2021 in Review

Credit goes to James Clear for the formatting of this review. I read his post recapping his 2019, and thought this would be a good way to focus on my 2021. I started this post in Q1 2021 in an effort to capture the good and the bad throughout the year.

The focus of this will be:

  1. What went well this year?
  2. What didn’t go so well this year?
  3. What did I learn?

What went well this year?

MSISE Progress

This year I wrapped up all of the class requirements for the MSISE at the SANS Technology Institute. I am in the midst of preparing for the GSE Entrance exam, which is the final step between me and graduation. I also had my second research paper published in the SANS Reading Room. This program has been the epitome of the SANS cliché of “drinking from a firehose”. I am not across the finish line yet, but I have really enjoyed the process thus far.

Speaking Events

I was able to get back to a few speaking events this year – several in person. OK, WI, and NY Bankers Associations all held in-person events where I was lucky enough to be a presenter. Speaking in person is infinitely times better than presenting remotely. It was great to see people out again, and the energy in the room when the audience is engaged with what you’re saying can’t be matched through Zoom. Hopefully next year will bring even more events.

Reading Goals

I read 36 books this year. My original goal was 60, but I am happy with the quality of the books read, instead of focusing too much on the quantity. Historically, I would listen to a ton of audiobooks while driving to and from client locations. With all of that driving a non-factor right now, I had to be more intentional about when and how I read for fun. Without highlighting everything read, here were the best non-fiction and best fiction of the year:

What didn’t go so well this year?

Blogging & Podcasting

In terms of getting posts up on this blog, I did not do well. Contributing to this site was definitely a back-burner activity, and really has been since early 2020. I have been given a chance to spend much more time at home with family, and I have been making decisions that shift a lot of my professional obligations into the evenings where I would typically have time available to write here. Perhaps 2022 will bring more opportunities to write on a more consistent schedule.

What did I learn?

As I continue to grow in my career, being able to effectively delegate responsibility continues to grow in importance. I am now focusing a large portion of my working time and effort on building out and implementing strategic plans for the team. To free up the mental capacity these projects require, I need to continue to rely on others to focus on the day-to-day tactical items. The ideas in Extreme Ownership struck a chord with me when I first read it, then again when our book club at work selected this book.

I’ve tried to focus on being extremely clear with the intended end goal, and leave everything between A and Z up to the people I’m working with. The stronger the working relationship, the more hands off I can be as I trust that the person understands my expectations, but building these relationships does take time. These bonds seemed easier to form when we’d be working as a small team out at client locations for days/weeks at a time. Now that I work with several different people on different projects, this has had to be an intentional effort to build these relationships. I’m far from perfect here, but I think this has been an area with real progress, and I’m excited to see some of these projects come to fruition in 2022.

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