Rebuilding with a new purpose

Posted on   /5 min read

On the 18th June 2015, I officially incorporated Yellow Brick Code as a limited company. It was the start of the next chapter in my career as a self-employed contractor and consultant. 5 years later in 2020, and I've officially applied to dissolve Yellow Brick Code. So it was time to rebuild this site and make it less company, more me.

Where I'm coming from...

Over the last 5 years, I've worked with a variety of companies but mostly startups. Working in or being in the founding team of startups is a unique experience that has given me opporunities to architect whole systems and build development teams from the ground up. Those sorts of opportunities are less likely to come along in more established companies. I've gained so much experience from working in startups beyond just technical and leadership skills. Your job in a startup is very rarely only what your job title is, everyone pitches in where needed. Whether that's writing some blog posts or learning to do payroll.

One thing anyone will tell you about working in startups though, it's intense! A lot of startups don't make it beyond the first couple of years and that can be a stressful environment to work in. Money tends to be tight in the first few years, even if you've been lucky enough to secure some investment. Hours are long and it can be difficult to strike a healthy work/life balance.

Over the last 5 years, I've suffered a couple of periods of complete burnout. I absolutely love what I do, but when I hit those lows of pure exhaustion - physically, mentally, and creatively - it's a tough time. Even with that in mind, I have no regrets about the path I've taken so far. I loved startup life most of the time. It's creative, fun and exciting and gave me a wide range of opporunities in 5 years that I would have struggled to get elsewhere.

What now?

As 2019 was coming to an end, blissfully unaware of upcoming pandemics and lockdowns, I was starting to hit that burnout low again. It was time to move on. I started 2020 with a 3 month contract that was due to renew for at least another 3 months at the end of March.

Then March happened.

And I was job hunting in the height of a pandemic where most people were laying people off rather than hiring them. I definitely didn't fail to recognise how incredibly fortunate I am when I ended up with two offers. One was a 6 month contract, and the other was a permanent job. I took the permanent job. Not just because it offered me security in a time of incredible uncertaintly (and I'd be lying if I said that wasn't a part of my decision), but also because it genuinely offered me everything I was looking for in a permanent job. The opportunity to challenge myself in a different way, to grow and learn from the people I would be working with in a company that wants to be the best they can be. Both for customers and employees. There's more, but that's probably something for another post.

With the start of the permanent job, I decided to shut down the company. I hate paperwork and I'm not planning on this being a short term change, so it makes sense. I love the name Yellow Brick Code though (I'm a big Wizard of Oz fan) and I love the branding my wife created for me with the doggos (I also love doggos). So I wanted to keep it alive in a new form.

What's next for Yellow Brick Code?

When I'm researching and trying out ideas or planning architecture, I make a lot of notes. Writing things down helps me process all the information I'm trying to take in. I want to make more of an effort to turn those notes into posts to improve my writing and also to share information that others may find helpful.

Expect to see posts on things like front end, back end and cloud architecture. Frameworks, languages and libraries. Leadership, personal development and learnings from past experiences. I may even post a bit about upgrading my PC to support VR gaming.

How I built it

I'm currently learning React (after spending the last 2 years using Vue) so I decided to build this site using Next.js. It was a good chance for me to practice with React, and Next.js also makes it easy to build performant sites. Their starter tutorial was great and it got me up and running nice and fast.

For styling, I'm using Tailwind CSS. I've never put the time or effort into learning how to fully understand CSS and do it well because I never really enjoyed it. When I found Tailwind, it gave me a new appreciation and enjoyment for styling. I don't need to understand all the nuances of CSS now, I just need to understand how to apply the styles using the utility API that Tailwind provides.

The look I was going for with the site was clean and simple, but still with a bit of personality. I want the focus to be on the content but for the experience of reading the content to still be enjoyable visually. I feel like I've achieved that but I'm sure I'll tweak things as time goes on.

You still here?

Well done, this post went on a bit! Hopefully it's given you a good overview of what's been going on and what to expect next. I'm aiming for an average of one post a month. Wish me luck!

Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you want to get in touch, you can find me on Twitter.

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