Retrospect Year 2019

23 December 2019 | 7 min read

Year as Community Conference Organizer, Speaker, Developer and me.

2019 has turned out to be "busy and productive year". It turned out to be pretty busy in both professional work and developer community work at JavaScript and Friends. Managing my time between professional work and developer community work was incredible experience.

It was at the end of 2018 when I decided to run local community meetup focused on VueJs, I felt a need to have a JavaScript themed conference in our community. Columbus, Ohio has many tech conferences to attend, but it was lacking one themed around JavaScript. The result was JavaScript and Friends Conference 2019.

Thank you

Thanks to Guy Royse for coining the name "JavaScript and Friends". Organizing a conference is not an easy job. You have to manage many activities and what you need is a solid planning team (Calvin, Brandon, Barret, Greg, George and Anonymous Friend) and our volunteer team (Kim, Kristi, Steve, Dharmashree) and generous set of sponsors (HMB, Progress Kinvey, Beam Dental, Mapsys, MongoDB, Improving, Leading EDJE and other friends). Thanks to Ryan for creating the website. Thanks to Scott for designing our logos and brand guide.

Thanks to all who believed in me and our team for sponsoring the inaugural version of JavaScript and Friends Conference. Our team got good reviews about the conference and that too for our first year was a great motivation for us. We also got some constructive feedback suggesting areas of improvement, which we have taken note and included them in our website. Our planning team is already working towards these improvements.

Thanks for motivating me and our team Adam, by sharing your experience.

Zero Experience

Everything has to start from zero. I had zero experience to run a conference. The only hope I had was that I had a solid team. While I was able to form a solid team, very few of them on the team had experience organizing a conference. We all learnt together as a team, sharing knowledge with each other and were able to pull up a good conference for our first year.

Shout out to Mary Thengvall. Mary Thengvall retrospection on running a conference really helped me in getting an initial idea on what you can avoid? What you can include?

What I got to learn and utilize?

Skills from Conference Planning and Organizing

I got to learn many skills during planning and execution phase of the conference. Some days I wore the hat of Marketing Team, some days I wore the hat of Fund Raiser through Corporate Sponsors, some days I am the Bookkeeper managing and tracking our invoices and expenses. I learnt a lot on creating and managing Non-Profit Organization.

We used Trello to manage list of activities, that we had to accomplish and as a team we proactively managed to get the tasks done. I got to use my Scrum Master skills here. I also learnt how you can manage and coordinate teams using Slack. Trust me, we did not have any meeting. The only meeting which we have is our Board Meeting. I think that is the beauty of Slack. If you are planning to organize, I definitely suggest to have Slack or any collaboration tool of your choice.

The most important skill which I learnt is, when you have a high performing team it is not required for one to monitor the team. The team is mature enough and they know what is in stake. When you allow them to be autonomous, it will create the magic for your team.

The more time I am involved with the developer community, the more skills I get to learn.

Skills Learned as Developer

I got to learn VueJs, GraphQL and Markdown this year. My blog is now based on Markdown developed using Gridsome with VueJs templates. There is a lot to improve in my personal website and I am keeping the tabs open for 2020 for some improvements to my website. These would include adding responsive behavior to the blog posts, support to include or embed tweets in the post.

What happened to Speaker in Me?

While I was busy managing my time between tasks organizing the conference, I managed to speak at limited number of conference, code camps and meetups this year.

Thanks to Orlando Code Camp, Nova Code Camp, Cincy Deliver, CodePaLOUsa, GemCityJS Meetup and Dog Food Conference for having me speak. It was great experience to speak for the second time at Orlando Code Camp, Cincy Deliver, CodePaLOUsa and Dog Food Conference.

Thanks to Chad Green and Jared Faris for making CodePaLOUsa 2019 a special one to. I was invited to be part of a panel discussion to share my experiences from my speaking journey and conference organizer journey.

Thanks to Auth0 Ambassador program for supporting me throughout my speaking journey in 2019. I recommend you to check out the program if you are interested in taking your public speaking skills to next level.

What challenges did I face?

I have to be frank here. It is not possible to have a year without ups and downs. I faced some challenges organizing events and maintaining my personal milestones.

Better Speaker Perks for Conference

As an organizer, I have to admit that we did not do well in handling speaker perks. I personally thank the speakers who put their effort and time to speak at JavaScript and Friends Conference. This is something in my action item for 2020.

Fund Raising for the Conference and Scholarship

I have to make sure that we raise adequate funds so that we can plan to manage our expenses and support our vision to support bootcamp graduates with scholarships. Though we managed to stay green this year in terms of our conference budget, 80% of funds were utilized for conference expenses. Thanks to our sponsors and friends who supported us in 2019.

Interested in supporting our vision for 2020, check out the Sponsors section in JavaScript and Friends website.

Scheduling Diverse Speakers for Developer Community Meetups

Scheduling speakers for meetups involve great amount of coordination. In 2020 I am looking to schedule speakers for our online meetups well in advance. It is important to bring in diverse speakers and this is something I plan to address in 2020.

Interested in speaking at our Developer Community Meetups in 2020, Feel free to get in touch with me.

Taking Proper Time Off

I did not take proper time off this year. This has been a challenge to me. In 2020, I am planning to take proper time off and recharge myself from time to time. This is more important to maintain proper work life balance.

Maintain Proper Workout Schedule

It is more important for us to have a proper workout schedule. Whether we blog, speak, organize and take part in other developer community initiatives or not, it is more important for us to take self-care of our self. This is something I always kept on low priority. If we are not taking self-care of us, there is no point in doing all other activities.

Keep up my Blog and Twitch Streams

I explored how to stream using Twitch in 2019. Though I do not have a great setup to stream, I did not keep up my personal Twitch Streaming Schedule this year. On the other hand, I was able to stream developer community meetups through JavaScript and Friends. I have to maintain proper schedule to keep up my Twitch Streams and Blog updates in 2020.

What to expect in 2020?

At the end of 2018, I wanted to increase my visibility in developer community in 2019. Thanks to the curiosity in me, which forced me to experience the side of a conference organizer. I made it happen in 2019.

JavaScript and Friends will be more engaged with community through various community initiatives. Feel free to reach out to me or my team if you are interested in volunteering with JavaScript and Friends.

Interested in speaking at our meetups and events feel free to reach out to me.

Closing Notes

Thanks to all speakers for speaking at JavaScript and Friends Conference. While organizing is one end, conference turns out to be successful only through speakers and their content. Thanks to the CFP team at JavaScript and Friends for working with speakers to finalize the talks for the conference.

Thanks to all speakers who spoke at JavaScript and Friends Developer Community Meetups.

Thanks to all friends who supported me at JavaScript and Friends.

Thanks to Lacey and Kendra for joining us at JavaScript and Friends.

I am deeply thankful to my wife Dharmashree and blessed to have her in my life.

Happy Holidays. Wish you a Merry Christmas if you celebrate and a Happy New Year.

Looking forward for more learning and contributions to developer community in 2020.