Note: This article is primarily for myself. It's for me to review my year and see what kind of progress I've made compared to previous years. I recommend that you do the same. Compare yourself to yourself last year. Do not compare yourself to me.
I did quite a bit more traveling this year compared to last year. I was away from home for 95 days (and my cats weren't too happy about me being away that much). But I got to see a lot of new places:
|2016 US Travels|
|2016 European Travels|
Fortunately(?) Google has been tracking me all year, so it was pretty easy to get these maps.
I was on lots of airplanes this year (okay, so it was 41 airplanes). A side-effect of that is that I got Silver status on United in April and then Gold status in October. I've also got to know the Denver and Houston airports pretty well.
And even though there are dots on the map for Stockholm and Copenhagen, those were just airport changes (although I did get to learn what a French hot dog was while I was in Copenhagen).
I had a really great time speaking this year. I spoke at 35 events - a mix of user groups, corporate events, code camps, regional events, and professional events.
User groups are great because it gives us lots of time with a topic. It's also a bit less formal, so we can dig into questions and have a good conversation. I spoke at 16 user groups, mostly .NET-related since that's where most of my technical talks live. But I also spoke at a couple agile-related groups as well.
I managed to make it to 3 code camps this year. Code Camps are great because they give developers a great chance to get tons of free information all in one place. It's also a great place for developers to get started as speakers. Unfortunately, I didn't get to either of the So Cal Code Camps this year; I had conflicting events. I'm going to try to make it to them in 2017.
My biggest change this year was speaking at regional events. These are great opportunities for developers to get some great information for a lot cheaper than a professional conference. I spoke at 7 regional events (up from 2 last year).
One really cool thing is that I was asked to keynote at AIM/hdc. I had a really great time doing this.
I had the chance to speak at 4 professional events (including 2 outside the US). This was great particularly since I spoke at my first professional conference late last year.
I got to expand into something new this year: full-day workshops. This gave me a chance to get into a bit more detail and also engage with folks a lot more. I did 4 workshops, and each was a bit different. The groups ranged in size from 4 to 35. Some people worked together, some were complete strangers. And I got to work with developers with different levels of experience.
I'd like to expand to do more workshops. And I've learned quite a bit from my experience this year. One challenge is that some venues want a majority of lecture and some venues want a majority of labs. I'll have to plan for a lot of flexibility so that I can get the right mix for a particular group.
Note: if you're trying to get the numbers to add up, it doesn't quite match up. That's because there's a bit of overlap for some of the events/workshops. If you're curious, you can check the list of all of the events on my website.
I've been meeting more and more people at events who know me through Pluralsight or podcasts or my blog. A big reason why I've been speaking so much (other than I really love to do it) is to help build my brand and get more recognizable.
Here's the best comment that I've received this year (from someone at Music City Code):
"You are a lot taller than you seem on Pluralsight."
Get Your Request In
If you'd like me to come to speak at a particular event, send me a request. There are too many good events to make it to all of them (and I think I traveled just a little too much this year), so I'll have to make some tough choices. If someone puts in a request, it will go to the top of the list.
I did a bit less consulting work this year than I did in 2015. I haven't been pushing this much, but it's something that I really love to do.
I don't want to write your code;I really enjoy helping people in this area. Many times, I'm working with a small team of 2 or 3 developers who don't have an expert in their group. The problem in that scenario is that you don't know what you don't know.
I want to make it so your developers can write your code.
I've had a chance to help out these teams by doing a code review and looking at the pain points that they have. Based on that, I can give guidance on technology and techniques that can help them improve their situation. And if they aren't familiar with those techniques, it gives me a chance to do some teaching.
And that's what I really love to do: make developers better.
I'll be looking to expand this work in 2017.
Streams & Podcasts
I've had several people ask to be part of their streams and podcasts this year. Dave Rael invited me to come back onto the Developer On Fire podcast, Scott Nimrod invited me to have a conversation about programming where we talked about all sorts of stuff, and Steve Bishop invited me to show some of my experience (and problems) with TDD.
