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Sometimes you just have to learn to let go - 2019 a year full of lessons

December 24, 2019

WHAT A YEAR! This year was a personal rollercoaster. I would have never thought 2019 would be so hard, fun, crazy, and filled with a lot of life lessons.


What happened in 2019?

Initially, I told myself to do less travel in 2019, only attend a couple of events and focus a bit more on product development, family, and hobbies. At the beginning of the year, it all seemed to work out fine. I submitted to a couple of conferences, got accepted, and was able to keep my promise.

During the first quarter of 2019, I got an invitation to be part of the ESPC Programme Team. Of course, this was an opportunity that I could not decline.

During the planning of ESPC in Prague, pressure/stress hit me for some reason, and it hit me hard. First, I thought it all had a medical explanation. That, of course, is easy. As the only action you need to take are some medical checkups. After some tests, I was made sure that nothing was wrong. Once I heard this, I was a bit clueless about why this was happening to me. Did I forget to listen to myself? What was I doing wrong? I began to doubt myself. One of the positive things during that period was that I threw myself entirely on sports. It was my way out, my way of stopping my mind from thinking.

Still, when I was not on my bike. I wondered what I was doing. What were my next goals? What did I want to achieve? For years I knew what was next, but all of a sudden, I did not have an answer. I started to panic, to overthink. Some of my friends/colleagues/family saw me struggle, and I thank them each for supporting me. Primarily, my wife, she saw this from really close by and kept encouraging me when I most needed it.

Sometimes support comes from where you do not expect it. One of my colleagues saw my struggle as well and helped me out a lot by just listening or giving me some advice. Eventually, I found some sort of peace, and I would like to thank her enormously!

One of the most important things she told me was: happiness is a choice! You define your path!

Keeping this in mind, I was still seeking answers about my next goal in life. Social media is not helping when you are struggling. Most of the people only show the fun, joy, and success. Social media makes it hard not to compare. Let that be one of the first lessons.

Lesson: Try not to compare to others; this will only make you feel bad. Just try to make yourself better by doing what you want to do.

Partying at ESPC
Partying at ESPC

New role

What would be my next goal in life? Sometimes you have to create the path yourself and not take that has already laid out for you. One day I woke up and thought about what we could do better within our company. What could help our company grow, to become better, and what would make me better as well?

I wrote down some notes and talked about it with some colleagues. All of them were very positive about it. The positive feedback encouraged me just to try and go for it.

Lesson: If you do not try, you will never win!

After a couple of meetings with my managers and our product development teams, I can happily announce I became the Engineering Lead at Valo. My primary responsibility is to bring global alignment between all the Valo teams and their products.

Lesson: You only live once; try to get the most out of it!

Finally, I found peace in my mind. I got my next challenge, and I knew my new goals in life. This is such a relief and feels so good to be back on track finally.

Lesson: Don’t be afraid if you don’t know your goals in life. Some day you’ll wake up and have a fantastic idea or opportunity. That’s the moment you’ll have to jump!

Sessions and events

Fewer sessions, that was the plan. Indeed, I did fewer sessions compared to the previous years, but still did a lot of them. You can find the whole list of 2019 here on my speaking page: my speaking engagements.

Me presenting at SPSMUC
Me presenting at SPSMUC

Close to the end of 2019, when I finally got new goals and found back peace. It gave back my urge to present at conferences. Presenting is one of the things which I love to do. I could even call it one of my hobbies. Sharing knowledge with others and socialize with others, this is one of the things which give me a positive feeling.

Lesson: Be social, talk, be vocal, connect

At ESPC as part of the Programme Team

Being part of the Programme Team of ESPC was a fantastic experience. I got on stage to say a couple of things in front of an audience of 2000 people. Standing there in front of the audience gives you such an adrenaline rush. Some people jump out of a plane or Bungy jump, but a stage is what I need.

On stage at ESPC 19
On stage at ESPC 19

It was great fun with the team selecting the sessions, although it is not so easy. As you always have to disappoint people. Thank you Jussi Roine, Donald Hessing, and Magnus Mårtensson for making it a fun experience.

Winning an award

Two years ago, I started my journey at Valo. When I got hired, we had the plan to built a new intranet solution on top of SharePoint Modern. We started developing a POC to see what was possible. We even showcased it at Microsoft just to know what they thought about it.

Once our POC got approved, we started actual development — fast forward two years. I can proudly say we have created a successful product. To make the story complete and to pass on the baby, which Sébastien Levert and I brought to life, we win the award for the best intranet/extranet at ESPC. This award makes me proud of all the work the team did over the last two years.

Winning the best intranet/extranet award
Winning the best intranet/extranet award

Working at Valo is so much fun. It is a company with a unique vibe that you do not easily find somewhere else.


Stepping out of my comfort zone

When you are back on track, you can easily challenge yourself and step out of your comfort zone. Stepping out of that comfy zone where we all love to be in is what makes you better, but it is not always easy. First, you need to determine your comfort zone and see where you can improve yourself.

A couple of months ago, I was talking to Luise Freese that it is great how she can visualize her ideas on paper/Surface. My mind is filled with a lot of ideas, but bringing them to life on paper is always my biggest struggle. Mostly I try drawing them, but still, end up with writing things down. Writing does not always give you the wanted result, as your mind cannot quickly see what your thoughts were at the time. While I was chatting with Luise, she had the idea to teach me how to draw and do a session about it together. Challenge accepted, I said. This challenge would be beneficial for me and is a massive step out of my comfort zone.

Me learning to draw
Me learning to draw

At the Modern Workplace Conference in Paris, we did the session together, and it went well. Can I draw? Yes, it is getting better and better, and it helps my mind come to ease. Drawing is a careful process, which is somehow also very relaxing.

Just before our session at MWCP where Luise drew me, and I drew Luise. ☺️
Just before our session at MWCP where Luise drew me, and I drew Luise. ☺️

Lesson: Do not look for perfection; sometimes, good is just perfect.


Here are a couple of other lessons I learned, read, or had to remind myself about:

  • Try to listen to your body!
  • Give trust to others
  • Listen and acknowledge
  • If you want to improve yourself, just be open for feedback
  • Never give up. Accept you failed. Next time it will go better.
  • Go for everything you want in life, remember, you only have one life
  • One last important one is: let go

See you next year!