SIGAVDI #49 – Space Vodka Edition

Hello friends,

I can’t brain today and I’m not sure why. I haven’t drunk much alcohol in the last few days, I have received more than adequate cuddles, and I slept way in this morning. Maybe it’s the weather? I’m writing this on the porch in the windy sun between two storm systems.

Last week was back-to-back conferences, both of which I got to enjoy as an attendee rather than as a speaker, which was relaxing.

First was DevopsDays/ServerlessDays/MapCamp Atlanta, which was held, delightfully, inside the Atlanta aquarium. I 100% endorse this conference venue.

The MapCamp track was easily the most interesting. We got a lightning tour of Wardley Mapping from Simon Wardley himself, and then some thought-provoking riffs on it from Cat Swetel and Jabe Bloom.

Immediately following, it was CodeStock in my hometown of Knoxville. I decided to make my time as an attendee more interesting by collecting short podcast interviews, which meant I needed a podcast to put them on. So please welcome The Cache Flush, which I launched from a conference center hallway on Saturday afternoon.

I’d done something like this once before almost ten years ago, and I highly recommend it as a way to meet people and feel like you’ve made good use of your conference hallway time. I met a ton of cool people and I’m really excited to put their voices up on the podcast.

That said, I had some cognitive dissonance along the way. I rarely feel more alive and more aligned with my best self than when I’m sparking conversations and drawing people out… but at the same time, it was nagging at me that I hadn’t done much “work” this week.

This is a tension that I’ve been striving for my entire career to resolve. I feel like I’ve gradually brought my “calling” and my vocation into closer and closer alignment, but they haven’t perfectly converged yet. On the day I can roam around a conference floor talking to people, and know that I am doing exactly what I need to be doing for “work”, I’ll know I’ve finally sorted it out.

I sometimes think of my vocational goal as the “tote bag model”: if someone buys something from me, a book or a course or a subscription, I want that product to be the moral equivalent of the tote bag you get from National Public Radio when you give money during a pledge campaign. The real reason you give them money is because you support the work they are doing in the world. I imagine making my my work in the world so valuable and compelling that my products are effectively tote bags signifying membership in a soulful software community. Really useful tote bags.

And on that note, I haven’t mentioned my Patreon yet in this email ???? My starting a new podcast was driven directly by the impetus Patreon has given me to do more of the kind of  community-building that I did earlier in my career. As of writing, 35 generous souls are supporting me on Patreon. If you’re one of them: thank you.

One thing that was really special about both of these conferences: having people come up to me and tell me how much my work has meant for their careers and their lives. I’ve come to expect a certain amount of this at Ruby conferences, but having it happen in a non-Ruby-centric context is amazing and makes me feel so special.

It also made me realize that I am slowly benefiting more and more from the love, support, and opportunities offered by people I helped (directly or indirectly) earlier in my career. This has given me something of an epiphany:

We often talk about the importance of constant learning for building your developer career. We also talk up networking, in the sense of meeting people who have connections.

Both of these are vitally important, especially in the near- and middle-term of career growth. But what if the most important long-term career investment you can make is the juniors you help, mentor, teach, encourage, and train?

Maybe mentoring isn’t just a nice “extra”, but an essential career investment. It’s definitely a strategy that is starting to come to fruition for me.

OK, let’s see how I did.

  • ✔ Attend DevopsDays/ServerlessDays/MapCamp Atlanta and learn whatever it has to teach me. Done!
  • ❌ Finish landing page/video for Flawless Ruby Nope, no progress here.
  • ❌ Edit video on building chatbots in Ruby OMG I NEED MORE NODES OF ME SO BADLY
  • ✔ Evaluate Convert Kit. I mean, sort of. It’s definitely less mature than Drip. But! It has built-in Patreon support. Still not sure if I want to make the switch.
  • ❌Nail down my first part-time contracting gig. Dammit I failed at email with all that conferencing.
  • ❌ Start coding in earnest on That One Side Project I keep flaking on. Because I really, really need to write code. Wow this is depressing.

This week:

I guess it’s pretty much a rehash of everything I missed last week.

  • Visit the kids over Easter/Passsover.
  • Finish landing page/video for Flawless Ruby
  • Edit video on building chatbots in Ruby
  • Nail down my first part-time contracting gig.
  • Start coding in earnest on That One Side Project I keep flaking on.
  • Post another episode of The Cache Flush.

As always, thanks for reading!