Community, Valuable Resources

Reflecting on 2016

We’re coming upon the end of another year. An eventful year that may have left you with a mix of feelings. Some people wish for 2016 to just get over with and hope for a more positive 2017. I won’t dwell on those aspects. Let’s let the years events be and do what we must to improve and make it better.

On a personal note, I’ve come a long way in the past year and as a result, so has this blog. It’s hard to imagine I was just coming out of a period of burnout, struggle and depression. My recovery manifested itself into the journey that is this blog and everything that’s spawned out of it. I’ve made some wonderful connections along the way, and what better way to celebrate the end of the year than to celebrate these connections?

Showing Gratitude

I’ll get into some facts and statistics a bit later, but I’d like to start off this post by sharing some highlights and thanking some people who have been part of my journey in 2016. I recommend following every one of these people on twitter, or their respective blogs. I also want to apologize to anyone I’ve forgotten!

Transition to 2016 / starting the blog

I’m fortunate enough to be working at a company that has supported me through a difficult time in my personal and professional life, which was my burnout. I had the understanding and support of my leader and closest colleagues, which made the transition back to work and into 2016 possible.

The transition to 2016 was also strongly influenced by Corey House’s Outlierdeveloper and John Sonmez’ Simple Programmer courses. They were part of starting me down a path of taking my personal career seriously, and the value in blogging about my journey.

I’ve always loved podcasts, but the transition to 2016 was also marked by consuming massive amounts of podcasts from Dave Rael’s Developer On Fire. Listening to tales from the trenches from known and unknown developers was inspiring. What really lifted me up, though, was Dave reaching out to me and recording an episode. We continued the discussion and we had the chance to meet at NDC Oslo in 2016. I value our friendship, and his continued work with Developer on Fire is inspiring. I also recommend the Facebook community with listeners and guests from the show. It’s a wonderful mastermind group of people.

Blogging / Twitter Connections

MVE’s 2016 (Most Valuable Empathizers)

Closely following the Developer in Fire podcast, I connected with and spoke to Shawn Rakowski on his podcast. Shawn has been a supportive person throughout the year, with regular interactions on twitter and even a few mastermind-calls. Check out his conversation with Scott Nimrod.

I was introduced to my another supporter for empathy in tech, Andrea Goulet by Geert Vermeiren. She’s promotes empathy, communication, caring for people and code. I was fortunate enough to have spoken with her and Scott Ford on the Legacy Code Rocks podcast.

Scott Nimrod has been present and supportive throughout the year. It’s been valuable to have his perspective and influence nearby. I recently spoke with him on a recorded conversation.

It’s been wonderful to have Jose Gonzalez nearby as well. I’ve had many conversations with Jose, and he’s always a pleasure to talk to. He’s also had a conversation with Scott. I also recommend his blog: mindbodysouldeveloper.com.

Kevin O’Shaughnessy has been an inspiration. He’s a knowledgable, reflected individual who has the wonderful site zombiecodekill.com. We’ve also had many conversations, and shared valuable insights. He’s even the first guest-blogger on coding with empathy (I need to write a follow-up a post for his site too… sorry Kevin!).

Gjermund Bjaanes has been another support pillar, always commenting retweeting and writing on his own blog. I met him at NDC Oslo, and he even came to our local community to hold a talk. Check out his blog.

Speaking at NDC Oslo 2016

NDC Oslo

NDC Oslo 2016 was filled with valuable experiences and connections. It was the first time I attended as a speaker. The experience was wonderful and it gave an entirely new dimension to the conference. It also was an eye-opener to making new connections.

There’s one connection I’d like to emphasize; Kylie M Hunt, with her wonderful focus on workplace happiness. I don’t know how others felt during her session, but I was moved to tears. I encourage everyone to take her message of workplace happiness with them into 2017.

Vestfold Developers Community

I got the ball rolling and created a slack community for all the developer groups in Vestfold county. It’s steadily grown to over 100 members the past year and we’ve had our first community evening with 3 different meetups represented. Starting the group was easy, but building up a community takes time. There are some core members that have played a key part in keeping the open and inclusive dialogue going and pulled in more members than I could ever have dreamed of alone: Ole Edvard Hansen, Remi Nyborg, Thomas Presthus & Terje Solem. You guys are awesome!

Friends and Colleagues

kodepanelet-party

Kodepanelet, or “Code Panel”, is a YouTube channel where we speak about our development department at work. It’s a wonderful way to have fun at work, showcase our department and, most importantly, spend time with wonderful colleagues Simen Hansen, Vidar A. Westrum and Tomas Ekeli.

I need to bring up Einar Ingebrigtsen, an ex-colleague and friend that has always been supportive. He’s been around the industry a few times and is a voice of reason I trust and probably the closest thing I’ve had to a mentor. Check out his latest project: thecodelab.tv, a live coding show diving into many relevant topics.

