Year in review: 2018

Year in review: 2018

2018 is almost done and I want to look back on last year. This is the first time I’m blogging and looking back publicly as well. I want to start blogging more often and this should be a good start for finishing up in 2018.

This year was a long rollercoaster ride because of a few things. A lot of things happened around family, getting my first house and life together with my girlfriend for the first time. Also, a lot happened around my day job at Enrise around self-steering and development. This blog is more of a reflection of 2018 and looking forward to 2019. I hope you learn from my mistakes ;) Self-steering at Enrise

Last year (Feb 2017) we (as all the employees) decided to become self-steering. This basically means that all the team members are responsible for the healthiness of the team. All teams work together for the healthiness of the company. It’s like running a small business inside a large company, where all small businesses support each other like one big family.

My role next to my development work was to keep the finance of the team up-to-date and in sync with the rest of the company. Basically I had to check if we’re still on budget with the team. If not we need to communicate this to the company and decide on how we can improve this. So either getting more work or focus on more productivity etc. I’m doing this together with another team member who has been doing this for years. I learned a lot about how to budget for a project but also for a whole team. Like all the extra costs that are made for retirements, office supplies, etc.

Next to that, I was also responsible for the commercial side of my team. This basically means that I look into opportunities provided by team sales and see if they fit our team. If they do we try to get as much information from the customer together with sales, most of the time this ends up in some email traffic and finally a face-to-face meeting with the potential new customer. Based on this meeting we decide if we want to continue with the customer, however, the customer can decide that as well. If everything then works out we start looking at budgets and requirements.

Like most IT-guys, I don’t like to be in the spotlight in front of a customer. However, this helped me a lot this year to open up and see the important side of the customer. In the end, we want to help the customer achieve their goals and to do that we need to have that conversation. Before I was a little bit scared, maybe even nervous, to meet a customer. Now it’s just easy peasy lemon squeezy and part of the job.

If we didn’t do self-steering I would never learn this and a manager would have decided for me! How cool is that?

Other things like organizing a party or in our case an Enrise Day for 2018 is also part of the job. There is no manager anymore deciding what we’re going to do. Instead, a few people from different teams stick their heads together and organize something awesome! This year we organized a game through the city of Utrecht called Hunted and we went to Prison Island. It was amazing and we had such a blast!

Self-steering however also has downsides. Although I do like to part of keeping the business running next to my programming work. Stuff like commercial and finance has to be done and really cuts in my development time. Since we don’t have managers anymore we need to fix all the problems within the team ourselves. How do you handle a colleague that is always late? How do you handle people that don’t deliver what they say they would deliver? These are questions that I had throughout the year and I’m still not sure how to handle these as a team. It’s pretty hard!

Personal life

This year I got my own very house together with my girlfriend. We both used to live with our parents before we moved in together, so it was a big step! However, we’re very happy in our new house :D

The pointy house is ours :O

The way to our new house was nothing but easy. We waited for 1,5 years. We had to deal with a lot of delays, missing deadlines and bad communication. However, we managed to get all done in early December. This way we could enjoy our house during Christmas and into the new year. Not sure yet if this is the house for the rest of my life, on the other side I’m only 24 so we will see.

Next to the happy moments I also had a tough year around the parents of my girlfriend. They got divorced in a really unpleasant way which had a huge impact on my personal life and a lot on my girlfriend's live. It even got in the way of our relationship. We both were grumpy and were fighting each other for nothing. Not really the situation you want when you’re about to get your new house. I could find comfort in my work at Enrise, however, my girlfriend needed more time from me to process everything. I know I should have been more there for here, but my way of handling things was just doing my work. I learned that work is not everything and that family is also important.

Other good news! I bought a new bike as well. The crappy bike that I used for at the train station was dead so I decided to buy a brand new quality bike! My awesome new bike :O [Batavus Chicane]

Since we moved into our new house we also needed a new car of course! Since I’m always going to work using the train and with the bike to the station we decided to buy a small car for my girlfriend so they can get to her work (she’s a nurse). We ended up buying a black Peugeot 108 🎉

Public Speaking

My public speaking year was pretty insane! I’ve spoken on three conferences and a handful of meetups this year. Although my goal was to speak at two conferences and two meetups I kinda surpassed my own goals.

