2017 Year in Review

I used to write year-in-review articles every year, but stopped a long time ago. I don’t remember why.

But I’ve really enjoyed reading other people’s this year, and have been particularly inspired to start doing it again by Justin Jackson’s recent post.

I’m not big on resolutions. I never make them. Probably because I never keep them, but anyway… I do think there’s value in thinking about the previous year, what worked and what didn’t.

When I worked at Apple, we did a “postmortem” after every project launch. And while I’m not big on meetings, they were always really helpful.

So, with that, here’s a look at my 2017.

Changes

This was a huge year for change. In fact, the last three years have been full of constant change, but 2017 had more ups and downs than just about any other year of my adult life.

Social Media

I quit Facebook in January, stopped using Twitter as much, and started to focus almost exclusively on Instagram. It’s still social media, but I like that on IG, people are mostly posting about the mundane shit of their lives, rather then the seemingly endless political arguments that seem to dominate Twitter and Facebook.

Speaking of IG, I started making (almost) daily IG Stories. For me, it’s a method of self-documentation. It’s almost like a video diary, but one that anyone in the world can see. Some people don’t like that part of it, but I do. It adds something to the experience…

It’s become part of my morning routine to go get my coffee, drive over to the park and have some quiet time and record a few videos.

I’ve never done much with video, but I have loved getting into it. Obviously podcasting and audio have been huge in my life for the past five or six years. I’m new to video, but I’ve absolutely fallen in love with it. I’d love to start a real “vlog” and challenge myself to post daily, though I doubt that will actually happen. Regardless, I can honestly say that video is here to stay in my content creation toolbox.

Job

I left Apple at the end of February and we decided to move back to Tennessee to be closer to our families. While we all miss California terribly, I think it was the right move. And when it comes to employment, it was *absolutely* the right move.

I’ve had an article in draft mode for a long time about my decision to accept an offer from Apple in 2015, uprooting my kids and pregnant wife and heading to the west coast, only to quit a little less than two years in and move back to our home in Tennessee. I’ve been hesitant to publish it, for some reason. It’s pretty personal, I guess.

The employment experience taught me a lot about myself, what I want, and what I don’t want.

I hadn’t had a “job job” in almost a decade. And I found it to be as miserable as I had assumed during all those years of self-employment. I am a terrible employee. I don’t mind copping to it.

With rare exception, every job I’ve ever had has not gone very well. I have a really hard time being a “worker bee”. I care about the “whys” and the strategy and just can’t seem to force myself to “shut up and do what I’m told”. Which is what most employers want.

But the same things that make me a bad employee, make me a good entrepreneur. I like wearing all the hats. I like the control. I like the freedom to organize my day how I see fit. And if I learned anything from my experience at Apple, it’s that I’m just so much better at doing my own thing. Everyone’s happier.

But it took me a long time to see this. When we first moved back to Tennessee, I was convinced I needed to find another job. I didn’t believe I could go freelance again. Despite having been very successful at it for many years, I lost a lot of confidence during my time at Apple. I left that job feeling like I wasn’t good at anything.

So I spent six months trying to find another job. Which was even more demoralizing. The tech hiring process is completely broken and I went through it all first hand.

Finally, at my wife’s behest, I decided to just go back to doing what I really wanted to do all along, freelancing.

It hasn’t been easy by any means. And starting a freelance career from scratch, takes a lot of effort and lots of patience before your efforts start to pay off. But it was absolutely worth it. It was great. For the first time in years, I once again looked forward to Monday, instead of dreading it. And that’s something money just can’t buy.

Location

As I mentioned, we moved from about as far west as you can go (our house was literally on the beach just outside of San Luis Obispo), to Chattanooga Tennessee, which is pretty much the “buckle” of the southeastern bible belt.

We had lived here before, but coming home was bittersweet. We were close to our families again, but nothing can beat Central Coast California. It really is paradise.

In the end, though, it was the right decisions. And we’ll always have the memories of two years in CA, where my newest baby girl was born, and where we had so much fun as a family.