Expanding horizons and taking action

Trying to expand horizons and learning from others is something I try to do as much as possible. There’s a special person out there that has been both open to sharing his thoughts and helpful when reflecting back. Gregory Brown, the author of Programming Beyong Practices. I’m halfway through the book, and really recommend it to developers.

Pablo Rivera has reached out, and been extremely supportive towards the site and the message of empathy in software development. He’s also been a key part of the next expansion of Coding With Empathy (more about that a little further down). Check out his video series: The Daily Walk

Family

Last but in no way least: I’d like to thank my wife who is a constant support and voice of reason in my life. She’s supported me for the past year and lived through the panic of getting the weekly blog post out. Also to my children that teach me to slow down and appreciate the smaller things.

Facts and Statistics

Facts and statistics

So here are a few cool numbers I dug up from Google Analytics / WordPress Site Stats. There’s a high probability I’m interpreting them wrong, but I’ll put them out there and let’s take it from there.

You’ve been served 47 posts this year on Coding with Empathy. You’ve had a new post to read every week, except 1 week where other priorities took over.

You’ve left 143 comments and the most valuable commenters are: Jose Gonzalez, Dave Rael, Gjermund Bjaanes.

23000 unique users have dropped by the site and read something this year. 20% of you are returning readers (Wow!). 34% of you prefer using a mobile / tablet device.

Your favourite posts have been: My Personal Burnout, Empathy: An essential skill in software developlment, Dealing with feedback when it’s personal, The mindful developer.

My favourite post this year is: Quit blaming others. It’s your fault!

What’s next?

I mentioned a bit further up that there will be some expansion to the Coding with Empathy blog and…it’s all about video! I’ve started to explore the video format and enjoying the experience so far. I’ve received some feedback already, and I really hope to get more feedback on the format and any ideas you have for it. Check it out here:

I’m curious if you’re hungry for more content? I’m looking into ways to curate valuable newsletters, and also creating exclusive content. Perhaps you have some suggestions?

Thank you for 2016! Looking forward to a great 2017 with you all!

I’m always open to feedback in any form and love learning from and sharing those learnings back to you, the readers of the blog. Please reach out to me and tell me your personal favourite post(s), experiences or any other reflections from 2016 in the comments below.

  • Kevin O’Shaughnessy

    Thank you for the kind words Pavneet, and best wishes for 2017.

    I will use this comment to briefly do my own 2016 retrospective. At the start of the year my main aim was to do 12 Pluralsight learning paths in 12 months.

    I discovered yourself a few months later by listening to you on My Life For The Code and Developer on Fire podcasts. We found that terms of the Insights Discovery simplification of Myers-Briggs, we were polar opposites – myself introverted thinking and yourself extroverted feeling. According to Insights Discovery, we each have the personality types that are most likely to clash with one another.

    https://simpleprogrammer.com/2015/12/14/psychology-for-programmers/

    Several months ago the word “empathy” did not have much meaning it me because it appeared to me to be very abstract and quite detached from practical value and action. I have come to appreciate a couple of key lessons.

    Firstly, making connections with people who appear to be different from ourselves tends to be the most effective way to learn and grow. For example, I hold truth amongst my highest values, but without the ability to communicate and explain truths to others in a way they empathise with, they are largely inconsequential.

    Secondly, we often find that we have far more in common with other than we first realize. Often our differences are actually very small in reality but we make the mistake of focusing on our differences rather than our similarities.

    On that point, I think that is why I have been so concerned with the rise of right-wing politics recently: our differences are being magnified and used as a tool for dividing us further. It has been difficult to know how to channel those concerns in the most constructive way.

    Again I think empathy is key here. I have begun to get involved with effective altruism and that is bringing me into contact with many good people that remind me that there is still much hope for the world.

    The more difficult lesson has been recognizing/acknowledging the emotional baggage that I had been carrying around with me. Once I accepted that, it was very easy for me to decide to drop all of that and begin again with an entirely constructive outlook and approach. Having the right attitude makes all the difference.

    On the work side of things, I decided to abandon my quest to complete 12 paths in 12 months towards the end of this year. I could have done it, but the risk/rewards for doing it weren’t worth the cost. I am still proud to have reviewed more than 70 courses on my blog this year.

    So in 2017, I aim to continue that and make it the ultimate resource for Pluralsight subscribers looking to get a quick idea of what courses are really about before taking the plunge on any one of them. Investing 4, 5 or in some cases as much as 12 hours in a course is a high one, so I think it is important to give everyone as good an idea as possible about what it covers so that they know the course is for them.

    I will also be doing more articles for Simple Programmer and Outlier Developer. I may help on one or two open source projects for charity. Beyond that I want to conserve some free time for myself so I am free to decide at the time.

    • Thanks Kevin, and I appreciate you spending the time to leave your thoughts and reflections from 2016 here.

