Retrospective: 2019

Inspired by my friend’s retrospective blog post, I have also decided to make a retrospective. For me, a retro isn’t just about looking at the past and fixing old mistakes, but also to figure out what works and celebrate achievements. You can read my friend’s blog post for a better description of what a retrospective should be and I’ll dive straight into it. 😀

Overall, 2019 felt very short and professionally, I have experienced more growth than in a typical year.

What went well

  • I presented in soooo many conferences and user groups… 24 in total!
  • AI Hack Day finally got a green light from my boss and is coming early this (2020) year in Melbourne, Brisbane, and Sydney!
  • My blog is reaching about 3k views and 900 users per month!
  • The feedback on presentations is fantastic! For some, my talks are one of the best talks in the conference (DDD, NDC Sydney, Global AI Bootcamp); I’m very humbled to hear that 😁
  • I found that my talks about ML .NET got a real impact on devs and got me invested into AI even more than I was before
  • I lived in Melbourne for about 3 months and it was awesome!
  • Jumpstarted an open-source project Cognitive Studio for exploring Cognitive Services
  • I traveled a lot and I enjoyed it! I even became a Qantas Silver member for almost free due client work travel
  • I have been recognized as a speaker and professional by many people. I’m now known for my Real-time facial recognition and ML .NET talks across Australia
  • Despite imposter syndrome, I realize that the knowledge that I share with others is accepted even by professionals that know the subject significantly better than myself
  • People like to talk to me after I have delivered my talks and I don’t have to stumble around because of my awkward social skills 🤣
  • My brother visited me in Melbourne!
  • Witcher TV series was the best things that happened on TV in 2019, topping Avenger’s Endgame and Rick and Morty

What didn’t go so well

  • I gained weight (like my friend 😂)
  • I have traveled so much this year that I want to have a break from travel for a bit (6 months of non-stop travels)
  • I’m spending too much time on YouTube watching random stuff
  • Getting my permanent Visa is significantly slower than expected
  • I still need a lot of time to prepare for talks, even if it’s an existing one. I always try to improve the talk and I put a lot of stress on my self to make sure I don’t mess up the talk
  • Imposter syndrome is stronger than ever, especially when I talk about ML .NET
  • I feel like the first half of the year was wasted on YouTube and not doing much. Most of the things I’m proud of started to happen around the middle of the year
  • I still didn’t upgrade my blog website even though it’s long overdue

What to improve

  • Lose weight
  • Travel outside Australia
  • Have more holidays and relax a little bit
  • Publish 1-2 blog posts per month
  • Have 12+ talks in a year
  • Contribute to the community more effectively
  • Take care of myself and spend more time with people I care about
  • Improve social skills with strangers as some know, they aren’t great 🤣

Final thoughts

Last year was an interesting one from many perspectives. I got into my 30s, I became a presenter, lived in a different city for a couple of months, got more positive feedback in one month for several months than I usually get in a year, etc.

On top of that, it charted a new direction for me, teaching devs how they can use AI even if they are not very familiar with the technology. It felt very humbling and rewarding when seeing private messages on Twitter and LinkedIn, people saying they managed to solve their problems because of my talks. As such, William Liebenberg and I managed to create a free event AI Hack Day backed by SSW and more may come before the end of the year.

On the non-professional side, I’m trying to exercise more, improve my diet and trying to find something I would love outside tech so that I’m not glued to screens 24/7. 😁

In short, this year might be the busiest so far and I can’t wait to get started!