Linda Liukas, Hello Ruby and Shaking up Tech
The most important lessons, according to Linda, are an appreciation of the skills of others, the ability to combine things and the understanding that you only get good through thousands of repetitions.
"If life had been as linear as I thought it was at 19, I wouldn't be doing nearly as much fun things as I do today".
Linda is a children's author, illustrator, and active advocate for coding. "I have studied economics, marketing, corporate communications, social responsibility, product development, visual journalism and engineering. I never graduated: I'm still on one long, life-long gap year." When Linda, known for her Hello Ruby children's books that encourage coding, started working on her series, her knowledge of writing and illustration was limited, and neither education nor coding were Linda's specific skills. "But in four years I've learned a lot and hopefully I'll be doing this for many decades to come," says Linda.
Linda describes her work as very varied. "Sometimes I'm in my pyjamas drawing, sometimes I'm talking to business leaders, sometimes I'm designing training packages for Asia, sometimes I'm negotiating book deals." She particularly enjoys working with children and reading a lot: "An editor once told me that for every page I write, I have to read one book, and I usually read several books a week. The kids ask the best questions and remind me why I'm doing this."
Linda feels she has been particularly successful in maintaining her freedom and integrity while doing things she believes in at the intersection of education, technology and art. The work also constantly surprises her with serendipity. "This year I've done a residency at TED, won China's biggest design prize and a grant in Dubai, met Al Gore and danced at a techno club in Berlin," Linda gives examples.
Although Linda has time to do a lot and in many different ways, she doesn't have the time to do everything she's passionate about. "The worst thing is the feeling of inadequacy. There's so much to do, and there's no way I can do it all." But she has clear ambitions for the future: "To set up my own school. To set up an art exhibition where you crawl inside a computer. To grow stronger, simpler and warmer."
For whom is this a suitable career option?
Finding the right career choice is a matter of luck, says Linda: "I know a lot of great people who are 50, still thinking about what they want to do when they grow up". She stresses that when choosing a career, it is important to be brave enough to try different things and to allow room for multiple identities within yourself. "When I lived in New York, I noticed that everyone's identity had at least three hyphens: barista-artist-student or poet-coder-activist", Linda explains. To try something you don't necessarily have to be a master or a natural at it. The most important lessons, according to Linda, are an appreciation of the skills of others, the ability to combine things and the understanding that you only get good through thousands of repetitions. Linda sees her few years of searching after high school at the Turku School of Economics before moving on to other studies as a good thing. "If life had been as linear as I thought it would have been at 19, I wouldn't be doing nearly as much fun things as I do today".