Losing $500k in a day, a GrowthHackers keynote, and one “vocal” baby girl.
Before I look at 2021, I want to reflect on my learnings from 2020.
Aka the Dumpster 🔥 fire year.
Here are some highlights and lowlights from 2020.
1) Losing $500k in 48 hours
I was pretty public about my setback this year. We were at $1M ARR when COVID pulled the rug out from under us. We lost half our business overnight and I tested positive for COVID that same day. It was the hardest thing I have endured as a business owner. We recovered and had our best year to date. But, it was exhausting and I have yet to relax. Essentially, we had to build a 7 figure agency twice in one year. Here’s to 2021 not being a dumpster fire.
2) MC-ing GrowthHackers with Sean Ellis and Saying Bye to Work Travel
Surreal. I got to MC the 2020 GrowthHackers conference with Sean Ellis. Sean is the founder of GrowthHackers and he invented the phrase “Growth Hacker.” I remember diving into his content back in 2013 and I couldn’t get enough of his work. So presenting with him in 2020 was a surreal moment for me. Okay, I’ll stop fan-boying about it.
In 2019, I took 62 flights for speaking and teaching engagements. This year I took zero flights from March to December. Instead, I just spoke into my computer screen and did zoom talks. I do like meeting people face to face and seeing new cities. But, I love not missing out on time with the family because I’m dashing through Sea-Tac security to make my next workshop. This is making me rethink work travel in general.
3) GrowthHit is a Team of 10
In March, I was staring at my balance sheet trying to find a way to not lay anyone off. Luckily, we kept everyone and we ended the year hiring 4 more people. People are the hardest part of any business and I am lucky that the rockstars at GrowthHit have decided to work with me. And if you want to join the team we’re hiring one more person.
4) My First Angel Investment
I made my first angel investment this year. Here is the blog post on Angel Investing and why I’m going all in on . . . Nursing shoes. After working with 100+ startups at GrowthHit or through teaching, it’s exciting to finally make a bet on one I believe in.
5) A Partnership with LinkedIn
Linkedin had me create their new CRO course for their LinkedIn Learning platform this year. Check out the CRO course here. I’ll be launching a growth marketing course for them in 2021. Get excited.
6) Being a Board Member that Knows When to Talk (and When to Shut Up)
This was my first full year as a board member of Egeneration Marketing, a $10M marketing business. We did one acquisition and we were able to navigate the variability that came with the pandemic. Being a board member means being a sounding board for the CEO, thinking strategically about key moves, and knowing when to ask the right questions and when to shut up. I’m still perfecting that last one.
7) Cancer Sucks
This past November my mother-in-law lost her battle with cancer. Just the year before she was healthy and helping us take care of our new baby girl. It happened so fast.
For my wife and I, it was the most stressful time of our married lives. We temporarily moved our family from Seattle to Dallas to be with her for the last two months of her life. That meant renting a house to quarantine and finding a new daycare for our two girls. It was tough but I’m so thankful we were with her during those last days. Life is short. Don’t sweat the small shit. And pick up the phone and call your mom.
Some quick memories on my mother-in-law. Susan Kearbey was quite a talker but also an amazing listener. She always asked about me and Growthhit despite the fact she didn’t know exactly what I did. Susan was a world-class gift giver and card writer. She never missed a birthday and she always listened to the little details in your stories bc they could lead to an unexpected gift in your mailbox. If you were in her circle of family and friends then you were a lucky one. Her greatest joy was in making those around her happy. I hope to have 1 ounce of the generosity that she had.
8) My First Full Year as A Family of 4
This was our first full year as a family of 4. The silver lining of the pandemic was that it killed my work travel and I loved it. It meant more time chasing my two girls and I soaked it all up. But, this father/ founder juggling act is real. In my 20s, I solved every problem by simply “working harder”. But, when you are a parent that’s not an option. Your time is limited. You have to work smarter, think differently or trust your team. I’m constantly looking for hacks around this.
Bonus: 2020 Reminded Me About My #1 Life Hack
2020 was a tough one personally and professionally. Covid, cancer, business volatility and raising two girls under the age of four. I cannot imagine doing this without one specific person: my wife. The right significant other is the best life hack. To celebrate, here is a video of that special someone. (Sorry Kyle 😁!)
Hope you have some time to reflect as well.
Here is a look back at my 2019.
Here is a look back at my 2018.