03
Dec
2013

Sabbatical Half-year Report Card

Report CardJust over six months ago my sabbatical began.  This mid-life professional break saw me leave EMC with great trepidation and uncertainty.  I knew this break would be enjoyed but at a great opportunity cost.  But I also knew it could change me in wonderful ways.  So from my sabbatical’s start I was committed not to waste the opportunity.

In early June I started sharing with my friends and family the personal goals for this year-long break.  I wanted to formulate a rough development plan that would prove to myself that a “break” from work could be as productive as employment.  Its been six months since that plan was conceived.  So it is appropriate now to give myself a half-year report card.

Below are my sabbatical projects, a grade, and commentary.

Sabbatical First Half Report Card

Personal development: write one blog a week.  Execution: A-.  Effort: A-.  Except for a weekend or two break I have dedicated some time each week to personal reflection.  I have committed to developing my writing by sharing the observations of that period.

Chinese studies: learn to read, write, and speak.  Execution: B-.  Effort: A+.  Learning Mandarin has been complex, to say the least.  My reading comprehension has soared.  I struggle mightily with listening comprehension.  But my commitment has been strong.  I am surely studying more than most of my classmates.

Big data consultancy: meetings, website, blogging, and network building.  Execution: C+. Effort: B+.  I have presented half a dozen times to business and academic audiences.  My professional blog‘s audience has grown steadily.  I have been invited to join research groups and industry events based on my work.  But building a reputation takes time.  And a consultancy/advisory business would take many more months’ worth of reputation than I originally anticipated.

Exercise.  Execution: B.  Effort: B.  I now attend yoga about three times a week.  I hit the gym one time a week.  I run about 10km a week.  Not a bad regimen.

Open Data volunteer work.  Execution: B.  Effort: B.  I have not been as involved with the Open Data Hong Kong group’s administrative activities as I might have originally liked.  But I have made great strides in building a team of researchers that use ODHK’s data.

Entrepreneurial ambitions.  Execution: C.  Effort: C.  Certainly for the first three months the idea of starting a business was only a shadow of a dream in my head.  Now my energies are focused and I have a shot to create something successful.  I was rudderless for the first four months but feel I am on track now.

Bonus project: big data community.  Execution: A.  Effort: A.  I wanted to develop a network of people interested in big data analytics in Hong Kong.  The work I was doing to build Information Incognita’s readership unexpectedly produced a group of students from three different Hong Kong schools that want to learn about big data.  I started a Google+ community dedicated to Hong Kong Big Data.  It today has 111 members and will have its first meeting next week.

Sabbatical Second Half Projects

I initially planned for this sabbatical to last about a year. That timeline was defined primarily by the one-year diploma curriculum at the Chinese University of Hong Kong’s Chinese Language School. But the one-year limit is heavily influenced by my dwindling finances.

With about half a year left, I have a few more things I want to accomplish:

  • Continued Chinese study.  My last term will include business discussions and newspapers.  But I sorely need improvement in my listening comprehension.
  • Big Data community.  I would love to run three or four meetings for computer scientists, statisticians, and data hackers in Hong Kong.  Building this network and helping young students may provide its own rewards.
  • Exercise.  I hope to continue getting at least four good workouts a week.  Ideally five or six.
  • The Big Idea.  My business partner and I have started early phases of market research on a business for Asia-based technology companies.  Within six months I will need to qualify or disqualify this idea.  Then it potentially becomes a full-time job.
  • More writing.  I am doing well with this personal blog and Information Incognita.  My plan is to continue contributing once a week to each.  But should other professional writing become important these two blogs may suffer.  But as long as I am writing something I will consider this goal fulfilled.
18
Apr
2013

Goodbye EMC (For Now)

GoodbyeLast week to my colleagues and friends at EMC I announced that I resigned.  I did this after obtaining the counsel of my trusted colleagues, many discussions with friends, and a prodigious amount of soul searching. And not without a little anxiety.  But its now done.

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