I really enjoyed these opportunities because I get to be part of conversation where we can bounce ideas off of each other.
Becoming a Social Developer
There have been some great opportunites for me to share "Becoming a Social Developer" this year. At NDC Oslo, they gave me a full hour to talk about it. It went much better than expected, and I was happy to see the positive response.
|"Becoming a Social Developer" at NDC Oslo|
Also, a big thanks to David Neal (@reverentgeek) for giving me some time during his keynote at Music City Code in Nashville, TN. That was another great opportunity for me to share (and get some great pictures from the event photographer).
|"Becoming a Social Developer" at Music City Code|
As already mentioned, Dave Rael invited me back to Developer on Fire to specifically talk about "Becoming a Social Developer". And at AIM/hdc, they requested that I include the topic as part of my keynote presentation.
I'm still amazed at the reaction to "Becoming a Social Developer". It really resonates with quite a few people. I have some opportunities coming up in 2017 to share (including SDD 2017), and I'll be looking for others as well.
One really great thing about all the travel this year was that I got to meet a lot of great people. In addition, most of the regional events that I spoke at were in the same part of the country. This meant that I got to spend time with the speakers who were making the circuit. At each event, it seems like I got to know one or two people really well. You can read a bit more about it in an article I wrote earlier this year.
I didn't realize how large my circle of friends had grown until I went to the Microsoft MVP Summit in November. I felt like I knew twice as many people as I did the previous year, and this was just from people I had talked to at various events. I spread myself a bit thin at the summit since I wanted to spend at least a little bit of time with everyone that I knew.
And this was just from folks who were at the Microsoft MVP Summit. A lot of the friends I've made were not there. It really made me think about just how big my circle has expanded this year. It's an interesting experience for someone who is not typically a social person.
Videos & Blog
Because of all the traveling, I haven't spent as much time with videos and blogging. (I'm really amazed at how exhausting traveling can be.)
My YouTube channel has been a bit dormant. I published 4 videos this year (compared to 10 last year).
My blog has been a bit down as well. I published 74 articles, including this one (compared to 86 last year). I did have some good series on Euler problems, learning F#, unit testing, and asynchronous programming. In addition, I found myself writing quite a bit about how to help other developers and what we can do to improve the culture of our industry.
I've learned quite a bit this year. Most of what I've been experimenting with has turned into blog articles, so the list looks pretty similar to what I wrote above: learning F# (using Euler problems), unit testing and TDD, asynchronous programming, and more.
This coming year, I'd like to expand more into machine learning, and I feel like I need to look at containers (like Docker). To go along with the machine learning, both Azure Functions and AWS Lambda look really interesting.
I haven't looked at .NET Core much at this point, primarily because I don't usually do much with pre-release technology. Once it releases (along with the tooling coming with Visual Studio 2017), I'll be looking at it a bit closer.
A great side effect of speaking at so many events is that I'm also attending those events. This has given me a chance to hear great speakers talk about a variety of different technologies. I don't know how many of them will become part of my regular development, but it's important to know what they are good for. Then I can take a closer look when the right problem comes up.
A lot of the conversations that I've had with other developers this year have not been about technology. They have been about being human. This is something that is really easy to ignore or suppress in our industry, but it is a very important area. We learn about ourselves, we learn about the people we work with, we learn about the people that we build software for.
I'll be exploring this topic a lot further in the coming year.
Coming in 2017
I'm not quite sure what's coming for me in 2017. I don't have a list of goals for the year. There are times that I feel like I'm living life a bit by accident. But I've also found that the things that I run towards usually don't work out, and that better opportunities come up that I haven't planned. (And for those of you who are curious about my high risk decision, I'll be giving an update in the next couple weeks.)
With that said, I'm heading in a general direction. I don't know exactly which path my journey will take, but I know that it will be an interesting one.
Remember, in the coming year, don't compare yourself to those around you. We all take different paths, and those comparisons are not valid. Compare yourself to yourself in the past. And use that to improve yourself going forward.