Goals From 2018

Read one book a month

Like last year in 2018, I had a goal to read one book a month. Also like last year, I didn’t do it. In fact, I did worse. Here’s what I did read:

Kindle (3): The Effective Executive, The Laws of Human Nature, Blitzscaling

Audible (4): Benjamin Franklin: An American Life, The 50th Law, Trust Me, I’m Lying, Creative Calling

I only enjoyed The Effective Executive so it’s the only book I published notes on. On the other hand, I enjoyed listening to all the audio books, especially Ryan Holiday’s Trust Me, I’m Lying and Chase Jarvis’s Creative Calling. Because it’s difficult to take notes on an audio book here’s my personal takeaway from each:

Trust Me, I’m Lying: The media can be unknowingly manipulated by marketers to create stories about what they want, and then the people are unknowingly manipulated to think and believe what marketers and the media want us to.

Creative Calling: Everyone has creativity and it makes us happy to use our creativity to make things. Strive to create more in your life and you will live a more satisfying life.

Because I ended up spending a lot of time learning more HTML, CSS, and JS (more on this later), I didn’t read as much.

Write one article a week

I didn’t publish as much as I wanted to, but I did write more than last year. In total, I published eleven articles - a far cry from the goal of 52.

With that said, I did do some of my best writing and started writing about philosophy.

Here are my two favorite articles I wrote in 2019:

The articles I’m really proud of and enjoy writing are the ones that take the longest. With the time I allot to writing, it’s not sustainable to write these types of articles every week.

My plan for 2020 is to keep the same goal, but plan out my topics in advance and mix in shorter ones with longer ones.

Daily habits

Habit progress recorded in Done.
Habit progress recorded in Done.
Habit progress recorded in Done.
Habit progress recorded in Done.
Habit progress recorded in Done.

Last year I was considering quitting meditation and I did end up quitting it. It was a drag to do in the mornings and I don’t really think it made enough of an impact in my day-to-day thoughts to warrant the will power it took to do every morning.

Instead of meditating, I think I get more value from journaling. It’s not supposed to help in the same exact way, but journaling has helped me think more clearly and carefully about meaningful things in my life - goals, relationships, work, ideas, politics, and philosophy. I did much better last year than in 2018 and I’m still going strong into 2020. Here’s a guide I wrote this year about journaling:

Disappointingly, I stopped going to the gym. I was doing really well last year but then I tapered off. It all started from quitting Equinox, which saved me a lot of money. I tried to substitute it with my apartment’s gym, but the equipment is nowhere near expansive enough to continue my routine. I had to significantly adjust my exercises and they just weren’t as effective or enjoyable so I lost interest. I do plan to start again in 2020, but it’s not as high of a priority as it was in 2018 and 2019.

Some good news is I didn’t miss a single day of flossing. This may not seem like much to some, but it’s a big deal for me because I never used to floss. And doing it every single day now? That’s a big change. It’s great to go to the dentist and not have to have the “flossing talk.”

Habit progress recorded in Done.
Habit progress recorded in Done.
Habit progress recorded in Done.
Habit progress recorded in Done.
Habit progress recorded in Done.

I started tracking some new habits: learning how to code, reading, writing, and and staying on top of my finances.

I’m setting a goal for 2020 to code at least a little bit every day, whether it’s actually writing code or doing tutorials. I just want to make sure it stays fresh and relevant in my mind each day. The end goal is to build a few of my own web apps. I plan to write more about coding, and specifically the build process of this website.

A big priority for me in 2020 is to stay on top of my personal finances and how I’m spending my money. Since I no longer have to stress about paying rent or my credit card bill (and I’m grateful for that), it’s led me to be much more careless about how I’m spending my money. I want to be more conscious of how I’m spending and I want to save more aggressively. Here’s the spreadsheet I’m using to manage my budget and a guide on how to use it:

Other Things That Happened

Fired from Chili Piper

As excited as I was to join the Chili Piper team, it had an abrupt ending last year. After eight months, the CEO and Co-Founder let me go despite accomplishing a lot.

One of the reasons I wanted to join Chili Piper in the first place was for the opportunity to work under Emil Shour, a marketer I respect and wanted to learn from. Only a few months after I joined, he decided to leave for another company. That left me to take over all of marketing and report directly to the CEO. At the time, it was a welcomed change to take on more responsibility, but it’s where things went wrong.

The founder had a strong take on what good marketing is and it’s very different than what I believe it to be. He had a specific vision for what the company’s brand should be, which I believe reflected more the desires of a pet project than something our customers could best connect with.

Ultimately, however, it was my job to scale the brand around the founder’s vision. But because of our different marketing philosophies, we butted heads in just about every strategic discussion.

In short, I failed to be the brand advocate the company needed. I failed to persuasively make my case for a better way. I failed to admit I took on more responsibility that I could handle. I failed to keep my head down and my foot on the gas.

This was an important learning experience for my career and it had some great moments I’ll cherish. Lingering bitterness aside, I sincerely wish the founder, the team, and the company the best of luck and success.

Coincidentally, writing this now while wearing my Chili Piper sweatshirt
Coincidentally, writing this now while wearing my Chili Piper sweatshirt

Getting a better idea of what I want out of work

After suddenly exiting Chili Piper and the job I had before at ServiceTitan, I took a pause to think how my career was going. I used to be obsessed with my career and not in a positive obsessed kind of way.

At ServiceTitan, I tried to analyze the political power structure of the office so I could cozy up to the right people who had influence. I craved recognition and would resent the people who got it. I was fixated on the next promotion, becoming a manager, and how much money I made compared to my coworkers.