      I remember the personality test very well. I also remember a comment about empathy being more natural to extrovert vs introverts. It was an interesting angle that I hadn’t considered. I now know from reading other experiences / articles that there is noe real difference in how an extrovert / introvert experience empathy. There are other personality traits though, that you describe in the Simple Programmer article, that do have an effect. It’s also interesting to read that the personality distribution is so far off from the “average”. I’ll need to re-read that article 🙂

      On that note, I think our blogs and general communication styles greatly reflect our different personalities. I’ve always appreciated your structured way of laying out the facts. Making things clear in a straight-forward way. Even your goal of completing 12 pluralsight courses has beed planned and executed on very well. I “wing things” a lot more. I have an overall structure, but knowing which blog post will be next is almost as much of a surprise to me as it is to the readers (one of the things I want to improve on 😉). I’m looking to play more on my strengths in the time to come, and I think that is also why I’m enjoying the video-format.

      Another really valuable aspect of differences is that’s how you gain perspective and a deeper understanding of yourself. You may have many beliefs that are just inherent from your upbringing, culture, workplace etc. instead of being learned by reflection, conversation and real-life experiences. So a general message of: “Get out of your echo chambers. Challenge your assumptions. Learn from people you don’t agree with…you will either reinforce your position or learn something new. This is when you gain self-awareness and grow.”

      Empathy is so powerful when it comes to any form of communication, and you touch upon a really important aspect; Acceptance. Probably the hardest form of empathy, self-empathy. I’m experiencing that the more aware of my self, feelings, values and accept them, the easier it is for me to look forward, internalise learnings and grow.

      I said this back the I applaud your decision to drop the pluralsight challenge. You’d already proven your dedication. The important thing is that the decision to drop it doesn’t define you, but rather what you’ve actually accomplished. Again, you’ve proven that too by saying you’ll continue reviews at your pace. Self-awareness baby! 🙂

      I’m looking forward to see what you will produce in the next year, and continuing this journey by your side 🙂 – Also much kudos to your focus on effective altruism.

      Thanks agin, Kevin. Enjoy the last days of 2016 and best wishes for 2017!

      • Rick Pack

        Some interesting ideas in you and Kevin’s comments. I have not tried in a while, but I remember scoring a few times near the middle of introvert/extrovert. Thinking about something Pav wrote, maybe introverts tend to do more planning? You know, I feel a stronger need to plan as well as avoid people when I am overstressed and less happy. Kevin’s article could help me think through this stuff. Regardless, thank you for posting your thoughts and Happy New Year!

        • I also believe it’s a scale. I’ve realised that I too have introverted tendencies. But when getting to know and hear from Jeremy Clark (@jeremeybytes) and his message of being a social developer at NDC and on Developer On Fire, I’m convinced that “looks can be deceiving”.

          An introvert can be the centre of the party and an extrovert can be the quiet and considerate listener. These are attributes that can be learned, but there are natural tendencies that draw us in a certain direction. The important factor is knowing where you draw your energy from.

          But I’m no expert on the matter, and these are my opinions that happen to map well to my understanding and experiences 🙂

          Thanks, Rick!

  • Wow! Thank you so much for the mention 🙂

    I want to start out by just giving you a bunch of kudos for the great drawings 😉 Very happy with the one on me! Great work!

    Other than that I really enjoyed your post. It has been very interesting following your journey the last year. You have also got me thinking a lot about empathy in software development. Thanks a lot for that. I look forward to seeing more of your content going forward.

    Also nice getting to know you a bit. Hope to get to know you more in the next year! 🙂

    • Thank YOU for being such a supportive pillar as a reader, follower, contributor and source of inspiration, Gjermund!

      Best wishes for 2017!

    • Oh, and thanks for the tips on drawings. I was so DEAD TIRED, but I got so much value and energy from sitting down to draw you all. It’s my little way of giving back, I guess. 🙂

  • Humbled by the mentioned, @pavsaund:disqus. “Yogurt knows yogurt”

    Hey, awesome drawings too! It’s been a wild ride for me as well. I’m glad to be part of your adventure and help in any way that I can. 🙂

    I’ve learned quite a bit from you as well.

    I wish you the best of luck with your blog, videos, career, family and most importantly: yourself. If you can’t help yourself, how can you help others?

    Go for whatever you have in mind. I’ll assist you in any possible way. Just:
    “/casting summon Jose”

    • Thanks Jose! So glad to have your support, advice and game-puns nearby! 🙂
      The feeling is mutual, shout out whenever!

      Here’s to a good 2017!

  • Rick Pack

    This was my favorite post. That may be due to my particularly grateful state today. Your expression of gratitude felt genuine. You also reminded me that I have a forgotten task to do with respect to Kylie M Hunt. “Workplace happiness” is a powerfully important pursuit.

    • Thank you, Rick! I am truly grateful, and this post just touches the tip of the iceberg. You have also been a supporter, and I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment on the blog.

      I support your sentiment to pursue “Workplace happiness”. Namedrop Kylie on twitter when you do, she’ll get a thrill from it 🙂

      Thanks again Rick. Wish you a great New Year and prosperous (whatever that means to you!) 2017!