2018 – Wow, what a ride!

I’m not a big New Year’s resolution guy but I do believe that looking back at the previous year as well as setting goals for the coming year helps set up a framework for success. For this post, I’d like to share some personal and professional highlights from 2018.

Personal

Family

To start, I’m writing this sitting next to my wife Megan as we fly back to Houston after spending 10 amazing days in Thailand celebrating 15 years of marriage. She’s my best friend who has given me 3 beautiful children (Caroline (6 3/4), Eli (4 1/2), Lorelei (1 3/4)). We met in college 18 years ago and have built a great life together. She makes me a better person and I couldn’t imaging doing life without her by my side every step of the way. Overall, our family has had a wonderful 2018! Our children have constantly surprised us and made us proud. They are smart and curious and wonderful little people and they make life so much better!

Physical Health

In late 2017 our community dealt with Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath, then shortly after that, a friend of mine died suddenly leaving 2 small children and a wife behind. Through these events, I began to look at my life and decided that I needed to make some changes (mentally and physically) and start living life differently for me and for my family. When I went in for my annual physical (everyone should do this!), I had a long list of concerns. My doctor told me that my cholesterol was high (yet again) and that I was pre-diabetic (that was new!) and suggested a low starch and low sugar diet. This time, I listened and started a diet in November 2017. By my next visit in March, my cholesterol had dropped by 40 points and I was down 20+ lbs. At my 2018 physical in November, I was down 30lbs and my cholesterol had continued to drop! It took a lot of discipline but it was one of the best decisions I could have made and I hope to continue on this path into 2019.

Right as things were looking up on the health front, I found that I had gallstones in April and had my gallbladder removed. While it’s a routine surgery, I was still in shock from my friend’s death. The month a or so to identify the issue, schedule surgery and recover was tough, but it all went great and I’ve fully recovered. Not to be outdone, in September, my youngest daughter spent 7 days in the hospital unexpectedly with a lymph infection. This was our first time with a child in the hospital and it also caused a bit of stress on our family. Thankfully she has fully recovered as well.

Mental Health

Also in late 2017, I also spoke with my wife and doctor about beginning treatment for ADHD. I have a lot to say about mental health and how this decision has impacted me, my family and my job, but I think I will save it for another post. The main takeaway here is that I recognized that I needed help and I made the choice to talk about it. As a friend said to me recently, it’s always better to shine a light on an issue than try to hide it. After working with my doctor and having a LOT of conversations with my wife and work colleagues about how I was feeling and how it looked from their perspective, I found a medication that provided the right balance for me to perform at the level I knew I was capable of. If you struggle with mental health and feel like you need to talk about it, please reach out to me, I’d be happy to help however I can. There’s no shame in getting your brain healthy!

Spirtual Health

One last personal thing before moving on to the professional highlights – My wife and I are Christians and put our faith Jesus. Through all of the events of last year, we spent time in prayer and believe that we would have a much harder year if it had not been for the peace that comes from knowing that a higher power was in control. If you would like to know more about my faith, I’d be happy to share more with you.

Professional

2018 was one of the best years professionally since I started my IT career after college in 2003. The number of people who have encouraged me, helped me and given me opportunities is so humbling. It’s been such a wild ride, I’m still waiting to wake up from the dream!

  • Started a blog
  • Attended 3 conferences
  • Spoke at 3 user groups
  • Spoke at 1 conference
  • Started consulting
  • Recorded a podcast (coming soon)
  • Nominated for Microsoft MVP (waiting…)

Blogging

In mid-January I began this blog as a way to share some of the cool stuff I get to work on and as a way to give back to the amazing IT community that selflessly shares knowledge. In February at Experts Live US, I met Johan Arwidmark for the first time where he gave me some great advice and invited me to guest blog for his site (which I eventually did!). I ended 2018 with 36 new posts and just over 57k pageviews with the last 3 months averaging over 12k views per month. While the stats help me see the relative impact I’m having, the most humbling thing for me was meeting people at conferences and user groups who knew who I was and told me how my posts had helped them. If you have any interest in sharing your ideas with the community, start a blog of your own or even talk to other bloggers like Chris Buck who has opened his site up for guest bloggers.

Community

As I’ve heard Johan say at the beginning of several sessions, “If you’re not on Twitter, get on Twitter!”. I had tried out Twitter previously but never had much use for it. Then one day, I realized that so many of the people who were writing the blogs that I used regularly were active on Twitter and were willing to help me with issues. I started 2018 with 0 followers and ended with just over 1300! I made a ton of new friends and got to meet so many of them for the first time at conferences. For the first time since I started my career in IT, I feel like I am part of the community. In additional to Twitter, I’ve gotten plugged into several professional social media groups like Slack, Reddit and Facebook. Add in user group and conferences and there are tons of ways to get plugged into the community.

Speaking

Stephen Leuthold from Invoke contacted me after Experts Live US and invited me to speak at HASMUG (the best user group in the world!). I had never spoken before but decided it was something I should try. I ended up speaking at HASMUG in May and in October then at AZSMUG in November (Thanks Mike Terrill). I also got to attend MMSDE where Brian Mason asked me to speak with Wally Mead at the last minute (More on that here). I’d like to thank Ami Arwidmark and my boss Mike Creel for pushing me to find more speaking opportunities and for everyone who has supported me. I’ve already got a few user group talks coming up for 2019 and have submitted some sessions for MMS (the best conference in the world) in May 2019.

Consulting

Following Microsoft Ignite, where I met so many amazing folks (like the SCConfigMgr Crew), I was offered the chance to join System Center Dudes as a part-time ConfigMgr consultant. It has been an amazing challenge working in new environments and working with new things that I don’t work with in my day job. I have great expectations for what 2019 has in store.

Summary

As a wrote this all down, I got to relive these movements and I can’t say enough about all of the amazing people in this community who have influenced me this year (Thank you all). I love how we all continue to inspire each other and push the limits of what’s possible. I took a chance and put myself out there and couldn’t be happier with the outcome. I can’t wait to see what 2019 has in store!

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