To say I traveled a lot in 2015 would be an understatement.  But some of that came with the benefit of fruitfully killing time in the airport.  One day when walking through DFW and checking Twitter, I happened across my dear friend Moe’s Twitter/LinkedIn share of a #ThankYourMentor post detailing to “Focus on Your Character, Not Your Career“, inspired by the original author’s parents.

It was pretty serendipitous that Moe shared this post, as he’s been my most influential & prolific mentor to date, so I figured I’d follow up with 3 things here that I learned from him and working with him; things that have helped me be successful every day.

1.  Starting out, just say Yes!

This is something so simple, but everyone isn’t always in tune with what this actually means.  I’m a very “learn by doing” person, so if I can jump at the chance to work through a project, I will.  But if it’s not my area or something I’m responsible for, either in a new area or just starting, I’ll stay with it to find the right person, the right answer, the right solution.

This may not always be the best for my multi-tasking focus, but it has always helped me to learn at an incredible pace, bring teammates up with me, and become a respected advisor for many peers across the IT landscape.

2.  Learn to say no, but for practical reasons

Contrasting #1 above, you will eventually need to learn to say no.  But not because you don’t want to do it, you don’t know how, or you don’t understand something, but because it’s more beneficial for a team member to accomplish the task for some reason or another.  Often in large companies, once you are known for being good at something, you get stuck as the “go to” person for that role.  But you may, in fact, have moved on from the role a long time ago.  Instead of saying yes, work with all parties involved to make sure the colleagues with needs are connected to the folks that can solve those problems.

This isn’t always apparently clear when you make the switch, and it’s definitely a grey area when you can start, but you’ll eventually know when it feels right and when to be maximizing your potential.

3.  Don’t shy away from things you’re not good at. They will be your strength in the future.

This, to me, is the most important thing I’ve learned from Moe.  Many times over I have been presented with a project that I just had to figure out — ranging from demos to presentations to keynotes.  These are things that just have to get figured out, often because someone who sees much more of what you are capable of than yourself, wants to push you in the right direction.  Not every swing is going to be a home run, not every project is going to be a success.

As I said, I learn by doing very well, and running head long into these projects, while often scary, has been the most rewarding part of my career and I can’t thank Moe enough for believing in me.

Going forward

All of these things I learned first hand from working with Moe and have often relayed them to new colleagues, in both words & action.  It’s a strange feeling when you recognize strengths or successes that you hadn’t really ever acknowledged or were aware of, but it is definitely a gratifying feeling and something that makes the hard cross-team work & brain teasers worth it.

2015 – A Productive Year

microservicesTV - All things microservices

This past year was an awfully productive year, with plenty of unexpected opportunities for publishing some content.  As I’m prone to going back and searching for my own content, I figured a year-end post (that is only a week late) would be a perfect opportunity.

Starting off the year, working with numerous colleagues, we published some labs for using Docker Containers and Cloud Foundry runtimes to manage Web App Hosting Workloads.  These are severely dated as of now, but I wanted to include them for history.

Actionable Architecture: Web application hosting using containers

Actionable Architecture: Web application hosting using Cloud Foundry


Next, we followed up with some Big Data on Cloud work and published a lab for running some hybrid data scenarios on Bluemix

How big is Big Data? Get hands-on experience today

Actionable Architecture: Secure Hybrid Data Warehouse on Bluemix


Next, I kicked off an article series on DeveloperWorks for microservices, titled “Microservices In Action”.  This would be the first step in my microservices journey for the year.

Microservices In Action, Part 1: Introduction to microservices


Supporting some of my peers attending DockerCon NA 2015 in San Francisco, I published a couple blog posts on Docker, containers, and what we were doing with reference architectures through the first half of 2015.

The Power of Containers in Bringing Reference Architectures to Life!


Following up on some of the problems solved in our labs and looking at reusable scenarios, I published a pretty popular article on how to feasibly use IBM Bluemix services inside a container, running on IBM Containers in Bluemix.  This one was pretty spot on at the time and still is very popular as of today!

IBM Containers and Bluemix Services – simplifying distributed Docker applications at runtime


Following up on my Microservices In Action series, I published a second post in time for DockerCon EU 2015 in November.

Microservices In Action, Part 2: Containers and microservices — a perfect pair


Also, just in time for DockerCon EU 2015, we launched microservicesTV, a video series to cover all things business and technical about microservices in the enterprise.

microservicesTV – All Things Microservices

microservicesTV - All things microservices
microservicesTV – All things microservices


I planned to write a lot more here (rickosowski.com) over the course of the year, but got sidetracked with all of the above.  I’m sure I missed a few things that happened in 2015, but am committing to publishing more than 3 posts here for 2016 🙂