1: Thx for the memories
What’s this? See here for the what and why.
For the first time this year, my speaking business made it to the main stage. After being asked by the American Society of Association Executives to be the closing speaker at the Spark online conference, they asked me to be a keynote at the Great Ideas Conference, where I coincidentally started my journey to being a professional speaker 3 years prior, as a breakout room speaker. As a result, I got asked to do a few other keynotes/retreats later in the year. Conceptually, good stuff.
At the Great Ideas Conference, I debuted a new talk that I had developed through my weekly newsletter, the “challenge mindset”. It went well or well enough that I was featured as the lead in the day 2 recap of the conference. This talk was 25 mins, but by August, I’d expended the talk to 45 mins for the National Apartment Association’s AE Brainstorm Conference.
I also debuted a new version of my creative workshop based off the principles of the “design sprint”, a team collaboration process invented by former product designers at Google Ventures. I’m a big fan of the book and process and worked to develop it for the association world.
Over the course of 40 issues, I included links and short write-ups of over 300 stories. Collecting these every week means I have amassed a large repository of stories to use in talks and future writing.
I joined a few communities to improve my knowledge and business practices. These were of moderate value. A few were of almost no value. While I don’t know that I’d choose different avenues if I had to do it again (mostly due to budget, other options were much more expensive,), there’s 1 or 2 I would have turned down. The single biggest takeaway from these programs was that I need a solid sales database off which to work. I moved from trying to manage speaking leads in Trello to Pipedrive, a big improvement. The other is that you should absolutely work with Tamsen Webster, if you need a trusted advisor.
Travel and trips
SF, Hawaii, Palm Springs (2x), Colorado Springs, Minneapolis, Lansing MI, New Orleans, Atlanta, Tuscon AZ, Ithaca NY, Chicago, Baltimore, Richmond, Dewey Beach, plus a birthday trip to NYC to Seinfeld at the Beacon Theater for my birthday. We also hosted my family at Christmas for the first time.
Home and family
In the Spring of 2019, we found out we’re expecting our first child, a girl, due early Feb 2020 (which is 2 weeks from this writing). As a result, we moved out of the city to the inner suburbs, from a 1-bedroom condo to a small house, with a yard and petanque court (french bocce). We did a hundred little things to set the house up for our new life. I discovered the joy of woodburning fires in the backyard. We go for lots of walks and enjoy our neighborhood.
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2: Good riddance to bad juju
Although I didn’t set a specific numerical goal for my speaking business, either in frequency or income, I wanted to see it grow in 2019. While I raised my prices considerably and booked the higher-paying engagements than ever before, there simply weren’t enough of them. Because of the timing of our new baby, my business may have to wait until late 2020 or even 2021 to “relaunch”.
A bigger disappointment than the speaking numbers, subscriber counts and engagement in my newsletter hasn’t grown. I tried to start a private Facebook community for discussion, but it hasn’t worked in any meaningful way. This is part of an overall trend of less reading of the newsletter and less talk about it on social media channels. So, I will be retooling it and my approach in 2020.
Because this year had many transitions (business, home, family, etc), I spent an unsustainable amount of time dealing with “life problems”. Lots of medical appointments, home searching and home buying, moving into a new home, buying a car that needed more servicing than we expected and a dealer who was difficult to negotiate with, and so many other things that conspired to take up my time. This was a sore spot that needs alot of attention.
Over the summer, I developed some form of heartburn or acid reflux that at times prevented me from doing much of anything. I was in constant pain for 12-14 weeks. I had to deal with the GWU Medical System, which is a full-time job by itself. I was in and out of doctor offices and had a dozen different tests done, but no reliable diagnosis. I also was diagnosed with sleep apnea and tried a CPAP machine, but that was immediately cut short by my chest pain. My sleep was almost nonexistent for weeks at a time. In the fall, I was constantly in need of a nap by midday, almost everyday. In order to have a successful business, developing a reliable sleep program is an essential priority for 2020. All of these health issues, coupled with the strain on my time, and our changing family life, made a large portion of 2019 a difficult year, professionally and personally.
I don’t believe I performed either comedy or music once in 2019. I did give the Children’s Sermon at our church twice, the great acclaim and many laughs.
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3: A new hope
I have a few priorities for 2020:
Raise a child, help a spouse – We’re about to be a family of 3. I have plenty of baby books to read and sleep to miss out on.
Develop a health plan – Starting with a new wake up routine, I need to find habits that promote sleep, energy, focus, and productivity, along with a more consistent mood.
Use a habit tracking system to work more in line with a targeted roadmap – There are too many days where I don’t know where I’m going.
Make more stuff – Whether it’s writing or drawing or eventually business products, the consume-create balance was way out of whack in 2019 and needs to be adjusted in 2020.
Create a more pronounced body of knowledge – Pull all this stuff together
Engage more in peer communities – I’ve taken the small step of bookmarking all the learning/discussion communities I belong to on the home page of my Google browser.
Less time browsing social media from a general sense and more time posting in discussions with likewise-inclined thinkers.
Obviously, these aren’t goals in part 3. They’re more like focus areas. The truth is, I don’t know what my goals are yet, besides improvement. I think I need to spend more time designing options to see which are “good bets”.
That’s it for now. May update this in a few days (1/15/20).