Trained in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, 8x published author, tech industry titan, and CBE Alum, Noah Gift inspires us all to bet on ourselves without asking for permission...
Published author, solopreneur, and thought leader, Noah Gift, doesn’t ask for permission to be successful and as a result, has been a noteworthy tech industry titan for nearly two decades.
Noah is the founder of Pragmatic AI Labs, an AI and Machine Learning consulting and training company. In addition to running his own company, he teaches data science, machine learning, and AI at Duke and Northwestern.
However, he wasn’t always been on the IT path.
In fact, if he did not pursue IT, he would have been a professional athlete. According to Noah, “I was training to play professional basketball and instead dropped out and got into IT. I related to the way professional athletes think, and if IT weren't around, I would earn a living as an athlete in one or more sports.”
With technology, “It’s an excellent fit for me because the only given in technology is that things change and I love constantly learning new things,” he explains. In 2003, he graduated from the CBE with his Master’s degree in Computer Information Systems, becoming the first person in his family to receive a college degree.
While many professors were inspirational during his college career, Noah deeply appreciates the mentorship he received from Dr. Nanda Ganesan. “He loves technology, and it shows in how he teaches the material.”
One of the most important lessons he learned at the CBE, on the other hand, is how to work in technology teams in order to accomplish goals as a team. “This skill served me well as I grew to manage global technology teams as a General Manager and CTO,” he adds.
Noah tells us, “A master’s degree is only part of the journey, not the end.” He encourages students “to come up with a life-long learning plan and continuously improve your skills. Every six months, you need to have a new skill.”
Leading by example, Noah has written eight books and counting; four of which are self-published, and four are with well-known publishers including O’Reilly and Pearson. “A central theme in books I write is the idea of being pragmatic. Three recent books are Pragmatic AI, Python for DevOps, and Practical MLOps. I also developed an entire Coursera specialization with Duke on Cloud Computing for Data Analysis.” He also publishes weekly content to his YouTube channel where you can subscribe here.
Recently, Noah learned Brazilian jiu-jitsu and trained with many professional UFC fighters. Unafraid of a challenge, “This unique experience has built a tremendous respect for what I don't know.”
Another exciting adventure he’s experienced consisted of building a sports social media company. “With 0 employees to over 100 with global scale and millions in revenue, I was able to partner with many of the world's top athletes and athletic brands, like FC Bayern. Ultimately, the company didn't make it, but it was a life-changing experience.” While he put everything he had into building a successful startup, it failed. The skills he learned, however, are skills he uses every day, from generating revenue, deploying machine learning models at scale, to being self-employed.
Noah got to where he is today by taking risks and having confidence in his steps. If students reading this could take away only one crucial piece of career advice from his journey, he would want them to remember, “Put yourself in situations where you can bet on your talent and hard work and enjoy the rewards as well as the risk. Success is autonomy via the ability to bet on yourself without asking for permission.”