Now that 2022 is in the books its time to reflect and look back on the year. And what a year it was! A lot happened in my career and personal life that has taught me a lot, humbled me, made me happy, made me sad, and helped me become a more well rounded person. Let’s get into it!
First, the fun stuff!
Normally I like to start these posts with some serious, introspective career talk, but this year I’m feeling a little more lighthearted. Let’s kick things off with some fun stuff before we delve into some details of my career journey.
Traveling abroad to Ireland, Amsterdam, and Porto
Traveling is a big part of my life.🛫 This year I made it back to Europe with my girlfriend and had an amazing time. We were able to visit some beautiful and interesting places, and it was a great opportunity to bond and create new memories together.
I highly recommend visiting the Wild Atlantic Way and the Cliffs of Moher on the west coast of Ireland. We took a bus from Dublin and the journey across the Emerald Isle took about three hours. It was like being transported to a magical green land inhabited by pixies and hobbits.
Seriously, go there. Check it out:
Next, we visited Amsterdam, which was a lot of fun. It was my third time in the city and it always feels like stepping back in time, yet is so modern. Amsterdam is a beautiful city with a rich history, and I really appreciate the bike and boat culture that powers the city.
Jacki had never been there so we enjoyed the usual fun things: biking around the city, seeing museums, eating Indonesian food, taking our own boat through the canals, coffee shops, and even went a local carnival with rides, music, and local food trucks.
Finally, the last leg of the trip was in Porto, Portugal, a city that truly impressed us. The Douro River cuts through a canyon, and the city is perched atop its banks. The Arrabida Bridge is a stunning structure that stretches across the river, connecting the two sides of the city. We really enjoyed walking and seeing this unique place.
We traveled to Porto for several reasons, including the chance to visit Portugal and participate in WordCamp Europe 2022. I had the opportunity to speak on a panel about WordPress acquisitions at the conference. The conversation was engaging and the other panelists excelled. It was a unique and enriching experience.
It’s always fun to go oversees. This year I’m looking to go back to if I can.
Amazing wedding in Nevada City, California
Northern California is a place of great natural beauty. The area between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe, known as the foothills, is where the Gold Rush started. My friend Roman and his wife Felicia live there, and their wedding was truly amazing. Everything about it – the people, the decorations, the location, the weather – was perfect!
We stayed in Nevada City and had the chance to explore the city and go hiking in the surrounding area. The city is well-maintained and boasts many historic sites. The food and drinks are also excellent, and I highly recommend the Hotel on Main Street for its excellent bar and restaurant.
Hiking in the area is a lot of fun as well. The Deer Creek hiking trail, located just outside of downtown, is suitable for both beginner and advanced hikers. The cable bridge that crosses the creek is a lot of fun to walk over, and further down the trail, you’ll come across some old mines and equipment.
As a resident of San Diego, I find Northern California very appealing due to its location and beauty. I hope to make it up there again this year, especially to Yosemite, which I still can’t believe I haven’t visited yet.
A short list of places I visited in 2022
I was fortunate to have the opportunity to visit all of these places in 2022. Travel is a great source of wisdom, and I truly believe that. Here is a list of the places I visited:
- 🍂🍁 Portland, Astoria, Oregon – to visit my Grandma before her 95th birthday. Also add Mt. St Helens as a day trip.
- 🌳 2x Atlanta, Georgia – work retreats in Buckeye
- 🏙 Nevada City, California – good friends’ wedding atop a mountain overlooking the Yuba river
- 🌆 2x Los Angeles, California – vacation to see Hamilton and then a concert
- 🌾🏙 New Orleans, Louisiana – fun trip with Jacki
- 🌁🏙 Minneapolis, Minnesota – awesome work trip, got to know Ben from Kadence and Reid from Modern Tribe very well
- 🇮🇪 Dublin, Galway, Ireland – vacation with Jacki
- 🇵🇹 Porto, Portugal – WordCamp Europe
- 🇳🇱 Amsterdam, Netherlands – vacation
Finishing construction on my new home
I bought a new house in 2021 and it needed some pretty heavy construction to get it up to date. It wasn’t really a “fixer upper” per say, but it definitely needed some modernization. The contractor I used was actually really great and he had a good team working with him. However, it require a lot of work to complete. Both from my end and from the contractors.