Pain

2017 was also one of the most difficult years in recent memory. Lots of emotional pain and baggage was drug out into the open, and I had to deal with it.

It’s long and complicated, but the gist is that I lost a friendship that meant a great deal to me and it’s been very hard to deal with. Much harder than I thought it would be.

Also, in case you didn’t know, marriage is hard. Really hard. But the effort and sweat it takes to develop a good and healthy relationship with your spouse is so worth it. I feel like we’re only beginning to see that, but we have plenty of time ahead of us. And we’re working on it.

Work

I relaunched a lot of stuff this year. I moved Irresistible Podcasting (my podcasting course) to Podia, my friend Spencer’s amazing platform. I also dropped the price by 90 percent to $50. I really wanted people to get value out of it and I honestly was never comfortable with the higher price. I did that because that’s the advice I was given. But I’m much happier with this price point and am extremely confident in the value it delivers.

I also re-designed/re-launched avclark.com and thegentlymad.com. And I’m in the middle of re-designing wptheory.net and bottlerocketcreative.com. I pretty much stopped working on my personal sites while I was at Apple and it’s been great to get back to them.

Podcasting

As I said above, I relaunched my podcasting course. But I also relaunched The Gently Mad, my main podcast. What’s great about this is that I removed all the pressures I put on myself in the past. It didn’t have to make money. It didn’t have to be regular. It could be whatever I wanted it to be and there were no rules.

This type of pace is a lot better and lets me have a lot more fun with the show.

I also started working on a new podcast (launching this month) with my friend Aaron. It’s a show we’ve talked about doing for years and finally decided to do. I don’t want to reveal the details until we launch, but it’s been a lot of fun to make and I think it’s gonna be a great show.

Travel

I did very little traveling, unless you count moving 3,000 miles. But I was able to take a trip to the gulf coast to hang out with my buddy Nate Currin and his brother Aaron. It was a great time away and really helped me clear my head on a number of things.

I discovered I love that part of Florida way more than I thought I would. So much so, that my wife and I are considering a move down there next year after I’m over the startup phase of my new business. I really loved it and think my girls would love it too. It’s not a definite, but I’m really hoping it happens. I miss the beach.

What’s next

2018 is going to be insane. Lots of plans for this year. The biggest of which, is the launch of a new business with my business partner, Jonny Nastor.

I can’t divulge the details yet, but we’ve been planning out this thing for the better part of six months and it’s going to be a game-changer once it launches (hopefully by the end of January).

So much effort has gone into this business. And it’s the first business I’ve ever launched that wasn’t just another “job” for myself. This is a real business with goals and business plans and employees and scalability and all that stuff.

If I’m honest, it’s really scary. But it’s also really exciting. I don’t know how I’m physically gonna get it all done, but it will be worth it. This is a business I’ve wanted to start for a long long time and I couldn’t do it without someone like Jonny as a partner. We’re both really excited and you will definitely be hearing more about it in the coming weeks.

My hope for this year is that I’ll be able to develop some healthier work habits in order to spend more time with my family, be much more intentional about how I work on my marriage, and make this new business a success.

I guess all of that boils down to intentionality. At 38, my life could easily be described as reactionary. I tend to bounce from crisis to crisis. But that’s a really hard way to live. I’ve felt the weight of it physically, emotionally and spiritually.

I want to be far more intentional in every area this year.

Here’s hoping…


Also published on Medium.

The No. 1 Super Secret Ninja Rule of Rockstar Success

How many emails do you get with stupid subject lines like that? I get a lot of them and I hate them. I made a whole website making fun of them.

Nonetheless, this article is actually about The No. 1 Rule of Success. I just threw in the useless bullshit buzzwords because I think it’s funny.

OK, you ready? Got your rockstar pants on? Here’s the rule:

Stop caring so much about the fucking rules. 

Most business advice comes in the “slow and steady” flavor. Which, in my opinion, tastes terrible.

Skim through the typical entrepreneurial book or podcast and you’ll get something along the lines of, “research, plan, start slowly, save money, take baby steps, etc.”.

That has never worked for me. I don’t have the patience. I’m not saying it’s bad advice. It’s just bad advice for me. And it may be for you too.

