Thank you so much for reading this letter. You, I may work with you, I may have taught you, I may be your neighbor, I may be your friend, I may be a passing acquaintance, I may be that annoying advice giver, I may be that quirky branding guy with the red ribbon and long hair. You bet, that’s me.
This card has been an idea for over a year, and finally it exists for you to enjoy, with photos of the best dog, Roxy. These cards have been coming out every year since 2016, and each year they have improved. With any luck, you arrived here with the world’s premiere bleeding edge technology — the QR code. Many of these cards are hand delivered, without a special envelope, and they’re safely recyclable when you feel all that blatant branding is finally too much.
I see many of you every day, but others much less so. This card is to keep in touch. So please, keep in touch.
Below, I share with you, three ideas I have reflected on throughout the year.
Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to reflect on my preferred pursuits. The backstory is, of course, the technology — the tech, you know I love that part. You are not surprised though to find out that I also thoroughly enjoy strategic communication, although most people just call it journalism.
There is a certain fascinating intersection, a nexus, if you will, that you find between technology and journalism. Today, we feel the surprising jeopardy that’s in flux between technology and journalism as well. My professional pursuit lies within the technology side today of course, but I dabble with the other side to the extent that I can. My goal with the technology side is to make great things with technology, but to be ethical and humanize it.
Appreciate what you couldn’t, didn’t or haven’t done yet.
But back to the reflection. Many of my friends did pursue something I did not. My reflection concluded in this: appreciate what you couldn’t, didn’t or haven’t done yet, and appreciate those that have. There is so much to know, so much to do, and you can do what you can, but it’s important to realize, recognize and appreciate those other paths not taken.
I have some of the responsibility of knowing. Knowing facts, patterns, skills, use cases, approaches, and anywhere from slightly to very educated guesses. Somehow, I cobble all of that together and make something with it.
But, even before that, I have been compiling this knowledge since I was a kid. At just twelve years old, beginning my first foray into programming while at the local bookstore. When I think about all the years, the days, the classes, all the videos, books, the trials and errors, thousands of blog posts, a couple bugs, the hundreds of frameworks and libraries and so many more things, I look back at it all with an appreciation. Here, this kind of technical knowledge accumulation is strange, almost paradoxical. It’s not quite as illustrious as you might imagine, instead it compresses and obscures. It all adds up to a formative experience but it isn’t always useful on its own.
It’s OK to say, “I don’t know,” and when you say that, you can say right after, “Let’s find out.”
Here, the funny thing is though, and it’s hard to say sometimes, is “I don’t know.” I was recently told that I often say, “I don’t know.” Months later, I think about that frequently. It’s OK to say, “I don’t know,” and when you say that, you can say right after, “Let’s find out.”
I was recently at the 50th Anniversary celebration of the Computer Science Department at the University of Minnesota. In many ways, into the early 2000’s, the Twin Cities area was effectively today’s Silicon Valley, it was truly a unique place that focused on the early days of computing. At that event, the University hosted a panel where folks discussed bridges, and what it means to burn and maintain them.
One of the panelists talked about the difference between burning and maintaining. Often people think that the bridges between people, whether they be friends from college days or former coworkers, are burned when you lose contact with each other. But, look at it instead as an unmaintained bridge. You might be reluctant to reach out and reestablish contact, you might feel like it’s been too long. It’s OK though – your bridge is still there, you just need to go back over, your friend likely feels the same reluctance too.
The bridges are still there.
Just reach out.
I think about this more, as friends get busy, as team members shift positions, as coworkers move on. The bridges are still there. Just reach out.
As always, have a good one, and watch out for cars.
Roxy and I wish you all the best.