2013 Year In Review

2013 Year in Review

Objectively (or subjectively because this is myself evaluating my past year), I’d dare say that 2013 has been my best year yet. But to preface this, I’d like to make an aside to write about the past few years (2011 to mid-2013) that were in fact really tough for me career wise and emotionally. Be it my failed startup “Date Ideas” that was incubated by Extreme University (now Extreme Startups), a miserable 2012 at a search marketing agency that I used to work for (I won’t go into details), things not working out with EventMobi which turned into a consulting gig (awesome folks, but it was for the best in hindsight), my brief stint at Extreme Startups as an Interim Program Manager there where there was a ton of learning and oodles of fun to work at, but the accelerator space is pretty crowded … especially in Toronto.  All of that led up to landing a role Postmedia Labs, where I’m proud and happy to say I’m part of the team there.

Oh and I finally graduated and got my useless Accounting degree back in September this year (it only took like 9 years and getting kicked out of school once   forced to take some time off of school.. but I made it back in and got that monkey off my back once and for all.

But what were the lessons in these past few years that I’ve learned?

This past year, I’ve gained a greater appreciation for the long term and the patience needed for having a vision for myself and what you’re investing in hopes that the time and resources I’m spending will lead to greater returns and opportunities in the future.

A few of those things were as follows:

Actively helping others before you even need help yourself

This was instrumental in allowing me to traverse the fast paced and ever changing tech industry that myself and peers work in. Whether it’s making introductions, meeting for coffee to discuss challenges or simple words of encouragement in any form and offering to help really do go a long way. You reap what you sow, and when you put others ahead of you and actively want to help, I’m a firm believer that the good energy you put out into the world will find it’s way back to you in fascinating and delightful ways it’ll absolutely astound you.

Focus

This was and still is a theme that I would try to instil in myself that I wrote about previously. In terms my focus, I didn’t want to spend time jumping from learning one thing to another. Would I try to learn Ruby on Rails AND mobile development AND data science AND Excel and expect to be really fucking good at all those things? Hells no. Reading blog posts from Cal Newport his writings on deliberate practice have been quite influential in terms of how I approach my own work over a long period of time. Mastery isn’t achieved over night, it takes a lot of hard work, hustle and grinding it day-in day out, and viewing your “game” from all angles – even if you’re not particularly enjoying it. I intend on doing this specifically on becoming technical. I try not to spread myself too thin and stick to one particular thing that I want to learn at any given moment.

Consistency

when you do things over and over over a long period of time, there’s a point where you go from complete newbie to becoming competent, to being “good” at something to achieving mastery… whatever that really means. I’ve only recently taking a stab at learning Ruby on Rails and made some strides in learning to become more technical. I’ve finished the ebook Learn Rails that I”ve previously written about, and just about finished One Month Rails example web app, and it’s all in due part to being consistent – measurable and incremental progress on a daily basis.

The one thing I’d like to be more consistent with is my writing (gunning for at least once a week or more if time allows).

Patience

This has to do with myself and others. I’ve noticed that while I want to pick up new skill sets ASAP RIGHT NOW, that’s impossible (unless we’re able to do stuff like this in the future). This ties to having an appreciation of the long term vs short term needs. When I’m talking about the long term, I’m specifically referring to 10 year horizons. Peter Norvig’s post on Teaching Yourself to Program in 10 years has been instrumental in forming my ideas about mastery, in that there’s no easy way to get to where you want to be, no shortcuts, just roll your sleeves up, take some interest in whatever subject matter you truly enjoy and want to be good at and go from there. Just have the faith in yourself that 10 years from when you first started, you’re pretty fucking good at what you do because you put the time and genuine effort in.

Friends

This has been a particularly interesting year in terms of friendships. At the ripe old age of 31, I can no longer say I have a long list of friends that I can rely on to head out for drinks or to chill with. This year has truly been the tipping point where many old friendships have gone their course and withered away – where I’m to blame as well as former friends. I struggled and thought long and hard about why it happened, but concluded that it’s just the natural course of things. Friendships that I thought were close to and had a tight bond over the years, grew apart and was no longer salvageable because we took different paths and… became different ourselves. Our paths crossing made sense at the time, but now just puzzle us if we were to hang out – awkward and nothing to say. But that’s okay. With that came new friendships that and acquaintances that I’m grateful and happy for, and I continually look to cultivate and deepen our bonds.

This has been truly the year where the saying that you’re the sum of the 5 closest friends that you associate with really rang true in my life.

Areas of Improvement

In my last year’s review, I wrote about the “areas of improvement” in my personal finances, fitness and learning. I’ll continue this trend, but I’d like to start off with my failures first before what I was able to accomplish.  Additionally, I’d like to add one more section in travel. I haven’t travelled much in past years, but I’d like to go to places outside of North America.

Personal Finances

While I wasn’t proud of racking up a stupid amount of credit card debt that I wasn’t able to shrug off for one reason or another, I’m happy to say that I was able to pay everything off and finally move onto my student loans. I’ve got a hefty chunk to pay off, but I should be done by the end of the year. Without having to go into detail, I’m proud to say that I’ve got a hefty chunk of savings in the bank as well and looking to invest a bit of that on the side.

Fitness

During 2012, I was drinking the CrossFit Kool Aid (which is still damned tasty), I traversed to the other side of my fitness programming, namely in Strength Training and Olympic Weightlifting. According to the data I logged on Daytum I logged 108 workouts

Olympic Weightlifting became an obsession a bit until I signed up for Fitocracy’s Body Recomposition Group. I’m still working on recomposition as it’s an area I had no idea about, but I’ll write about it in another blog post.

I still intend on competing at an amateur CrossFit meet once I finish my body recomposition cycle and bring back Olympic Weightlifting and CrossFit programming into the mix.

Learning

I’ve learned a lot on my own time, taking joy in learning and investing in myself rather than wasting my time on things that don’t really add or contribute to my life (like video games or pointless TV shows… although I do enjoy me some Game of Thrones and Walking Dead…). I’ve learned the basics of Ruby on Rails and will continue to do so, learning to become better with data and Excel.

I haven’t been learning from one source exclusively, despite having a 2 year scholarship at Treehouse (you guys still rock!), I’ve learned a lot from the Learn Rails ebook, as well as One Month Rails and through a ton of Googling and checking out code examples on Github as well.  In person, and online, I’ve learned a ton from my friends Nima, Karim and Philip who are wicked smart and definitely going to be making waves in the startup and online marketing communities in the years to come.  Of course, having an awesome friend like my buddy Gabriel to heckle push me hard to learn this stuff.  I hope I have the same influence on him.

What I didn’t follow through on was go through the entire DistilledU curriculum – it just didn’t make sense for me to go through all their curriculum, but it was nice to learn “The Distilled Way” of online marketing and I highly recommend their course if you’re looking to make a dent in the SEO/Inbound Marketing world.

Hopefully by the end of the year, I’ll be able to build my own functional (but ugly) Rails apps that I can call my own :) Maybe I’ll learn a bit of Angular or Ember? R? Who knows?

Travel

while I made a brief trip to Chicago for my birthday and had a ton of fun (thanks Irene! :D), like I wrote previously, I’m gunning to get off the continent for vacation in 2014! I’m thinking Asia…I promise I’ll post pics about it.

Well, that about does it for my 2013. Here’s to a kickass 2014! Onward and upward.