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2022, a personal review 🌱
A year worth remembering
2022 has been a great year for me personally, plenty of unexpected things happened, making it a year worth remembering and a good topic for a first post on this quite quiet blog; well, we have to start somewhere, and I never promised a regular publishing schedule 😬.
N.B. Don't get me wrong, 2022 has also been a shitty year for worldwide peace and other news (the Russian invasion of Ukraine, etc.), what I am writing here is just a portion of the story.
It is my first time writing such a reflecting piece, inspired by the work of my Canadian uncle & family from whom I have received yearly reviews for as long as I can remember. The difference here is that I am making my review publicly available. This is a challenge, nobody is exactly the same in public as when they’re with their family or friends, colleagues, etc. My first goal is to make something relevant for myself and maybe tickle your curiosity along the way. Keep in mind that it will likely be a bit stingy in detail and no matter how curious you might be, we are not necessarily intimate on all matters.
Anyway, I am aiming for something I’ll be happy to read in one or two decades and have this “oO crap this was (me in) 2022”.
Yes, it is in English. I am truly sorry for my French speaking only audience. I am starting to like English more and more. A few weeks ago, a very close friend told me “We have different personalities depending on the language we are using”, and I feel like my English personality is a good fit for this review. In fact, it has been my language of introspection for several occasions in the last months.
I have a feeling that I currently have 3 facets: professional, familial & personal. Keep in mind that things are porous and coexist. So it’s only a way to organize my ideas a bit.
Florent, the “Émir de la belle data” facet
I am extremely happy that 2022 has been a ‘Qomon all the way’ year professionally speaking and I am definitely pleased to have changed jobs back in 2021.
Regarding the headline of this section. I love well-formatted data, and have my personal ranking of open-data providers across the world. “Émir de la belle data” (Emir of the nice data), is kind of my internal nickname. It was first “Ministre de la belle data” (Minister of the nice data), but we collectively agreed that it would be better to reflect part of my Lebanese history.
I am a generalist. I currently thrive in the “Full-Stack Data-Science” world, where I can do a crazy lot of things including Infrastructure, DevOps, Data-Engineering, Geo-Data-Engineering, Data Analysis, Statistical Models, Software Engineering & Database-Engineering. I enjoy every piece of it.
I haven’t done my official administrative yearly review yet, but I am honest (as always) when I say that I don’t plan on leaving this adventure any time soon.
Being surrounded by motivated colleagues, some of them being there since the very beginning 4 years ago, who love what we are building is really ‘one thing’. Being guided by 2 complementary co-founders that are great and smart leaders is really another ‘thing’. Having ideas for years-worth of roadmap material is another ‘thing’. So Qomon is really 'one big thing'. I like the transparency and the internal debates we have and the trust I have been shown. I feel empowered.
This is not an ad for Qomon. I don’t consider everything as perfect, there are ups and downs, of course, but everything is pretty damn good and, most importantly, everything feels honest and unique.
company project has grown a lot in 2022, in a nice way, i.e. not in an uncontrolled start-up rocket way. Yeah, I prefer calling it a “project” than a “company”, that’s my personal choice.
Among the hundreds of organizations (for the record, we don’t only work with political organizations) we worked with in 2022, we were involved in 2 French Presidential campaigns in parallel, which was challenging and exciting. Running Machine Learning models in a campaign HQ on election night to get a better grasp of the outcome of the election is really not something I had thought I would be doing one year ago. People that are a bit familiar with me know that I like politics / democracy. Being behind the curtain can feel weird sometimes but it is always interesting. It’s also strengthening my desire to one day contribute even more directly to public decision-making, just saying. Finally, I am glad that I have the feeling that what we are doing is ‘right’ and that I am not subject to cognitive dissonance.
In 2022, we also expanded (data) operations in many countries across the world including Canada, Brazil, New Zealand, Romania, Belgium, Latvia, Germany, etc. The adventure is just starting.
Some other challenges have been (and still are) around new areas of focus for me. I was appointed Qomon Data Protection Officer in 2022, and have learned a lot about GDPR with room to grow on the matter. Everybody also knows my love for the French Research Tax Credit but we are becoming better and better with experience. And finally, I have conducted dozens of interviews since August. It's challenging, but I am confident we will find someone to join my team and are not rushing things. Learning and gaining experience there too.
One of the 2023 objectives for me regarding Qomon is to gain more focus, to have time to dive into feature development and ship awesome features for our clients. We have so many ideas in store.
Anyway, what is my conclusion here? Time flies! I really enjoy feeling like I am not just “working”. And I am definitely questioning my future ability to move to a “job” where I don’t feel this way.
Before moving to the next facet, I’d like to say that I was super happy to go back to my former university during the summer to lead a full-week workshop on Applied Data Science. It was thrilling to share knowledge with 30+ motivated students.
Florent, the “Florinou” facet
“Florinou” is a more familial nickname. This is a public post. I am obviously not going to dive into an in-depth review here.
2021 ended with me being “COVIDed” during our family Christmas on the 25th of December. I remember going downstairs during the night to smell my grandpa’s bottle of red wide. And I was like “this smells weird” and in the morning I was officially tested positive to Covid and the plans for the holidays changed.
