May has always seemed more like the “start” of a year for me. It is probably because I have always used my birthday to reflect on my latest “trip around the sun” and plan the one ahead. It may be because I so prefer warm weather despite growing up in the northeastern part of the United States. Maybe, it is just because fate, luck, or God’s plan just says “It’s May, time to get him out of his comfort zone.”
Despite the global pandemic, election turmoil, and social unrest, things were pretty calm for us at the Fleming homestead this past year. My wife Teresa got to work from home the whole time. My son Ryan was also home and did all his college classes virtually. My in-laws live in an apartment at our home, so we had them close. We were lucky to be together and not separated like so many families. Here in Tallahassee, we had the option to be outside and do everyday things like grocery shopping without lots of constraints that so many in other parts of the country could not.
Fortunately. none of us got COVID and we have all been vaccinated now. We did have some family members who got sick. My niece is still dealing with the after-effects of her bout with this awful disease. My wife Teresa did have some health issues this past year. They were not COVID-related and seem to be under control now. So some health worries for us in this trip around the sun, but nothing like what others have had to face.
It was a pretty interesting year for me professionally. I took steps in 2019 to focus the Outcome Labs business on developing WordPress-based solutions. We did lots of work and research this past year focused on the WordPress Block Editor. We adopted new tools including Blocksy from Creative Themes. The founders, Sergiu Radu and Andrei Glingeanu have been great partners. We completed projects for the National Kidney Foundation of Indiana, author Lily Morton, Wonderwell Press, and long-time client Tandem Solutions.
The most significant thing that happened for me professionally during the past year was the opportunity I got last May to work for the Division of Medical Quality Assurance at the Florida Department of Health. MQA licenses and regulates health care practitioners in Florida. They are focused on developing the Florida health care workforce to ensure the best public health outcomes across the state. Over the past year, I had the opportunity to work with the team providing technology support to the boards, regulatory and enforcement professionals, and management of the division. I got to work on some interesting projects including delivering AI-based Virtual Assistants and real-time interactive dashboards for the division.
I want to thank the entire team at MQA, especially Eric Clark, Craig Doyle, Zatorrius Furniss, Allison Stachnik, and Gery Weldy, for helping me learn and for the incredible support each of them gave me. I also want to thank the MQA management team, especially Lola Pouncy, for the great opportunity to work for the citizens of Florida.
Since it is May, there has to be something new going on right? Well, there is. A few weeks ago, a long-time client and friend, Chris McKenney, the President of Mango Publishing Group, called to see if I would be interested in taking on a larger role with the Mango team. Mango is pioneering new ways to market and sell books using modern analytics-based marketing techniques and proprietary software. They have been recognized by Publishers Weekly as one of the fastest-growing independent publishers for the past three years.
I have always been a builder, so how could I say no? Stay tuned for more over the next few weeks.
All in all, a pretty good year for us despite all the turmoil in the world. I am very thankful that everyone stayed healthy and we didn’t face the health or financial challenges so many have had to face. As this “year” wraps up, I am taking a moment to reflect on just how truly blessed I am. Wishing each of you and your families the very best in this next “trip around the sun.”