Changes. I have them.

§ October 10, 2014 12:02 by beefarino |

As many of you know by now, I’ve accepted a position at Pluralsight as Curriculum Director. I can say honestly that I’ve never been more excited about taking a new position, and I’m really looking forward to being able to make a positive contribution at a fantastic organization. 

This represents yet another career shift for me.  Instead of slinging code day-to-day, I’ll be working to help others teach how to do so effectively.  As different as this will be, I feel like this position is the appropriate destination for my crooked and wandering career path.  My professional background didn’t start in technology; rather, it was cognitive psychology – specifically researching human perception and learning.  During that phase of my life, I came to love both learning and teaching. 

As I entered a technology career, I carried this with me; the opportunities to mentor for someone with no experience were limited of course.  It took years before I was comfortable sharing what I was doing with others, but I got there.  I started speaking at user groups, publishing open-source software, and eventually, I reached out to Pluralsight to see if they would be interested in having be as an author.

I didn’t end up producing a lot of content – all said and done, I will have four courses in the library.  And nothing terribly popular – but that’s not why I did it.  I missed teaching.  I wanted to get back into it somehow, the royalty model Pluralsight offers made that a reasonable avenue to follow, and frankly it was fun.  Thing is, as I worked through my courses, I noticed that I really enjoyed working with everyone on the Pluralsight side.  Every interaction with them was positive – even when they were turning down a course idea or pointing out my use of …. “sailor words.”  They seemed to appreciate the effort I put in too – eventually they folded me in as one of their peer reviewers, and for about two years I’ve been providing feedback on other courses as my schedule will allow.

Making the change from working for myself to working for someone else is something I honestly thought I would never choose to do.  I love the independent lifestyle, but there are some hard choices to make there.  Code Owls exists, in a nutshell, to allow me to manage my own time.  I want to be home for my kids to hear about their days, help with their schoolwork, and be their dad.  This new job doesn’t take me away from that – I still work primarily from home, my schedule is very flexible, and the company has a strong cultural focus on living a balanced life.  Moreover, growing a business by yourself is really hard.  I believe I could keep paying myself through Code Owls indefinitely, but I don’t think I could ever expect a raise unless I hired on, which is a hassle I don’t want and, frankly, can’t find the financial gain in doing so in today’s climate.  This shift represents a huge growth opportunity for me – one that would only be possible as part of an established organization.  That said I’m not closing Code Owls – I still plan to do things through this entity…

So what does this mean for the dozen or so open source projects I’ve pushed out there?  Honestly I think it means I will have more time and mental energy to devote to this area.  With clients consuming my tolerance for code, the production you see on my github page represents what is left over.  I fully expect to keep maintaining and growing StudioShell, and producing random PowerShell modules that only a few of you will actually use (wink-wink).  I also plan to keep speaking, after all, my love of teaching landed me this new amazing new gig, so why mess with that?

My official start date is November 17, 2014.  Until then, I’ll be putting bows on clients and projects in situ.

Oh, and before I forget – let me say THANK YOU to those of you who mentored me through this decision.  You know who you are.  And also a shout out to everyone for the well-wishes and kudos – the response to my initial announcement was overwhelming and I can’t respond to everyone individually.  Y’all have humbled me once again…



Two Notes to Self

§ October 6, 2014 10:29 by beefarino |

Dear Jim;

This letter is to inform you that my last day at Code Owls LLC will be Oct 31, 2014.  I have been offered a full-time opportunity to do amazing things with an amazing group of people, and I simply cannot turn away from this venture.  I will provide more details when I am able to do so, but if you appreciate how much I’ve enjoyed working with you, you will understand the potential of my new venture.

I know that self-improvement is something you value greatly.  In that vein, I would like to share a few thoughts with you about our time together. 

You are the best boss for which I have worked.  You are also the worst.  You have high expectations but balance them equally to my work and my life.  The amount of responsibility you place on my shoulders is immense – crippling at times, but the freedom you offer in exchange is worth it.  You are hyper-critical of my work, but at the same time you provide any resource necessary for me to succeed.  You expect me to work hard for my living, but don’t expect my work to be my life.

