I started writing a blog back in graduate school because I kept getting the same question over and over, and I got tired of people who were having to rewrite it over and over. So I said, “I’m going to write a blog post about it.” It’s always been a part of my life. For me, writing is hard. English is my third language, so even though I’m very fluent in it, there’s still stuff I struggle with. I went to a technical school, and one of my biggest regrets now is not taking public speaking courses and not taking more writing courses, these skills that people don’t realize how important they are — communication is so important.
It became a way for me to organize my thoughts and to understand what I was learning. It was third year that I learned that people say words and they don’t know what they mean, and I would never say anything without being 100% able to defend it or know what it means. Writing was a way for me to put all my thoughts down, become more eloquent and practice those skills that I didn’t have.
I started that, and it was just a hobby. My hobbies are a little more limited. I don’t go out and party all the time, and I like being at home and waking up early, and I’m, like, “I’m going to write.” I saw so many people asking questions that I had the answers to, and I wanted to spread it out more. I grew up in an academic family. My dad is a physics Ph.D., so I knew the Ph.D. was a pathway, and I didn’t realize until I started writing and people were, like, “I wish I could go get my Ph.D., but I can’t afford it.” I’m, like, “Ph.D.’s are free.” I always knew that growing up in that academic family, but a lot of people didn’t know, so I thought, “Why not put it out there, and maybe someone finds it and gets inspired?
Just documenting — I’ve always been a big fan of YouTube, and people are, like, “You should just pick up the camera and do something,” and the big push in social actually happened to me. I always knew it was valuable because I was meeting so many so interesting and great people through just my blogs, so I knew that was valuable, and I knew that gave me opportunities that I didn’t have. I dropped out of my Ph.D., so I didn’t have that degree, but my content was out there in public, so people knew what I was talking about.
But using YouTube started because the pandemic began and people have been asking me for videos. I had two videos up on YouTube, which is that best-quantum-computing-books one and a blog from QISKIT camp out in Switzerland, I believe. That was the Switzerland one where I vlogged it just for fun, and I’d watched a video and marketing and they said, “Go on TikTok. It’s the next big thing. You can’t dance? Fine. Put the camera up and record two videos a day talking about what you know,” and I was, like, “I’m going to do this for 30 days.” I actually did it with a coworker from another job that I had. We’re, like, “We’re going to do this challenge for 30 days.” After 30 days, I had 14,000 or 16,000 followers. So I was, like, “There’s something there. People want to hear more about it.”
And I remember I actually made a friend because he saw my TikToks and was, like, “I have to know who this crazy person is, thinking they can teach quantum on TikTok.” But it helped me see that so many people were interested in learning more about it, and I had the expertise and I could bring people into that world. And then, from there, it kept spiraling, and I was, like, “People are asking me questions, but I need more than 60 seconds to explain this, so I have to make a YouTube video.”
Then YouTube took off, and it spiraled from there. As you mentioned, it was about, what do people find valuable, and what are they asking me, and I made videos to do with that, and it worked. I know it’s so stupid. People talk about, like, “How do I get into the field?” I’m, like, “Just do it.” It’s the worst advice, but that’s the same advice I got, and I thought, “It was stupid. No, I need to prep.” Just do it. Answer questions that people have about your field, and that’s the best way to start.