2019 Year in Review

Wow what a year. It has flown by and as you can see I haven’t gotten to the blog since I upgraded the site earlier this year. Looking in my drafts it looks like I was intending to write a post about travel, but I didn’t get back to it. Anyway given that the year is rapidly ending I figured it was time to start looking back on it.

I never imagined how busy this year would be. We went from the start of the year where we created a plan on what we were going to build for the year to drive to an MVP. We were building out what we thought would be our alpha release, but discovered in user testing that we needed to pivot. Along the way one of my employees left. We then drove the new concept to an early access release grew the engineering team and it has been an amazing ride. 2020 is going to be focused on product market fit and hopefully upon achieving that, rocketing into a growth phase. Given how crazy it was to build what we have built on such a lean team a lot of my themes for the year fell to the wayside especially this blog. When you are super busy and tired this is an easy thing to drop.

I feel like I have gotten much stronger in Go this year which has been nice growth. I no longer feel slow in it as compared to Java like I did for so long. I appreciate many aspects of the language, but also find a few areas lacking. I have gotten very comfortable with Kubernetes and Bitbucket pipelines and built out a nice CI/CD pipeline this year to allow us to run faster at work.

We also spent June traveling which was nice. I took advantage of working for a remote company by working from Mexico for a month and for the family taking a 2600 mile road trip in June. It was great to spend time in places I haven’t been for 10-15 years as well as spending time at my in-laws so the kids could hang out with their grand parents and some of their cousins. I would like to incorporate more remote work in the future.

The big challenge I see going forward in 2020 is moving myself out of the operator mode and into a more strategic role. Most of my past roles have been about execution getting on the ground and grinding out the product to drive us forward. For 2020 I need to be more much strategic in the business and not just on the day to day to really help drive the vision forward. Without further delay let’s review my themes for the year.

Theme 1 – Health

I did fast through Easter and lost about 20 pounds. Some of that has slowly crept back but it was a good start to the year. I think for 2020 I need to go broader and think more along fitness goals. This needs to be some amount of walking and maybe some amount of strength training. I need to think on it yet over the next few days. I have many times made better choices food wise this year. I eat more salads that I used to, but I probably need to continue this and extend it more.

Theme 2 – Learning

There has been a lot of learning in 2019, but not in the way I envisioned. I did most of the Coursera Machine Learning course, but got busy near the end of it and didn’t finish it. I thought the course seemed too much like a CS course in that you are building everything from the ground up. While most of my degree was done that way that isn’t what I am looking for anymore. In reality I am not every going to build all these ML techniques from scratch, I am going to use a library or tool that someone else built. I think a more valuable class would be an overview of what the different available techniques are and when you would try different approaches to get different results. Also more time needs to be spent on teaching people data exploration and sort of things you can try on a given set of data.

I also didn’t get all the reading done that I had set out to do. I found that I was so tired in my evenings it was difficult to do a ton of reading though I did get some things read.

I think most of my learning in 2019 was really focused on learning how to build a team, and build a product from 0, and really learning how businesses work. I really appreciate the view I am getting and what I am learning about building a company and getting to see the broader view of how sales, marketing, finance, and customer all really come together to drive a business forward. We also focused on leadership training this year and I was fortunate to go through that program.

Theme 3 – Security

This theme was a resounding success, I have gone all in on the password managers with really long complex passwords that I don’t know and 2 factor authentication. It was a good change and I can’t imagine going back to the old way of doing things.

Theme 4 – Public Speaking

This theme didn’t happen and was an epic failure. I started the year out noodling around an idea for a talk and putting some stuff together, but ended up getting way to busy again to devote time to it. I think this is something I will need to revisit in 2020 as it will be important to get our name out there in the community as I think this could really lead to us getting a nice hiring pipeline. The perfect scenario would be there are so many people that want to come and work with us, that when we have an opening there are tons of people competing for the role and we can continue building out a strong team of really talented people quickly without some of the hiring lag I faced this year on getting the right candidates. The only way we are going to get to that is if people around here no who we are and what we do and want to be a part of it.

Conclusion

All in all it was a bit of a mixed bag on my plan for the year. It was a good year though, and now I need to start thinking about my themes for 2020. I am hoping to get some more rest in before I get back at it in January unfortunately it has been a pretty busy holiday so far so I am hoping I can slow down for a bit for a couple of days.