Here’s a short list of the work done on the house – note that construction (more like demolition) actually started in November 2021. However, the actual construction really kicked off in 2022 new year.
- New floors throughout the house. Went with LVP.
- New bathrooms – 3.5 to be exact
- New paint and floorboards
- New fireplace accents
- Fix for a minor leak on the roof
- New doors and hardware
- Smart lighting and smart blinds
- New garage flooring
- Custom vanities and storage cabinetry
- Custom made hand rails for the stairs
- Revamped from yard with new plants, mulch, and garden
I think it turned out great. This was my first ever construction project and my first home. So that was pretty darn cool in 2022.
Here’s a few pics:
Beach time playing volleyball
I spent a lot of time playing 🏐 in 2022, perhaps even more than the previous year. The group I play with is very competitive, but also a lot of fun. We run a league and I was able to place first with my partner and friend Kristian. 🏆
I used to keep track of the games I played in a spreadsheet at the beginning of the year, recording the wins and losses after each game on my phone. However, I stopped doing this in mid-February when I realized that it was becoming cumbersome. According to my estimates, I ended the year with a 60/40 record and played around 350-400 games. 🏅
Playing a competitive team sport like 🏐 is not only enjoyable, but also helps to maintain good mental health. It teaches you a lot and I am grateful to have not had any significant injuries during the year. It would be great if there was an easy way to record volleyball scores using AI, perhaps through an app. I’m not sure if something like this already exists, but it definitely should! 💡📱
Career life and momentum at Liquid Web
I value working for a company and team that are passionate about their products.My experience at Liquid Web over the past year and a half has been both challenging and rewarding, and has allowed me to have a diverse and innovative career.
In the first half of the year, I focused solely on GiveWP. Later, changes at the management level provided me with the opportunity to lead several new and exciting brands in addition to GiveWP, including:
- KadenceWP: The leading theme and block library for WordPress. This site is built using Kadence. 🌟 Check them out at https://kadencewp.com/.
- IconicWP: Known for their high-quality WooCommerce extensions, including Orderable. 💻 Find out more at https://iconicwp.com/.
- iThemes: Creators of the popular security plugin iThemes Security, as well as other products such as BackupBuddy and Sync. 🔒 Learn more at https://ithemes.com/.
It has been great getting to know the products and teams behind these brands, and I have learned a lot about leadership and how different teams operate, including their strengths and areas for improvement. 🧑💼
A Stellar leadership team
Who doesn’t enjoy working with great people? As I reflect on this last year, the team working with me has really begun to vibe. We recently went on a leadership retreat to Atlanta to strategize on 2023 and beyond. This was both a fun and productive trip.
As mentioned earlier, I had the chance to go to Minneapolis, Minnesota for another trip where we strategized on Kadence and the future of the marketplace its in. There’s a lot going on all the time in WordPress and the conversations we had dove into some very interesting topics.
Kadence had a great 2022 and this year is already looking great. It’s a brand I’m looking forward to working with more as it continues on the momentum.
Keeping up on Development and WordPress
My career is centered around WordPress. It’s important that I stay up to date with development, design, and what’s happening in the community and beyond. In 2022 the platform changed a lot. Gutenberg continued to evolve. More acquisitions happened. A was a lot of news that came out, some good some bad.
Looking back, I think Gutenberg has evolved to the point where its clear Matt Mullenweg made the right decision for WordPress. I’ve grown the like it, and wish I could stay more involved with the project than just a sideline contributor and active user.
