Inspiring Figures is a monthly column where I share with you people who are catalysts in inspiring and motivating me. They are people that you should really know about.
You can find the whole list of my inspiring figures over on the shiny new website, InspiringFigures.co. Each feature first took place live on YouTube Live, this is a write-up of our conversation. Thank you once again to everyone that joined in live!
☁️ April 2020 features Hiro Nishimura
Hiro Nishimura is a Technical Writer, Consultant and Technical Instructor at LinkedIn Learning. Her focus is to deconstruct technical jargon and concepts to make resources accessible for the masses instead of just people with Engineering backgrounds. Over the past few years, she’s been deconstructing Amazon Web Services (AWS) and currently runs LinkedIn Learning courses to teach beginners about the wonderful world of AWS. I’ve personally been on the courses that she’s run which helped me pass my Cloud Practitioner Exam last November.
I’ve been so excited to speak to Hiro for the longest time! We were initially connected through the blogging and Twitter sphere a few years ago, and were supposed to meet in New York when I had visited in 2017. We didn’t have the chance to, but speaking to her virtually for this column was wonderful. 😊
I hope that you enjoy learning about Hiro’s inspiring journey as much as I did!
Listen to our live conversation
If you watch our conversation, in the middle of it, there was a fire alarm 😂 But as expected, Hiro handled it like a pro. 💜
Getting into the tech space and creating AWS Newbies
Before Hiro even knew about what being in the tech space was (it wasn’t really a concept back then), she enjoyed creating blogs, graphics and fan websites of the sorts in sixth grade. This was back in 2000 where they were using dial-up, and her laptop was grey scale. (How times have changed! 😂)
She started to teach herself HTML and CSS with the resources that were available online at the time as a hobby. She continued to do this through middle school and high school, but when she started college, she decided to quit her hobby that was taking up so much of her time. Hiro became trained in Special Education where she holds a Bachelors and Masters degree, forgetting about coding.
“I’d see people coming out with a Computer Science degree and doing all these hardcore engineering things. I was like, “Oh yeah no, that’s completely different from what I was doing when I was making websites.”” Hiro didn’t realise until she worked for a tech startup that people were still using HTML and CSS for their front-end. She was surprised that people were still using the same thing. This realisation hit her, “People make it seem really complicated and really hard. But if I could do it in middle school then I could probably pick something back up now.”
Hiro began to look back at HTML5, CSS3 and Bootstrap which led her to getting involved in the tech social media space. As she started to get back up to speed with development, she discovered Amazon Web Services that everyone was talking about. Eager to learn more about it, she looked for resources that just weren’t beginner friendly.
“I obviously don’t have a technical background and I can’t speak the jargon basically so I couldn’t understand half the words that people are using to explain like if I wanted to understand what an ec2 was every other word I couldn’t understand.” From her studying, she found a clear need that was not being fulfilled.
Whilst trying to pass the AWS CCP exam, she created a study blog to help her understand the key concepts that she needed to know about AWS. Afterall, the best way to learn is to teach it! This is where AWS Newbies was born.
Hiro didn’t expect the study blog to take off, she actually planned to take it down once the free tier on AWS was over… But ended up gaining thousands of people a month visiting the website. 🤯
Looking to get into Cloud Computing but not sure where to start? Want to study for certs + want to find study buddies to share resources? Have experience in the Cloud, + want to share your knowledge w #CloudNewbies?— Cloud Newbies Society (@cloudnewbies) January 3, 2020
☁️Come join us @ Cloud Newbies Society!https://t.co/bGvpt48XVb
A few weeks later, she had received an email from a Content Manager at LinkedIn asking if she’d be interested in teaching a LinkedIn Learning course. Even though Hiro felt like she wasn’t quite qualified, she was encouraged that she was the best person to explain concepts to newbies.
“I was like, oh like for once like me not understanding things is actually a good thing!”
You can find her course, “Introduction to AWS for Non-Engineers” here.
Taking the leap in working for yourself
“One thing that I noticed a lot is that there is a huge chunk missing in everyone’s narrative.”
