Things are changing

Luckily (and hopefully) for the better

Somi András | July 18, 2017

First, to state the obvious, this post is in English. I plan to write more in English from now on, maybe most of the future posts. More on that later.

Second, I left my job at KBC Securities at the end of June. I had been thinking about it for quite some time, in hindsight maybe even a bit too long. But adding up all the factors and circumstances, I’m satisfied with the timing and what this might bring.

Why leaving?

The six years I spent at KBC Group was the most valuable period of my professional life by far (and also important in my private life). I met lot of smart people inside and outside the company, learnt tons of things about capital markets, investing, digital business, organizations, psychology, people and about myself. I received enormous amount of support and positive vibes during these years, and I also gained invaluable experience in leading people (I even managed to stay on speaking terms with some of them).

On the other hand I reached a point where I felt I was no longer working for some meaningful purpose, but for the sake of some distant people (who seemed to be mostly concerned with avoiding anything shaky so they can step up the ladder in due course), or some unnecessary internal bureaucracy or dumb external regulation.

It wasn’t the seventh circle of hell of course, just the normal way traditional multinational organizations work. But I guess that’s the point where you should make an account of your personal priorities and compare it to what your environment expects from you and what you can expect from it in return. In my case it was not a very close match.

So what am I going to do?

Aside from the occasional slight panic attacks when I contemplate myself being complete nuts for leaving behind a cozy and well-paid job (handing over my company car earlier this week was definitely this kind of moment) I’m trying not to think too hard about the technical details of the future.

(Note: It wasn’t that cozy in the end, but sometimes looking back it feels different from what I know how it was. It’s an interesting pyschological rollercoaster ride to let these things go.)

I don’t want to just lazily hang around either. So I set up some general goals for spending my ‘free’ time during the weekdays (let’s not forget it’s not free, just nobody pays for it currently):

1. Learn to code

Accelerate what I’ve been already doing in the past few years. Main subjects are data science and machine learning, and everything that comes with it. I wanted to go beyond free tutorials and silly hobby projects, so for a starter I subscribed for the Data Analyst nanodegree at Udacity. It’s sort of introductory but I can use some refresher on the stats and econometrics I learnt many years ago.

I plan to finish it as quick as possible and proceed to the Machine Learning course. That will be much more challenging. Maybe I won’t become a Machine Learning engineer in the end, but I feel that combining some theoretical and technical understanding of this field with my current knowledge might lead me somewhere. Time will tell.

2. Read a lot

I always considered my Kindle my greatest gadget, yet, I fell in love with it again. My goal is one book a week. Articles, news, blogpostst, etc. don’t count. If it’s just an easy ‘beach read’, so be it, but I tend to read more serious stuff anyway. I started with two quantitative equity investment books following the lead of an expert friend, but I have a long, long list of books on various topics waiting for me.

3. Build stupid things

Silly hobby projects are not that bad after all… I have a huge box full of Chinese electronic parts and two Raspberry Pis, and a few ideas to connect them. And then some more ideas about other things.

4. Return to blogging

I loved it when I was doing it more frequently. Let’s get back to it! The list above will provide me with enough material to write about.

Switching between modes

Earlier I thought the hardest part would be to have a strict system and schedule so I don’t just drift in space and time. While it’s too early to conclude I don’t think anymore that this is the real challenge. Turns out it’s much harder not to stress myself about not doing something all the time.

After little time I realized that I’m unconsciously trying be busy just as I was in the office before. At some point I was even staring at my almost empty calendar trying to figure out some stuff to put there. Old habits die hard.

On the other hand when I manage to focus but not force myself, nice things can happen. I need to practice to get into flow more easily, just as Cal Newport suggests in his book Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World (a must read for everyone I think).

Why English?

I will write in English mostly because I’ve never done this before and I wanted to try. Usually I tend to have at least as good spoken English as anyone else in a random group of people (not counting native speakers of course) but I’ve never tried producing greater amount of English prose before. It’s different and it’s challenging. (I’m very open to any feedback!)

The courses and other things I’m going to be busy with will all be in English, I will also have to submit some lengthy projects in English. So I’m going to practice on the blog. Keeping an English log might prove useful in the future from a professional point of view too, but I don’t have any idea how, yet. So this is not the main purpose.

That’s all for the not-so-brief satus report. Stay tuned! And let me know, what I should or should not write about.

Header photo by Tim Scharner/ Unsplash