A New Post Appears!

Sep 12, 2018

As the saying goes, time flies when you’re having fun. Or when you’re busy as heck and can’t remember where you placed your braincells after a long day of commuting and dedication at the office. It has been over a year since my last post here and much has changed.


I completed my developer program at Bloc.io on August 3rd, 2017. It doesn’t seem that long ago when I think about it, but knowing it’s over a year ago as of this writing has put plenty of things in perspective. First, I am reminded of my job search which began a couple weeks before completing my capstone project. I was picky. I looked closely at companies in the area, as well as ones offering remote positions. I focused my efforts on finding a local role first, figuring I would be better off experiencing and learning a commercial development environment firsthand rather than through things like Slack or video calls. My basic portfolio page was up, my GitHub page was clean and showed plenty of commits, my projects clearly labeled and sans-errors. I had been attending Meetup group meetings that were tailored toward developers, meeting new people, understanding if I was on the right track, sharing reasons why I decided to get back into coding and my vision of the future of content creation. I was feeling optimistic to say the least.

So began the research, the cold outreach, the personal network favors and introductions. I applied to over 50 companies regarding junior / entry-level developer roles over the course of a month and a half. This doesn’t sound like many, a few a day perhaps, but remember, I was being picky. I didn’t want a role at a company I didn’t believe in, or a product I found uninteresting. I reached out via LinkedIn, direct emails, tailored cover letters, personal connections and recommendations chimed in to provide virtual handshakes. I practiced interview questions, I worked on my capstone to give it a better, more interesting design, I continued to go out to Meetups.

I received a total of 0 interview requests. One company sent me an intelligence assessment that had nothing to do with coding, but nothing else came of it (I still don’t know how I did as they never ended up responding to me, but based on similar assessments I have taken since then for other roles, I think I passed with flying colors). The most fruitful discussions were the virtual handshakes and subsequent video chats or face-to-face meetings for a beer and introduction, but even those couldn’t yield actual interviews once given the green-light to apply as everything looked great from their end. Even a new head of Rails development for a local marketing firm whom I met face-to-face plenty of times, and invited me to interview with him and the founders never replied back to my requests, even after seeing them view my LinkedIn profile a couple times. By this time, September (2017) was in full swing. Distraught is the best descriptor of my feelings then.

A New Gig

I began to look for new roles utilizing skills from my old career path. A variety of sales and marketing operations jobs were available at the time, and while I was ready to endure a few more months of unemployment, I wanted to get back to work, to meet new people and contribute to the success of a team and company. Growth and learning are paramount to my day-to-day life. And that’s when I began talking to a company called Displayr.

Displayr was the 3rd company outside of development that I had applied to. They invited me to an automated first “interview”, which lead me to a few discussions with their leadership team. Based in Sydney, Australia, Displayr delivered a product that interested me: a data science platform, providing reports and dashboards using cutting edge technology. A SaaS offering, I was ready to dive in and discover how they were planning on marketing, selling, and growing this product. After a few interviews, understanding what my background was and how I could help deliver operational excellence to the sales and marketing function, my web development experience came up. Soon after, I was asked if I was interested in doing product development in addition to my sales and marketing operations duties if I was hired. I jumped at the opportunity. Not only was I going to be able to migrate their old CRM to Salesforce, launching a new organization, but also integrate a new marketing automation platform, have some control over their website and digital marketing processes, demo bookings and campaign tracking and engagement. On top of that, once the migration was successfully implemented, I’d be able to split time as a data scientist, growing my skills as a developer with the visualization team! How could I say no?

As a startup, I was the de facto project manager, business analyst and system administrator. For now, we were focused on launching the legacy product in the North American market. Displayr wasn’t yet ready for primetime, and a soft launch was to come. After a month or so of learning what the company did, how they did it, and what we expected out of the future, we got down to business. The migration had it’s ups and downs, but was ultimately successful. We had better processes, immediate reporting, automated dashboards, and more information about our leads and opportunities than we ever had before. Training was smooth, and the sales team took to the new offering with little difficulty. Automation was our motto, and we began tinkering with Salesforce API and the Displayr dashboard system, connecting our CRM data and reporting on it without internal Salesforce reports (at least that was the admirable goal). As a global company, communication was difficult, and we became hamstrung by debates on decisions ranging from how things were to how things will be to how an expert org might operate. Of course, as a small company in the throngs of growth, we had to continue to wear many hats and needed to also focus on the tactical side of things, keeping operational excellence at top of mind while still scaling strategically for the future. It was during this time that I realized, after many months had gone by, that the aspect of being on the development team had gone by the wayside.

I continued to support and lead the sales and marketing operations functions, growing our data collection, our marketing automation and information and usage, and tying it into a desired future state of what the business was needing. Our pre-sales team was growing, our lead generation team was bringing on new talent and getting smarter, and our marketing engine continued to evolve. The tactics behind keeping all of the systems in line, while still staying out of the way in order to continue to bring value and not hinderance, was the balancing act we needed to follow. The Displayr product, which was supposed to be in a sales ready state by January 2018, had still not been at its promised functionality, nor would it be on the current roadmap. I’m guessing the team in Australia didn’t have time to bring on a newcomer halfway around the world, so the development half of my contract was ignored while the business tried to accelerate its product to a more usable, profitable, state. Alas, this brought a bit of resentment as I wasn’t here to be a tactical machine on the sales and marketing ops side. I wanted to grow, I wanted to help develop a product I really enjoyed and believed in. Based on the non-responsiveness and ignored requests about my future growth beyond operations, the data scientist track was nullified as far as I could tell.

