Review of 2017 and 2018 Goals
I’ve never been great about New Year’s Resolutions – but I’m a fan of goals. Goals can be a challenge because we set unrealistic goals at this time of year and miss them early. So while we feel defeated, we end up giving up on the bigger picture, the reason for the goal in the first place. To bring us to a point of personal development and change. Remember, the best time to make an investment in yourself is today! Read on:
2017 Lessons Learned
Early in my career, I set regular goals. As my career advanced, they became more random. I’ve made a concerted effort over the last few years to stretch goals, especially around investing in myself in being a lifelong learner. Carol Dweck’s book Mindset is great on the topic. Here’s the 10 minute Ted Talk.
Reading 100 Books
I found the 100 book goal was a bit easier than I anticipated. Partially because the math was easy, stick to two books a week, read things you enjoy. This settled into a cadence and I finished the year at 108 books total. A few tips to those of you who are thinking about a similar goal for 2018:
- Stretch yourself – if it’s an hour a day, also target a number of books
- Read great books, or books you love! I used GoodReads – if the book didn’t have 4-star plus I didn’t put it on the list (minor exceptions for books from friends)
- I subscribed to a Platinum Membership on Audible – I also had to buy some additional credits occasionally
- Overdrive is a great mobile app that allows you to connect to your public library and check out Audio, Kindle and real physical books for free!
- Here’s my “top 10 list” (in no particular order) from last the year:
- Essentialism – The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
- Mindset – Carol Dweck’s book I opened the post with above
- Life 3.0 – Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence
- Leonardo Da Vinci – Walter Isaacson’s latest biography, see my “Want to Read” list
- A Gentleman in Moscow – this was one of a number of historical fiction stories that I enjoyed as well. I appreciated the constraint of physical space (the book takes place inside the Hotel Metropol in Moscow)
- Beneath the Scarlet Sky – a true story of a young Italian boy growing up in WWII as a spy, and
- All the Light We Cannot See – I have to confess I wasn’t familiar with the category of historical fiction but I enjoyed it immensely
- A Random Walk Down Wall Street – seems timely given the current bitcoin/crypto market
- The Art of Racing in the Rain – a novel written with a unique constraint, the dog’s perspective. Very creative and like A Gentlemen in Moscow, the constraint creates a unique perspective
- Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow – is the follow-on to Sapiens
- There were also some great novels along the way!
Writing the Startup Book
At the beginning of Q2 I had set aside the time to get the writing done. I used a discipline of calendar blocking to manage my calendar and time. I have regularly scheduled time…..
Partway through the year, I was asked to judge a business plan competition in the Central District of Seattle. Those events are tough for me because I’m judging the participants against a rubric they didn’t have in advance. It always feels unfair, especially for youth. I want them to feel inspired, not judged.
That took the book in a different direction and trajectory. Much of the content was completed, but I went about restructuring the book into six monthly milestones with deliverables. It also became the name of the book (and new website) “6 Month Startup: What You Need to Do Before You Leave Your Day Job.” I’m currently delivering that program in Seattle to test the content flow and will be rolling it out to two to three new cities in Q1 2018.
Though it was a setback for the timing of releasing the book, it was a great step forward to connect the program, milestones and, ultimately, the deliverables for the attendees. I’m pleased with how it’s coming together.
Major Cycle Rides
Cycling was new to me in June of 2016. I rode bikes as a kid but was never a cyclist. Because I was recovering from a surgery, I bought a decent Craigslist bike for $350 to try it out. From June 2016 to August 2017 I rode over 2,500 miles. I completed the STP with an average speed of 16.6MPH, better than my best training ride.
RSVP was a great ride. Right to the point I fell over and broke my shoulder at the end of day one and 110 miles. I finished day two of the race, but yikes, that wasn’t fun!
Along the way, I grew some great friendships, met new people and raised $2k for Fred Hutch Cancer Research on Obliteride riding for #TeamJuno. Somewhere along the line, I heard someone ask “when did cycling become the new golf for business (venture capital)?”
Learnings from 2017
Be public with your goals! It was a motivator having both a friend with the same goal and a number of people who knew I was going after 100 books. Nothing will keep you on track like people asking you, “How’s that 100 book goal going?”
Be specific about your goals! The writing was hard because it was a “soft” time commitment and a little too opaque for a first-time author (aspirational goal until it’s published).
Stretch yourself! I really enjoy learning, especially books and people that stretch my thinking. I don’t want to just read authors I know I agree with, I want to learn things I don’t already know. I like taking on challenging topics. For me, this included taking on a number of categories that would put me into the “well read” category, and I had never read many classics. Here’s a great Top 30 List from Inc Magazine via Cristina Harmann via @Quora.
What I found for all of the goals is what defines your success is what you are willing to say “no” to during the year – not that you said yes at the beginning of the year. I said no to a lot of things during the year. I didn’t miss them, things like sports that I don’t play, mobile games and events I should have been saying “no” to anyway.
- Reading – another 100 books this year. Dan Rossi and I were discussing the options of going to 50 books and learning Spanish. I ultimately just picked staying with another 100 (and maybe seeing how many years I can go in a row… more on that next year). Go to GoodReads now and set your 2018 Reading Challenge! You can follow my 100 book journey there as well.
- Writing 10,000 words a month. I like to Blog (this post is 1400 words) and the book will require another sprint in Q1 to take the lessons learned from the first program and implement. In addition, I’ll be writing more for Seven Peaks‘ blog as I do more deals as a VC and see more themes in office hours. I’m also going to test out a podcast for our Bonfire Series for Seven Peaks. We’ll record and transcribe this content as well as edit it down.
- We have a goal of launching “6 Month Startup” in 10 cities in 2018
- 3,500 miles on my bike. OK, this one is a challenge because it will require some big rides and training as well as off-season cycling. For me, off-season riding involves FlyWheel, an indoor studio setup. I think their mileage is inflated on the bikes, so I’ll have to discount that in the calculation. It also links with Strava, so if you ride, please connect with me there. I also upgraded my bike!
There are, of course, other goals, activities and a ton of tasks to be completed this year. In the midst of uncertainty in the world, investing in your own learning pays the best returns!
Happy New Year Dave! We should chat about books when we see each other next – several of my faves were on your list too (Gentleman in Moscow, All the Light We Cannot See, The Art of Racingbin the Rain). Check out Born a Crime if you haven’t already 🙂
Thanks Dave, on point advice to get motivated for a new year. I love the “not yet” philosophy, particularly as I’m not in sync with all the 6month startup deliverables. But that’s ok, I started the program with an amoeba of an idea and now it’s multi-celled. Goal setting achieved, full speed ahead!