What I Learned in 2017

A former co-worker and now friend used to have a tagline, “Everyday is a school day.” I remind myself of this fact nearly every time I learn something new. 2017 was arduous and mentally challenging. But, I did pull out some golden nuggets while reflecting back these past few weeks. I’d like to share some things I picked up on on this most recent journey around the sun we call 2017.

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Kubernetes Will Find Its Way in 2018

As I predicted, 2017 was the Year of Kubernetes. One thing the open source community made clear was that Kubernetes is where infrastructure is heading. According to many people I talked to in 2017, running vanilla Kubernetes in production is difficult. In 2018, the community will need to get people trained to operationalize Kubernetes. The Cloud Native Computing Foundation has acknowledged this in creating Kubernetes Certifications. I also think the meteoritic rise of Heptio points to this gap in the Kubernetes ecosystem. Effort is being made but, there need to be folks spearheading Ops-minded thinking in the Kubernetes community.

DevOps Needs Another Good Story

DevOps has a few great stories but the one the DevOps luminaries point to is the automotive manufacturing story. After being in Detroit for six months, it doesn’t seem like the automotive story is a great one to continue to perpetuate. Those practicing DevOps in Detroit know people who work in the automotive industry. The sentiment has generally been, “it’s amazing these companies can get a car put together.” I have also heard that the IT departments of at least the big three have myriad issues. This is likely due to the bureaucracy of working in a 100 year-old company. But, these problems don’t make for a well-rounded story.

This doesn’t discount Deming’s work, The Phoenix Project, or any other great works in the DevOps README. Looking at assembling lines, automation, and smaller pieces of work in progress are good tenets. Even so, another good story for DevOps needs to be cultivated. I’m starting to wonder if health care could provide that message. I’ve yet to see that well rounded story in health care (likely due to heavy regulatory requirements) but I haven’t looked very hard yet. DevOps folks might have to get creative to develop this new story.

Who You Work With Matters More

One thing I realized after leaving Bankrate was that I should care less about the company I work for and more about the people I’ll be working with. I tend to put people first; take care of your people and your people will take care of everything else. This means that I should work with like minded people (from the CEO all the way down). In looking for work the past few months I used fewer recruiters and job search sites than ever before. I have leaned more on my address book, Twitter friends, and LinkedIn connections.

I met a lot of great people in 2017 and when the time came to get a new job I reached out to those people for guidance. Thank you to everyone that has given me feedback and pointed me towards positions they thought would interest me. This job hunt has been a fantastic learning experience that I hope to be able to share more of later in 2018.

Know Your Limits

I called 2017 my “Year of Yes” and it damn near killed me. Yes, I’ll speak at your event. Yes, I can do multi-leg, international trips. Yes, I’ll take that job. Yes, we’ll move to Michigan. Yes, let’s buy this house. Yes, let’s have another kid. Yes, we should have lunch. Yes, we should do coffee. Yes, yes, yes! Yes, I can handle this…

No, no I couldn’t handle it all. I discovered that I have anxiety issues with crowded, confined public spaces. I also have lingering issues surrounding 911 and some personal events that occurred right before 911. Both of these are exacerbated by my long thoracic nerve palsy.

I have found that while I love staying very busy, speaking at conferences, traveling, and attending social events, I must take care of myself. One way I manage pain and anxiety is to meditate for a few minutes while applying a heating pad to my shoulder in the hotel room at a busy conference. Do that once a day during a conference and I’m much better off. I can also stay on the edges near doors in crowded spaces to manage anxiety.

Conclusion

2017 was not a great year for me. But it was filled with many discoveries and adventures. I am very optimistic that 2018 will be a stellar, adventure filled year. At the very least, I will create the balance that I am looking for between family, work, and community involvement. Stick around for the ride, it’ll be a lot of fun!


See also