What I Learned in 2019

“A billion dollars.” – The Social Network (2010)

This year has been another one of those years that is ending in a different place than I could have ever imagined.

1. People

My relationships grew even more this year.

Last year I wished I could have friends who were passionate about things like period poverty. And then I met people who were passionate about period poverty but it’s funny because even if we shared the same passion, we didn’t share the same values.

It’s funny because it’s the same thing that happened with my Amazon seller colleagues the year before that. We shared a lot of the same values, the appreciation for hard work, freedom, and integrity, but not the same passion for making bank at an unseen cost.

This year as I celebrated Friendsgiving for the first time I realized that I was blessed to have family and friends who prioritized the same values.

There aren’t that many people who will sacrifice their freedom, wealth, and time to take care of their family. I’m grateful to be able to be in the company of saints.

I also feel really blessed for the most wonderful person in my life. Honestly, I’ve been waking up next to him for over two years now, and I still wonder if I’m dreaming sometimes.

Nathan has such kindness, patience, and love. He is literally the best person I have ever met in my life. Exciting things are coming as I meticulously plan the next couple years and decades in OCD detail haha.

E.G: Did you know that you have to save ~$500/month for 18 years for a 529 plan to save $200,000+ for one future child’s college tuition?
No, I don’t plan on having kids any time soon. That’s just how crazy I am.

2. Work

My Amazon agency was growing. I was about to manage over $10 million+ in monthly revenue for my clients within a few months. That’s not a lot compared to some agencies that manage $100 million+ in ad spend, but it was a lot to me because I was starting from nothing.

The software that I built from scratch myself, was also as good if not better than said software agency, managing $100 million+ in ad spend!

Then I found out about a cool opportunity, closed shop, and joined my first big team.

I learned a lot of things about myself. I’m still learning how to work with and manage others. It’s been a painful transition but I am excited about how bad I am at managing others and how much more I have to grow.

My management goal is Bill Campbell/Steve Jobs/Lao Tzu and I feel like if I continue this for 10 years, I’ll probably get there.

I want to learn Bill Campbell and Lao Tzu’s art of invisible leadership: the art of doing without doing.

“A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, they will say, ‘we did it ourselves.'”

Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

The ability to work with and learn from brilliant people is truly amazing. What you can accomplish with a small group of talented people is inspiring.

I would have never dreamed of accomplishing even a fraction of what this team has achieved in such short a time.

Like I had no fucking idea what was possible and I still don’t. That endpoint is stretching out into a potential future that I can’t even see and I am a prepper whose life practically revolves around optimizing for endpoints.

I thought unicorns were for geniuses with track records that were blessed by the gods or something. Especially since I’ve met hundreds of people but only a handful of people who are building or have built unicorns.

But this year I learned that we live in a crazy world and that you don’t have to be a genius, you just need to have a team of talented people.

I wouldn’t have been able to learn this lesson if I didn’t join this incredible team on their journey. 🙏 This team and opportunities.

No matter how smart you think you are or how great you are – you can’t get there alone.

If you want to have billion-dollar dreams or hit 9 figures, maybe even 8, you need to stop being the smartest person in your company.

3. Health

I was sick for almost a full month this year. It was terrifying to be reminded of how easily you could die.

I don’t think I’m out of the woods yet even if I hope I am.

Sometimes I was so sick that I couldn’t even hold my cell phone because any pressure would create hives. For a couple days, all I could do was take a shit ton of steroids and drugs, furiously get lost in a TV show, as I tried not to shred my skin with my nails. I looked like I got mauled by a bear.

I thought that was bad but the lack of energy I felt the next few weeks as I battled infections were worse. I couldn’t even go out to get lunch. I was struggling to walk back and by the time I got home, I was exhausted. My brain was literally functioning on a lower level. I felt like I was slogging through mental snowdrifts.

According to my doctor, it was a miracle that I was doing any work at all because my body was trying not to die.

That taught me the importance of rest and the rest, taught me the importance of taking it slow, and in some sense taught me about life.

Before I got sick, I spent a lot of time and energy being stressed or angry about things I didn’t need to be stressed or angry about.

After I got sick, I literally didn’t have the energy anymore so I stopped. Now I’m feeling a lot better and I’ve also stopped that negative behavior and life is a lot easier.

I realized this year that my health is heading towards the shitter with my current habits and that I need to make changes now. I learned this year not to take health for granted, how important it is to rest, and how nice it is to rest too.

Rest, a good night’s sleep, timely meals = 70% of my mood and energy levels. Make sure you get these right or you’ll pay for it within hours and you’ll probably literally pay after years with your life.

4. Self Awareness

I learned this year that I literally see things differently from others. Like I always wondered why people couldn’t see the same things I did, but this year, I found out for real.

I make and read charts with 100s of data points. Some people would prefer a simple graph but I prefer the 100s of data points that the simple graph is derived from. In fact, I’ll go out of my way to gather the data points myself to see if I agree with the simple graph.

I’ve learned to read data over time and how to manipulate numbers. I know how easy it is to misread the data and how in some cases, the simple graph can be misleading, if not deceitful.

Not only do I read numbers but I also read images, text, and people.

I majored in Cinema and Cultural Studies where I learned how to coalesce different types of information: light, sound, text and more, over decades if not centuries. I studied how filmmakers communicate complex information in visual love letters across the span of decades and continents or built historical movements and cultures. I studied power. I learned how you can rewrite and shape the past and future.

I used all these skills to build my own business. How to understand my customers, what they want, who they are, who they want to be, and how to communicate that not only through words but also images and numbers.

And I also learned how to read the numbers to find and identify these customers and people like these customers at scale.

So this year I learned that that’s not normal and that most people can’t see the same way I do.

What am I going to do with this information? I’m not sure but I guess being a jack of all trades does pay off.

I’m not the best at creative, marketing, programming, or presenting. But I think being good in all four combines to a super strength and I’m working on #5, leadership.

Scott Adams wisdom from Tool of Titans by Tim Ferriss

5. Patience

I’m learning how to wait and I know what I’m waiting for.

I am waiting for the right time and moment to be a man in the arena and when I enter that arena, I will be a man unleashed, and I will make my mark on the world.

I hope someday these annual What I Learned posts will be helpful to someone. I’ve found a lot of joy as I reread them to see my journey and growth over time. I hope someday that my journey can help enlighten others.

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