2021 Annual Review


Annual Review


1. What went well this year?

2. What didn’t go so well this year?

3. What did I learn?

1. What went well

Circuit Stream - The lockdown year #2 was the repeat of last year in terms of hustle and grind. But dang did it pay off. Circuit Stream had record sales and is keeping setting new records week-by-week, month-by-month, year-by-year.

Ironically while other companies were struggling because of Covid-19, Circuit Stream thrived because of the nature of the product - we’re delivering AR/VR development and design education over live online classes, and the quality of the team - our instructors are the best.

I've spent two years working with the team and even though it’s really freaking hard sometimes I couldn’t be more proud of what we managed to achieve with a very lean team and in this amount of time.

In terms of content, we don’t have competition (I make sure of that), in terms of value no-one comes close (I planned, managed, and ran 69 live webinars), and we’re definitely the most personal company out there.

Grow + Scale passed the 2nd birthday and sweeeeeet laaaaard we have been crushing it. We went from 3 people (basically 2, since I am spending majority of time with Circuit Stream) to now 8, raised our profit by 10x, pivoted to less competitive market (from content strategy to sales enablement and ABM) and are working with spicy international enterprise. One of them is on the Fortune 50 global list. It’s nuts to imagine that my business partner and co-founder Manja started this story from our laptops in the small towns of Slovenia. Hashtag blessed 😀

Back on the Track with Workouts - Back in 2019 I had a serious motorcycle accident. I required invasive surgery on my left foot. I had a cast for about 6 months and experienced pain for the next year. Even with pain I was grateful there wasn’t any more serious damage or even worse - amputation. In spite of pain I have started getting myself back there.

Living in Calgary comes with several great benefits. Steaks and craft beer are one (I mean two) but there’s hardly anything more majestic than the beauty of the Rocky Mountains. I was never an outdoorsy person but lockdown almost forced me to go outside.

And yeah, I have started to become a cliché - I’m out every weekend, hitting the trails. I started light with 1 hour loops to get my foot adjusted. Few months ago I hit my first 3,000m peak with 4 hour ascent and 3 hour descent. I got this.

Getting my finances in order. I’ve never made serious money even though I always had CMO responsibilities until recently. I’ve lived month-to-month like a cockroach and trying to make ends meet. No matter that my past companies received stellar awards and boasted new traction - working with Slovenian startups barely covered my oat meal and eggs. But, I did learn the skills.

Here's the summary document if you want to do the same. It's taken from Ramit Sethi's book I Will Teach You To Be Rich (2019).

Lastly… I’ve a new roommate. Please say hi to Darryl - a year-old stray golden lab mix. He’s even more excited about the trails than I am.

2. What didn’t go so well

Hmm, one of the things that I haven’t put that much attention to is my diet. As an euro-dude carbs in the form of gluten-laden bread are as staple as pasta is in Italy. Yeah, I can bake a loaf with my eyes closed and I’m also going to finish it in one day too. As a result, my body comp hasn’t changed much from last year, even though I am still doing 100 burpees per day since Aug 2019 (I’m going to hit 500 consecutive days soon).

100 burpees

About two months ago, I hired an online trainer and accountability partner. I have a new workout program and so far I’ve been consistent with the programming.

Second obvious gap is relationships. I’ve been to about 30 dates over the year, but haven’t settled down yet with the main squeeze. I’ll be pushing this up the priority scale in 2022. Lots of first dates, few short-term relationships but at this point I'm looking for wife material / future baby mama material.

This year my family suffered a loss of a close family member. This person has been a beacon of light and an absolute example of discipline, hard work, and selfishness. Me being on the other side of the big pond, felt useless since I couldn’t do more to help my family recover from the tragic loss. I’ve dropped non-essential stuff like writing my weekly emails, working through the night. This realization that your life could be over just like that puts lots of things in perspective. Who gives a fuck about hitting another KPI, or hitting it big on the stock market. All fades in comparison to the real important things in life: your family, friends, health, and a well-lived life. So if you are alive, and you’re not sick - go get a freaking flat white and an almond croissant - you only live once.

Third, I haven’t put any new content on my personal website. I could have said that I didn’t have time, but let’s be honest, I saw the new Dexter season (it’s great), rewatched Guardians of the Galaxy, and played about 90 hours of the new Street of Rage game. Someone needs to go back behind the keyboard and start birthing aways content here and on Grow + Scale.

What I’ve learned

The main lesson of 2021 is that I shouldn’t blindly rely on any advice or recommendation. The biggest example of the last two years is how certain countries handled the pandemic and lockdowns. Then you have other “gurus” betting on specific tools of the future (I’m looking at you Clubhouse) that is changing the world.

Secondly, and I’ve already known that - marketing is messy. No matter how many automations, processes, and elite paid channel strategy you have, there’s still a lot of hand world that makes the difference. From reaching out to influencers, answering every single customer support email, and trying a new experiment just for plain curiosity how it’s going to turn out is just another day in the life. Don’t ever think you know everything and imagine that you won’t have to get your hands dirty.

Speaking of the last lesson, I have seen a lot of turnover over the last year in the business department. Plain task driving and “another” agendaless brainstorm meeting is as useful as an ashtray on a motorcycle. No matter how important one person might be in the “industry” - if you’re running on past accomplishments and not adjusting to the team, you’re better off somewhere else.

Look, Tiger Woods has been #1 golf player for decades because he keeps reinventing his game, training just as hard as in his early 20s and putting himself out there on the hardest tournaments. The opposite would be a washed up athlete who wants to relieve the golden years but get smacked in the face by reality.

In a few months I’m going to be closer to 40 than 30. Fuck - just writing this sounds scary. Health is becoming my top value. My form of denial (and procrastination) has always been keeping my mind busy with even the most trivial tasks. You can always send another email, or try another experiment. Today I’m past 12 hour work days. If it’s not mandatory, I’m not touching work past 6pm unless it’s for my personal education.

How was your year? Lemme know!

Plans for 2022 ?

  • Help bring Grow + Scale to 7-figure revenue
  • Be/Stay essential at Circuit Stream
  • Buy/Invest first real estate with my business partner Manja
  • Move out: flat → house
  • Drop at least 5% of body fat
  • Try at least one new activity (my mind is on rock climbing)
  • Get into a long-term relationship
  • Finish two personal products (one has already started, second is identified)
  • I do miss writing, so the newsletter is going to make a comeback

What are your goals? @dgajsek


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