Year in review: 2022
2022 was a life-changing year for me. I attribute almost all of that to letting go of the fear of what other people think of me.
Most of the real internal change happened in 2021. I realized back then that I could either protect my ego by not putting myself out there or I could take a risk and potentially embarrass myself. I decided I'd rather risk the failure of action than the regret of inaction. I'm so glad I took the risk, my life has been better because of it.
This year I spoke at a bunch of conferences, worked on a bunch of projects, made a bunch of friends, and had a bunch of jobs.
This year I expanded my horizons with frenetic energy, next year I'm honing the existing things with focus.
I spoke at my first ever conference in February. It was Laracon Online, winter edition. My talk was about Sidecar, a Laravel package to help you package, deploy, and execute serverless functions.
I spent way more time preparing than was probably reasonable and it totally paid off. I live coded and live deployed to AWS and everything came off without a hitch. It was awesome.
I'm speaking live at @LaraconOnline in a little bit less than two hours!— Aaron Francis (@aarondfrancis) February 9, 2022
I'll be talking about using Lambda with your Laravel app. It's free on YouTube! https://t.co/4V2ePCu47O pic.twitter.com/RlmakbZUOr
In May, Colleen and I spoke at Rails Conf about building a query builder. Frankly, it was a disaster. Colleen had built a whole workshop curriculum for people to follow along with, and then the conference WiFi went out and people couldn't follow along at all. You can hear all about it on this Software Social episode. It was kind of funny once it was over. I'm really proud of how we reacted while we were on stage and basically just winging it.
In the fall I spoke at Laracon Online again, this time about database performance for application developers.
I went to Belgium in October to speak at Full Stack EU and had an absolute blast. I spoke on Sidecar again.
My @FullStackEU talk is in the books!— Aaron Francis (@aarondfrancis) October 7, 2022
I took a risk and live-coded and live-deployed to AWS on hotel wifi and nothing went wrong! It totally paid off, it was so much fun.
The only problem was the podium was shorter than expected so I look kind of absurd up there 🤷♂️ pic.twitter.com/iRxBPlMtOa
In November I spoke at Longhorn PHP, again on databases for developers. Weirdly I don't have a single picture from that.
Finally, I spoke at GitHub Universe! My talk there was about how publishing your work increases your luck. Basically the story of my past two years. It was based on the article that I had written for them earlier in the year. It was a small turnout, but I think it may be the best talk I've done. The video should be available soon.
I spoke at a lot of conferences. Maybe too many. It's so much work to prepare a talk and I don't think I knew that when I signed up for all of these conferences. Next year I'll do fewer, or reuse talks more. I really, really enjoy speaking, but the prep work is quite burdensome. My wife is a saint for allowing me the time to prep these talks and go to these conferences. Thanks Jennifer.
I had a lot of jobs in 2022. In March I left my job as CTO+COO at Resolute Property Tax Solutions, where I'd been for almost 5 years. I really enjoyed my time there but felt like I was stagnating.
In April I became the "Marketing Engineer" at Tuple. This job was kind of an experiment from the very beginning. They'd never had a marketing engineer and I'd never been one, so we both agreed to give it a go and see if it worked. In the end, the role itself wasn't really a fit for me even though I really liked the company and the people there!
In September I started at my current job, as a Developer Educator at PlanetScale. I feel super at home in this role. Basically my job is to teach people about MySQL. It's a total blast. I make a lot of videos, write articles, and speak at conferences. I love teaching, so this is a perfect fit for me. (PS: Sign up for my MySQL course! It's coming in February.)
2022 was a year of expansion, and that holds true in the projects category too. I have a lot of projects, but there are no new projects on the horizon. I want to double down on everything I already have going.
My primary professional focus outside of work is Hammerstone. We raised money from TinySeed this year! In 2022 it was hard to make consistent progress on this between job changes, conferences, and coming out of a tough family year (more on that below.) 2023 is going to be a good year for Hammerstone.
Other projects suffered from some frenetic energy and lack of focus. Torchlight went from rapid progress to a crawl. Sidecar did the same. I'm proud of those projects but I also think I could be doing more on them. 2023 is the year of focus and refining of those projects.
I also started streaming this year! Partially as a forcing function to work on some of my open source work, and partially because I thought I'd enjoy it. Turns out I do enjoy it. It's a whole lot of fun! I'll keep doing that in 2023.
I don't talk about my personal life too much online, but I do want to share a few things. Let's rewind a bit, back to 2021.
2021 was the hardest year of my life. The most obvious contributor to that was that my wife and I had twins in May of 2021! Going from zero to two children overnight is a lot of work. Not a lot of sleep, a lot of diapers changed, and so many bottles. We made it though, and we have the best two little kids in the whole world.
What great joy to have two children! However, what great sorrow to have been expecting three.
This is all the reflection I could muster at the end of 2021:
This year I experienced both the deepest sorrow and the greatest joy of my life.— Aaron Francis (@aarondfrancis) January 1, 2022
These pictures, taken at two of my happiest moments, tell both stories at once. pic.twitter.com/7Lsz2t1aq7
It's disorienting to experience your greatest joy and deepest sorrow on the same day. I spent a lot of time working through that in 2021 and into 2022. There were long periods in 2021 where I couldn't do anything, for weeks at a time. 2022 has been much better, especially the second half. I feel like myself again. If you ever experience loss and want to talk, please DM me.
2023 is going to be a good year. 2023 is all about focus.
There's a natural rhythm of expansion and contraction. Exploration and exploitation.
2021 and 2022 were a lot about exploration: Figuring out what's out there, trying new things, changing things up. 2023 is about exploitation: spending my finite time working on the existing things that have the best chances of being successful.
Onward to 2023.
My main project focus is Hammerstone, where we build components for your Laravel and Rails applications. My business partner and I do a podcast where we talk about building a software company.
I do another podcast about web frameworks called Framework Friends.
If you ever have any questions or want to chat, I'm always on Twitter