The most reliable way I know how to improve the future is to learn from the past. If you don’t like your past, change your ways. If you do like elements of the past, learn from them and do more.
First, I’m going to do a recap of the past. Then I’ll share about what happened this year.
I grew up in and still live in Minnesota. It is not a land of startups and progress. Growing up here I titled Minnesota the “technological black hole” even though these days Minneapolis is actually pretty progressive.
I think it has put me at severe disadvantages growing up in a small town and living in a state that doesn’t “rejoice” over the things I care about. I didn’t find out that the internet existed until I was 13 whereas others my age were using them since probably age 6-8. We were years behind the curve.
Once I found the internet I started enjoyed fiddling with computer hardware in my basement I ended up making $50/hr by age 16 building computers and setting up networks. When I lost my love of hardware though I saw more opportunity in the web. When I graduated from college I was making $10/hr, but even still I knew it was the right decision.
When I moved to Minneapolis I was the lowest paid person in the company. I worked in frontend development even though others (highly paid salary people) told me what mattered was Java.
I’ve decided on many routes in life that people reject. There is no shortage of people who will tell you how you can live your life better or different. You have to decide for yourself and never make a decision based on other peoples’ opinions solely. Get the facts, strive for them about yourself and the world around you. A life filled with intention and principles is a life worth living, regardless if you are rewarded for living that way or not. I am not rich but I am rich in spirit. I likely will be rich in the future but ultimately the richness needs to be in creating richness inside others.
If I would have followed the logical path according to society and those with more experience I wouldn’t have had the opportunities I will describe in my recap.
This year I found out just how important education is to me. I took roughly five months without pay to learn how to teach. Education is deeply seeded in me in a way I never thought it did. I’m talking here about the principles of disseminating information, not being a professor. Being able to communicate understanding to others is something that is helpful in almost any situation in life.
It is education that moves, motivates and helps people do what they thought was impossible. Education lets people experience the success of forward progress. It is education that marked 2010 for me. Regardless of how little I produced during that time or how scary it seemed to not make money when opportunity cost was high I still did it. It really doesn’t matter because I felt I needed to do whatever I can to learn how to teach. I needed to take the time to learn how to educate.
I decided to do a pilot launch I called a prerelease which is some the educational footage I shot. It showed me that there is demand since I sold many copies of an unfinished product while getting nothing but great feedback! I meant to finish it by now but I am obsessed with getting better and better at education so apparently it will take me a lot longer to fuel the obsession into a completed product. There is so many ways to teach and I have to find my own style. I have even greater visions and dreams for education in 2011.
I did some more speaking this year, namely getting to give an all-day tutorial session in Israel which was absolutely amazing. Here are some places I spoke:
I’ll be doing more conferences like these in 2011, likely in other states than just Minnesota.
I focused on landing projects as a team instead of just freelance and therefore we’ve had a record month this month with multiple people now using MJG International as their main source of income. I’m working on transitioning and expanding the company’s processes to accommodate more people and projects in parallel.
My love for understanding why people do amazing things has led me to start doing some web development podcast interviews. Consider this a philosophical adventure as much as a showcase of developers’ work. It also helps me learn from people even more. I think this project is a win-win for me and the person I interview. It can only be a good thing and I hope to do more of this in the future.