And somehow we're done with 2011 already. Last year I made one goal (getting this site to the top 50k in Alexa), and I didn't make any effort whatsoever to reach it, so at this point I'm giving up on yearly goals. But I will say this-- if SETT isn't rocking and rolling by this time next year, I'd better be a famous rapper.
I may be blind towards the future but hindsight is 20/20, so I'm going to a quick summary of the year.
When asked where I live, I always respond that I'm in San Francisco for half of the year and out of the country for about a third. I never actually knew how accurate that was until an hour ago when I went through all of my credit card reciepts and Tripit account to make a detailed list of everywhere I was this year. It turns out I was right on the money. Here are some stats:
Cities visited: 42
New countries visited: 8 (Monaco, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Germany, Antigua, Barbados)
169 days in San Francisco (46%)
116 days out of the country (32%)
80 days in the country, out of San Francisco (22%)
31 days on a cruise ship (8%, overlaps with the above)
Overall, a pretty good year for travel. I did some good trips, saw some awesome new places (Berlin, Stockholm, Shanghai, and Iceland topping the list), and had adventures. At times it felt like I was rushing around a bit too much, but counter-intuitively, I got way more work done while traveling than when in SF.
During the first half of the year my work habits were subpar. The best way to explain is to say that I simply wasn't taking things seriously.
Some time during the year I experienced a mental shift, where all of a sudden it seemed idiotic to be wasting time with entertainment or useless crap when I have big goals that I'm not on track to reach. Let's say that there are four categories of things to do:
1. Things I want to do
2. Things I REALLY want to do
3. Things that are productive
4. Things that are REALLY productive
The first category is stuff like IM chatting with an acquaintance or watching TV or a movie or going to a party. The second category is stuff like camping in Japan or playing poker in the World Series.
The third category is stuff like redesigning my blog or making new business cards. The fourth category is things like building new features for SETT or writing blog posts.
I don't know what my time expenditure breakdown was before the shift, but afterwards I've almost completely cut out the first category. To a lesser extent, I've also cut out the third category. Now I spend about 20% of my time doing stuff I REALLY want to do, 65% on REALLY productive stuff, and the last 15% on the others.
Shifting so much of my attention and time towards REALLY productive stuff is by far the biggest change I made this year. My guess is that I used to spend about 15% of my time on this kind of work, based on feel as well as lines of code committed per week.
I did a lot of cool first things this year:
We technically started in December of last year, but everything substantial was built since then. SETT has taken more of my time and effort than anything else, and I'm more excited about it than anything else.
Learned to drive a motorcycle
I took my first motorcycle driving class on January 1, 2011, so I've been riding for just about a year (I didn't actually buy a motorcycle for a couple months). Biking has actually become a significant part of my life-- it's an enjoyable part of every day.
Flew a helicopter
I had always wanted to fly a helicopter, and finally got the chance to do it with a quick first lesson. Flying around is pretty easy; hovering is insanely difficult.
Played in the Word Series of Poker
Another long term dream was to play in the World Series of Poker. I played the $1500 buy-in Limit event and came in #100, one place above Jennifer Harman. Over the past year I've gone from being a losing poker player to a winning one, which is pretty cool.
Duing the portion of the year before I got serious about SETT, poker took up a lot of my time. It's nowhere near as important as SETT, but it's a really positive skill for the mind as well as the wallet.
Rapped for 1000+ people
In Mauerpark in Berlin, I had the chance to rap for over 1000 people in the Best Karaoke Ever. Video below.
Fed a baby leopard and pet a bunch of tigers
I really like animals, and while I was in Thailand this year I had the chance to get close to a bunch of them. I fed a baby leopard who sat in my lap, pet a bunch of tigers (and walked a small one), and swam with sharks.
Rode the fastest train in the world and a private jet for the first time
I'm a sucker for superlatives, especially when it comes to trains, it seems. I've now ridden the slowest train (although it's decommissioned now) as well as the fastest, which is the Mag-Lev in Shanghai.
Thanks to JetSuite, I got to ride in a private jet not once, but twice! And, inspired by Kanye, I wore my PJs in the PJ.
Spoke at SXSW
Thanks to Jason Boehle, I got to speak at SXSW in Austin this year. That was another item on my must-do-before-I-die list, so I'm extremely grateful for the opportunity. Even better than getting to speak was getting a really great reception from a standing-room-only audience.
What could be better
I'm really happy with and proud of the things I did this year, but I think I could have done a lot more, especially in the beginning of the year. Too much time was spent just loafing around in San Francisco.
My dating life this year was abyssmal. I broke up with a long term girlfriend in March and have barely dated since then. I'm happy that I put work over dating (or productivity over pleasure, speaking more abstractly), but there's time for both. In February I'll be going out for 30 days in a row, so this should be fixed soon enough.
