It’s the 5th year of doing this Annual Review for myself. If you haven’t done this or don’t know where to start I shared my structure here.
What went well
1. New Friendships
Upon reflection, I realize 2018 was the year of creating my own independent life, something I started in 2017 after my divorce but developed more last year.
I met a crew that would become my closest friends, we started climbing together and friendships grew from there. James & Cara moved into my apartment building so life pretty much became like a Friends episode.
Takeaway: Make more friends outside entrepreneurship circles
2. Moving to Austin in November 2018
Left NYC and moved to Austin, Texas. It’s only been a few months but I love it. I was feeling stagnant and now I feel much more creative, probably due to a more quiet environment and having more space / less clutter.
Takeaway: Change your environment, change your life!
My goal for 2018 was to speak at 3 events last year and I spoke at 5!
Between Brand Builder Summit, Content & Commerce (Convertkit conference) and several other smaller events last year I surpassed my goal.
This helped me develop my storytelling and public speaking skills; something I plan to work on more in 2019 as I learn to become more comfortable on stage.
4. Love & Women’s March
I met my girlfriend Emily right before 2018 Women’s March in NYC, we found a connection over painting signs. We met, fell in love… long story short; as of Dec 1st we now live together in Austin!
The story behind the sign was that last year my friend and I were trying to come up with ideas of what to put on the sign for the march a few days later, but we were concerned that within just a few days the news would be redundant… because hello crazy news cycle 2018. Alas, that became the idea behind the sign, very meta.
My goal was to create something witty/funny that would make people smile and maybe even make it onto one of those blogs of the best signs… and lo and behold, I got into the New Yorker!
5. Getting a Driving License & Tesla
Once I moved out of New York City I knew I'd have to learn how to drive and get a car. At 32 this was the biggest purchase I ever made… and as of January 8th I have a drivers license (which was one of my 2018 goals). The only reason I purchased it prior to having a license is because of the $7,500 tax credit that was going to expire at the end of the year, which was great motivation to get my drivers license ASAP.
6. China Trip — Canton Fair & Factory visit
One of my goals this year was to attend the Canton fair in China and also visit our factory in ShenZen. I did this in April of this year and it was an incredible experience, not only as an entrepreneur but having never been to Asia before, travelling alone in a place that was so culturally different was an entirely new experience and definitely pushed me outside of my comfort zone.
- Moving to Austin
- Hiring a Product Manager
- Hiring an Executive Assistant
- Coming out to the world
What didn’t go well
My life during May – July was very reactive and stressful in both my personal and work life. With BestSelf Co we hit some cash flow issues during this time due to incorrect inventory forecasting, a bloated team and some other bad internal decisions we’d made.
During this time I also experienced some turbulence in personal relationships which made me more reactive than proactive and resulted in me causing hurt to people I cared about.
Takeaway: Take time for thought and reflection before reacting and regretting later.
2. Lay Offs
We ended up reducing a few team members for cashflow reasons and also we’d gotten bloated. Suddenly projects that we used to do with less people were turning into longer projects that were less efficient and less successful. Letting team members go was one of the most difficult things we’d done to date, however it was definitely the best move for the team and the business.
3. Co-Founder Tension
Business partnership is much like a marriage, and some years can be harder than others — especially when personal circumstances change for either partner. This has been the case for myself and Allen throughout some of 2017 and 2018. Communication issues between us suffered in 2017 when I was going through my divorce and mentally was checked out while I dealt with that. Then in 2018 after having his first baby Allen did the same thing and I struggled with doing the day-to-day for both of us. This led to some tension between us as the weight shifted over time.
It came to a conclusion at the beginning of 2019 when we addressed these issues and got on the same page regarding responsibilities moving forward. We also have a developmental coach (I call him a marriage counsellor for founders) that helped us get there — shoutout to Reggie!
4. Broken Collarbone
A week after moving to Austin, TX from NYC I had signed up for SumoRide, a 50M charity bike ride put together by my friend Noah Kagan. A short 10 miles into the ride I came off my bike and broke my collarbone — not fun.
This year I made an effort not to over-exert myself with travel, realizing from 2017 that too many back-to-back conferences or trips left me feeling depleted. That helped me understand my limits this year so I didn't have that.
Jan — Waterloo / Toronto / Quebec — Shopify Plus talk & wedding
April — China
April — Japan
June — Craft & Commerce, Convertkit Conference in Boise Idaho
July — Los Angeles CA
Aug — Austin, Brand Builder Summit
Sept — Salt Lake City x 2 (Mastermind Talks & Baby Bathwater) & Austin
Nov — Austin move, Indiana for Thanksgiving & 2 visits to NYC (post-Austin move)
Dec — Home to Belfast for 2 weeks!
My Faves of the Year!
- American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road — Nick Bilton
- The Obstacle is the Way — (reread) Ryan Holiday
- Atomic Habits – James Clear
- Thinking in Bets – Annie Duke
- Conspiracy – Ryan Holiday
- 12 Rules for Life – Jordan Peterson
- The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck – Mark Manson
- DJI Spark Drone
- Fancy barista espresso machine (paid itself off within 2 months)
- Herman Miller Eames lounge chair
- Ring Wi-Fi Enabled Video Doorbell
- Apple Watch
- Notion: Incredible tool for managing life & business (video coming soon!)
- Brain.Fm: Great music for focused work
- Superhuman: Great for managing email
- Loom: For video & screen recording
- Bear: Great app for writing; seamlessly syncs with iPad, phone and laptop
- Typeform: Surveys/questionnaires that looks good
- Ludus: Creativity for Slides
2019 System for Setting Goals:
I shared my system for how I take my big goals and create a system to achieve them. Check it out here:
– Bike 1100 Miles (track on Strava)
– 4 Races (1 per quarter)
– 1 Weekend unplugged per quarter
– Speak at 6 events
– Learn to play the Piano
I use the 13-Week roadmap to create a system for myself wherein I break down my goals into daily / weekly and monthly systems to achieve my goals. Goals are the result of consistent action over time.
- Write 500 Words — 7X
- 20 min cardio — 5X
- 20 mins reading — 6X
- 10 mins meditation — 7X
- 20 mins dog training — 4X
- Weights — 3X
- Piano practice — 3X
- Publish video and corresponding blog post — 1X
- Weekly Action Plan system (read about here)
- Plan lunch w/ friend
- Date night
- Meal prep & planning
- 21 Miles Bike Ride
- Host a dinner/fun event
- 2 Accountability Meetings
That's it for now!
What are your goals for 2019? Have you got a system to ensure you reach them?
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