On this page:
  • Happy BlueDay to me!
  • On Changing the World

Happy BlueDay to me!

Today is my one-year anniversary at IBM! Yes, I know, I’ve been on the IBM network for a couple of years now, but I was a graduate student then, and before that, I taught university-level computer science. This is my first year outside the academe and my first year working with IBM, so I’m going to take this opportunity to look back, celebrate what I’ve learned, and celebrate the people who made this possible.

Over the past year, I’ve grown tremendously as a developer. I learned how to develop on the Drupal content management platform, and I’ve contributed back to some of the modules we’ve used. Applying the principle of relentless improvement, I invested time in setting up unit tests and functional tests, creating build and deployment tools, integrating the tests into the deployment script, and managing multiple branches of source code. I also acted as the system administrator for our project, developing installation scripts, setting up multiple testing and production environments, and keeping them running. I’m a much better developer now than I was one year ago. I’m looking forward to growing even more. Thanks go to Robert Terpstra and Ted Tritchew, who arranged my first Drupal project; Jennifer Nolan, who worked with me on my first and second Drupal projects, and from whom I learned a lot; Daniel Kumm and Kamran Khan, who gave me that second Drupal project where I learned how to really rock it; Stefan Nusser and the other Drupal-using folks in IBM; Waclaw Ferens, whose CSS skills helped me avoid the frustration of cross-browser coding and just focus on the code I really liked to do; and the tons of open source developers out there who shared not only their code but also their insights on how coding can be done better. Yay!

I also grew a lot as a speaker. This year, most of my presentations were about Web 2.0, Gen Y, or social networking. While helping another IBMer, I stumbled across a distinctive personal style of hand-drawn illustrations that resonated with people. Applying that style, I won a category prize in Slideshare.net’s worldwide Best Presentation Contest, delighted senior-level clients, and helped many people think of IBM as just a little bit cooler and more creative. I’ve spoken at numerous conferences and delivered part of two keynote speech, one of which was in front of 700 people. I’ve delivered remote presentations that informed and energized people. I’ve participated on panels, facilitated workshops and brainstorming sessions, and even helped organize conferences. I’ve presented to fellow new hires and to IBM’s technical leaders, to internal teams and to our clients. Presenting teaches me a lot about a topic, and I enjoy making things easier to understand. I’m looking forward to even more presentations, particularly when that intersects with my consulting. Thanks go to all the people who gave me opportunities to speak and to learn from other people, to my manager for being fairly liberal when it came to travelling to speak at conferences, and to the wonderful people who listened to what I had to share (and especially to those who gave me a high rating afterwards ;) ). Particular thanks go to Laurie Friedman, who nudged me to figure out a way to explain to Gen Yers coming out of college that Web 2.0 _does_ work at work.

I haven’t been doing as much Web 2.0 consulting and coaching as I’d like, but I’ve been able to help a few clients learn more about Web 2.0, incorporate the concepts into their strategy, and learn how to use these tools more effectively. My youth and my lack of industry experience means that many clients and account teams feel more comfortable with the more senior consultants on my team. However, I occasionally get to offer a Gen Y perspective, pitch in for others, or help with background work such as doing industry scans, brainstorming ideas, or capturing the discussion. I’m good at that work, though, and I can see how it adds value. I also help connect the dots, bringing opportunities into my team and helping my team members find resources throughout the company. I can get even better at this by exposing myself to more ideas, by exploring clients’ interest in Gen Y and collaboration, and by developing marketing materials for my team. Thanks go to Aaron Kim for getting me into this terrific opportunity and for encouraging me at every step of the way; Robert Terpstra, for giving it a try and bringing together this team; Bernie Michalik and Jennifer Nolan, for guidance and good examples; Jenny Chang and Tom Plaskon, for helping our team grow; Jennifer Okimoto, Pauline Ores, Kathryn Everest and all the others who sent insights and opportunities our way; the account teams we’ve worked with; and the clients who figured we had something good to share. (And we do!)

I’ve helped a number of IBM communities, teams, and individuals. Again, I’ve not been able to do as much as I’d like (still no New Bee’s Cartoon Guide to Web 2.0 at Work), but I’ve tried to make sure that people could reuse as much as possible. Next year, I’d like to not only help put together that guide for new hires, but also make it part of the new employee orientation process, link it up with all the new hire groups and campus hire groups, and set up mentoring and reverse mentoring relationships among many people. Thanks go to the totally awesome Web 2.0 evangelists; people all over IBM who are interested in learning about these new tools and who keep us busy; to the new hire network AS Foundations which made IBM feel even more welcoming; to the new hire networks and the other people around the world that I’ve had the pleasure to reach; and to everyone who, through blogs, other social computing tools, e-mail, or instant messaging, shared their insights with me and mentored me.

