I’m not looking back. 2011 was a good year, but it was merely a foundation for 2012 and the years to come. I start this fresh year having already made a transition in a few major areas and expecting larger transitions to come.
I am excited about the next 12 months. Very excited. But, lining that excitement is a thread of fear. The good type of fear. The fear that indicates forward progress, often into situations that are hazy from this distance, but hold great promise. I have opportunities ahead of me and I have the support of an amazing family and steadfast friends to support me as I jump into the undefined and uncomfortable. These situations will provide the chance to grow, and inn some cases, will force me to grow. And what is life, if not continuous improvement?
The most important event in my life will occur in about six weeks, when my first child, a son, will be born. I know that he will transform me in ways unimagined. I shift from excitement, to disbelief, to fear and back again multiple times a day. I push back on my dread that I won’t be up to the task of raising him well. I smile each time I see Sarah, my gorgeous wife of ten years, carrying our soon-to-be-born child. I wake in the middle of the night thinking about who he will be and what we will do together.
It’s hard to keep track of everything I want to share with him. Life lessons, astounding aspects of nature and triumphs of humanity fill my head.
So, I’ve started a new site where Sarah and I can collect things our kid should see, learn, listen to and know. My Kid Should Know will be a repository of life lessons, astounding feats, pivotal events and heartwarming reminders of our shared humanity. It’s a small step toward explaining the wonders of this world and sharing the curiosity that has driven me.
I am stepping back from my role leading Refresh Austin, leaving it in the hands of a great team with fresh ideas and the energy to lift the group to the next level. While I’ll stay involved as a minor part of that core team, fading back is not an easy transition for me. But, I know it’s the right one. I have every confidence that Refresh will glow even brighter within the community in the years to come.
I’ve never been one to sit still in a role for long. Once I feel that I’ve mastered a subject matter, or that I have met a goal, I look for the next challenge. While I love to build and I love to design, I have left both behind. I’ve enjoyed my time and the lessons learned focusing on user experience and product management, but I wanted new challenges. So, in 2011 I switched jobs, and now three months in at Appconomy, I can attest that my current role, while comfortable in many respects, pushes me forward to a degree that I haven’t experienced in my career previously.
I am immersed in a new space – mobile development. I’ve been interested in it for a while, but this is the first opportunity that I’ve had to study the both the intricacies and the market as a whole. It is very similar to the early days of Web Development that I experienced in the mid-to-late 90s and the rise of social software seen in the last five years. It moves quickly, it is insanely complex given the number of players, both large and small; and it sets a pace that weeds out the lazy.
Beyond the challenge of mobile, we at Appconomy are focused on the Chinese market, which is unique in every possible aspect. China itself is transitioning – holding on to the party-controlled communist roots, while embracing capitalism at a fervent pace. There is no way to predict what China will look like come 2020, a scant eight years from now. Some predict that China will eclipse the US, others that it will falter as its fast-paced economy cannot maintain its current speed. When I look ahead, I see opportunity on a scale that hasn’t been seen since the early days of powerhouses like Google, Microsoft and Apple. 2012 will be a pivotal year.
Alongside the challenges of this new market, is the opportunity to learn a new language. If we are to be successful in China, team Appconomy needs to learn the language and the culture. One of the most exciting aspects of my role, and a key reason I accepted the job offer three months ago, is the opportunity to learn Mandarin, which is quite possibly the hardest language for an American to master. So,twice a week we have Chinese class. It’s hard, but fun, and made much more enjoyable in a light-hearted environment full of coworkers who are motivated to learn. It’s a lot to pick up, but I will learn and improve in 2012. Hopefully I won’t embarrass myself too much when I travel to Shanghai.
I know what’s coming, but I don’t know everything that it will bring. That’s exciting and scary. It’s the way it should be.