We’re circling around the first full week of 2019 (it’s Monday for God’s sake). I do admit, I’m not very proud of 2018. Here’s why:

  • I’ve been going to Toastmasters for improving my public speaking skills. However, I only gave five speeches last year and two of them were only in December.
  • In 2017, I went to a lot more technical Meetups. In 2018, I didn’t go to many Meetups.
  • From the obvious, I didn’t make many contribution to my blog in 2018.

After some thinking in the last week of 2018 and first week of 2019, I’ve come up with two themes:

Communication

As automation starts to gear up, having soft skills is becoming much more critical to success or even survival. In last weeks of 2018, I started writing up a few speeches to give during the first several weeks of 2019.  I would like to shoot for at least 12 speeches for the year, with at least one given per month.

In addition, I was also researching Improv to not only compliment public speaking, but also help with general interactions.  However, I don’t know whether I would do a one month session or just drop in classes.  Regardless, any type of improv will help me out.

Career

In the long term, it’s vital for me to focus on soft skills.  I hate to admit it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if software engineering become automated in the future.  When the time comes, I should be able to transition to a different industry or have enough financial assets to weather the hard times.

Before that time, keeping up with the tech industry is vital if one wants to remain relevant.  There are a few things that I want to focus on.

Networking

I want to attend more Meetups and connect with more people.  From 2017 through mid-2018, I didn’t do a good job on meeting new people.  Sure, I did meet people and talk to them.  However, oftentimes we would just add each other on LinkedIn and call it a day.  Unsurprisingly, this approach wasn’t helpful.

For now on, whenever people want to add each other on LinkedIn, I instead ask for a phone number.  After a couple of days, I then contact the person to follow up with them.  If they still want to connected via LinkedIn, that’s fine.  Yet, at that point, we went further with communication.

While I haven’t tested this out with a lot of people, I have been able to connect further with some of the people that I met through these Meetups.

Branding

As much I don’t like to admit, everybody is a personal brand.  We now search each other on the internet before we do any business with them.  I haven’t done the best at keep up to date on my own branding.  I didn’t write many blog post or did many side projects to showcase my skills.  The theme of my blog was especially ugly according to a contact.  My LinkedIn could use some work.

Now, the blog should now be more appealing for the eyes.  I have ideas on side projects that I want to showcase on my blog.  I also redid the portfolio page to be more appealing to the eyes.

For this year, I want to improve my LinkedIn portfolio, contribute more to my blog, and have more side projects and showcase them.

Technical Skills

In 2017, I was gung-ho on learning outside working hours.  At the time, my job was maintaining and developing on a legacy written in ALGOL.  Last time I recall, people don’t write in ALGOL anymore.  To prevent becoming obsolete very quickly, I was picking up new concepts that I was learning and did some Jupyter Notebooks on data science and machine learning concepts.

Last year, I was moved onto a new team for providing an REST API framework for a security product.  The framework is written in a more modern language (Java).  Unfortunately, with this transition, the drive to learn on the side was reduced since I no longer was fearful of only having ALGOL experience.  Additionally, I started to doubt that people actually wanted developers with AI experience.  After all, it didn’t help that several Meetups that I attended mainly consisted of web developers from programming bootcamps.

For this year, my company is doubling down on re-skilling the entire engineering department.  Several of the emerging technologies that the company is focusing on are AI, Blockchain, and Cloud.  I definitely will be taking advantage of training on the job this year.

Still, I’ll be continuing to learn outside of work as well as applying my training to new side projects.

Conclusion

Is it a bad to have multiple themes occurring at the same time for the entire year?  I don’t know as it’s the first time that I’m basing my goals on themes instead of a New Year’s Resolution.  Still, I do know that there is much improvement to be made. 

Well, carry on with your goals.