My Top 3 Books of 2018

My 2018 reading list included several books that I really enjoyed and will have a lasting impact on me moving forward.

2 of these 3 books are applicable to most people I believe, and the 3rd is extremely relevant if you’re an Android and/or Kotlin developer.

So, without further ado, here are my top 3 books of 2018.

“I cannot remember the books I’ve read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Daring Greatly

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown

This book had a massive impact on me over the course of this past year. Through reading this book, I began to recognize areas of my life where I was letting fear and shame hold me back. These ranged from things like sending a tweet, to how I participate in code review, and how I perceive new challenges like public speaking or organizing a conference.

It helped me begin to honestly acknowledge how much I let the opinions of others seep into my perception of myself, and how I was avoiding going after the things that I wanted because of the fear of what others might think or say.

In many ways, the book is built and expands upon the ideas from this famous Theodore Roosevelt quote:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

It helped me re-frame the challenges in my life and recognize that any great undertaking will include struggles and vulnerability, and that that is exactly as it should be. It’s too easy, in this social media day and age, to believe that success happens overnight; that it’s easy for some people. However, that is not the case and coming to grips with the fact that my struggles and insecurities are normal and actually a good thing has been a game changer.

Not only was this book beneficial for me individually, but it is tremendously relevant for teams and managers. Teams cannot thrive in an environment where they don’t feel safe, and so Daring Greatly details dives into how you can build more productive and innovative teams by creating an environment that encourages vulnerability and authenticity of the individual employee.

“Shame can only rise so far in any system before people disengage to protect themselves. When we’re disengaged, we don’t show up, we don’t contribute, and we stop caring.”

Brené Brown

If you’ve ever struggled with impostor syndrome, held back your ideas for fear of being rebuked, or avoided going after your dreams because of what others might think, then I think this book is worth your time.


Crushing It!

Crushing It! How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence—and How You Can, Too by Gary Vaynerchuk

This book has almost nothing to do with software development, and yet I think it can be of enormous value to software developers, and anyone else out there, who are looking to develop their personal brand and build an influence within their field.

For me, this book came at a perfect time when I was thinking about ways in which I could engage with, and help, more people. It helped shape the way I think about using social media, how I go about bringing authenticity into what I put out publicly, and was a huge inspiration for starting my YouTube channel.

It illustrates numerous stories from people who were able to turn their passions and hobbies into thriving businesses. It demonstrates how you can use tools like social media to build your following to help more people learn, dream, create, build, etc. And it does all of this across a variety of platforms, so whatever your preferred medium of communication there are examples here for you.

If you’re someone who would like to have a better defined personal brand, or a greater influence, or who would like to make a living doing what you love every day, then I think this book is worth the read.


Kotlin In Action

Kotlin in Action by Dmitry Jemerov and Svetlana Isakova

Honestly, I don’t have a ton to say about this book other than that it is one of the best resources available for learning the Kotlin programming language.

Over the past year, I’ve given multiple talks, written a number of articles, and published quite a few videos on Youtube all related to Kotlin. Kotlin In Action has helped with all of it.

It was especially useful when I was preparing to give a talk on functions in Kotlin. It was a fantastic resource to really dive deep into the language and understand all the features related to functions and how they can be used. The same goes for pretty much all other facets of the language as well.

If you’re looking for a great resource for learning Kotlin, then Kotlin In Action should definitely be considered.


That’s it! There are my top 3 books from 2018. If they intrigued you, I hope you’ll give them a read, and I’d be happy to answer any questions you might have about specifics of each book.

Happy reading!

Full Reading List Can Be Found Here


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Learning Kotlin: Using ‘if’ Expressions

Another Learning Kotlin tutorial for beginners. Helping you learn Kotlin 1 small tutorial at a time.

In this video, you’ll learn how to use if expressions and how to use if for logical control flow.

// basic control flow using if/else
fun printGreeting(name:String) {
    if(name.isNotBlank()) {
        println("hello $name")
    } else {
        println("hey there!")
    }
}

// Use 'if' as an expression in 
// a single expression function
//
fun getGreeting(age:Int) = if(age > 18) "hello" else "hey"

📚 Reference Documentation: https://kotlinlang.org/docs/reference/basic-syntax.html#using-conditional-expressions


I love to meet/talk/discuss and help where I can. If you want to chat or ask a question you can follow me on Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Facebook.

Check Out My YouTube Channel

2018 In Review

D2018 was a year filled with challenges that I never saw coming.

It was the most exciting and stressful year of my life.

And it was a year where the importance of people, emotions, and relationships was made abundantly clear to me.


Daring Greatly

Daring Greatly is not only the name of one of my favorite books from 2018, but it’s also the phrase the comes to mind when I think of the year as a whole.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

– Theodore Roosevelt

2018 was a year where I stepped way outside my comfort zone on numerous occasions in the pursuit of things that had previously seemed out of reach. It was not a year without struggle, but rather a year where those struggles were acknowledged, wrestled with, and progress made in pursuit of overcoming them.


Unexpected Challenges

An Abundance of Speaking Opportunities

My goal was 1 conference talk for 2018. I ultimately gave 4; plus 1 meetup talk and 3 webinars.

I honestly wasn’t fully prepared for the stress that would come with giving my first 2 conference talks within two weeks of one another. It didn’t help that the talks were unique and had to be prepared separately from scratch. I gave my first talk at Droidcon Boston, and followed that up with the second talk at ChicagoRoboto.

I went through a similar process again later in the summer when I gave another round of back-to-back talks at Android Summit and Droidcon NYC.