I’ve been really lucky to learn from and share what I’m learning with lots of people. I’ve not only been able to post chunks of what I know, but also learn from other people’s contributions and get a sense of the value I’ve created and passed on to others. I’m thrilled that I’m one of the top contributors, and I’d love to help more people contribute there and on our other tools.

It hasn’t been a perfect year. I’ve seen a number of my mentors and role models leave for other companies, and that frustrates me. I’ve heard some of the difficulties encountered by fellow new hires and experienced IBMers, and that frustrates me, too. On the plus side, I’ve been glad to share my energy and enthusiasm with lots of people, and I’m glad I’ve helped some of the people I look up to remember why they enjoy their work. Many people have returned the favor, including David Singer, who shared a great perspective on the bigger picture.

When things get really bad, there’s always getting a hug from my partner. He’s awesome. And we have a cat who loves giving massages. My parents and I have worked out the distance thing, I think. People in IBM are amazing, too, and there are even more people and things outside IBM helping me find energy and happiness when I have one of those maybe-I-should-start-my-own-company days. ;)

And of course, there’s so much more I won’t be able to fit into this already-long blog post… but thanks. =)

What an amazing year. I’m looking forward to the next one. I would love to keep myself booked doing things I love: developing quick community sites using Drupal and other open-source platforms, helping people learn more about Web 2.0, brainstorming ideas, developing strategy, designing and implementing systems, and coaching people and groups.

There are also a number of things I’d like to help do in order to help make IBM a better place. I want to see the campus hire and new hire networks around the world linked up (maybe even recognized as a formal diversity group?) so that we can share resources, get representation, and make it easy for people to bounce ideas off us. I want to help put together different guides to Web 2.0 at Work that can be incorporated into the new employee orientation process or into the community-building cookbook. I want to put together a set of conference social networking tools that’ll help people make the most of those face-to-face or virtual get-togethers. I want to teach everything I’ve learned (or at least capture it somehow) so that I can understand it better, so that I can share it with others, and so that I can go and learn even more. There are a lot of things I want to do, but there’s plenty of time, and there are plenty of people who are passionate about similar things who can help make it happen.

At the end of it all, I want to be someone who’s contagiously happy: someone who loves her life _and_ her work, someone who helps other people be happy with their life and their work, and someone who’s making a difference in people’s lives. I’m already like that, on a small scale, and I look forward to growing.

So that’s what my year’s been like (fantastic!), and that’s what my next year will probably look like. Why am I sharing all of this with you? Not just because I’m patting myself on the back – although I literally do that even for small victories, as it’s fun to celebrate the small things… Here’s why:

  • There’s so much to share and not enough time to share everything, so if you’ve come across something I know that you’d like to know as well – ping me or leave a comment!
  • I’d love it if you spent some time reflecting on your year, too. What did you learn? What did you get better at? What do you want to do next? Who do you want to become?
  • I want to help other people have this kind of an amazing year. What would it take? How wonderful can it be?
  • And hey, if you know what I’m good at and what I’m interested in, maybe you’ll think of me next time an interesting opportunity comes your way. =) Share what you’re interested in too, and I’ll keep my eyes and ears open for you!

Thanks for an amazing year. Let’s see what the next one can be like. I’ll keep you posted!

(UPDATE: Fixed HTML tags. Teeheehee!)

On Changing the World

Like Daniel at Young and Frugal, I am going to change the world.

I’m changing it already, and as I grow, I’ll do better and better. I won’t always succeed, but I’ll always learn. I’ll get better and better at finding better and better fits between what I’m passionate about, what I’m good at, and what the world needs.

It’s not because I can be anything I want to be, but because I’m becoming more of who I am. Let’s face it: I’m unlikely to become an Olympic swimming champion or the CEO of a wildly successful social networking platform. But there’s so much I can do right now, and there’s so much I want to grow into in the future.

There are amazing people around me who encourage me to keep following my passion, keep exploring new areas. They know you can’t train people to do what I do, and that I create a lot of value you can’t put into a job description. If people around me weren’t this supportive, I’d just look for a different environment. I would keep following my passions, because I can’t imagine living any other way.

I have what-am-I-doing moments. I have do-I-really-have-to-do-this moments. I have just-get-me-through-this-day moments. But I also have I-totally-rock moments and I-helped-someone-else-totally-rock moments, and I’m going to have more of those.

When people tell me I’m special, I tell them that I’m just like they are, and I ask them what it would take for them to live like I do. What would it take for people to live with passion and joy?

I’m Sacha Chua, and this is not just about Generation Y. =)