While I wrote this primarily for myself, I publish this with the hope that you’ll see value in getting to look into other human journey through life.
Company-wise, in 2023 I made more uncomfortable decisions, one of which was hiring an EOS implementer. This encouraged us to professionalize how we operate, challenge how we are doing things, and eventually learn, but also make mistakes. Personally, my role changed as well; I focused more on supporting the growth of the leadership team and allocating capital.
I am still not 100% comfortable in this role and I’ve enjoyed towards the end of the year to get hands-on on a small feature designed to improve domainwheel.com accuracy.
*To be more specific and hopefully help others as well, EOS and Brandon helped me the most on two things: a) creating the context for everyone on the leadership team in regards to their role, which I couldn’t do by myself & helping everyone to be more accountable, delegate more and grow as leaders. b) Encouraged us to be more focused & accountable on the performance numbers, which determined us to do a much more detailed P&L looking into how each team & product is performing, while before, I was mostly guesstimating. We’re using also ninety.io as a tool and this helps us a lot.
Towards the year’s end, our media business lost about 50% of its monthly revenue, this risk, always in the back of my mind, led us to change our approach somewhat and double down on ensuring our visitors are happy with the content we deliver. It might also change how we organize ourselves and is definitively adding some stress.
The reason for this was mostly the over-optimization that we did over the past 2 years, in terms of focus on the content & monetization.
A personal highlight was the acquisition of cathy-moore.com, our biggest to date, after years of searching for a high-quality business. It’s important for me because I felt that I got to use the knowledge that I accumulated in the past years and also because it had the right amount of fear & excitement.
Personal Growth and Networking
Outside my direct role within the company, I did a lot to grow in my position. I joined the Entrepreneur Organization‘s local and European chapters, attending monthly forums. Quarterly, I traveled to places like Morocco, Germany, and Turkey to meet with other entrepreneurs, reflect, and grow.
I’m not very at ease with other people, so for me, this is not about networking. I see it more as an opportunity to reflect on myself and my development.
*More specifically here on how the sessions are being run and what are the most helpful parts for me, on the quarterly forum I am doing:
First of all, this is a curated group of people who commit to travel for 3 days, 3 times per year to a place to grow & learn.
a) We start by doing some trust-building exercises, e.g. each person shares which 3 moments were the most important in his/her life until now.
b) We start by sharing, ideally the 5% (the things you can’t share with your team, your friends, or your partner oftentimes) on professional, personal & family life.
c) Each person presents and is coached by another member on a topic that is struggling with.
This helped me with two aspects, first, it reminds me that everyone has struggled or had challenging moments in their life, just that we rarely talk about it, even among friends. Second bringing my biggest challenges that I have to the group, either at work or home, helped me to reflect on them and hear other’s experiences, coaching others or hearing their challenges along with sharing my experiences, helped me as well to feel that I am maybe contributing a bit in helping others.
I also continued to work with Claire as a business coach, this started after seeing one of her tweets a couple of years ago.
Financial Literacy and Investments
After reading a lot of content by Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger since 2020, I was excited to finally see them in person and travel to Omaha. I was also interested in meeting an “investors” crowd, as my role lately has been more about this.
I was surprised by the diversity of the people at the event, even more so than at a WordCamp. Like me, many came out of respect for what Berkshire had done for them, whether it was the return from the stock or the learnings.
I’ve always wanted to spend time reading financial reports of various companies, a task I enjoy and find helpful. This year, I wished I could have spent more time on it, but it was still more than in 2022. I struggled in the past to justify to myself doing this on “working time”, since I don’t have any immediate use, but I improved in taking responsibility for how I am spending time.
When reading them, I look first to learn about various business models and industries, then for capable and authentic managers. It’s surprising how many companies try to make things look good without actually being good.
A couple of years ago I also started to explore building my stock portfolio, I don’t actively manage it, but if you’re curious, the top companies I’m holding as of today are Nintendo, Berkshire, and Livechat.com (Text SA), making up about 40% of my portfolio. One of my learnings and goals here is that I develop enough knowledge and conviction to make bolder moves, instead of just creating my sort of index of the market.
Overall, I’ve read more, reflected more, and been more productive than in the past years.
By doing more reflection and reading (including non-business stuff, like “If This is a Man” by Primo Levi), I felt better. I took a 3-month sabbatical, a policy everyone in the company can take. After starting it, I felt even worse than before, with tiredness and back pain. After a discussion with a friend, I realized I just can’t do nothing, so I made it a goal to do as little as possible.
Health and Wellness
I bought an Oura ring to track my progress in sleep, sport, and stress. I remember it took maybe 1-2 months to see results.
Something odd also happened: after some events, I suddenly felt more grateful and confident. I could feel gratitude before, but I couldn’t be grateful inside. I think this might be related to overcoming major personal fears or letting go of some things, but I can’t identify it 100%.
On a down note, I still have wrist pain that’s been bothering me for two years, making work very annoying. I’ve had better and worse periods, but probably nothing can bring back the times when no matter how long or in what position I worked, nothing bothered me.
I traveled much more than before, which was sometimes tiring but generally enjoyable. I went a few times to Romania, Greece for our team retreat, and Italy & France since they’re nearby. I also traveled to the US for the Berkshire meeting and to Morocco, Germany, & Turkey with EO. Towards the year’s end, I visited Australia & Singapore.
Traveling especially to countries with a different culture or religion like Morroco, Turkey, or Singapore, which has also grown a lot in the past 10 years, showed me some of my biases & brought me out of my comfort zone a bit.
Morocco was especially interesting since I last time visited 8-10 years ago when not only the country was a bit different, but I was also a very different person, things that I remembered and cared about a lot back then, I don’t care now.
Looking back, the year was very busy at times. I was more efficient than before, which helped. I had a good balance between working, reflecting, and taking time for myself. Doing more sports helped me stay focused longer. However, I rarely did “nothing,” and the whole year passed in an instant. This realization hit me when I was reading that ChatGPT has been around for more than a year, which I simply couldn’t believe, so I kept googling the launch date multiple times. I find this to be an indication of not so great quality of life; I think it’s better most of the time to have the opposite impression, that time is passing very slowly, which is what I am looking forward to improving in 2024.
I am grateful for everything that happened to me and for being able to take the time to do this writing and reflection.