At the end of every year I do a yearly review and set goals for the new year. Here are the goals I set at the beginning of this year for reference. For each of my 3 big rocks for the year, I asked myself, what is working? and what needs improvement? Here are the results.
Last year I laid out 3 Big Rocks for the year: the podcast, workshops, and python.
The podcast is going well. It's garnering plenty of attention. It seems to get really good reviews. I have no shortage of guests. I did get a few sponsors and a few Patreon members. I even interviewed a few people outside of the LabVIEW Community and that seemed to go over well.
On the workshop front, I ran 4 workshops this year. 1 DQMH workshop, a free webinar about learning LabVIEW beyond what NI teaches you, 1 joint workshop with DSH at GDevCon NA, and one CI/CD Workshop. I made a profit on each of them. They all went well and I got good feedback. The attendance at the GDevCon NA workshop was very high and it was very well received.
I took another class from Enthought on software engineering in Python, which was very good. I also read a couple more Python books which really helped. I created the sas-gcli-tools.gitlab.io site using mkdocs which uses Python, so I actually had a real-world project to work on, even if it was small. I've been attending the mobbing sessions for approval-tests in Python, so I've been learning a lot there as well. I lined up an opportunity to join MousePaw Media as a mentor, which will start in the new year. I feel like my Python skills are coming along nicely.
Outside of my 3 Rocks
- NI presented me with the Consultant Impact Award.
- GDevCon NA went off well.
- Revenue grew this year.
- IEEE Software Engineering Radio was gracious enough to let me be a guest host. I got to interview M. Scott Ford, Llewelyn Falco, Nicolas Carlo, and Jason C. McDonald so far.
- I released several G-CLI packages on VIPM.io and put together https://sas-gcli-tools.gitlab.io to document it all. In the process, I created a template project to make CI easier to set up and created a CI/CD workshop around it.
- Llewelyn Falco agreed to help me create an Approval Testing Framework for LabVIEW. Through working with Llewelyn, I also got introduced to a bunch of other great people in the software consulting world.
- We (Malcolm, Nancy, Taylor, and I) managed to get an LV Consultant's Summit off the ground.
- I got my first "fractional CTO"-type job. I've been trying to find a role like that for a while.
- Finally figured out how to launch VMs on demand as if they were Docker containers with GitLab CI. I now get a fresh VM for every job and can launch multiple in parallel, so that will be a game changer going forward.
- I gave 2 presentations for Empathy in Tech which were both very well received.
What needs improvement?
The big thing is that I need to figure out is how to get the podcast to pay for itself. I've gotten some sponsorships and Patreon members. I am very grateful for them, and it is not enough. The podcast is rather expensive, and while I'm sure it's helped me build a lot of brand recognition it's hard to tie that directly to revenue. I need to find a better way to monetize the podcast, whether it's more sponsors, more Patreon members, or somehow doing a better job of driving leads from it.
I also need to figure out long-term if it is really worth it to do it in person or not. I like the in-person interviews a lot, but they are much more expensive and the Zoom ones are certainly acceptable in terms of quality. In-person also limits me to either locals or conference attendees, so definitely look for more Zoom recordings in the future.
There were also some issues with editors. I need to figure out long-term what the best strategy is there.
Workshop attendance could be better, particularly for the ones I hosted. I like small groups from a teaching perspective in that with small groups everyone gets more attention yet from a business perspective I need to get a few more attendees or increase the price to make the workshops viable. I'm not sure where the problem is there. I need to do some experiments to find out.
I do need to work on the format, specifically for the CI/CD Workshop. I tried to cram it into a 4-hour session. We did get to the point of having a running hello world after 4 hours That wasn't all we did. We talked about the theory for a while, did some bash scripting, played with G-CLI, and discussed VMs and various other related topics. I wanted to get a template set up and running and give students time to work on creating their own templates in class. We had to do that in a separate additional session. In the future, I'm going to split up the CI/CD Workshop into 2 or 3 sessions with some homework or a prerecorded online component.
I also have to figure out a better way to deal with students having technical issues. I had 4 students in the CI/CD workshop and they all seemed to have issues on different parts at different times and it was hard to keep the class together. One solution could be doing it one on one and then I would have to charge more. Part of my goal is to make it affordable, so I'm not sure how much more I could charge.
The big thing I need to work on with Python is finding a paid gig. The MousePaw Media project I am working on will be a big step in that direction. Other than that, I am happy with the way things are going in learning Python.
Outside of my 3 Rocks
- My relationship with NI could be better. Despite winning the Consultant Impact Award I feel disconnected from NI. I need to either figure out how to repair that relationship or just simply start distancing or at least insulating myself from what is going on over there. In some ways, I feel like I am too invested in something I don't have a lot of control over. Moving more into Python will help alleviate that.
- I need to do a better job of lead generation. I did very well this year but towards the end of the year, work dropped off significantly. I need to figure out how to smooth out the rollercoaster and get a steady set of leads.
- At one point I had 2 very good well-paying clients and both jobs ended kind of abruptly at about the same time. I need to get better about not putting too many eggs in one basket (or in this case two). I also need to do better at keeping my foot on the gas in terms of business development, even when things are going well.
How did I do with my reading list?
I did not make it as far in my reading list as I had wanted, but I did substitute in a bunch of other work related books. Not as many books as previous years and overall I am happy. Here is a link to my goodreads page so you can always see what I am reading. https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/93315347-samuel-taggart