Last day of another year and 2023 will closing out in a couple of hours, and just like last years it is time for a little recap & tiny look into what the future might bring for me and those close to me.
2023 was Year 2 AC (After COVID), and seemingly COVID was a thing of the past for most of society. Yes, it was still there but, except for those really struggling, it was mostly a minor inconvenience. Everything was possible again, and thus a lot shifted again in my life.
Let's start professionally, with Qubix. We got ourselves a new website this year (go check it out!) to reflect better who we are, what we want to be, and fit better with our growing ambitions. We ended 2023 overshooting our ambitious target (probably, accountants aren't done accounting so lot's might still change 😉🤷♂️), and grew our workforce to 15 amazing people. There have been difficulties, like every year, both on the project and the people side of business but I feel we weathered them properly. We also won an exciting big project that will lead to a new company being started, and hopefully a product to be developed that can be released to the open market. Big plans for 2024!
Unfortunately, and due to reasons beyond our control, I had to jump in personally on one of our biggest projects and I had to stay on it for the whole year. Especially from September on and combining this with the start of that other big project, this resulted in a workload that was not really sustainable and by December I was totally worn out. I am currently half way through a 4 week vacation, and I'm slowly getting back to feeling normal.
On the personal side, we did finish our garden improvement project and very much enjoyed the good weather we had last summer from the comfort of our own garden making good use of our swimming pool. I'm very much aware of our privilege, and that it's not for everyone, but it worked out real nice for us: our oldest loves swimming and would spend the whole day in the pool, making life much easier for us too 😉. Our youngest is a little less excited, probably because she also still needs floaties and can't enjoy it to the fullest yet.
It also attracted more friends and family to our garden (although it's not the biggest), and it feels me with joy seeing them having fun together and sharing our privilege with them.
As mentioned last year, our trusted workhorse of a family car (the Skoda Superb Combi) was due for a swap to a fully electric car, and it couldn't come soon enough. The last 5 months with the Superb were "interesting": we had the turbo break down and in need of replacing, and it never was the same car again afterwards. You can imagine we were very happy that the replacement showed up right on time, and in July we took delivery of our Audi Q8 e-tron! It's an incredible car so far, but we'll only put it to the through a true test when we take it for family vacation to France next Summer. Maybe more about my experience with this car after that 😅.
It was also a yet-another-year in the Microsoft Community, mostly around Business Applications (Power Platform & Dynamics 365) and still a bit in the Microsoft 365 space with Graph, SharePoint, Teams, & Copilot (if you know, you know 😉).
I got awarded for the 5th time as a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) and I kept both my categories: Microsoft 365 (yes, yet another rename) and Business Applications. I'm incredibly proud of this achievement, as it requires a lot of commitment to keep doing this. Unfortunately, it's also the first year I am pondering about my involvement in the MVP community. So many things have changed within the program that I don't agree with on such a fundamental level that I struggle with it. I loved the program, I didn't mind pouring in my time nor sacrificing other things for it, but recent developments make me question if it is all worth it. An MVP I highly respect, Jukka Niiranen, has shared a very insightful post on how he lived through his 11(!) MVP awards, the impact it had on his life (good and bad), and why he is dropping out of the program. It certainly made me think, as I am feeling a lot of the same feelings currently. Let's see where this leads in 2024...
In 2023, I once again had a shift in contributions. It seems like this has become a yearly thing, and before I wasn't too happy about this but now I consider this a good thing. The fact that the way I contribute to this community changes, means I am changing too, and for the sake of comfort I will consider this positive personal growth 😉:
- I only blogged once this year. Twice if you count the post where I linked to a Microsoft blogpost where they used my conference sessions as inspiration for creating written content of their own 😅. It's far from ideal, but I require mental rest to write and there hasn't been much of that this year. I like written content, so I'm unhappy I haven't been in a place to share more of my learnings and insights here.
- My side-projects are in maintenance mode, meaning I try to keep them up to date, questions answered, and bugs fixed but I haven't started anything new. Again something that requires mental rest, as well as time dedication I couldn't give it in 2023. On the other hand, my repo to build your own Azure DevOps Build Agents based on MS's base repository became even more popular this year. It attracted an audience of people that are also contributing back, and given my lack of investment in it, it has been heartwarming to see this passion with other people. I want to thank everyone who has been using it, logging issues, helping others, and creating improvements for this!
- This year events and conferences deserve more than just a bullet point, so continue reading after the pictures 😀
I presented at 15 conferences this year, and attended 1 more (as a sponsor), delivering 18 (10 unique) sessions overall. This is another increase over last year... For these conferences, I had to travel 12 times while 4 happened locally in Belgium. I had the honors being invited on stage at many of the big commercial conferences (ESPC, EPPC, MPPC, CollabSummit, BC TechDays, & Directions EMEA), many big community conferences (CTT Tallinn, GPPB Belgium, Iberian Tech Summit, Days of Knowledge, Scottish Summit, Nordic Summit, & CollabDays Belgium), and this across 3 very different technology areas (Microsoft 365, Power Platform, & Business Central). CollabSummit was also the first time ever participating in a morning keynote, by accident and unplanned helping a friend out, but still I was on that stage 😜.
I'm very surprised, and also very proud of all this at the same time! It is a quite an achievement to be deemed knowledgeable enough to be going on stage, let alone in such a variety of technologies and topics. I do regularly wonder how sustainable this is in the long run, or how long I can keep doing this until people get sick of seeing my face or hearing my opinions, but for now I keep enjoying every time I get to be up on stage, big or small.
So a big thank you to all the organizers who put their time and effort in organizing this, and then still decide to invite this grumpy man on stage!
I still share my opinions, unfiltered and honest, with the various product groups within Microsoft. Yet I feel they have become less receptive of them this year, requiring a lot more effort to get through to people, and more often leading to misunderstandings on both sides. It's an unfortunate evolution, making it harder to share what I feel in the field, how I feel products and services could be improved, and thus ending up in more frustrations and "altercations". Maybe I'm turning more harsh and unforgiving too, on which I will need to reflect in the near future to see how I can get more positive results out of my feedback 🙂.
Looking back on this list, I think 2023 was yet again a rather successful year on all aspects of my life. Let's see what 2024 brings!
As with previous years, there are no New Year's resolutions as I don't very much believe in them to be successful. One needs goals and targets always, the new year doesn't really change this much.
Here's what has already been planned for 2024:
- Growing Qubix in the same sustainable way as previous years, yet we still have some ambitions goals and targets set.
- Fully enjoy that 14 days extended family vacation in France during summer, with my parents, my brother and his family (and my godchild!), my sister and her family, and of course my own partner and kids.
- Continue participating in this community: hopefully finding a better way to share my feedback, find my love for blogging again, and speaking at some conferences! Currently I already have CTT Tallinn, CollabSummit, and DynamicsMinds confirmed so the calendar is already nicely filling up 🥳.
Time to close out 2023 with a bang and a big party, so we can start making the most of 2024 from tomorrow on!