Over the course of the year, I also had the opportunity to participate in several webinars where I had the chance to share thoughts and expertise and a variety of topics such as career development, Kotlin, and Android app architecture. These were really fun for me because I really enjoy interacting with the international developer community.

Burnout

Another unexpected challenge in 2018 was that of full-blown burnout. After the stress of my first two conference talks followed up by a trip to Google I/O, I was worn out physically, mentally, and emotionally.

I had never experienced burnout before, so I didn’t recognize it at first. Only after several weeks of irritability, lethargy, and a complete lack of motivation did a therapist help me see it for what it was.

Once I could name it, I was able to take the proper rest and relaxation needed to work my way back to a better state.

The time spent in burnout this year was a fairly dark period for me. It was a strain on my marriage, my job and my relationships. Many days, I struggled to do anything but lay on the couch and actively do nothing.

This period really illustrated two things for me.

  1. The importance of taking care of yourself and avoiding burnout altogether
  2. The importance of seeking out help when dealing with struggles like this; whether that be from a therapist, spouse, friend, etc

I now understand how bad burnout can be, and the impact it can have on you and those around you. In many ways, I’m glad I went through this because I can now related to others or warn them about overwork, but I hope others can avoid it entirely.

YouTube

I absolutely did not expect to have a YouTube channel at the end of 2018, but here I am. I have a channel with nearly 1000 subscribers, and have uploaded weekly content for about nine months now.

Creating content for YouTube has been quite a learning experience. From learning how to recording/edit/upload video, to better understanding how to teach a topic, to tracking the avalanche of ideas I now seem to have; I’ve learned a great deal this year.

Perhaps the greatest lesson has been to avoid comparison and to understand that some people are not going to appreciate what you create. I still struggle with comparing myself to other channels on YouTube that I see doing amazing things, but I’m working on it.

YouTube has also been an unexpectedly fun way to interact with developers from around the world. My goal with the channel was to simply help individual people learn and grow in their careers, and every time I receive a positive comment I experience a real sense of joy at having been able to assist that person in some way.

I’m excited about the possibilities that my channel provides, and can’t wait to see where it goes in 2019.


Highs & Lows

2018 was a year of many highs and lows. There were exciting triumphs, and some pretty serious struggles.

Highlights

  • My wife finished grad school
  • My first Android conference talk
  • Attended 6 conferences
  • Developed numerous friendships with people around the world
  • Discovered new creative/educational outlets through YouTube channel
  • Developed a much greater sense of emotional understanding and regulation

Struggles

  • Experienced serious daily anxiety at times
  • Burnout
  • Android GDE application was rejected
  • Decreased emphasis put on my health
  • Getting laid off
  • Time management
  • Comparison

The Importance of People, Emotions, and Relationships

Perhaps the most important lessons for me in 2018 where those centered around people, emotions, and relationships.

I developed a much greater appreciation for the importance of emotions, emotional intelligence, empathy, and so called “soft skills.” I now recognize just how vital those are, and am actually starting to think those are where the interesting challenges are in much of the tech space.

I was extremely fortunate to meet many amazing people from all over the world, and have seen first hand the power of having a community of people in your corner as a support system. Whether it has been for emotional support, answering questions, mentorship, or helping me in my job search, I’ve seen countless times how people are willing to help one another.


Top Fives

Books

  1. Daring Greatly
  2. Crushing It!
  3. Kotlin in Action
  4. The Gifts of Imperfection
  5. Vlog Like A Boss

Travel

  1. Google I/O
  2. Glamping on the Olympic Peninsula
  3. ChicagoRoboto
  4. Droidcon Boston
  5. Droidcon NYC

Created Content

  1. React Native: A retrospective from the mobile engineering team at Udacity
  2. Modeling ViewModel States Using Kotlin’s Sealed Classes
  3. Android Things: From 0 to Hello World
  4. Should I Learn Java or Kotlin?
  5. Learning Android: What Android Devs Wish They Had Known

Top Tweet


Looking Towards 2019

In this new year, I feel like the possibilities are endless.

My wife and I have exciting travel plans to Hawaii and hopefully to Europe as well.

I’m co-organizing Droidcon Boston 2019, as well as working to start a new mobile meetup in Seattle, AND hopefully working to bring a new Android conference to Seattle as well.

I’m looking forward to the continuation of my YouTube channel and applying everything I learned last year towards what will hopefully be more engaging and helpful content.

I’m hopefully going to have the opportunity to teach a college course on Android development.

I plan to write my first book over this coming year.

I can’t wait to see where this new year takes me! I wish you all the best in 2019.


I love to meet/talk/discuss and help where I can. If you want to chat or ask a question you can follow me on Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Facebook.

Check Out My YouTube Channel

2-Minute Tools & Tips Tuesday: File Structure Tool Window

The file structure tool window can help us visualize the structure of our files by calling out classes, properties, methods, regions, etc. We can view this top-level structure and use it to quickly jump to specific elements in the file.

Thoughts, questions, tips on using the file structure window? Comment below or share on social media. I’d love to continue the conversation.


I love to meet/talk/discuss and help where I can. If you want to chat or ask a question you can follow me on Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Facebook.

Check Out My YouTube Channel

Learning Kotlin: How to Write a Single Expression Function in Kotlin

In this video, you’ll learn how to write a Single Expression Function in kotlin

📚 Reference Documentation: https://kotlinlang.org/docs/reference/functions.html#single-expression-functions

Thoughts or questions about single expression functions? Comment below or share on social media. I’d love to continue the conversation.


I love to meet/talk/discuss and help where I can. If you want to chat or ask a question you can follow me on Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Facebook.

Check Out My YouTube Channel