For me, 2013 was one of the most interesting and busy years of my life. It was a good year for me, especially on the career front, and it’s certainly been the busiest year in several years. Among the highlights of 2013:
The most significant event for me this year was when I fulfilled a long-time dream of mine to become an independent consultant. Back in June, I left my full-time (W2) consulting job to launch my independent consulting practice. At the same time, I joined up with the fine folks at Linchpin People, which allowed me to maintain my status as an independent consultant while aligning myself with other like-minded folks in the same space. The downside was that this move meant my leaving Artis Consulting. The folks at Artis – the ownership as well as the employees – are some of the best people I know, and the decision to tell them goodbye was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in my career. As difficult as that decision was, I think it was a good move for me. As an independent consultant, I’ve already gotten to work on some exciting consulting projects, as well as focusing on other related initiatives (including training and tools development). There are still a lot of unknowns and a great deal of risk along this path, but I’m glad I made the move and am very excited for the future.
I got to see a lot of you people in person in 2013. Last year, I got the opportunity to speak at numerous events here in the States, including the SQL PASS Summit in Charlotte, the DevConnections conference in Las Vegas, six different SQL Saturday events, and five user group meetings. In addition, I was invited to speak at SQLBits in Nottingham, England, which was my first international speaking engagement. All told, I delivered 23 technical presentations this year, five of which were full-day workshops. This is one of my favorite parts of being involved in the SQL Server community.
For the past 4 years, I’ve been a member of the board of directors for my local user group, the North Texas SQL Server User Group. My time on the board was an incredibly rewarding experience, one that I would not trade for anything. However, with the demands of my independent consultancy, I found myself with less and less time to focus on user group responsibilities. My seat on the board was up for election this fall, and I made the difficult decision to step aside and not seek reelection to the board. Although I’ll miss being a part of the NTSSUG board, I’ll still be around, attending user group meetings and other functions as my schedule allows. As an aside, I want to extend congratulations and best wishes to my friend Dave Stein, who was elected to the open board position.
Holy schnikes, this one caught me off guard. Between travel to client sites and my conference travel, I was gone almost as much as I was home this fall. I don’t mind some travel, but I got a full year’s worth of travel in about three months. Particularly with my new role as an independent consultant, there will be at least some travel involved, but I hope to avoid repeating the brutal travel schedule I had during the last 3 months.
I wrote – a little. Very little. This blog, which used to be a busy highway of information, has evolved into a rarely-traveled side street. I love to write, and it is a rewarding endeavor in many ways, and yet I’ve neglected this part of my career this year. I don’t want to use the term resolution, but it is my expectation of myself that I will write more in 2014.
Though my professional highlights are almost all positive, there were a few other things that brought sadness this year. My former sister-in-law, who is the mother of my 10-year-old nephew, died quite unexpectedly early this year. I lost an aunt and uncle this year as well. I also marked a sad milestone on what would have been my late son’s 18th birthday. After nearly three years in business, my wife and I decided to cease operations on our small photography business, a marginally profitable but time consuming endeavor that taught us a great deal about choosing the right business.
There were others around me who struggled this year as well. I have friends and family who have battled with health issues, job losses, family friction, and other hardships.
Although there were some sad events in my personal life, there were many positives as well. I got to surprise my kids with a couple of vacations and spend some quality downtime with them. On one of my visits to a client, I was able to visit Fenway Park for the first time and see the Red Sox beat the Rays. We added a new family member, of the four-legged, canine variety.
I had many successes in 2013, as well as areas I want to work on improving during the new year. I’m excited for what I see on the horizon, and I hope that 2014 is as good to me as its predecessor.