If I was going to grade my year, I'd give it a B+, penalizing myself primarily for not hustling a bit more, especially in the beginning of the year. I think that the biggest thing I need to focus on is not becoming complacent. I'm happy and have everything I need, so sometimes I have to prod myself to fire on all cylinders and really hustle.
Right now I'm working really hard, have several really exciting trips floating around as possibilities, and will be getting back into the dating scene, so 2012 will be started with some good momentum. I hope you had a great 2011 and are also going to crush it in 2012.
Dig your year in review. I hadn't thought of the categories like that before. Right now I'm doing a "Priorities" list (imminent things I must tackle to reach goals, similar to your #4) and a "Could Do" list (similar to #2 + 3) and block off an hour or two for #1 each day. I add to each list (could do & priorities) as soon as I think of an item, so I'm never at that "oh crap, i finished something now and i have free time what do i do now" spot. Gonna write a post about it soon.
Seems your system is working for you. Oh and congrats on SETT!
very nice round up, And yeah to put in a word being complacent is honestly the #1 productivity killer. So many times I have eveything I want, my life is floating along swimmingly when in fact i should stop being so complacent and take some serious action. Its weird, its hard to combat, but i find the best way is changing your current situation to make your realize how much complacency is making you miss out on
Excuses. Do 30 days in January on your own, then do another 30 with your friend.
This shit is fucking fun man. First couple of approaches per night in the first week are tough, but then it's fucking glory.
Going out solo has been amazing for my self-actualisation. You'll learn so much about yourself, who you are, how to push through your own resistance, how to socialize... all things that help you in literally any other area of your life as well. And you get sex as a reward, can't see why not everybody is doing that. Honestly.
It doesn't take that much time either. Instead of fucking watching a tv series or a movie go out and pimp it for 30minutes to 1 h then go hard on thursday-sat.
@Jake I'm not procrastinating, just waiting for a friend to get back in the US. Promised him I'd do the 30 days with him, but he's getting back into the country later than expected.
I've experimented with public goals and private goals.... doesn't have a big effect on me.
Dude, you wanted to start your PU challenge on January, stop procrastinating.
Anyway, I've just finished a 30 day challenge (I keep going actually) and it was amazing. If you want to get some tips on it, I'll be willing to talk with you about it. My e-mail is provided.
About goal setting, I'd recommend you this.
I get the feeling this is affecting you a lot as you seem like a very social person.
It changed this for me, too.
Me again... Maybe it's b/c I'm 38 and
remember when "Under Pressure"... er...
I mean "Ice Ice Baby" came out.
As we say in New England, Wicked Cool.
I'm sitting by a crackling fire at my aunt and uncle's house in New Jersey and we're just a couple hours into the new year, which means that it's a perfect time to review the year and look forward.
If I were to title my year, I'd call it the year I got serious. Something interesting happened near the end of 2011-- I realized that I wasn't actually on track for a lot of my goals, that I was going to have to actually get serious about stuff, and that this seriousness had to come in the form of action, not talk. I ended 2011 with a few months of solid productivity under my belt, and a year-end post that optimistically predicted a productive year.
I'm happy to say that the productive year materialized, and that my focus on getting serious has intensified.
When I was young, maybe third grade or so, a psychologist did a study at my middle school. We answered some questions and were offered two choices: a small prize now or a large prize later. I took the small prize now. I think knew it was the wrong move at the time, but the pack of stickers on the table looked like a lot of fun. Later on the big prizes were given to the waiters in such a way that I was able to see what they got. Sure enough, their prizes were a lot better and my stickers were long gone.
I got Jason Calacanis for a few minutes today during LAUNCH. I asked Jason what happened with TechCrunch ("different ideas" he said), what LAUNCH is all about (basically, awesomeness for startups) and what he wishes he'd done differently earlier in his career ("think bigger").
You can also see my LAUNCH coverage of Brian with Green Goose, and Adriana with Girls in Tech.
Here's the video with Jason. He committed to responding to comments posted on this blog, so if you have more questions for him, please post them below.
