Time for another yearly reflection, the ninth one I put on this blog.
Life continued despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Here are some of the things that happened during 2021 in my life, in no particular order:
- I’ve read 21957 pages across 64 books. That’s the most ever for me. I don’t see how I would want to read more. I’ve been fairly consistent in 2020 with my read-in-bed habit, and I’ve also listened to quite a few books on Audible. I feel that reading more would require a significant lifestyle change or time sacrifices in other areas. Here are five highlights I’ve selected from everything I’ve read:
- Team Topologies. A must-read for anyone in a technical leadership role. This book is very concrete, practical and contains useful examples.
- The Spy and the Traitor. A riveting true story about a KGB agent who turned spy. I couldn’t stop and finished the last third in one sitting.
- Flowers for Algernon. I sometimes find the classics disappointing and only anthropologically interesting. Not the case here. Flowers for Algernon is simply brilliant.
- Culture Map. I found this book to be a practical guide to decoding cultural differences.
- Leviathan Falls. The final book in The Expanse book series: both the journey and the destination were worth it.
- The three movies I’ve liked the most in 2021: Dune, Bo Burnham: Inside and The Last Duel. I watched fewer movies than most of the previous years, which could be the result of me reading more.
- Watchmen: the best TV things I watched in 2021, even if I was late to the party.
- Returnal): my favorite game of the year, out of the couple I’ve played this year. It’s a brilliant combination of a haunting sci-fi atmosphere, compelling story, well-designed action, and just the right level of challenge.
- I feel like I took a year off with changes in personal life. In 2020, there were quite a few - marriage, moving into a bought flat, adopting two kittens. For 2021, my mind draws a blank for significant life events.
- The good news is that my wife nor I tested positive for COVID in 2021.
- We managed three trips. We went for a long weekend in Paris for our 1st wedding anniversary. We spent three weeks in beautiful Portugal. We visited Expo 2020 in Dubai, which included watching Carlsen defend in world chess champion status.
- I’ve celebrated my ninth anniversary at Vinted. I would not have predicted I’d spend so many years at a single company. There continue to be excellent reasons not to look elsewhere, mainly the mission, the people, and the challenges.
- Vinted raised €250M equity round, which values the company at €3.5B.
- I was named Lithuania’s CTO of the Year. This achievement is, of course, first and foremost a team achievement, with me serving only as a figurehead for all the great work our engineering team has done.
Vilnius Tech Leads continued with seven more events. We could finally do some of them in person. While I’m an introvert, I missed seeing members of the tech leadership community. You can find the recordings on youtube. Number-wise, Vilnius Tech Leads is now the second-largest Lithuanian meetup group on meetup.com, trailing only Agile Lietuva in member count.
- I wrote only two blog posts and appeared only in a couple of events as a speaker. Most of the topics I consider writing about are work-related. My work is leading an engineering organization of 350 people. This limits the content I can create. For one, I’m unsure how engaging other people would find the things that I find interesting. This might be an excuse, and I should simply try. Yet the second reason is that the most interesting stories are also stories that are more difficult to share publicly.
2021 is in the books. I didn’t expect us to start 2022 still in the world of COVID-19. Yet, despite the continuing pandemic, the world had a good year: renewables generated more electricity than fossil fuels in Europe, China defeated malaria, more nations strengthened LGBTQ+ rights, lab-grown meat hit important milestones, and many more. I had a pretty good year too. Off to an even better 2022.