07 January 2017

Reflections on 2016

Hey y'all, happy new year! This post is a wee bit delayed, but 2016 was a year of major changes for me, so I figured it’d be good to make another personal reflection on my life in 2016.

What Happened?

2016 was an eventful year.

Left IBM Watson and joined DigitalOcean

Back in March, I left my job at IBM Watson and moved to New York City to work for DigitalOcean. I honestly have to say that this is probably one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, just because of how much I’ve learned since joining the company. From leveling up my Ruby and Ruby on Rails skills to learning about Go and TCP dumps, it’s been a wonderful year and I am so glad that I joined. There’s still so much for me to learn in this cloud computing space, so I’m looking forward to what 2017 has to offer.

Moved to New York City

Because DigitalOcean is based in Manhattan, I had to move to New York City to work at headquarters. The Big Apple. The city that never sleeps. New York, New York. I had visited New York City a couple of times back in 2015 on business trips and I knew from my first visit that I had to live there at some point in time in my life. While the initial move has been rough, I’ve been loving my time in the city.

Spoke at three conferences

In 2016, I also spoke at three conferences, NPM Camp, MadisonRuby, and Wicked Good Ember. My talks were centered around the lessons learned about deployment while building ember-cli-deploy-digitalocean and it was a fun talk to give. I was also glad I made that plugin because it taught me a fair amount about system administration and deploying applications.

Traveled to two new countries, Japan and Greece

I took time in 2016 to travel more, having hit two new countries this year. In March, I traveled to Tokyo and Kyoto in Japan with my good buddy Rickie, right before I started working at DigitalOcean. This gave me the time I needed to mentally reset and prepare for a new job. In December, I went to Athens and Santorini in Greece with my family and came back to work recharged and ready to code.

Continued recording episodes of Two Black Nerds

Romeo and I continued recording episodes of our podcast and I think we reached a pretty good level of traction with number of listeners. Compared to 2015, there has been a slight increase in weekly listens, so hopefully we can continue that growth in 2017.

What did I learn?

New York City is a really different way of life

As much as I love New York City, it was really a huge culture shock for me. I always make the joke that when I first visited New York City, I got more diversity in ten minutes than I did in my entire life. And being born and raised in a city with a population of around 30,000 people, it took me awhile to adjust to the New York City lifestyle. Arguably, I’m still adjusting to it, just because it’s so different and there’s so much for me to learn still.

When it comes to making decisions, trust your gut

I wouldn’t have taken this opportunity with DigitalOcean if it wasn’t for my gut telling me that it’s the right move to make. I knew it was an opportunity to learn more and that it was the right move for my career. Trust your gut, it will rarely lead you wrong.

Marketing is king

I think the key reason for Two Black Nerds growth in 2016 was through better marketing of our episodes. Through marketing the content through Twitter to relevant accounts/organizations, it helped us tap into their audiences and gain more listeners. We’re still nailing down this process, but it was a small observation and hopefully we can use it to grow even more in 2017!

How to use many new technologies

Joining DigitalOcean gave me the chance to learn about a lot of new technologies that I would have never gotten to learn before, such as Chef, Prometheus, and Kubernetes. Additionally, I was also able to start learning Go and found out that there’s a low level programming language that I actually like (I don’t miss C). I’m looking forward to further refining my Go skills in 2017.

Taking a real vacation can do wonders for your stress levels

If you have the time and the money, I highly recommend taking a vacation at least once a year to a new country, because it really did wonders for my mental and emotional state. I had some stressful situations going on in my life throughout the course of the year, but traveling helped ease that stress and put it at the back of my mind. You can peep pictures from my travels on my Instagram.

Goals for 2017

Git gud at Go

As mentioned before, I got reintroduced to Go after joining DigitalOcean. I hope to move towards polishing my Go programming skills in the coming year so I can be more productive with it. Hopefully, through using it at work and also in side projects, I will be extremely comfortable with it by the end of the year, especially for building out back-end services.

Read at least one book a month

Moving to New York City has taught me that the subway is the best place to get reading done, so I’m hoping to read at least a book a month during my commute to and from work.

Get Active

Whether it’s dancing, running, yoga, something physical, I want to start off small by doing one physical form of exercise per week and hopefully getting into a better momentum from there. At work, we used to play basketball every Wednesday and that was killing two birds (socializing and exercising), with one stone (or in this case, ball).

Here’s to a new year, let’s make it count. I’m looking forward to what 2017 has to offer. Cheers!