I convinced myself I was better than them because I thought about work to this level, but it inevitably led to misery. To losing a game I had made up in my head.

This is hard to write. It’s shocking I was like this and unaware of it at the time. I cringe when I imagine what my coworkers who saw through the charade thought of me.

But sometimes we need to get knocked out before we can be reborn. The first punch was ServiceTitan’s CEO suggesting I move on to another company. The knockout blow was getting fired from Chili Piper.

Before applying to jobs, I took two months off to reflect on my behavior, what I did wrong, and what I’ll do differently next time. I thought about what I wanted out of life and how my career is not my everything, but just a piece of it.

I thought about all my previous coworkers. How much more I could have done to help them succeed. How I seethed with resentment when they got praise instead of genuinely being happy for them when they completely deserved it. How I spent more of my time in envy, than being grateful for the opportunity I had and doing the actual good work.

I’m still navigating through my redemption arc, but I’m already in a more tranquil state, trying to remember I’m in a good place instead of always wishing for the next thing.

This quote has been on the background of my phone for a while now.

“It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor.”

Seneca

Keeping busy in my time off

During my break from work, I spent a lot of time brushing up on my HTML, CSS, and JS skills as a creative outlet.

I moved my blog off Medium to a static site - essentially just hardcoded HTML and CSS files. I originally moved my blog from WordPress to Medium because I wanted to force myself to stop fiddling with the design. Now I went full on custom. Hey, I had the time!

I’ve been taking online web development courses from Treehouse and completed their front end web development track. For 2020, I’m going to tackle their full stack javascript track.

I “completed” a somewhat broken to-do app that I started making two years ago. It works good enough for me to move on to the next project, but it’s special to me because it marks the completion of my first JS project.

A simple to-do app using Google’s Inbox design
A simple to-do app using Google’s Inbox design

I also wrote several case studies of work I’ve done at ServiceTitan and Chili Piper to build a portfolio. I’m not sure how effective it was at helping me land an interview or secure an offer, but it helped me get me some confidence back by remembering the good work I’ve done.

New job

Eventually, I had to start applying to jobs (because money). I had a better idea in mind of the type of company I wanted to work for and the people I wanted to work with so I took my time and was selective with the companies I applied to.

I found a company called Revealbot on the remote job board WeWorkRemotely that stuck out to me for two reasons:

  1. They’re a B2B SaaS company offering a product for Facebook advertisers, a type of customer I know well because I spent around $1.2MM in Facebook ads at ServiceTitan
  2. Their website and product has a fantastic design which means the company values good design

So I applied and did a preliminary project for them. I used part of my interviews with the co-founders to ask about their approach and philosophy to marketing and business, their values, and vision for the company to make sure it aligned with how I see things.

I learned they have a full-time designer in house and that’s how they’re able to make every design detail on the website and app consistent, look fantastic, and provide a good user experience. As a marketer, a good designer makes everything I do look 10x better, so this was a huge plus to have one in house.

The best part was the feedback I got from the project I did for them. They were impressed with how much I did in the time I had and the direction of my approach and strategy. For me, this solidified this was the right place for me, so I accepted their offer.

It’s now been 5 months and so far I’m really enjoying it. Recently, I was able to meet the team for the first time in person in Barcelona.

Barcelona

My new work held their annual retreat in Barcelona and I got to go. This marks my second year in a row going to Europe and I hope to go again in 2020.

A group of us went to Camp Nou
A group of us went to Camp Nou

What made this trip special was my girlfriend got to meet me there after spending a week with my coworkers. It was her first time ever in Europe and we got to spend ten days in Barcelona together.

The places we went in Barcelona, including the Picasso museum
The places we went in Barcelona, including the Picasso museum
The places we went in Barcelona, including the Picasso museum
The places we went in Barcelona, including the Picasso museum
The places we went in Barcelona, including the Picasso museum

It was my second time going to Barcelona, but this was definitely my favorite time. The food was spectacular, but most of all, I’ll miss the beautiful architecture in the Gothic Quarter.

The food we ate in Barcelona
The food we ate in Barcelona
The food we ate in Barcelona
The food we ate in Barcelona
The food we ate in Barcelona

Utah

My entire family has now moved to Utah, including my parents.

This year was the first time I went to visit them there. And as I get older, I recognize how important the relationships we have with family are, so it was great to spend a lot of time together and I’m planning to go again in 2020.

With my sister and her kids
With my sister and her kids
Love how everything is so green in Utah
Love how everything is so green in Utah

San Francisco

For Christmas, I went to visit my girlfriend’s family in the bay area.

We went into the city one night for dinner in China town. It was my first time in San Francisco.

San Francisco's China town at night
San Francisco's China town at night

Mexico

My cousin got married this year and he invited me on a weekend trip to Mexico for his bachelor’s party.

We stayed in an Airbnb on the beach in Rosarito.

Sunset in Rosarito, Mexico
Sunset in Rosarito, Mexico

I don’t get to see or talk with him often, so it was a great opportunity to spend time with him and catch up.

The tacos were delicious
The tacos were delicious
The tacos were delicious

Bought new wheels

And I couldn’t end my yearly review without an update to my car.

For the first time in my life, I bought my own set of aftermarket wheels.

19” BBS CHRs
19” BBS CHRs

Goals for 2020

I should have thought about this more, but here are the main things I want to achieve in 2020:

  • read one book a month
  • publish one article a week
  • complete the full stack javascript course from treehouse
  • create a new blog for all my marketing content
  • build my first complete web app people can reliably use

If you made it this far, thank you for reading! I wish you a happy 2020.