Hiro explains how most people talk about hating their 9-7 jobs so they quit then suddenly, they’re making a million dollars. There’s a huge chunk in the middle where all the hard work actually happened. This includes things like: how do I do my taxes? How do I register to be a freelancer? In which order do I do all of this in? 🤷🏻♀️ There is an administrative aspect that is so important to nail. That middle part is probably a 5-10 year process.
Don’t compare yourself to someone who is already there, because it probably took that person years to get there. You don’t see the difficulties, you just see their success.
Some things to think about before taking the leap:
- Do you have your finances in order?
- Do you have at least half a year of savings?
- How about health insurance?
- Have you validated your concept of work before taking the leap? Have you got examples of work ready to send to clients? E.g. writing samples if you want to be a technical writer.
It’s important to have contingency plan B C and D before you actually make that leap! But at the same time you can’t wait for that perfect time because that perfect time will never really come.
The foundations of AWS Newbies and Cloud Newbies
AWS Newbies was founded on the fact that Hiro wanted to learn AWS and the resources out there just wasn’t cutting it out for her.
The foundations behind AWS Newbies was inspired by Hiro’s experience with a life-threatening illness called Arteriovenous Malformation in college. Confused by the various information out there that was more aimed at fellow medical professionals rather than patients, Hiro was inspired to break down the jargon in plain text and so created a website to help a community to explain it better.
“I kind of brought in like the knowledge of how to do these kinds of things and brought it to tech.”
Hiro also launched Cloud Newbies Discord Server for people to come together and study for certification exams for all different kinds of cloud computing platforms. Cloud Newbies was built to create an active community of people who are willing to help – even with the most basic question. The server includes other AWS instructors as well! There are currently around 400 members.
From public data available, it seems like I’ll be celebrating 34,000 students in the past year soon for “Introduction to AWS for Non-Engineers” series… (Currently at 33,867) 🙏🤭 #awscertifiedhttps://t.co/cuUPX49RHn— Hiro @ Immunocompromised 😷 (@hirokonishimura) April 17, 2020
With Hiro’s LinkedIn Learning courses, she has had over 22,000 students take part with the first part of the course holding a place in the popular category.
Just realized my first course at LinkedIn Learning is flagged as “Popular” with over 20,000 students in the past year 😍 Hope the series will continue helping another tens of thousands this year with its updated content! https://t.co/cwA78pXGXp #awscertified pic.twitter.com/mxOkBVCBgW— Hiro @ Immunocompromised 😷 (@hirokonishimura) April 6, 2020
The positive feedback from students has really helped Hiro trample imposter syndrome that has come about from her success. I have to say, I was one of those students telling her excitedly that I passed my exam 🥳
Hiro is no stranger to blogging.
She first started blogging in 2000, having moved around several platforms such as MySpace, Blogspot, WordPress, etc. She recently started another personal blog to kind of start over. It has overlapped with the whole global crisis happening right now.
“I figured like this was probably a part of my life that I’m going to want to remember at some point and see what’s been going on.”
Whilst writing for clients and doing things like technical writing, Hiro was keen to start getting into lifestyle writing to capture everything that has happened in her life since freelancing. Hiro and I laughed about how “back in the day”, we used to write like four blog posts a day. 😂 She writes about challenges she likes to take part in (e.g. No Spend and Walking), disability related posts, getting in tech and more! You can check her blog out here.
Keen to add lots of positivity in our chat despite everything going on right now, I asked Hiro about things that she’s recently proud of. Here are some wins that she spoke about that frankly left me in such a great mood. 😁
- 🚶🏻♀️Walking 10 miles a day – Hiro challenged herself to do this and managed to achieve it in just two months!
- 🎂 It’s almost been 1 year since she quit her full-time job! She shared that she actually wanted to quit in December 2019, but ended up leaving half a year earlier. “It was an early birthday to myself!”
- ⭐️ Because of the moves that she made for herself, she is now the most employable that she’s ever been. How inspiring.