The Move

As summer approached, so did the end of our lease in the suburbs of Chicago. My girlfriend and I had discussed moving westward for quite some time, and after a roadtrip and visit to Colorado and New Mexico in the spring, we decided to pull the cord and move to Denver. We both discussed the possibility of moving with our employers, and both ended up being supportive. However, like other decisions that were being made at Displayr, the decision was renegotiated soon after and direction had to be changed. Upon deciding that we were now moving, the leadership at Displayr decided that my job function was too important to be remote. They needed me near the team in Chicago even though our company had people in places from California to Illinois to New York to London to Afghanistan to Sydney. Taken aback by the sudden shift, there wasn’t much to be negotiated from my side. We agreed upon a transition plan and I was given 3 months after the move to find a new role and help transition a new person who was to take my spot. While kind of them to do so, it marked the end of what was supposed to be an incredible journey with a new company full of smart, talented people. The transition was a bit more difficult than they had imagined, and the keys to the car weren’t able to be transferred as smoothly as we had hoped, but by the end we made it happen.

Working remotely during this time was a dream. No more schedules to make the parking lot in time to make the train to downtown, my mornings and evenings felt liberated. I got to enjoy the spectacular weather of Denver in the morning, taking walks and working out before having to sign-on and work for the day. Evenings were the same, and weekends provided a new outlet for exploration. I began to take a greater interest in my photography again, finding hike after hike of gorgeous vistas and strenuous ascents that we didn’t get in Illinois. Slowly but surely this place felt like home, and my job at Displayr became an arm’s reach type of duty. We made progress and continued to improve processes and systems, but the relationship had changed by now. In the end we parted ways acknowledging all positives and a few lessons learned, but feeling accomplished and grown a bit on all sides. August was upon me, and I was now unemployed. Again.

What’s Next?

This has been the question I have been asking myself since learning of my pending layoff. This wasn’t a part of the plan at first but now had to be. I began applying for strategic sales operations roles with a variety of interesting companies in the area. I’ve been able to interview with 5 companies thus far and make some great connections, but one thing or another has not fully connected with any one role. In the meantime, I have continued expanding my photographic skills as well as my physical endurance at altitude. Reading and writing and physical activity have replaced lead velocity and opportunity reports. I’ve filled up an entire personal journal for the first time in my life and unearthed nuances that have been floating beneath the surface for quite some time. There is an inner peace among the chaos of life which feels like it was missing when I first embarked on this new career outlook almost two years ago. And here I am, back on the personal blog and looking to update not only my site, but continue on the coding journey that first brought me here. I realized I relied too much on others at a time when I had taken matters into my own hands. Stagnation had kicked in, so now I’m back into re-learning mode. Ideas are flourishing to the point where I must pluck a few out of there and put them to work.

I’m still looking for work. I do want to be back in a sales ops type of role for a company I find interesting, with people who I can engage and collaborate with. It’s what I’m good at and I feel I have a lot more in me that I haven’t quite been able to fulfill within my last couple roles. Being able to dissect the various pieces of a sales and marketing cycle for a particular product and apply a full swath of efficiencies on a process front while working on technology side to bring a full suite of optics and information is a special set of skills which I possess in spades. But I’m still feeling the itch to code, to develop, to deliver experiences. So what happens now?

  1. I create. I write almost every day. I write what I think, what I feel. It has become a habit now, something I have been trying to form for years that has finally been spilling out of me at a regular pace. I create more from my photography, and shoot photographs and experiment in new locations. I create a new (to me) form of storytelling as I go through old photos and apply new techniques and technologies to them. I make new connections and meet new people, creating new bonds.

  2. I read. I have so many books on my shelf that I buy on a whim as I walk through a bookstore, or unread on my Kindle as something that’s been on my list goes on sale for a price I cannot refuse. I read for fun. I engage in local news, not just national intrigue. I read to expand my mind in philosophy and creativity alike. I read to reacquaint myself with passions.

  3. I update. That means this website becomes something more meaningful and not just a class lesson or space to show some course projects. It becomes more representative of me today, so stay tuned for more updates as I plan out the future for my space on the web. My capstone project has been sitting idle since October 2017. I polished it up quite a bit since submitting it at MVP status, and I want to launch it to the public soon. I can’t wait to share that with you, but first it must be updated, refined. It’s close.

  4. I delete. I rid myself of lingering thoughts of past failures. I delete the fears that used to prevent me from achieving what I wanted. Achievement itself wasn’t an issue, it was what the achievement might be and how it was to be realized. There are so many more things I want to do, and ridding myself of past misconceptions and prejudices against my own abilities is key.

  5. I continue to enjoy my new home. Denver is awesome, and Colorado is boundless beauty in all directions. We finally feel settled enough in our new space that we can expand our horizons in all directions. We get to connect with new people, and rekindle relationships with old friends who happen to be in the area. We discover new roads that lead us to new trailheads and vistas. We forge forward with hope and excitement on our new journey.