3 Things I Learned from the past 2 1/2 Years

2 1/2 years ago, I wanted to work with my favorite technologies, work with people in person, and deliver software every day to users. I achieved those goals, learned a ton, and at the cost of massive salary/bonus cuts. I’ve thought about, “could I have just paid that amount of money for training/schooling instead” and I don’t think so.

Mainly, attention span; I was antsy to build, not learn how to build. I wanted on the job experience using the new tech. Secondly, I don’t think I would have gotten the communication and influence challenges had I not worked with various company types. At my level, at least, it’s no longer about learning the tech, but convincing others, figuring out how to fit the Tetris pieces “in the current situation and culture”, and constantly revising that plan of attack.

While nothing went as planned because of the tech economy crash and my eroding of energy (kids :) ) to target earlier stage startups, I’m still grateful for my experiences. They were unique, taught me an insane amount, and I look forward to practicing more while still teaching what I can to newer programmers… and apparently newer Product Owners and Designers.

The 3rd biggest lesson I learned was I continue to discover new things about programming that can upend my entire career. Examples are OOP, Dependency Injection, Testing, FP, Serverless, TDD, and the latest CD.

The 2nd biggest lesson was humility. I don’t think I’ll ever lose that impatience, that worry that our time is running out, that desire for doing a damn good job with others who want to do the same. But I think I can temper that with empathy and understanding. The biggest trick, for me, has been leveraging my superpower, grit, to get to know people. Once I understand who they are and where they are coming from, it makes working towards my goals, and their goals, so much easier. Even so, I’m constantly reminded I have so much to learn, and someone’s experience level continues to mean jack; some of these college grads, or young devs just constantly teach me so much, and give me different perspectives. I just automatically assume “positive intent” for everyone now, and forgive almost immediately anyone who’s frustrated, even if that frustration has nothing to do with work. I can see my coworkers’ “angry at my spouse/girlfriend/boyfriend” in the code, that has nothing to do with the code, and I’m immediately am like “I’m going to make you laugh, sucka!” to help fix their day. I don’t know everything, I keep learning the same things act differently in different company contexts/cultures, and people are just trying their best.

The 1st is I keep prioritizing my kids. People have reminded me that once they graduate high school, your job is not over. I still feel like her majesty and I are making life plans to assume it is because we’re just “kind of done”. Done meaning we’re nearing the bottom of the bucket of our patience/willpower. We’re also both heavy dreamers so are probably full of shit, but we still love talking about it. In the meantime, we’re heavily focused on ensuring we get them to a happy college place, or at least, successfully no drama, graduated high school, healthy lifestyle place. That means my career aspirations are a lot more muted until that happens. No more startups, no more heavy work hustling, way less career risks, and even still tempering the side hobbies. Kids take priority over my code.

I look forward to re-investigating my startup aspirations in around 2027. The original plan was to rejoin Accenture. Maybe I’ll change my mind again. I know that’s about 3 years too late giving recessions is when you should start a startup, but the schedule is what it is. I think this time I’d prefer to run it myself (although, I’d rather be CTO vs CEO). A friend gave me a huge network of aspiring startup founders, and I hit it off with a few of them. It’s clear they’re my people, the timing is just off.

Anyway, potential exciting things happening this week. Trying to ignore and focus on my current reality joys of Elm + Tailwind, helping my new direct report crush it at work, and continuing to practice what I learn. If you’re feeling stuck in your career, a change of scenery & tech stack helped me a ton. I didn’t learn what I expected too, but that’s ok, I still leveled up a ton, and am glad I did it. That and I met a ton of new people, always a good drug for an extrovert.

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