I’ve wasted years of my life because I was so obsessed with doing everything the “right” way, the way I was told entrepreneurship had to be done. I would get hours of advice, do months of research and planning, only to burnout before I finished or launched a single thing.

One day I finally realized, there are no rules. Everyone’s path to success is different. All those people we put up on pedestals? They don’t have some sort of magic 8 ball telling them what to do. Most of the time, they’re winging it. Just like the rest of us.

But if there’s one thing they do have in common, it’s this: they don’t let the “unknown” keep them from doing it anyway.

I’m not afraid of taking big risks. I’m definitely a dive-in-and-hope-I-learn-to-swim-before-I-drown kind of guy. I love the thrill of learning on the job, so to speak.

I know that doesn’t work for everyone, and, before I get yelled at, I’m not suggesting you leap blindly. But, if you’re anything like me, you can easily get sucked into an endless cycle of preparation and not actually do anything.

I’ve had to painfully force myself out of this cycle. Only you know how much preparation you actually need. But I’m willing to bet it’s less than you think.

For almost two years I’ve wanted to make a podcasting course. TWO YEARS. I planned, I researched, but always managed to talk myself out of it, for one reason or another.

One night in November, I was up late doing my usual “dream and scheme” thing, and I thought, What if I just did it? What if I stopped all this talk and actually did it? 

So that’s exactly what I did. I quit doing client work. Literally, I just stopped. I had no savings, no way to pay the bills, no massive audience and no experience making a product. On top of that, I had a family to support and my fair share of student loans and debts to pay.

But I decided, in that moment, that the only way to change my future, was to just… change it.

The first thing I did was get an accountability partner. Someone I could call on when I was feeling overwhelmed and who would keep me moving when that all too familiar fear of failure started to creep in.

The next thing I did was launch a landing page for my course. That was December 16 and, at the time, I still didn’t know what would actually be in the course, I just knew I could make it, whatever it ended up being.

Seven days later (I gave myself one week to outline the course and put that information on the landing page) I opened it up for presale. This was two days before Christmas, which, if you don’t know, is the worst time of year to launch anything.

But, four days later, I had 100 preorders and an extra $5,000 in my bank account. 

Get to the point Adam!, you may be thinking.  OK, here’s the point: I’m telling you all this because I’ve spoken to many of you and I know how easy it is to overthink something to death and never actually do it.

Deciding to end that cycle has changed my life and it can do the same for you. I didn’t achieve these “successes” because of some secret knowledge or super power. I simply deciding to stop thinking about it and just did it.

It’s the start of a new year and you may be thinking about that thing in the back of you’re brain that you’ve wanted to do for a long time, but still haven’t.

You know the one I’m talking about. Yeah, that one.

Just do it. Seriously. Stop the planning and the thinking and the obsessing and just get to it. Make 2015 different.

I recently had a conversation on TGM with Donald Miller, one of my favorite authors. You can listen to the episode here, but one thing he said really stuck out to me:

“You don’t have to win, you just have to compete. And the bottom line is, most people aren’t competing. If you just get up and do the work, you end up in the top 10 percent fairly quickly.”

Our conversation was filled with stuff like that, but that particular bit really hit me.

I talk a lot about “just doing it”. But that’s because I so quickly forget it. If I’m not careful, I slip right back into planning and research mode because that’s my comfort zone. But if my past is any indication, my comfort zone tends to get me nowhere.

Here’s the bottom line: I’m not exceptionally gifted, a special case or an outlier. If I can do this stuff, anyone can. As Don said, you just have to get up every morning and do it.

And, as always, if you need a little help, don’t hesitate to ask.

There Are No Rules

I'm trying something new again. I decided to record this week's newsletter as a short episode of my podcast, The Gently Mad.

 

I’ll go ahead and tell you the secret: no one knows what they’re doing. Of course, there’s more to it than that, but you’ll have to listen to the episode for the extra goodies.

If you feel like subscribing to the podcast, you can do that here. And if you’re feeling extra nice, a review and rating of the show would be most appreciated.