Chickadees alight on the bird feeder for a few seconds, secure a seed, and flit away. Blue jays glide to the ground under the feeder, where scattered seeds are plentiful (and where the snow offers more stability than the swinging feeder provides). Woodpeckers ignore the feeder altogether, seeking insects in the nearby birch trees. And I watch all this bird activity from the warmth of our northern Minnesota winter cabin, relaxing inside after a couple days of snowshoeing.
Year-end retrospectives can be self-indulgent, so I’ll start this one by saying I’m far from perfect. Like, I stopped going to yoga classes as soon as spring travel picked up, and I probably will always have this conflict (unless I just travel less - foreshadowing)! Working on physical fitness is hard for me to manage when exhausted, as my sore muscles will attest to after this week’s excursions into the snow. (On the other hand, this holiday break has proven that I have outstanding cookie-eating skills!)
I intended to spend 2018 doing more “glue” work (hat tip to Tanya and her “Being Glue” talk), and I gave tips at our Azure Advocates team week last summer with tactics for getting conference talks accepted. I also turned Give Actionable Takeaways into a blog post, so you can use those tips too!
My vague, amorphous plan to travel less in 2018 met with limited success, although I did successfully recommend others for a fair number of speaking opportunities. My travel might have stayed manageable but for the fact that I started giving workshops, which come with their own travel load. Much credit to Jérôme, whose container.training repo is what I’ve used to help give hundreds of conference attendees their first hands-on experience with Kubernetes. (Side rant: this does not mean everyone ever should immediately kuber some netes and yolo them out into production. Like everything else in tech, k8s is a tool, not a goal.)
A public speaking retro for 2018 reveals I said yes a few more times than I originally intended. 37 appearances total, which break down to 19 conference talks (of which 5 were keynotes and 1 was co-presented); 11 3-hour workshops; 3 Ignites; 2 meetup talks; 1 live Arrested DevOps podcast; 1 panel. (These numbers are an approximation; I remember getting roped into at least one other panel, and there were non-public talks as well as conference track hosting.) Slides, videos, and audience reaction tweets are available at https://bridgetkromhout.com/speaking/.
Airline status isn’t the goal, but I managed to speak at events in 19 cities spanning 8 countries. One of the highlights was Bergen, Norway, where Joe and I visited the fjords! (Since it was March, there was a lot of ice; it was beautiful.)
But if I earn no airline status in 2019, that will be okay by me; I very much appreciate petting our kitties instead of just looking at pictures sent by our excellent pet sitter. I do love giving workshops, but this coming year I’m hoping to encourage others and take a back seat myself. It’s fantastic giving a workshop and then fielding questions afterwards about how people can use the materials themselves, but I also appreciate the “work with product” side of my advocacy job.
Twitter being what it is, there are opinions on devrel. Here’s mine…
This doesn’t mean I’m convinced of my own importance; it means I’ve had a chance to provide value, which is a weighty responsibility (and one best shared). Seems to me we have the most impact by enabling others, and I feel lucky to be able to do that on Ashley’s team.
I’ve been called “small conference mafia”, and indeed, being on several program committees means upvoting talks by speakers I’m already confident about, while it’s equally thrilling discovering new viewpoints. I love seeing programs posted for new and returning devopsdays events with a few names I know and plenty of new-to-me speakers.
Like any distributed system, devopsdays works by pushing as much decision-making as possible to the edge. I don’t pick all the talks; I try to create a context that leads to good results. Creating opportunities for more speakers in this space is one of the most rewarding parts of leading the devopsdays org. And yes, this means using whatever sway I have to make sure we’re hearing more from voices under-represented in tech. Let’s all do that!
Working at Microsoft, I’m happy to be able to bring big-company resources to the aid of open source. That means I can spend time on projects like Helm (recently donated to the CNCF!), and I think I’ll be doing more of that in 2019. My overall theme for some years now (since Andrew convinced me to try setting down my oncall burden in 2015) has been helping people build systems and processes that are more robust and resilient, and less likely to wake them in the night.
We live in an increasingly distressing world, as I’m reminded while choosing my year-end donations to help ecosystems and humans at risk. I’m watching these birds flitting outside our cabin window in this winter wonderland and realizing their world (and ours) is in danger; I can fill their feeder with seeds, but I also stress about, in the future, there being any snow at all. I worry and fret and read Electoral Vote first thing every morning, but the new squad gives me hope.
My district (and my country) did good, this election, and I think we can do more good, each and every one of us, in all the ways available to us. Wherever you spend your energy in the new year, may you make your world a kinder place and find a way to scale your impact.