Donation Block for Stripe: My first block plugin
I had the create a new block plugin for WordPress called the Donation Block for Stripe. It has a great interface and the looks great immediately when you insert into the Gutenberg editor.
Although I’m not the best React developer, I enjoyed the challenge of designing and building a plugin that required both React skills and knowledge of WordPress and its internal APIs, components, and packages.
The Donation Block for Stripe has been a fun experiment in learning about the WordPress plugin block directory, building a user base that may not need something as robust as GiveWP, and keeping my development skills sharp. It recently reached 600+ active installs after just 10 months, which I consider to be a decent achievement.
Overall, it was a year filled with interesting developments. The premium plugin and theme market appeared to reach a saturation point in 2022. Despite this, our products had a good year overall, with some performing exceptionally well and others doing well but not breaking records like in previous years. This seems to be a common trend among company leaders I’ve spoken to as well. It’s safe to say that we’re all eagerly anticipating a more prosperous 2023.
Additional development highlights of 2022:
I rewrote “Yelp Widget Pro” as “Reviews Block for Yelp.” You can find the PR for this task above. This required me to rewrite the widget-based plugin as a new React block-based plugin with legacy support. It was more complex than I had expected. You can check out the PR for more information on how I tackled this task.
I also renamed “Google Places Reviews” to “Reviews Block for Google” and performed many of the same tasks that went into the Yelp rewrite. However, working with the Google Places API is a bit tricky, especially with WordPress. But I got the job done and its released.
Updating these two very old plugins was a fun task for me. The original code was from 2012 and it was like uncovering a time capsule. I like to think I’ve become a better developer since, but also appreciate where I came from and where its gotten me.
This past year I also took several courses on Laravel via Laracasts. I’m very interested in Laravel and its capabilities. In the past, we spent a lot of resources creating a SaaS on Laravel that unfortunately never saw the light of day. It takes a lot of effort to learn the application, but once you start building with it, it becomes clearer.
I’m looking to build more with WordPress and Laravel (hopefully) in 2023 and beyond. Here’s a quick stat check of 2022:
Investing in a company I believe in
Atarim is an awesome company that I recently invested in. They help agencies, freelancers, and anyone who builds websites for clients gather information in a more efficient and time-saving manner via their award winning client collaboration platform.
This is the first company that I have invested in, and I was excited to see their excellent growth in product features and user base in 2022.
I’m eager to see what the future holds for Atarim as they continue to strengthen their brand, hire talented individuals, and build upon their already impressive platform.
Appreciating the past year and setting sails into 2023
I would be remise if I did not mention my wonderful girlfriend Jacki and all the great memories and times we shared together in 2022. She’s been truly my rock and I love her very much! Thanks for all the fun memories and here’s to many more. ❤️
Recently I took a sailing class and got my ASA 101 certification. This means I can take boats out up to a certain size. My goal for this year is to set sail to Catalina Island. It is about 26 miles from Long Beach and will require a few more days of classes. It was a good challenge for the first certification and I’m looking forward to the next ones to reach my goal.
This past year has been overall a good year. It was not without its challenges. Nothing in life is a cakewalk. However, I appreciate where its taken me in my life and Looking forward to 2023.
Final closing goals for 2023
⛵️ Complete ASA 102 & 103 then set sail to Catalina
👨💻 Develop a basic Laravel application
💇🚫 Grow my hair out longer than I have ever before
📈 Complete a couple big bets at work
🏡 Redo some outdoor items at my house
⚙️ Contribute to more open source projects
💪 Add more gym routines with volleyball
📸 Fly the drone more and do more fun digital projects
✨ Accomplish a number of additional life goals ::wink::
This past year has been, overall, a good one. Though it was not without its challenges, nothing in life is easy. Despite the difficulties, I am grateful for where it has taken me in my life and looking forward to what 2023 holds.
Wishing you all a prosperous and healthy 2023!