2009 – The 365 day roller coaster

What a year!

I have never been one to sit back and reflect on the past year, much less sit down and write about it.   However, 2009, was filled with more change, challenges, and excitement than any of the previous ones.  Last new years eve my family spent the day with close friends and celebrated the end of 2008.  There was really nothing remarkable about 2008, and the outlook for 2009 was bleak.

I was in a job where I did not feel challenged or really enjoyed anymore.  I loved the people I worked with, but was not truly happy with the work, and with the state of the economy I was grateful to be employed.  I did have a plan though, I enrolled in a great online project management program and set out to take that during the year and as things in the economy improved, move on.  Little did I know all the challenges and opportunities I would face over the next twelve months.

In mid January, about one week after I started my online class, I came across an amazing opportunity to change careers and move from developing closed off web applications to working on a public facing, marketing portal for a great company, and I went for it.   I loved the people I met in the interviews, and by mid February I had an offer in hand.    The company is Ariba, and is by far the best company I have ever worked for.  (And I would say that even if I thought no one from Ariba would ever read this).

I started my new job in March and quickly became more immersed in the world of working on a public facing web site and all the nuances that go with it, especially analytics.  At the same time my professional life was exploding things were going well on the personal side as well.  Also in March, I began another season as my son’s T-ball coach.  Being able to be out on the field and watch him play and have fun are moments I will treasure forever.   I never had the chance to play little league growing up and being able to be a part of it with him is amazing.   Our spring team had a great season and even won the league championship!

In early May, right after a t-ball game, I received a phone call from one of my Aunt’s.  My mom’s health had been in a steady decline and she was being taken in for emergency surgery and the prognosis was not good.   My wife and I left Atlanta and drove back to South Carolina that day.  Mom had made it through the surgery but we all knew the time was near.  So on Mother’s day this past year, I got to see my mom for the last time.  She died a few weeks later at the end of May.  I can tell you exactly what road I was on and where I was on it when I got the call from my brother.

The days following that are a blur.  From driving back to South Carolina to making funeral plans it was like one of those scenes in a movie where you are in slow motion and everything else is whizzing past you.   Getting back to Atlanta was a welcome break and I was ready to get back to work and focus on something else for a while.   The object of that focus was web analytics.  I poured myself into it and began to work with all the tools I could find and articles to read and discovered through all of this that I really love working with web analytics.

I started this blog, mostly as a place to collect my thoughts and archive items I had been working on.  From there I have become more active with twitter and other aspects of Social Media.  At this point, it is far to say that I am a Social Media Junkie.

By September I was fully into implementing Omniture into the company site and working with ColdFusion to push even more data into the system.  I was able to travel to Utah for Omniture training and was able to meet some great folks and further expand my skills.  As a side note to my September trip to Utah, on September 15th I had breakfast at a little place called the Village Inn and as I sat there drinking coffee staring at the amazing mountains I had the great fortune of being waited on by a server named Joanna.  My mom loved the mountains, it was her birthday, and her middle name was Joanna.

Through the fall I continued to work on this blog, but knew I wanted to do more with analytics and to get more involved. So in early November I was able to get an idea off the ground the Beyond Web Analytics podcast.  It has been an amazing experience and I am grateful to Adam Greco & James Dutton and the other guests we have had on the podcast that had made it such a success.

So at the end of December 2009 I have lost a parent, started a blog & podcast, changed jobs, and dove headfirst into the world of analytics and social media.  I’m not sure how all of this fit into the last twelve months, but it did.  And I am really excited about what the next twelve months will bring.

As I was planning for the scattering of Mom’s ashes a quote I had read this year kept coming back to me, and it is what I read at the scattering.

“How can I leave it all behind if I am just coming back to it? How can I make a new beginning if I simply return to the old?’ The answer lies in the return. You will not come back to the ‘same old thing.’ What you return to has changed because you have changed. Your perceptions will be altered. You will not incorporate into the same body, status, or world you left behind. The river has been flowing while you were gone. Now it does not look like the same river”. [The Book of the Vision Quest – Steven Foster]

For me, this is a great quote to end the year on, and sets the path for the next year. A path of new beginnings.


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