2019 – My Year in Review

The last year was a challenging one. In many regards. There has been so much change that it almost hurt a keeper like me. There has been positive and negative stress, often regarding similar things. It is tough to compress 365 days into one little 2019 year in review post. To make sense of it all, I am turning back to my Big 5 for life:

A – Become an Agile Project Management Consultant

My work life in 2019 has been going in the right direction: Especially towards the end I was able to take some more steps growing from ScrumMaster / Agile Coach to Trainer / Consultant. At the end of October I even hosted a session at the Global Scrum Gathering 2019 in Vienna. I  got great feedback and also plenty of things to improve on. Shortly after I received a recommendation for giving Agile trainings at a foundation close to the government (thank you, ProduktwerkCGN!) and made more contacts leading in that direction.

Another 2018 client contacted me again for supporting the next stage in the organizations evolution. The first engagement was a relatively small, but impactful one. So don’t say limited efforts (by an Agile Coach) can’t make a change. It always depends on how you (the client?) take it further. This client took it further and I’m really satisfied these great folks are moving ahead! As a result we’ll continue our work in Q1-2020. Turning this short-term training into a mid-term collaboration again proves my creed holds true: Deliver results, provide things that work and trust will follow.

The biggest kudos goes to Quandoo (“We transform the world of dining.”), where professionally we make a lot of progress, while having a great customer-freelancer-relationship. An earlier rift between tech and product is finally closing. Alesia Braga really got the tech team organized and up to speed and the positive trend continues. What made me most happy in 2019 though is that the company really had my back, when family life (see “R for Relationships” below) was challenging and I couldn’t work much, but return whenever possible.

I’m looking forward to continuing the good work in 2020. Thanks, folks!

W – Travel the World

Jahresrückblick 2019 Travel Map

Traveling the world suddenly becomes less important with a little one at home, shouting “Papa, Papa!” when you get home. However we still managed to go on a great one month long trip through Ireland. This was great for many reasons:

First: This was a return to a country I called home for 1.5 years. Relieved of the sight-seeing pressure you might (I do) feel when going somewhere new, we could really enjoy ourselves. We went to places we wanted to see, stayed for some days and went out for long walks with the baby strapped to the chest.

Second: We went to see friends in Ireland and since we had planned longer stays in holiday homes, some friends joined our journey (11 of 29 days we had visitors). Organizing this could have been a pain, but we simply booked all houses from home and sent an email with our itinerary to ~20 friends. Two couples from Ireland and friends from Hamburg, Germany, joined!

A – Be directing or Acting in an at least medium sized theater

In My Big Five for Life I wrote about how clear goals make prioritizing easier. There was no (zero!) acting or the like in 2019. But that’s okay. Merely 2 weeks after playing our piece on the (rehearsal-) stage of Berlins Schaubühne back in summer 2018 my son was born. Since then, this life goal is a bit on hold. And that’s fine. It is still there and let’s see when chance rushes in to assist.

Nevertheless, the acting bug is still tingling. This Christmas I got to be Santa for the first time. The acting was minimal, however, the audience of under 5 year olds was captivated. What more could I ask for?

R – Have intense family and friends Relationships

Here it is: The winner of 2019 in the category “What made me most happy”. Family life is great. It’s also tiring, frustrating and exhausting. And it’s still great. Childcare adaptation took ages. That and sickness led to not very much work being done in Q3 and Q4. Family takes priority. The family and friends life goal is best combined with traveling: So in 2019 we’ve visited friends in Mecklenburg, Munich, Ireland, went to my hometown and visited the in-laws.

We also hosted a lot of visitors, mainly since we moved house this summer. We’re feeling very much at home in Berlin-Köpenick (from Slavic Copnic — island-place). So, we ended up showing and sharing it with friends and family alike. This desire to host culminated in our first ever Xmas in our place! No driving to two hometowns, no “being guests”. Hosting Xmas meant the first ever Christmas duck prepared by my better half, the first ever Xmas tree set up and decorated in our place. In short: Next level adulting! The result was a heartwarming, amazing, cozy family-Christmas with everyone around one table.

E – Active political or charitable Engagement

Just like Acting, this life goal was a bit on hold in 2019, so that beyond donations I didn’t do anything. One thing I can retro-actively do though: If politics (I mean clean and fair politics) means something to you, as a German please consider donating to Abgeordnetenwatch (“Watch members of parliament”). They are doing a great job for our country: creating transparency on corporate lobbying and politicians who don’t vote how they publicly claim they would/did.

Aligning goals with one another is not always possible. 2019 in review however was great in many ways:

  • Quandoo allowed me to align work and family
  • Ireland was a great combination of travel, friends and family
  • Hosting in our new apartment uniting friends and family
  • My talk at Global Scrum Gathering 2019 Vienna combining travel and Agile project management goals

It was not all smiles and sunshine

2019 had it’s downsides for me as well: Some months I was working so little as a freelancer which meant almost no income. Making less money per month than the regular monthly costs was a new experience. An experience I need to be better prepared for.

A new apartment is great, but also loads of negative stress: With the seller, the construction company, lawyers etc. Good conversations with friends helped a lot here – it puts things into perspective learning that most people in similar situations have similar problems.

(Not) delivering on promises

Not delivering on promises sadly was a big thing for me in 2019. I only handed in my application for hosting a session at the biggest Scrum conference 30 minutes (!) before call for papers closed. The session itself was still not 100% prepared the week before the conference. Yes, there always had been reasons for delays. But being a bit earlier, would have reduced stress. It also would have been in the books easily with a bit more discipline.

And finally, there is still some 2019 debt:

  1. Global Scrum Gathering Vienna 2019 (SGVIE19) Conference Review of the sessions I visited (a post written 2 weeks after this one)
  2. Sharing the essence of my talk at SGVIE19 and
  3. Following up and sharing the survey data from my session

2019 Reading Challenge

In 2019 I’ve read only 11 of my planned 15 books. This is even 1 down from my 12/12 in 2018. Still: At least I retained a good mix matching my goals:

“Zero to One” and “Always ask Why” have been on my professional to-read-list for a while and I finally got to them.

“Warum eigentlich genug Geld für alle da ist” (“Why there actually is enough money for all” unfortunately there’s no English translation as of yet), “Machtbeben” and of course “Sapiens” have made up the bulk of my political reading in 2019. What a great mixture! “Sapiens” actually laid the groundwork for improving my already good understanding of human societies. “Machtbeben”  then elaborated on the backgrounds of some of our current economic and (geo-)political developments. “Why there actually is enough money for all” finally showed that a different world is not only necessary (everybody says that) but also possible. This is a revelation!

When it comes to reading for leisure, “Macbeth” was long overdue, since it’s not standard in German schools. “Amalthea” is a fantastic sci-fi epic and “The Gift” sheds a new light on our patriarch world and turns the world upside down, which is an impressive thought experiment particularly for the male audience.

2020 resolution

Pay off 2019 debt latest in February 2020 and don’t accumulate new debt (promise less, do more). Feel free to challenge me on these debts in the comments.

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