How this newsletter changed everything: My 2023 year-end & birthday reflection
Funny enough, my birthday is just a few days before New Year’s Eve (hint, it’s today). So for me, the Year-End reflection many of us do is also a “becoming one year older” reflection. What happened in this past year? Did I meet my goals? What am I grateful for, and what are the lessons?
2023 was nothing short of incredible, but before I tell you why, I would like to share something about myself.
I’m the type of person who often contemplates life and the meaning of things. I consider myself a fairly spiritual person and believe we’re all gifted with qualities and abilities to serve a higher purpose. Ever since starting to make big life decisions, such as picking a college, a degree, my jobs, etc, I always had one thing in the back of my mind: finding my purpose.
For me, this year was a huge step towards what I now believe more than ever to be my purpose: making a positive difference in as many lives as possible. It all started with re-launching this newsletter, and little did I know what was going to happen. Let’s take a look!
I created my Substack in 2021 because I wanted to raise awareness and educate about a problem in our industry that seemed very prevalent, yet not enough spoken about: burnout.
The response was overwhelmingly positive! I received numerous heartfelt messages from people thanking me for making them feel less broken and alone. Someone even said they quoted from my article when they quit their toxic job 😎.
What I realized then is I can use writing as a tool and Substack as a platform to connect and help people and maybe move the needle in the right direction when it comes to building better work cultures. Due to personal reasons, however, I stopped writing.
My 2023 goal was to resume writing and grow this newsletter to—hopefully— 1000 subscribers. What ended up happening was:
grew from 250 subscribers in March to over 14000 subscribers at the end of December
I wrote 25 articles including this one! Above everything, I’m so happy I was able to stay consistent!
49 other publications are recommending “The Caring Techie” 😍
47 of you have earned or purchased paid subscriptions! 🙏🏻
“The Caring Techie” readers work for some of the biggest players in the industry from all around the world. These are just some of them:
“The Caring Techie Newsletter” was mentioned byamong the best business and technology newsletters
Numerous articles got featured in TLDR webdev
Some of my favorite articles from this year:
And my 2 special collabs:
Withfrom - Lead and influence: Lessons from an ex-Uber Staff.
And withfrom - Becoming a Tech Lead at Google.
I started posting on LinkedIn mainly to promote my articles, but towards the second half of the year, I started treating it as its on medium meant to complement my newsletter. The growth was incredible:
from 1000 to 22k followers
my best week had over 1 million impressions 🤯
Here’s a cool word cloud I was able to generate based on my LinkedIn content:
If you were to ask me at the beginning of the year that I’d participate in any type of public speaking, I’d say you’re crazy. Looks like it wasn’t just one event, but multiple.
In April, I was a guest at Notion’s fireside chat where I spoke about my journey and the challenges I had to overcome as a woman in tech.
Later in June, I did my first podcast interview with Kellie Kwarteng where we dove deeper into my journey into leadership. The episode can be found here: Elevate meets Irina Stanescu - Tech Lead Manager at Mnemonic by Elevate - Women in Tech
In July I spoke at Plato’s symposium on building trust between mentors and mentees. That event got me an invitation to speak at Plato’s Elevate conference for engineering leaders that happened later in the year, in November. The topic I picked for the conference was “How to build an anti-burnout Tech Organization”.
In October, Oleks Maistrenko CDTO Advisor at Kyiv City Council interviewed me and we talked about another topic I’m passionate about: good vs bad management.
Lastly, in December, I did my first LinkedIn live with Jordan about “Leadership and Influence at all levels”, another topic I’m very passionate about. You can tell by our looks that we had a great time!
I already have a conference booked for next year, but who knows what else is in store!
My biggest takeaways for 2023
Following a calling, even if it seems scary, is worth it. Very few of the amazing things that happen to people happen because of a well-crafted plan.
Embrace uncertainty and do the scary thing!
Whether it’s through writing, posting on social media, public speaking, or literally whatever, you never know what positive ripple effects you’ll have.
The good news is that the more scary things you do, the less afraid you’re going to be. What felt scary at the beginning of the year is no longer scary—now there are other scary things I’m tackling 😅. We can do more than we think we can as long as we are committed to overcoming that initial discomfort. Discomfort means growth.
When I was approached by Maven to teach a live course on their platform, I was absolutely thrilled!! I used to be a TA in college, and teaching has always been in the back of my mind.
In December this year, my course “Impact through Influence: How to Influence without authority in engineering teams” opened for enrollment and we’ll start the first cohort in January 2024.
I had so much fun creating this course and hope all my students enjoy it just as much.
The subject of influence in the workplace isn’t the easiest or most comfortable to talk about, I know. That’s why I picked it! Because I deeply believe it can change lives, and more than that, I believe it’s teachable!
For “The Caring Techie” readers, the special 20% off is still going if you use the code CARINGTECHIE or this link.
✍🏻 More writing
I’m beyond excited for what’s in store for 2024. And while I can’t tell you the exact details, I know it’ll be good as long as I keep writing.
🙋🏻♀️ Questions & Answers
Starting next year, I want to start addressing questions from you, so I created this form that you can use at any time to submit questions. I’ll try to answer as many as I can. Paid subscribers will get the highest priority!
Lastly, thank you!
None of this would’ve been possible without you, so THANK YOU for being here and for reading and engaging with my content. It is a lot of work, but so worth it because of you. 🙏🏻
Wish you all a wonderful 2024!
With so much gratitude,
Irina Stanescu - The Caring Techie