Sometimes it's annoying reading these annual reviews from other people because just like Instagram posts, the owners seem to be showing their best self. And I understand, it's natural to see a progress in life. More money, better job, bigger car, better marriage etc. This wasn't the case for me in 2019. It was one of the toughest years with more losses than wins. However, looking back (and this is later in year 2020) those big wins are actually huge.
1. What went well this year?
2. What didn’t go so well this year?
3. What did I learn?
1. What went well
Own company - Without a doubt, the best thing that happened in 2019 was opening my own marketing agency (which isn't agency at all) Grow + Scale with my best friend, work colleague of 5+ years, and an absolute badass marketer and manager, Manja Munda. Busting my ass, and hustling daily for early stage startups has been exciting and I've learned everything I know how to grow a company from an absolute zero to traction and beyond. But right now, working for something we've created on our own, and sharing it with a business partner who is wholeheartedly in it, is something completely different. Every second that you dedicate to your own brand feels different than working for "Widgets.io".
Clients - I would have never imagined having Microsoft as our first client at G + S, but that's exactly what happened. While I spent a year in Seattle between 2017-2018, I've managed to get a good network of super smart people. That was definitely one of my favorite notions of living in United States - access to highest knowledge, network, and events in the World. One of those connections "paid off" and manifested in the project that covered all expenses of setting up the company.
Moved to Canada — I've always wanted to move to North America because of reasons mentioned in the previous paragraph. Because of warm recommendation of Chris Von Wilpert from Content Mavericks course, one of Canadian employers personally reached out to me. He was looking for a content manager/marketer. There was way too many funny consequences:
- They: "We are an AR/VR company"
Me: "Oh cool, I was a CMO of an VR Company back in the day."
- They: "We are HQ-ed in Calgary, Alberta"
Me: "Lol, I lived in Calgary in 2015. I was staying in Bankview neighborhood"
- They: "Oh wow, I used to live in Bankview"
Me: "Omg, shut up :O"
It wasn't easy decision to move and took the job, but after three follow-up interviews and getting to know the team and the product, I've decided to take the opportunity and move. It's great being on the other side of the big pond.
- Taiwan — I've visited an old friend in Taiwan. This was my first trip to Asia and I was absolutely blown away on how amazing that country is. Definitely want to return at one point.
- Hang out with a friend in Spain — Discovering Madrid and Sevilla with one of my best friends while drinking Vino Veraño (so much better than Sangria) and eating insanely good food, and attending one of the dope festivals was a blast.
- Longboarding days — Hanging with friends from work and longboarding on a weekly basis is definitely one of my fondest memories in 2019.
- Godspeed You! Black Emperor — I've been a GY!BE friend for 15+ years. I've seen them 3rd time already. Still amazing as ever.
These are my favorite discoveries in 2019 (in no particular order):
- Gorm - German psychedelic stoner band. Their debut rocks and I'm super happy there's just enough new stuff from the world of doom and sludge. Other awesome stoner albums in 2019 are Elder - Reflections (again) and Mote - Samalas (Australian, world inspired album)
- Yvette Young/Covet — I thought I was too old for math rock and "guitar gods" but I can't being attracted to original music. Covet is a math rock, guitar driven band where Yvette's style shines. I'd pick them as discovery of the year. Yes, I like weird music.
- Flume - Hi, this is Flume — Flume has become a mainstream name in the pop electronic waters. My hat is off for creating more experimental album. "Spring" is such a ridiculously awesome song.
- Lorn - DROWN THE TRAITOR WITHIN — Nothing combines darkness, mystery and moody electronica as well as Lorn. I freaking love Timesink. Almost as good as Sega Sunset.
- Christian Scott - Ancestral Recall— Her Arrival is the tits. Scott is one of the artist that just stay in their own category. Can't compare to anything because nothing is quite like it.
- Nick Cave - Ghosteen — Oofff, Cave's album after losing his son is just a visceral and overwhelming with emotions. It's beautiful, sad, and reflective.
P.S.: By the way, I've listed all my fav albums of 2019 in this Spotify playlist.
2. What didn’t go so well
Health/Fitness - if 2018 was bad, 2019 was even worse. I've suffered a motorcycle accident and hurt my foot quite bad. I've spent two months in bad with a cast and another two months visiting hospital daily. The injury left me with permanent consequences which I (will) have to accept.
Normally, the accident diminished my way to work out. Apart from physical obstacles, the worst thing is overcoming psychological ones. Sitting/Laying on your ass for the extended time will eff with your brain a lot.
Personal relationships — I still work like crazy and give my time away for an employer. In a way I can't help it. I love marketing because I truly give a damn about a person I'm working for/with and take all of my failures/successes personally.
Company Failure — I might have rushed into the new company too quickly, but the DOOH startup I've worked with from 2018-2019 was disappointing. The first startup I've worked with had minor investment but we all hustle and got recognition as the national award as the Startup of the year. This one had hefty investment but inexperienced leadership which was riddled with office politics. I was trying to my hardest to push it forward by helping sales team, building the products, using marketing channel and establishing content marketing and marketing automation. I've always ended up with plans, playbooks, and blueprints in Google Drive, because nothing went forward. At one point, I've landed a willing client who was ready to travel to our HQ and open a new market for the company, but apart from the initial excitement, the opportunity was lost, due to office politics again. The final straw was when I've brought a friend (now my co-founder) to remove the bottlenecks with project management. After a month she was laid off, because she looked into our CRM (which I told her to do).
I loved the team I worked with but the ineffective leadership, unreasonable bottlenecks, and lack of transparency completely killed it. Oh well.
What I’ve learned
Relationships are everything — All the "personal capital" I've invested in helping others either by offering advice, referring other good contacts, or just took the time to chat about it and blow off steam, has returned back in not just good karma, but better opportunities.
Gratitude despite suck — Weeks and months after my motorcycle accident, I struggled with pain and even 6 months after the accident I still have bad days. However, I've seen people with way worse problems in the hospital. Because I was there every day, I've felt the contrast of healthy and sick people. Knowing I could have easily be injured way worse is a good reminder to be satisfied with what you have now. If you've ever had a difficult phase in life, you probably remember how you felt when you overcame it. Someone out there is having way more challenges than you do.
I dunno right now to be honest. I'm writing this in the middle of Coronavirus pandemic while being quarantined in my flat. Gimme a few days, will ya?