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  • January 3, 2013


My idea book

I still use this notebook, first mentioned in “Notepad of Startup Ideas” 

For the last two years, I’ve been following Chris Guillebeau’s Annual Review outline to reflect on the past year. I make a list of what went well and what could have been better, then I compare it with my notes from the previous year. Without hesitation, 2012 has been the absolute best year of my life. I’ve grown tremendously, achieved consequential milestones, and accomplished some really neat things if I do say so myself. I didn’t realize just how much until I wrote it all down. When I’m an old, wrinkly grandma, I imagine it’ll fun to reminisce and tell my grandkids about what a geek I used to be. Hopefully they’ll think I’m the cooler than I really am. While I’ll keep the full review to myself, I’ll share some of the fabulous things that made this year so exceptional:

  • I moved into my very own apartment for the first time. Twenty-eight years after living at home (As embarrassing as it is, it was a great decision as it made it easier to put myself through school and start a business with lower costs), a one-month stint at an ex’s and eight hellish months with a roommate, I made a home in a cozy studio in Center City, Philadelphia.
  • I turned 30. Related, I’m really an adult! I don’t know why but sometimes I still have to remind myself of that.
  • I mentored and spoke at many events including Lean Philly, WordPress Philly, IgnitePhilly, Startup Weekend, Temple University, and other tech meetups.
  • I helped organize the first Women in Tech Summit in Philadelphia to great success.
  • I finally became a U.S. citizen after 22 years! The link will say much more than I can in this short summary.
  • I became a foodie. If you talk to old friends or family, they will tell you I had a particularly selective palate. Once I started making money, that went out the window. I now loooove sushi, I’ve had caviar, quail’s egg, beef tongue, bone marrow and other things I can’t think of at the moment that I never would have tried. I think my brain chose this interim picky mentality to lessen the blow of how destitute I was. At least that’s what I’m telling myself!
  • I ran the Broad Street run. From the encouragement of my coworkers (4 out of 6 of us did this), I shocked myself by agreeing to do this. While I could have trained better and I hurt my knee during the last two miles (I kept going because I didn’t want to stop which was a bad idea), I’m glad I pushed myself. Will I do it again this year? HELL. NO. Forget about it.
  • I made some really good close friends. I’ve always preferred a few intimate friends to a large number of acquaintances and it’s difficult for me to let someone in. A special shout-out to Lisa Burgess who I absolutely adore.
  • I went to more concerts – Blue October, Fun., M83, Foster & the People, Florence and the Machine to name those I remember at the moment.
  • I got my motorcycle permit! The obvious goal for this year – get a bike! Also, learn how to ride one. Probably in the reverse order.
  • I learned to code enough to call myself a front-end developer and created my first site. Thanks Girl Develop It (GDI)! :-)
  • I worked my first full year at NetLine. I couldn’t ask for better coworkers. And yay to health insurance and stable pay checks. Who knew how glorious the two would be? I went to a REAL dentist the other day, not the Temple Dentistry Clinic where incompetent students work on your teeth for five times as long for a reduced rate. (Do you sense a little bitterness there, because I totally meant it that way. I hate that place!).
  • Thanks to my new citizenship status, I voted in my first election and even better, the candidate I selected was the victor.
  • Again, because of my citizenship status, I was able to get my U.S. passport and travel on my first International trip to Costa Rica.
  • …where I bungee-jumped! This deserves its own bullet. It was windy, foggy and raining, the ideal setting for someone who doesn’t normally participate in thrill-seeking activities (/end sarcasm  and the tram was swaying side to side as we descended into the middle of the rain forest. I looked at my guide like he had two heads, “we’re really going through with this in THIS weather?” He had to count down to 5 three times, peel my fingers from the railing and push me over (Okay, not really). In short while I’m glad I had the experience, I’ll never, and I mean NEVER EVER EVER, do this again.
  • I got Lasik surgery. After 15 years of being legally blind (maybe I’m exaggerating a little but it sure felt like it), I still wake up from time to time, pause, and marvel at the wonders of science.
  • I donated to more charities than all my adult years combined. My go-to one at the moment: Prajwala India which helps stop sex trafficking in India. The recent horrific gang rape of the 23-year-old student who died a week ago opened my eyes to the horrors women experience there. I’m hoping the woman who runs the organization will get back to me about letting GDI Philly redo their site (fingers crossed). If you’re inclined to help, the donation page can be hard to find so I’m linking to it here.
  • Girl Develop It Philly hit some great milestones. Note: there are two links there.
  • I assisted TechGirlz in raising money to help spread awareness of the fun of technology to middle-school girls. One day, I may write a blog post about how I was able to raise $2k in an hour from Twitter by capitalizing on a hot news item.
  • I supplemented my income in various ways. From blogging, AirBnb, GDI and my full-time job, I was busy working all the angles.
  • Girl Develop It and 123LinkIt received a lot of press mentions, including TechnicallyPhilly, Flying Kite, WHYY, NPR & the front page of the Sunday Philadelphia Inquirer (woot, woot!).

I can’t wait to have enough of a collection of these reviews that I’ll be able to look back and reminisce about how far I’ve come. Five years ago, I had outrageous dreams about hitting it big while working at my first partnership where I was earning just under $20,000 a year. Ten years prior, I was slaving away at two under-the-table jobs to put myself through school. It’s humbling to reflect at how things have progressed. I can’t wait to move forward even more this year.

Before I end this post, I have to take a moment and say thank you to all the wonderful people who have had an impact on my life – I extend my gracious gratitude and wish you all a happy 2013!

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  • January 2, 2013

Top-5I started this blog in April of 2011 and made it a point to post regularly, no matter how busy I got. Somehow that changed last year. Publishing new posts became sporadic and I only updated my blog for 5 months of the year. This is something I’ll be refocusing in the new year. Even with the low volume, a couple of posts really took off on Hacker News and BlogHer, with the first three receiving the bulk of the traffic. The top five blog posts of 2012 are:

  1. Marketing 101 for Developers – I spent about 8 hours in this post outlining a step-by-step approach on how to approach marketing a product or business. While I geared it towards technical people more, it can apply to anyone who wants a methodology to follow.
  2. Living the American Dream – I love this post as it came from the heart and was easiest I’ve ever written. I took some time to recount the road my family has taken since we migrated to Pennsylvania, including immigration obstacles that caused a 22-year-old wait for me to gain my citizenship.
  3. Alternatives to Codecademy – I researched free sites that focus on learning how to code interactively and compiled a list for HTML/CSS, JavaScript, Python, Ruby/Rails, Java, Git and iOS. I also added useful books, support links & resources.
  4. Finding Interns in Philadelphia – A repeat of last year, this gathered a list of internship opportunities for local universities including who to contact.
  5. 10 Years Ago - This is also a repeat of last year and I’m surprised to see it here. It’s a story of my life and how I got to where I am today.

I enjoy reading blogs much more than writing them and you can view which ones I follow on the sidebar to the right. Enjoy browsing!

P.S. You can take a look at last year’s list here.