Well, what can I say: “It was a heck of a year. Thank God 2021 is here.” At least it rhymes. When I look back at 2020, I had grand plans and for the first month or two things went really well. My in-person workshops in January went very well and then the world conspired to give me the finger. Needless to say it was a bad time to get into doing in-person training and the rest of the year was pretty rough. By the end I was just glad to have survived.
We did pivot (I hate that word, but it does describe what we did) to doing workshops over Zoom. And it worked well, but selling them was challenging. Training is often viewed as optional – something that can be put off until next week, next month, next year. So when budgets get tight, it is easy to postpone it. The good news is that the need is not going anywhere. There will always be LabVIEW programmers searching for a better way to write code.
Turning Lemons into Lemonade
The other good news is we did start building up some assets. We ran both our DQMH and Unit Testing Workshops several times and have been able to refine those. I am most of the way through creating a prerecorded online class on “Using Git Effectively” that I think will go over really well. We also took advantage of GLA Summit and VI Week in order to get our name out there and build up our email list. I also spent some time working with Tom McQuillan on some GOF examples in LabVIEW. I also spent a bunch of time getting testimonials and creating some promo videos.
Which reminds of the other thing that went well this year and that is that we launched our LabVIEW Mastermind and it went quite well. Everyone stayed throughout the whole year and they are excited about 2021. We are also looking forward to adding another group in 2021.
This year I did read a lot of books. I hit 32 this year. You can see my list here on goodreads. I reviewed many of them on here. You’ll see there is a good mix. If you look at my list of books to read for 2020, you’ll notice I only read 6 out of the 12 books. I did 2 out of each of the 3 categories. I did read a lot of other books in each of those categories, though so I don’t feel too bad. I may not have read the exact set of books that I layed out, but I did fulfill the intentions I had when I created the list.
I laid out my 2020 goals here. I introduced the concept of PIE – Professional Skills, Interpersonal Skills, and Exposure. For the bullet points – refer the 2020 goals post for the actual goal.
- Professional – I had 2 goals in 2020: Continue to build my programming skills and build my business skills. On the technical side, I did dive deep into Git. Creating a course around it really helped me to learn it well. Teaching the Unit Testing and DQMH Workshops also helped me cement those skills. I also dove into learning Docker in an attempt to simplify CI (not entirely successful but I learned alt and something may come out of it yet). As far as business, I’ve been learning and growing a lot in that area and I feel like things are moving in the right direction but slowly. As I said I did invest a bunch of time talking to customers and getting testimonials so that really helped center me around what am I doing and how best to market and sell it. I’ve also been getting together regularly with Steve, Malcolm, and Dan to discuss the business of LabVIEW. I’ve learned a lot through that.
As far as all the bullet points I had set out for this year:
- I did complete the Agile Samurai Course, but not the others that I intended.
- I did not get my CLED at NI Week as it did not happen.
- I am not in a position to hire another engineer right now
- I did not hire an assistant although I did outsource some marketing/social media functions.
- Interpersonal – Well 2020 has made it hard to practice a lot of those skills. However, I feel like I am doing pretty well in this area. I managed to stay in touch with a whole bunch of people. I’ve been organizing a weekly Virtual Coffee that has gone over really well. I’ve built a bunch of relationships through that. As far as GdevCon there was definitely stress and uncertainty around that, but if anything we’ve all gotten closer as a result. I also did a bit of pair programming over Zoom. It certainly wasn’t easy but we made it work.
As far as the bullet points I had layed out:
- The Mastermind Group did go well. We only ran one group, but I’ve got several people interested in starting a secord group next year.
- GDevCon NA is still chugging along and we are still friends, so check on that one.
- This one I knocked out of the park. I was going for 50% of my income from teaching coaching, mentoring and I hit 65%
- Exposure – Increasing my exposure this year has been hard in many ways. There are fewer conferences and in person events. In other ways it has been easier. I presented remotely at a few User Groups and took advantage of the GLA Summit and VI Week. I’ve also built some good connections over Virtual Coffee. So I’m definitely doing a decent job at getting my name out there.
As far as my bullet points
- I went from 1K to ~1.4K Connections on LinkedIn, from 100 to ~250 followers on Twitter, and from 200 to 350 on my mailing list. So I didn’t hit my targets, but things are moving in the right direction.
- For my website I went from an average of ~500 visitors/month to 833. And kept my views/visitor about the same at a little over 2. Didn’t reach 1K but did increase traffic and still kept things relevant enough that on average everyone who visits my site finds at least one other relevant article or page.
- I did continue to hit 2 blog posts/week this year. I hit post number 200 this year, so that is exciting.
- I did 5 out of the 6 monthly webinars. I did skip the one that was close to the GLA Summit.
- I did not double my income this year.