My first conference this year was PHPBenelux in Antwerp, Belgium. I’ve been visiting the conference multiple times. Last year I was kinda forced to speak at the uncon by my old colleague and good friend Rick. He put my name on the list for the uncon. Because of that, I had to work all night on my talk for the next day about Laravel Design Patterns. After my uncon in 2017, I won the prize for the best uncon of the conference that year. Because of that, I earned myself a spot on the stage for 2018. First conference in the pocket! I gave my Laravel Design Patterns talk there as well. The much more extended and improved version of the uncon of course.

My second conference was in Vilnius, Lithuania and was called DevDays. I never heard about the conference before. Funny thing was that I got the acceptance email for the conference during PHPBenelux. Lithuania is not really a country that is attracting me. Because of the conference, I had a chance to see a new country and make new friends at the conference. I also gave my Laravel Design Patterns talk here. Another fun fact is that there were zero Lithuanian speakers. I hope this will be improved next year since it’s important to have people speaking from your own country as well! Anyway, it was much fun and would do it 10/10 again!

Finally, I had the chance to speak at Laravel EU again! I got called by Shawn McCool himself (organizer of Laracon EU). He called me 3 days before the conference. If you know me a bit you already know I’m a huge Laravel fan so I was going to the conference anyway! Since Shawn called me and asked to fill an empty spot I couldn’t decline. However, I didn’t have a new talk ready. Together with Shawn, we decided I could do that Laravel Design Patterns talk again. Last year was already crazy because I did the same talk twice at the same conference. This year I could add the third time at the same conference. This time the room was crowded again. I just couldn’t believe it. I was very happy with so many interested people for my talk.

Next to the conference, I did some speaking at some local meetups. One, in particular, was special. I went to Antwerp for PHPBenelux. However, the guys from Full Stack Antwerp asked if I wanted to speak at the meetup before the conference. This was something I couldn’t decline as well, so I left a few days before the conference to Antwerp for the meetup. It was awesome that I could combine the meetup with the conference and do my talk twice in a week.

Looking into 2019

I have so much more stuff that happened last year which I might put in more specific blogs later on, but for now, 2018 is summarized. Now let’s look into 2019!

I want to focus on some goals for next year. I’ve been using Todoist for a while now and have been registering goals for 2019. Let’s see what’s all on the list:

  • Participate in a 1/8 triathlon
  • Focus on a more healthy life and lose some weight
  • Speaking at two conferences
  • More blogging
  • Reading more books

So the first two goals are more focused on personal life. The other two more on personal development. So the triathlon is something I wanted to do for a long time. However, a full triathlon is a bit too much so I decided to start small. If training goes well we will see what happens ;) Also about the weight loss part. I have to focus on it to get that done. 2018 was really messy around the house, work and other stuff. I have to come up with a plan to stay healthy and keep it possible for myself. I already tried different things, but none of them stuck. Enough to think about for 2019.

Speaking at two conferences might not seem much, but next year will be a year for myself so I might not have enough time left for all the conferences. We will see how it goes. I rather over-deliver than under-deliver :D

Blogging just started today, but it’s something I definitely want to do more often and see what that brings me!

Finally reading more books. I have a huge list of books on my list that have something to do with productivity. I’m already doing it, but more is always nice. Also, I’ve got this new book called Atomic Habits for Christmas. I really want to dive into that. Here is the list of books I plan to read next year:

  • Red Rising
  • The subtle art of not giving a fuck
  • Atomic Habits
  • The Power of Less
  • Deep Work
  • The Dip
  • Do The Work

There is more on the list, but these are the books I want to commit on! The rest is extra of course.

That was my 2018 and I’m looking forward to 2019. Let’s make it a great year! 🎆

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