2022 was mostly COVID free and this was awesome.
2022 was also my first full year in Bordeaux, quite far away from all family relatives. I am definitely not the best at keeping in touch on a regular basis.
I enjoy watching everyone get along and grow. I have also witnessed the challenges they face and how they are going through them. I am learning. Though, I must say, I can improve on giving a hand sometimes.
My very young nieces and nephew are growing like crazy. My cousins are into or getting close to adulthood and it’s interesting. It reminds me a bit about my fuzzy post Baccalaureate experience. My sister and brother are now well into parenthood and I had the opportunity to give a hand from time to time. I must say, it’s really a challenge, from my point of view.
2022 was also a year of some rather big milestone birthdays, such as two grandmas turning respectively 80 and 90. I am 26, it is really far away and makes me question what I want to have done by then, if I ever get that old. It is one way to be reminded that “la vie c'est short” and we should think about it sometimes.
One event in particular made me think about it: the death of a close friend & relative a few months after retiring. I was sad. I am getting mature enough to understand what life means for me and for others. The “au revoir” ceremony was the finish line for some things. But it’s the starting line for other things. All I can say, thoughts have emerged from it on my side.
Florent, the “Flobulous” facet
“Flobulous” is a new nickname that has emerged in 2022 among my newest relations and that characterizes a new ‘side’ of myself that I enjoy.
First, dear parents, if you read this, I am sorry that now when I come to the Paris region I hang out a lot and you don’t see me a lot at home.
2022 has been a year like none before on the more personal side. It’s a very intimate feeling that I am not sure even a single person has full awareness of. It is something I wanted to share but not necessarily dive into details with everyone.
The short summary is, I understood a lot about, and became more aware, of myself and others than I could have ever imagined. I have learned and learned, read books again, thought a lot, reconsidered expectations, had some “oh shit” moments, had several “brain fucks” along the way, etc. I can be a bit exhausted these days because of all the energy that this process has consumed. It kind of feels like having lived 15 years in the last 5 months of 2022. But the most important thing is I am happy and more conscious every day.
And those last two paragraphs are really the reason I wanted to write this blog post.
In 2022, I really enjoyed moving a lot in France, going on adventures (hence the photos along this post), cultivating existing relationships and thriving in new relationships, non-existent a few months ago.
Want an idea of how far I have gone? (This is a metaphor just in case you are not getting it)
~33 000 km by train,
~4 000 km by bike,
~1 400 km of mostly car sharing,
0 km by plane 🙌
In 2022, I have been to Bordeaux (obviously), Paris and its region, Toulouse, Avignon, Tours, Lyon, Castelnaudary, Nimes, Valence, Marseille, La rochelle, Arcachon, Bourges, Nantes, Arles, Biarritz, Bayonne, Bidarray, Saint-Jean Pied de port, Royan, Alençon, Ussel, Atlantic coast cities near Bordeaux (Le Porges, Lacaneau, etc.), etc. (you can check out photos.floflo.ch for more pictures).
In short places that I knew, places that I discovered and some places that I will for sure come back to in 2023.
“la vie c'est short,” let’s explore what to do with it 😌
In 2022, I had several objectives. I don’t recall necessarily having them at the beginning of the year, but they naturally came along the way. Meet new people in a ‘natural’ fashion, go camping, go hiking, discover places, go to a protest, etc. I am extremely grateful to all the people that either inspired me or openly and genuinely gave me a hand in achieving them. It means the world.
Of course I am still very much concerned about climate change. During my trips I have witnessed visually the drought we had this year, and it was a very, very hot year. I am a bit sad that my 1 400 km of car sharing emitted the same amount of CO2 as my 33 000 km of train travel, but that’s life.
I have objectives for 2023 to keep addressing my personal impact:
Get on a flexitarian diet (I have already dropped most ‘red meat’ consumption).
Other objectives for 2023 include:
Go on holiday. Explore Europe a bit. Wanna share some time/adventures? Let me know. I have a lot of holidays in stock 🌴
Add a new time consuming habit to my life (Writing? Drawing?)
Keep learning, supporting, becoming more aware, cherishing relationships and embracing change.
But most importantly, keep setting objectives along the way, every day is its own journey. The best things of 2022 were unexpected. I expect that to be the same in 2023.
I was really not into concluding on financial stuff, but I am finishing 2022 with a giving back mood. I am happy to have witnessed my parents make donations while growing up. I have donated in the past, this is not a first. Maybe it can encourage people to do it as well. I don’t have regular donation habits, but I like to support causes that are either close to my heart or close to the hearts of the people I know; I have got to know so many more people this year… 😄
This year, after deductions (yes, no tricks), I have given the equivalent of 20% of the “2022 money” I haven’t spent ‘living’ to political organizations that challenge the status quo and NGOs supporting refugees, children and women in need, advocating for inclusivity and enabling a more decentralized web. It can be fuzzy to say such a percentage, but people who know me, know that I am not a very big spender guy, so believe me, it’s not peanuts 🥳.
My final words are,
I am truly grateful for 2022, and especially grateful to all the people that have made it possible.