2017 – a review

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This year consisted of 12 eventful months with exciting challenges, interesting opportunities and some very difficult decision that all helped me grow, become braver and more resilient.

As I have a tendency to share updates and reflective posts here semi-regularly, I decided to make this review a bit different.

Instead of sharing all the stuff I did (which you can find across this blog and in photographic form on Instagram anyway), I will cover three key topics and focus on what I learned, in the hope that you’ll find that beneficial.

 

PUBLIC SPEAKING

I enjoyed the opportunity to present at a number of events this year, including different Tableau User Groups, the Tableau Partner Summit, Tableau Conference on Tour and Tableau Conference, but also our own Exasol Xperience 2017 and Big Data London.

2017 was the year when public speaking became enjoyable for me and I found my voice. I was fortunate to attend speaker training in June which helped me structure my presentations more effectively, gave me extra confidence and some much needed tips and tricks.

The webinars we started running for Makeover Monday have also been tremendously helpful. Every week I spend 60-90 minutes talking live to an online audience, sharing my feedback on their data visualisations. This means I have to think quickly, articulate my feedback clearly and present it in a way that is constructive and effective.

What I learned:

  • Talking about your favorite topic(s) (or at least something that interests you) makes being on stage much more fun, so find a topic you enjoy before heading out there
  • Get feedback. If you can, work with a professional coach (I recommend Montana von Fliss, she’s awesome!). Alternatively, ask your colleagues to critique your presentation. I did this ahead of #data17 and it made a huge difference.
  • Practice, practice, practice. I rehearse my opening 2 minutes as often as possible, whether while driving in the car, riding my bike or standing in my kitchen making pasta sauce for dinner.
  • Find opportunities to present. It doesn’t always have to be on stage. Why not be a guest on a podcast or apply to speak at the Tableau Fringe Festival?

 

 

TRAVEL

In 2017 I spent 165 days (120 nights) away from home (a mix of business & pleasure). While it was exhausting to travel that much, I truly enjoyed the experienced I had in various cities and countries, meeting so many new people, visiting interesting places and eating delicious food.

I wouldn’t be who I am if it wasn’t for travelling and its ability to broaden our horizons and expand our minds.

Over the years I’ve been to many countries and I always take something home with me: new friendships, new ideas, new opportunities, new recipes, new impressions and often new keepsakes that help me remember my time spent elsewhere.

If you’ve wanted to travel but have been putting it off, why not make those dreams a reality in the new year?

What I learned:

  • I need far fewer clothes than I often think and can manage quite well with a carry-on suitcase for a 1-week trip including running gear and business attire
  • Optimizing the time spent at airports means finding the best route to get there and living in a convenient location with a 30min door-to-gate trip makes travelling much easier
  • Google trips. Get the app to keep all your necessary stuff in one place.
  • Practice makes perfect. I’ve become so used to the process of air travel, especially within Europe, that I can do it on autopilot. I don’t bother worrying about public transport because Google Maps gets me everywhere. And in general, I’ve become very relaxed about travelling.
  • Say what? Being fluent in German and English and understanding French gets me quite far in most countries. The survival basics can be quickly picked up for other languages and people greatly appreciate if you make the effort to know some words in their language.

 

 

BEING UNCOMFORTABLE

With my job I am often pushed outside my comfort zone which is a great thing, because it helps me be more innovative, grow more confident and learn faster. When this ‘discomfort’ then is rewarded with success, it doesn’t turn into negative stress but can be a constructive force to help us do great things.

This year I had situations that stretched me and helped me grow, a number of them in my personal life as well. Dealing with setbacks and rearranging my life taught me that I’m quite resilient and there are ALWAYS opportunities in every situation, even if they seem hidden at first.

Moving to a ‘new’ city in summer meant I had to build a new circle of friends. When you’re 32 you don’t just walk to the next playground, build sand castles and find a friend for life.

But after feeling lonely and sorry for myself, I put myself out there and went to some meetups, resulting in new friends and plenty of opportunities to socialise.

What I learned:

  • If it doesn’t scare you (at least a little), it’s not worth doing. Finding a new challenge should make us feel excited. We should close our eyes with a sharp inhale and a slightly nervous and excited feeling in our stomach. What’s the worst that can happen?
  • Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.
  • Doing things that challenge us keep us sharp and help us feel accomplished. Some challenges will suck. Some will see us fail or give up. Some will bring us to tears. ALL of them are an opportunity to learn and grow and become stronger

 

In the last few weeks, I’ve done a lot of reading, have spent hours watching TED talks and listening to podcasts, while doing my indoor cycling sessions and have received a lot of new ideas but also reassurance that way.

As we’ll shortly be welcoming 2018, I’ll leave with my newly worded life motto, consider it the 2.0 version…:

On my last day on earth I want the person I could have become to meet the person I became and high-five her with the words ‘Great job, I couldn’t have done it better myself!’

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