I got Jason Calacanis for a few minutes today during LAUNCH. I asked Jason what happened with TechCrunch ("different ideas" he said), what LAUNCH is all about (basically, awesomeness for startups) and what he wishes he'd done differently earlier in his career ("think bigger"). You can also see my LAUNCH coverage of Brian with Green Goose, and Adriana with Girls in Tech. Here's the video with Jason. He committed to responding to comments posted on this blog, so if you have more questions for him, please post them below. Here's a transcript of the video: Jason Calacanis: That's quite a set up- I like it! Daniel: Thanks, thanks! Yeah, it's actually really inexpensive! J: So its a Kodak? D: Zi8, and it has an external mic- a really expensive microphone. J: I like it! It's a $2000 microphone with a $500 camera. D: It's a $200 microphone with a $100 camera! J: Oh OK, wow! D: So I'm here with Jason Calacanis, and I first saw you at Founder Conference up on stage! I was there and you seemed to be very entrepreneur friendly, also very polarizing. I don't really know you but tell me, what's your story, how did you end up doing this? J: Oh, you know there are a lot of stories of my life and a lot of ups and downs but the launch conference is my view of what a technology conference around launching should be. You have 100 companies here with small tables (????)....compliments 36 companies on stage who are just awesome companies. We had 700 people apply and actually 5 of these launch pad companies will get to be on stage with those 36 so we'll probably end up having 42-43 companies on stage. They each get five minutes to present their product, why they built it, the business model and then a very serious group of judges gives them feedback. Some of the most successful---it's an unbelievable group of people and then there's a grand jury of 15-16 members who will vote on the winners and there's 5 winners in each of two categories: 1.0 category= Brand new company, brand new product, 2.0 category= Existing company with a new product. D: I heard you say that if you guys make a profit you're going to invest that? J: Yeah, any profit from the event- and there looks like there might be $10,000-40,000 in profits for this event- we are going to invest in the companies. I am an angel investor so instead of taking a short-term profit we're taking a long-term worldview. Of course that will be a very small angel investment. Most companies are going to raise one half of a million dollars or $1M or more, but if we can put in $10-20K to a couple of them, we feel pretty good about that! We hope to do this every year, maybe multiple times a year! This is a conference for entrepreneurs, by entrepreneurs. The ticket prices are extremely affordable- $400 for bootstrapping start-ups. If you've raised money, or you're a lawyer, accountant, venture capitalist, angel investor, it's only $1000. And the other demo-like conferences are $3-5K to participate and some of them charge $20K to be on stage. Some of them charge $4K to have a table in the demo pit like this so we want to be extremely friendly, we don't need to make $1M in profit off of this, we just want to put on a great show and have people pay attention to the 140 companies. D: You seem like a guy who's willing to take risks...my audience is people who either are tech- entrepreneurs or want to be. What do you wish you knew 10 or 15 years ago? What mistakes to see you entrepreneurs making? J: The biggest mistake I made in my career is that I didn't go big enough. D: As in market size, or... J: Yeah. The scope of the products I built- I built products that appealed to a small vertical. And they were successful. Silicon Alley Reporter, my first magazine had under 1 million people who would be interested in it. D: And you sold that to Dow Jones. J: Yes. The second company, WebBlogs, Inc. was smaller, appealed to a couple million people, in Gadget Autoblog Joystick they had single-digit millions so maybe as a group, maybe collectively 5 million people. And my latest company, Mahalo, I'm building to appeal to everybody on the planet. A place where anybody can learn anything. Learn how to make a podcast, learn how to use that camera, learn how to do audio engineering, learn how to make vegan food, learn how to play the guitar, learn how to do math. I want to teach everybody everything with Mahalo. And I could have done that with the first two companies; I could have gone bigger. D: It takes the same amount of effort to start a company why not... J: That's what I always say. It takes amount of effort to build a small company as a big company, as a huge company. And what I mean by that is that the entrepreneur will put in the same amount of effort. He'll put in the 70, 80, 90, 100 hours a week regardless of the market size. You might as well swing for the fences. D: How would you apply that to mobile, for example? Mobile has a lot of promise, it feels like we've reached a tipping point, is that a great big space or ...? J: Huge! There are niche apps obviously but there are apps that will appeal to everybody so you have something like Angry Birds which everybody plays, from grandmothers to grandchildren, and everybody in between from rich people to poor people all play that. It's people on welfare playing angry birds and there are billionaires on private jets playing Angry Birds. There's an example of something that appeals to everybody, it's huge and makes 10's of millions of dollars- easily. But then you have niche applications that solve specific problem. Both are virtuous. It's OK to do niche stuff but if you're going to do something that's in a niche, after you get your foothold and you're successful, think "how can I do this for 10 verticals? or 100?" Or, "how can I take this success in a vertical and apply it to everywhere?" Foursquarer only worked in New York and San Francisco but now it's everywhere! The same thing with Yelp! Yelp was a local service for San Francisco foodies and now it's international. You can start in a vertical, that's virtuous and then go big. D: Just don't think small. Don't be thinking small, think big. J: Think big, take small steps. D: Any other last tips? J: Yeah- you miss 100% of shots you don't take. Take your shot. D: Would you be willing to respond to comments if I put this on a blog? J: Yeah! I will tweet it too- send me the URL. D: Awesome, Thanks Jason! . //