I couldn’t have asked for a better day.
It had just snowed, like really snowed, the first real snow of the winter, the evening before, and was still snowing when I met up with Morgan and Suzi at the Whitney around 3. Morgan use to be our manager back when we worked at NBC 3+ years ago, we affectionately call her “Boss Lady For Life”, and when we get together, we eat our way through whatever town we’re in. Today, New York was once again on the menu.
We had a 2 hour lunch at Untitled, then roamed around the museum for a few hours. They had a portrait exhibit that we were there for. Somewhere between the second and third floor we were exploring, around a larger-than-life statue of a person made out of wax, as a candle, currently burning and melting, we decided that we were having too much fun and needed to get dinner together. It was a Saturday night, but somehow we managed a 10:00 reservation at Barbuto, a place Suzi had been trying to get us to go to forever. Morgan had an appointment she had to keep, so Suzi and I went over to Union Square and saw Rogue One in 4DX. The movie let out and we managed to get a ride through the snow and arrive just in time for our reservation; another 2 hour affair. We finished after midnight, literally closing down Barbuto (our table was the only one not put away for the night when we left).
That was January 7th, my last night as a New York City resident.
The following morning, my parents came in to the city, we went to Russ & Daughters Cafe for breakfast, then they dropped me off at the airport for my one-way flight down to Austin.
Right now, I’m in the midst of my 4th week living down here; it still almost feels like a business trip, not a move. But I’ve got an apartment and I’m car shopping, so it’s going to start feeling more permanent real fast, real soon.
Chances are if you’re reading this, and we’ve met in person, your image of me is probably intertwined with New York. Every single person who I’ve told over the past few months that I’m moving has said as much, and no one could see me leaving New York. Honestly, neither could I. It took almost 3 months of internal deliberation to make that decision. I’ve got a lot of friends here in Austin, both at IBM and outside of it, and I’ve probably spent about 4 months over the past 2.5 years here, so the decision was relatively easier than it otherwise could have been. It’s probably also why it still feels like a business trip.
So, why did I move? Starting with people is easy. For the past 18ish months, one of my mentors, Damon, and I have been traveling together running Hackademy. Over the summer he was promoted to the Head of Global Design Talent for IBM Design, so I wouldn’t get to continue working with him. He’s in Austin every other week, though, so moving here would allow me to stay connected with him in-person. Another one of my mentors, Bill, is the Distinguished Engineer in charge of product direction for the organization I moved in to, so I would get to start working with him in an official capacity instead of a secondary one, which excited me. I also personally knew most of the team down here in Austin, having actually previously worked on the same team as one, so I knew I wasn’t going to be moving in to a truly unknown dynamic here.
As important as the people, though, is the work. I was brought down to help lead the Agile Team Experience for IBM’s CIO organization. The same thinking (and many of the same people) who have helped radically transform the way IBM works over the past few years and I’ve worked with to help bring in and evangelize Slack, GitHub, ZenHub, Travis CI, and others over the past two years are now setting their sites on improving how teams work. For me, this is the exact kind of problem that really interests me: a problem about people, where the underlying model isn’t yet fully understood or the required technology fully developed, at a giant scale. This moves me from a strictly architectural role to include product design and leadership, and that’s really exciting.
While New York is home and leaving it was hard, I now get to call Austin home too. If you’re in the area, for a conference, for fun, or cause, ya know, you live here too, reach out! I’ve still got all the good food recommendations in Austin like I did in New York, and I’m sure we can put together a BBQ and Taco tour.