Happy New Year: a decade in review

This is the place where I’m supposed to write down all the things I am resolving to do this year. All the changes and improvements I want to make in my life. Given the popular view of this being the end of the decade (it’s not it’s the beginning of the final year of the decade!!) I am also supposed to write about what I was doing 10 years ago. We’ll start with writing about the past decade.

10 years ago I was working in a research lab at Harvard med. I had been living in MA less than a year, and married less than 6 months. The research was interesting (cytokine response in transplant rejection), but was just a job. I was a pair of hands in the lab, not even close to a member of the research team. Within a month, we would be flying out to CA so Steve could interview with a startup and within 6 weeks, we’d be living on the west coast.  And then things would really start to change.

2000: I was offered multiple jobs at MAPS and finally took the one that sounded most interesting. From that job I learned a couple things that led directly to where I am today. First: abuse desks had horrible crap tools that didn’t really do what abuse and policy enforcement folks needed them to do. The workflow was just totally wrong for support tools. Second: I’m actually pretty good at this whole policy thing. I suspect it’s partially how my brain works and partially training as a scientist, but y’know, I can do policy.

2001: MAPS imploded, I picked up my first consulting job, Steve’s startup suffered through layoffs and we were faced with a recession and neither of us employed. We founded Word to the Wise in September of that year, just a few weeks after the attacks. Steve started working on an abuse desk specific CRM system and I started consulting full time.

2002: We made our first Abacus sale. And our second. And our 3rd. This whole business thing was starting to look like a viable way to support ourselves.

2003: We bought a house. We were adopted by a little feral cat and her two kittens. We got our first buyout offer and found a business advisor to help us figure out where we were going.

2004: We paid off all the CC debt from starting the business.

2005 – 2006: Improvements to abacus code base, and more sales. A few of our customers went bankrupt or out of business, but we continued on.

2007: Paid off the 2nd mortgage on the house. Started the work blog. Were adopted by a stray tomcat. I also made some personal resolutions to focus on professional growth and improving my effectiveness as a consultant. The business continued to grow.

2008: More professional enrichment, including taking on some new projects (and politics) inside of industry organizations. Continued blogging and developed a bit of an audience. Got a long desired digital SLR camera for christmas, and started this blog as well as my flickr site. We got our second offer for buyout.

2009: The year of travel. For a homebody like me it was a bit of a challenge, but some of the trips were awesome. Amsterdam, in particular was amazing, a huge amount of fun and wow, I finally understand why people find traveling relaxing. We also visited MN to celebrate a friend’s marriage, Vegas just for the experience, Steve’s family for a wedding. Plus my trip to Philly for an industry conference and now DC for Christmas and new years. We turned down the buyout offer, and the company offering to buy us disappeared a few months later.

All in all, the changes and progress in my life over the last 10 years have been amazing. I have an awesome life, an amazing spouse and am getting paid to do stuff I (usually) enjoy. I am content but optimistic. If nothing changed that would be good. And, yet, I know that life is not static and things will change. All I have to do is look at the last 10 years to be assured of that. But, as scary as all those changes were (and some of them continue to be…) they have, overall, been good. I may even call them amazing and awesome.

I know that my success and happiness is a mix of hard work, luck and privilege and I am thankful for all of that.

May 2010 bring health, happiness and success to everyone.


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