2014 and 2015
I was inspired by Beerops’ post reflecting on 2015 to do my own reflection on the past year. Like for Katherine, 2015 was a hell of a year for me. I’ve not done a lot of year-long reflection previously, so I’m eager to frame this post as a comparison of 2014 and 2015, and some thoughts on what 2016 might bring.
It’s honestly kind of hard to remember all of the things that transpired; the donuts help a little bit with that, but there were a number of achievements that I didn’t commemorate with donuts, and it’s a little interesting to compare 2015 to 2014 in terms of things accomplished.
Day job stuff
2014 brought a role change and a promotion that solidified and named the work that I’d begun doing at Etsy: managing the Performance team and starting a few additional initiatives to help new managers. 2015, interestingly, continued that work, but at scale. I doubled the size of the Performance team, and began to manage two additional groups (Front End Infrastructure, and App Training and Advocacy), thereby creating a real “org”. An org filled with the loveliest people you will ever meet. Seriously, I do not know how I got so lucky.
I got a new quasi-title—Infrastructure Chief of Staff—one that we invented to put a name to the additional responsibilities that I’ve been eager to pick up in the last half of 2015. I’ve found myself in some ways starting over and feeling like a novice by becoming a manager of managers, and getting out of the day-to-day of managing individual contributors and the short- to mid-term direction of a team.
It’s funny; a lot of the work I’ve been doing tends to be invisible, because it’s not tweetable performance work, nor is it the kind of work that’s easy to talk about publicly. Frankly, most of the work that I’m proudest of happens in confidence, like when coaching managers. I also found new ways to cope with the heft of doing diversity work, or “second shift” work, in 2015. I hope to continue to leverage this help in 2016. I have a feeling it will continue to be incredibly private work.
Non-day job stuff
The work that’s more public includes the talks and the writing. I gave talks roughly 14 times in 2014 and had imagined that 2015 would be a quieter year. Interestingly, it was quieter in terms of travel: nearly all my talks in 2015 would happen just a subway ride away. But I still spoke 11 times. In 2014, many talks occurred at conferences, but I spoke more often at companies in 2015, to smaller crowds and more vulnerable Q&A sessions. I loved it. I think I’ll be speaking at just four conferences in 2016.
2014 brought a book contract, book writing, and book publishing, all within a relatively short amount of time. 2015 brought an additional book contract, co-authoring, and publishing, in an even shorter timeframe, by a long shot! In 2016, I plan on continuing the trend of writing and publishing a book a year.
In 2014, I wrote randomly for my personal blog as well as a few myriad magazines. In 2015, I wrote a post per month for the Pastry Box Project. I loved the switch from writing about primarily performance work to writing about the feelings work we wrestle with in our tech jobs. I wrote about being a woman in tech. I wrote about having a chronic illness. I took some of Jen Dary’s advice to heart: the “bigger” my career gets, the fewer the opportunities to be authentic. I take every opportunity I can now to be authentic and transparent with these posts.
2014 brought a major change into my life: my name. 2015 didn’t bring nearly as much personal life change—how could it?! Both years had their share of heartache, but more importantly, both years were spent leaning on new networks with amazing women who could help me through those trying times. 2014 was the year of finding and building those networks; 2015 was the year of leaning on them and being supported by them in ways I never knew possible.
In 2014, I began to notice that I was “sitting at the table” differently. I had begun testing the waters of speaking up, relatively out of turn, in senior leadership meetings. In 2015, I got significantly more comfortable lending my voice to discussions above me. There was not a clear shift; only in reflection do I realize that I no longer have Fear about how I am perceived, sitting and speaking at that table.
2014 brought the pain of GamerGate into our world, and I felt a lot of fear that year and into 2015. 2015, though, became a year of filtering the voices around me to primarily hear from women and people I know personally. I cleaned up my Twitter feed, mutes, and blocks to only hear happy, healthy voices—voices from whom I can learn and whose insight is invaluable. These days, when a man I don’t know pops up in my mentions to tell me something he wants me to hear, I’m surprised by it, which to me is a sign of successful filtering and unfollowing. I also was able to give myself permission to ignore tweets in 2015. I’m eager to continue to do that in 2016.
2014 brought web performance “thought leader”ing; 2015 brought some fascinating, un-attributed appropriation of it. I’m not sure what that means for 2016, as I’m still figuring out how I feel about it.
Brand new stuff
2014 brought me to a bunch of new places: Seattle, Nashville, Scotland, Spain, Portugal. In 2015, I visited Austin and Iceland for the first time. I hope 2016 brings a ton more travel to far-away places, but like in 2015, I hope I can continue to space it out so that I have tons of time with my team again, rather than have it broken up by so much conference travel.
In terms of “brand new adventures”, in 2015:
- I was asked to write a foreword for a collection of young-adult science fiction. That was so cool.
- I feel like I “graduated” to a class of speaking that involves being compensated well and only taking on extraordinarily well-run events.
- I published, for free, my first book online.
- While in 2014 I got my first acknowledgment in someone else’s book, in 2015 I was asked for quotes to include on book jackets, and was even included in indexes of a few books.
- I accepted an award on behalf of Etsy, and even got to give a little speech, which I hope to do better at next time.
- I attended a film festival for the first time, where CODE: Debugging the Gender Gap (in which I’m interviewed!) premiered.
So what do I want to accomplish in 2016?
Day job stuff
- I want to continue to develop as a coach and a manager of managers.
- I want to push forward a more concrete sponsorship program focused on women engineers’ careers at Etsy.
Non-day job stuff
- I want to do way fewer podcasts. I see very little return on the time investment, and I’d rather spend that hour working with my team.
- I want to publish a third book, and at least start writing a fourth.
- I want to get stronger. I’ve been doing strength training for nearly three years, but in the last few months, I’ve gotten really into powerlifting. I’m visibly more physically strong, especially at the tail end of 2015. I’m so excited to continue to lift heavier and heavier things in 2016.
- I want to meet at least a dozen more women in tech who are at similar stages of their careers.
To steal a quote from Beerops: here’s looking forward to a productive and donut-filled 2016.