I’ve grown immensely these last five years with you.  Thank you for the opportunity to work together - I would welcome the chance to do so again.

Best regards,

Jim


Jim -

I’m sad at your decision, but I am definitely excited for you!  I know you did not come to this decision lightly – actually you tend to overthink these things if I’m being honest.  The value of your contributions to the company have been substantial, as evidenced by your being named “Employee of the Year” every year you’ve been with us!

I do put a lot of effort into becoming a better me, and I get the impression you do as well.  So let me share a few items that you might want to take with you as you leave our humble company…

You have certainly grown, but you’ll never be done learning.  That’s not an insult, it’s a compliment.  You don’t fear unknown things, and that’s how you succeed in this industry.  You’re not afraid to say “I don’t know” and that’s refreshing and necessary. 

You’ve learned what makes a “good decision.”  It’s not always what’s best for you, or for your employer; sometimes it’s the better of two bad choices.  Although I tend to question the processes behind your decisions, that isn’t an indication of mistrust.  It’s just how I do.

Also, you need to stop showing up to work in your robe.  It isn’t really a good idea, ever.  Seriously, stop doing it.  Put some pants on.

Despite the robe thing, I too would love to have you back with us at Code Owls LLC.  If you ever find yourself looking for another opportunity, please consider us.

Obliged,

Jim



Reflectrospective: Year Four of Independence

§ March 20, 2014 22:58 by beefarino |

4candlesMarch marks the passing of a personal milestone: four years of working for myself.  So this is the point where you make jokes about my boss being a jerk or the fact that no one else would hire me.  S’ok, I don’t mind.  It’s why I’m here.

This past year was crazy.  By design really.  I didn’t end up doing all the things I planned to do, but hey, “the best laid plans …” and so forth.  Besides, being able to pivot as I see fit is one of the first reasons I’m independent, and I am pretty happy with the way things have turned out. 

Here are some of the highlights from the past year:

  • I’ve pushed six new highly-targeted open source projects.  And there are more coming in the next year, spanning automation and discovery frameworks for business intelligence to some nifty shell-aware data visualization tools.
  • I’ve released several major revisions to StudioShell, including support for Visual Studio 2013, a version specifically designed for the Nuget package manager console, along with an example of how to use it in your own Nuget packages.  So, you know, go on and use it.
  • I’ve published two new Pluralsight courses (log4net and PowerShell Gotchas!) which, if I do say so myself, are very well done.  In addition I have another course in the works which should be out in the next month or two on publishing custom performance counters in your applications. And it too is very well done :)
  • I’ve learned more about scaling application data layers and SQL server than I really ever cared to.  Still, it’s been an interesting and view-shifting journey, which I always enjoy.
  • I’ve expanded my speaking horizons with soft-skills, architecture, devops, and of course software development talks.  Moreover, I hope the coming year will find me speaking to new, larger, and wider audiences as well – for instance I’ll be presenting three sessions at the upcoming PowerShell Summit in Redmond next month.
  • I’ve started fiction writing again.  I don’t do it very well or very often, but I’m learning to enjoy doing it poorly and infrequently.
  • I opened up about a dark part of my life; not for commentary, not for attention, but out of gratitude to those who support me and concern for those looking for their own support.
  • I’ve learned a new instrument – the ukulele.  I love it – it is impossible to be angry or stressed while playing a uke.  And it seems to please the right people and annoy the crap out of the others.  So you know, win-win.
  • I’ve crocheted four baby blankets, one massive ugly afghan, and countless hats and scarves.  Currently working on baby blanket number five; seriously, y’all need to stop making them babies.

Of course it’s not all rainbows and unicorns.  I know there are things I need shore up and put real focus on.  Businessish things.  And I’m working on it.  Seriously, shut up about it.

At this point I would make some statements about what I plan to do in the coming year.  Outside of what I’ve already mentioned, I’m not doing that this time.  Instead, let’s just say I’m heading where I need to go at the pace I need to travel. 

Which is, after all the point of all this responsibility and effort right?