06 January 2018

Reflections on 2017

Time really does fly by, it’s already that time where we have to write a new year in when we fill out dates. But, last year was another pretty darn good year for the books and it makes me excited for what the new year has in store.

What Happened?

There was a lot going on in the last year. Between launching a new project, speaking at a few conferences, and traveling to a lot of countries, I do think it’s been a year of growth for me in a lot of ways.

Launched InterfaceLovers

I created Interface Lovers over the course of two months with Timothy Achumba and William Channer. We launched in May 2017 and to be honest, I was not expecting such positive and huge reception from it. With almost half a million pageviews since May, I’d say that this is the most impressive thing I have ever built. It’s done well since it’s inception and on launch day, it even reached #1 on Product Hunt the day it was released and #3 for the week. Traffic to the site has been pretty high and steady, and the content is going to keep on coming.

Joined a new team at DigitalOcean

My old team at DigitalOcean, Community and Creative Engineering, got disbanded and I was moved into the Network Pillar at DigitalOcean. On this team, I moved into doing more back-end engineering work and I helped with adding new features to the Cloud Firewalls product. This new team has introduced me to a lot of new technologies, like gRPC, Go, distributed tracing, Prometheus, and the technology goes on and on. While I’m not working on Cloud Firewalls anymore, I am excited to say that I will be working on bringing a Virtual Private Cloud offering to DigitalOcean this year.

Got a promotion

This year, I got promoted at DigitalOcean. While this may not be a big deal, I will admit that it’s my first time in my career that I’ve ever promoted, so it’s pretty cool. Plus, with greater titles come greater responsibilities, so I’m pretty excited about that.

Spoke at JSCamp Romania and Asbury Agile

I gave a talk at JSCamp Romania and Asbury Agile on Protocol Buffers and gRPC. JSCamp Romania was my first international conference, which was really exciting to be a part of and I had a blast speaking there. While not international, Asbury Agile was also a really enjoyable conference to speak at as well!

Visited four countries (three of them new)

This year, I had the luxury of spending at least a night in four countries: Romania, Germany, the Netherlands, and Nigeria. While it was my first time visiting any of the first three countries, I hadn’t been to Nigeria in 16 years, so I felt like I was visiting a new country. While I can talk about all of the countries I visited, I have to say that my two weeks in Nigeria was my favorite out of all of them. Between seeing extended family, being surrounded and immersed with my people, and also just eating my favorite Nigerian foods for two weeks straight, I have to say that I’m excited to head back to Nigeria. From an entrepreneurial perspective, I do think that there is a lot of opportunity there as well, and I’m excited to do some more exploration around this as well.

Gained a brother-in-law

While I didn’t get married, my older sister got married to an amazing man. She’s the first out of my three siblings to get married, and while it was stressful helping her out with the wedding details, I can definitely say that I couldn’t be any happier for our families to come together.

Created Creative Black, LLC

I did some light consulting work this year and I realized that it would be best to have an official company to work under. And thus, Creative Black was born. I’m available for some part-time consulting work, you should reach out if I can be of assistance to you in the new year.

Launched my Ember.js Egghead Course

After a long, anticipated wait, I finally was able to finish my Ember 2 Fundamentals course on Egghead. It literally took me over a year to finish recording and editing these videos. Why? I over-commit to things and I take on more than I should and suck at prioritizing. Reception has been somewhat decent, but not as widely received as I would’ve expected. But nonetheless, it was a great learning experience creating the content and shipping it.

Got pretty good at Go, amongst other things

One of my goals for 2017 was to get good at Go. Joining the Network pillar at DigitalOcean with very little experience with Go allowed me to hit the ground running with Go. Needless to say, I’ve grown to love it and writing various projects with it, it’s been a joy to use and is really fun. I’m looking forward to continuing to use Go more both at work and in my personal projects.

Started teaching at the School of Visual Arts

Over the summer, Greg approached me and asked me if I’d be interested in co-teaching an Interaction Design course at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan once a week with him. Given that I enjoy teaching, I excitedly agreed and wow, the first semester went amazing. Seeing the growth from the students’ first projects and final projects was just amazing. And also gives me confidence that what we’re teaching is actually beneficial to their growth.

What did I learn?

gRPC is pretty lit, GraphQL is too

I’ve never used an RPC framework like Thrift or gRPC before until I started working on the Firewalls product at DigitalOcean. Needless to say, it made a lot of things really clear to me, especially when it comes to building out services and defining their boundaries. Another thing I really like is that when working in a monorepo, working with gRPC is nice because it becomes trivial to use various gRPCs clients in one’s application. If you haven’t used gRPC yet, I highly suggest doing so.

Closing clients is a tough thing

I had some small client work done in this past year, but honestly. A lot of clients got cold feet or asked me to lower my rate. I’m not doing consulting work to make a living, I’m just doing it for supplemental income. I do think that I need to improve on pitching the value that I can provide to my clients in order to make them more at ease with my rate. It’s something I really do have to improve on.

Collaboration makes launching new things easier

When working on side projects, I definitely find myself burning out somewhat working on them by myself sometimes. Between doing both design and development, it can be a lot for one person to handle. Working on Interface Lovers made me realize that when possible, collaboration reduces that burden. I was able to work at a faster pace just because Timothy is an amazing designer and provided extensive mocks, thus allowing me to think about the code and only that. Only problem is finding reliable enough people to collaborate with, not everybody wants to work on side projects every day after work.

Home isn’t only defined by where you live

My trip to Nigeria definitely started a conversation with my heart. I was born and raised in the United States, but traveling to Nigeria made me feel like I was born there. Granted, I have an American accent still, the warmth of the welcome that I got there was amazing. It definitely felt like a second home to me and I know that I’ll always be welcome there whenever I go.

Goals for 2018

Get a solid routine down

I haven’t fallen into a solid routine since moving to New York City. I just generally stay at home more often than not, but I do think that having a routine will make me be more active. Solidifying this routine is my biggest goal for 2018.

Find a new apartment

While having a roommate has been chill for the last two years, I think it’s time for my own place. Closer to a subway station, in addition to having windows and such in the kitchen so I can get back into the flow of cooking and saving money again. My lease is up in May, so we’ll see how this goes.

Get a workout plan going

I think it’s time to explore lifting weights in a serious manner and getting active. I said I would do it in 2017, but that didn’t happen. This year is the year. Right now I’m going to give either Starting Strength or Strong Lifts a try, since they seem to be the most approachable.

Continue teaching

Whether it’s on Egghead, at SVA, or on my own, I want to continue teaching and sharing my knowledge with others.

Launch at least two projects

I want to launch at least two products this year, some of which I started working on in 2017. I’m looking forward to publicly launching these in 2018, one of them is in the earliest phase and the other one is in the final stages of polish. I’m making excuses for launching the more complete of the two, but I’m working on overcoming that. No more excuses.

Figure out how to increase my passive income

Launching projects is definitely cool, but I don’t want to launch anything that does not make revenue anymore. I’m hoping to increase my passive income through products, educational material, and more.

Until Next Year

Thanks for reading! Happy New Year everybody, make 2018 an amazing year and I wish you luck on achieving all of your goals and dreams!

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