2019: Year in review

Cover image

It was a rocky start for 2019, mostly related to unexpected career changes. But it was full of business, career and life lessons.

Challenging to get by and take care of myself, but managed to power through anyway, so I am pretty satisfied with 2019 overall.

Highlights

  • Landed my first large company job at Telus. I mostly worked in small to medium businesses so far, and it is challenging and exciting to experience a whole different scale.
  • Progress on Speakbox, we successfully ran our experiment with our first MVP. We planned the second version of our product, with a better understanding of our audience and a better product definition. I started working on the second MVP, which should launch early 2020. Getting more and more familiar with the startup scene.
  • Revived a stale side-project by starting Variate. I have been working on this side-project for a while with a friend. We had a few setbacks and lost inspiration. We successfully recovered with a fresh new project and added another friend to the team. Stay tuned in 2020!
  • Better self-care Started personal training. Still trying to figure out nutrition and ways to make it fit in a busy lifestyle, but getting there.
  • Quit smoking I have been smoking cigarettes for 18 years, and this year I managed to quit successfully. I have been going for 5 months so far, still using a vape to regulate the nicotine cravings, but it still counts as a massive win for me, as the numerous previous attempts never got me this far!

Career

Starting this new position at Telus is very exciting. First time working in a huge company and working solely on large backend systems. It will also allow me to develop better skills in JavaScript/Node.js and get familiar with larger distributed systems.

Speakbox

This year with Speakbox, we really got out there. We created very promising partnerships, which I am looking forward to announcing in 2020. We went through a business competition and learned a lot about defining not only our product but our company as well. On the product side, we received a lot of support from the community to improve the concept and product, and it will be exhilarating to release it next year, get broader feedback and start growing.

Variate

We started the year not knowing what to work on, our attempt at creating a product backfired with a conflict of interest, which put us in a weird place. We also realized we incorporated too early and ended up paying for it. But with this new product, a slightly more conservative approach and a third member to the team, 2020 will be promising.

Personal

Quitting smoking for more than a couple days after 18 years of habit is massive for me. I went through the first few months without overthinking it, but this week it really hit me. I noticed a lot of health benefits already! I am aware that vaping can be similar –though we are starting to see that it is less harmful than regular cigarettes– I still believe it is a healthier alternative and a great gateway to an entirely smoke-free life. I will probably keep vaping for a while and slowly lean off it over time. Stay tuned!

Disappointments

Job-hopping is not fun

I changed jobs 3 times this year and twice in 2018. It's too high a frequency and tiring to switch all the time. It is challenging financially, particularly without benefits from being in a continuous probation period, which takes a toll on health and well-being. It also makes it challenging to keep up-to-date with the technologies and learn new skills. Fortunately, side-projects allowed me to keep my skills up-to-date and discover new ones.

Nutrition is hard

I worked really hard this year, not only to get by financially but also because I wanted to bring my side-projects to the next level. That means self-care was sometimes put aside. I think I managed to introduce working out as a regular activity, relaxation as well, but the most challenging aspect was nutrition. With a busy lifestyle and being driven to produce my best work, I often sacrifice tasty homemade-quality meals for a less healthy take-out/delivery ones. Quitting smoking also resulted in a significant weight gain, but totally worth it. I did learn quite a bit about nutrition this year, through my personal training experience and my girlfriend. I hope to be able to apply these learnings next year.

Shoutouts

  • Allison for her support day-to-day
  • Corey for helping me at the beginning of the year
  • Aidan & Benjamin, my co-founders at Speakbox
  • Thomas & Alhan for their outstanding work and motivation on Variate
  • My friend Anthony for launching his first product, WriteWithWrabit

Learnings

  • GCP (Storage, BigQuery, Cloud Functions, IAM, KMS)
  • Gitlab CI and Github Actions
  • Firebase
  • Node.js (Express)
  • Jest
  • React
  • Java (AEM/ElasticPath)

Looking ahead to 2020

Despite some setbacks and slow times, I am looking forward to 2020:

  • I hope I will settle in my role at Telus, find my place in the team and get some stability for a while.
  • I will be launching Speakbox v2 and announce really exciting partnerships.
  • I will be launching Variate as well, and I get to work more on the business/marketing side for this product, which is exciting
  • Stay smoke-free, reduce the vaping
  • Finally, crack this nutrition/exercise thing and hopefully become more fit/healthy

Come on 2020, bring it!