This year was better than 2020 but boy it brought its own historic stresses.
I am thankful for the remarkable vaccination program, for frontline workers, fiscal stimulus and the limitless inventiveness of humanity. I saw more family and friends this year than in 2020. My coworkers and I got ourselves to a stronger position than where we were even in 2019. I’ve regained a balance on knowing I am both extraordinarily fortunate and regularly challenged by the world.
Earlier this year, burnout caught up to me, and I had to confront those demons. I took a step back from social media and spent more time with my baby daughter and good books. Much of what I loved about my life in 2019 is still on a pandemic pause (travel, routine restaurant visits, indoor events and more). I found ritual and joy and added new habits. No matter how much this pandemic changes the world for good, I’ve changed — as a parent, the owner of a remote-only company and just a bit older and more experienced.
Thank you to so many who helped me grow this year. I hope I contributed at least as much.
Here’s a roundup of what 2021 looked like to me, and below I recap the progress I made on my resolutions for the year:
- I developed as a father, husband, journalist and CEO. Perhaps as much as any other year thus far.
- I messed with lots of different virtual formats, including more video interviews and other platforms, including interviews on platforms like Clubhouse, like this with my friend Michael O’Bryan.
- I had one of the darkest most stressful periods of my life, and I climbed out with the help of friends, reading and resources. I was very open about this, as I’ve long committed to be as honest as I can online — a place that sometimes only ever seems to put FOMO-inducing joy on display.
- I became an LP in two investment funds.
- My wife and I got vaccinated, as depicted above (And later boosted)! Holy heck! This was a momentous feeling. We went to a somewhat small-scale effort in the gym of a school in the neighborhood just north of us and it felt something like a war-time rallying effort. That I don’t wan to forget.
- I read 22 books, 21 of which were nonfiction and about a real range of topics (business management; pre-contact Lenape culture; translation and whiskey). Many of these helped me climb out of that depressive period!
- I finished a fun house project to store whiskey and a few other pieces that are important to me; my wife and I also added other elements to our basement, which I finished last year, to make it feel homier.
- In May, we hosted a better virtual version of Philly Tech Week than the year prior.
- In May, I saw my father and other family indoors for the first time since the pandemic broke out.
- In June, before the Delta and omicron variants, I had a wonderful month:
- my wife and I hosted an outdoor birthday party for our daughter,
- I returned to pickup basketball with friends again;
- I attended a Sixers basketball game;
- I attended an indoor concert from Jason Isbell;
- My team and I gathered in person for the first time, as depicted in the photo at the top.
- I even had my first few returns to bars.
- I joined a CEO group in June. This was very well timed as I climbed out of the worst depths of the pandemic and was seeking insight and reflection from other CEOs on growing a more successful and healthy organization.
- I had regular check-ins with two other CEO friends that provided lots of perspective and comradeship during a difficult time.
- I joined my wife’s family for a long weekend as part of their annual trip downtheshore, after we skipped in 2020. It was the closest thing to a vacation since spring 2019.
- I hosted another year of successful gardening; the green peppers, cherry tomatoes, scallions, lettuce and kale all did particularly well!
- I went silly with indoor plants in several rooms of my home. I learned some and they gave me joy.
- I bought an NFT and chipped into a DAO.
- In December, I helped host a new version of our Technical.ly Awards that was built for a virtual format and was among our most successful pandemic events. See one of the clips below.
- I hosted a portion of my family for Christmas, returning to a tradition we had just started in 2019. Unfortunately a portion of my family couldn’t come due to covid concerns but this was progress from 2020.
- In happier, if sillier news, in early November, a neighbor was getting rid of a small, worn 73-note Wurlitzer piano, so my wife and I rolled it down our block and, with the help of two other neighbors, hoisted it into our living room. I practiced a few simple Christmas songs and sang a few together with family, which was something I’ve long wanted to do.
Here’s a review of how I did on my resolutions for the year:
- January: By fall 2020, I began working from a desk at the end of a hallway in my home. I recognized I would benefit from making it a more comfortable place. I did just that. I did spend a couple hundred bucks on a new monitor, new shelves, a lamp and new indoor plants. Otherwise I simply curated objects I already had, including framing some old clips and memories. It now is a really cozy and comfortable place I enjoy working.
- Invest in Black business (February): I’m very proud to report that I became a (very) modest limited partner in a new venture capital firm called Rarebreed Ventures, founded by my friend McKeever Conwell. His investment thesis is focused on over-indexing on high-growth companies that don’t fit existing VC patterns (including both geography and founding-team makeup, including race and gender). More importantly Mac is a friend I was eager to invest in. Surprisingly I also found a second opportunity to join another VC fund founded by young operators of color, though that remains in private stealth mode at this point.
- Send my personal newsletter monthly (March): I only sent seven of these but it was progress.
- Assess my environmental impact (April): My wife and I get joy out of modestly reducing our carbon footprint, so it was healthy to review that progress, knowing we could always do more.
- Retire from long-held roles (May): I stepped off the LEADERSHIP board, transitioned out of the chair role of the Workshop School board, though efforts to reposition a more collaborative Philly Tech Week was further slowed by the pandemic.
- Try new healthy habits (June): I reduced my drinking, successfully food journaled to lose some weight, kept somewhat consistent bicycling even though I lost a commute and I made a little progress on going to bed earlier. All of those habits are worth continuing in the new year.
- Establish myself as a company culture expert and share that work (July): I grew a new Company Culture newsletter to 1k users, powered by a regular video interview series that we’re going to continue to advance. I also added a lot of reporting and research, so I do feel far more confident in this area.
- Forgo company leadership empower others on my team as I take on other new challenges (August): I’m thrilled by the mighty leadership team I’ve formed.
- Produce at least one video with more than 1,000 views (September): Nope, I didn’t focus on this as much as I had hoped.
- Celebrate the end of a pandemic (October): Wow. No. Boy, I was too optimistic last December, though I did see more family, friends and other joys, especially in June before the Delta and omicron variants picked up.
- Find publishing next steps (November): Yes, I’ve now zeroed in on a goal I have to make an attempt at a larger publishing project.
- Show a profitable company (December): Wow, YES! After a brutal 2020, we regrouped, adapted and put up a modestly profitable year. We’re back to a degree of health after a brutal 18 month journey. I am very proud of this.