How to build a personal story?
“What have you done? Yes”
I was talking with a friend today and was telling her how hard it is to compactly tell what I’ve done — turns out I’ve done quite a lot. She came up with the great quote above that really crystallizes my recent past.
I started being active in the fall of 2013 after getting a spark for startups from Boost Turku and for teaching from University of Turku. Late 2013 and entire 2014 was still kinda slow: I coached in a few Rails Girls workshops and worked at Chartio as a web developer. But most importantly, I met amazing and passionate people and found the doer within myself.
Mission: I want to create a better world with technology
I’ve always been fascinated by technology and I’m definitely a technophile. After doing a lot of things and experimenting with different ways, I’ve found three ways to fulfill my personal mission:
The simplest way to influence the world through technology is to be the one who creates it. I’ve been writing code since my early teens at the turn of the millenium: websites, sport tournament organizer tools, SaaS services, web apps, goofing around with tech. I’ve worked in fast-growing startups and software consultancy as a developer.
However, I’ll never be the top developer in the world and the impact of writing the code myself is limited. From great friends of mine I’ve learned that impact and scale can be found from education and inspiration.
My biggest passion is building tech communities. In 2015 I started Turku ❤ Frontend, a developer community in Turku. In the fall of 2015 the scene was dead in Turku. There was pretty much nothing happening. After a rocky start we caught momentum and grew the community to over 400 developers, designers, students and companies with monthly meetups. That inspired others to start meetups as well and the emerging tech community made Turku an interesting location for many software companies to open new offices.
Building communities is great because it enables groups of people to come together to be inspired, to learn from each other and find new friendships that ignite new projects and partnerships.
While tech communities are the core for me, the skills are interchangeable. I’ve worked on startup communities with workshops and accelerator programs, sport communities with tournaments and events, tech communities and online communities for gamers, fans and digital marketers.
During my university studies I also drifted into teaching programming. With more pre-university experience than my closest classmates we sat and programmed together and I tried my earnest to explain concepts and help people get started. Soon I taught in university and after that, I expanded to workshops like Rails Girls, Django Girls, codebar, and started a few of my own projects like Koodimentori and Boost Summer of Programming.
By teaching technology and programming to beginners and juniors I can impact the future. I want to bring more diversity into tech: with different backgrounds, life situations, experiences and ways of thinking we can build better technology that is suitable to fit everyone in the world.
We already live in the world where there are very few areas of life where technology is not prevalent and dominant. Hence, we need people from all areas of life who understand technology and can be inspired to create more of it.
Most recently I’ve started a new experiment to combine the above three: working on open source software, building community of developers and teaching technology. I started streaming on Twitch. I never thought I’d do something like that and I was so scared to get started. But every time I start the stream, interact with viewers and build something new, I get so excited and become happy.
So who are you?
“I’ll tell you but it’s gonna take a while”
As the post-its in the above picture show, I have lots of stories. But they all converge into my life mission: helping people to create a better world with technology. I’m still learning every day, and experimenting with a lot of new ways to do it. And every day I take steps, some days even leaps, forward.
But sometimes crafting that story is hard since there’s no dictionary definition for it. Unlike many professions or hobbies, the listener doesn’t have an existing mental model of what it means to do these things. And not everyone has days to listen all the stories.
Visualizing all these projects, initiatives, experiments and experiences is important for me because when I’m going fast forward, my expectations keep rising and sometimes I forget that I’ve achieved something. I’m planning on implementing Lara Hogan’s Donut Manifesto — mostly because I love donuts but also to remind myself of the good things.
Not every project succeeds. Many have become one-offs, many have died before I’ve told anyone and some have been days away from launch before I’ve had to bury them. All of them have taught me so much and I’ve learned not to worry about things that I don’t finish.