyday. You inspire me to be a better developer and a better human. Thank you for the great example you’re providing to the web development community. Please continue to stay humble about your success. I’m sure that the best for you and FCC is yet to come.

Next week, I’m going to write about my experience starting to learn web development with Free Code Camp. As usual, thanks for having read thus far and stay tuned ;-).

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