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ZT20 #005: My 2022 Personal Annual Review

#gtmdebt saas sales startups venture capital Dec 22, 2022

Woah, what a year!

I’ve followed the teachings of many this year but Sahil Bloom’s writing and frameworks are one of many to have captured my imagination in 2022.

I’m going to use his 7 questions to do a personal review of my year.


1. What did I change my mind on this year?


I used to assume that the smartest people created original everything. Thought processes, frameworks, content etc.

However, as I got more experienced and I spent more time rubbing shoulders with a much higher volume of founders and investors I began to realise this simply wasn’t the case.

The smartest people take what others have created, and using the prism through which they have experienced business and life iterate it to the point at which it’s often unrecognisable from the form that originally inspired them.

Scientists and inventors have for centuries iterated other people’s work to advance the human race. When I think of it in those terms it’s obvious my previous assumption was wildly out of whack!

This year this was brought to life in no uncertain terms for me by Ray Green, who I hired as my coach. He shared the frameworks he used to build his consulting practice, and it proved a major unblock for me.

I took his frameworks and adapted them for my business, and hey presto, major unlock!

If you’re building a consulting practice or you would like to, get hold of Ray here, he’s excellent.


2. What created energy this year?


I was burning through energy fast by the middle of 2022, and I knew something wasn’t quite right.

At relatively short notice I decided to take a break from writing on LinkedIn, fly to Europe with my family for a month to visit our loved ones (we are European and our whole family lives in Europe), and just let the sails go.

The rest and recuperation were valuable but more valuable was the reflection time.

During that time I was honest with myself about what I liked and disliked about where my business was at, and what I needed to do to change that trajectory.

Within weeks of returning to the US I’d transformed my focus and strategy, and 2023 is already looking like a record year as a result.

Taking time to pause and reflect with the people that truly matter in my life, gave me incredible energy that will last for years.


3. What drained energy this year?


This is easy. Founders seeking silver bullets. Whilst I have got better at weeding them out early, it still pains me that founders (and investors) don’t respect the craft of sales in the way in which they do software engineering, for example.

This belief that sales is easy, or that salespeople are cannon fodder and can be hired and disposed of in an instant is and always has been draining for me (and I’m sure every salesperson out there can attest to).


However, there are 2 points of hope I’d like to share:


  1. The macroeconomic headwinds we are facing should force founders to think differently. There is less cash floating around and a drive to efficient growth versus growth at all costs is with us. This could be the catalyst for a sea change in the perception of sales in the founder/investor class.

  2. As a supposed GTM expert I think it’s our collective responsibility to educate the founder and investor class to think differently. I’ve landed on a concept that may be an unlock for open-minded founders and investors. I’ve tested it with strong positive feedback, and in the first newsletter of 2023 I will do a deep dive into something I call “go-to-market debt”. #GTMdebt


4. Who were the boat anchors in my life?

I like Sahil Bloom’s definition of a boat anchor: "These are the folk that hold you back, belittle you, diminish your accomplishments, laugh at your ambition and tell you to be more realistic."

I’ve been shedding boat anchors for multiple years now, however, it’s an ongoing process. Many people feel threatened by success and ambition and project that onto you and I have certainly felt that.

The personal messages from “friends” criticising my content on Linkedin is a personal ‘favourite’ of mine. It’s disappointing, but I reconciled multiple years ago to furrow my own path.

You are who you surround yourself with, and that’s something I know I need to proactively iterate for the rest of my life. My tribe will unlikely stay static for long.


5. What did I not do because of fear?


Making the decision to move out of the home office into a dedicated space was something I did, but should have done much sooner.

I feared burning more capital than I could afford but more than anything I feared losing a deep bond I’d created with my children by being around them less.

That fear runs deep. I left home at age 11 to go to a boarding school which I loved, however, it was at the expense of the bond with my parents. My wife and I have worked hard to create deep bonds with our children.

My fear was irrational, as now I am not home as often we make much more of the time we have together. The net outcome? The bond is even stronger. I should have made the move sooner.


6. What were my greatest hits and worst misses?


Greatest hits:

  1. Getting a dedicated office space and improving productivity by ~50%
  2. Doubling down on quality over quantity - and the subsequent testimonials to back it up
  3. Living the “create value and revenue will follow” mantra
  4. Getting help: an outstanding coach, and an outstanding EA
  5. Taking a pause over the summer to reflect

Worst misses:

  1. Taking too long to get a dedicated office space
  2. Diving back into trail running too aggressively and getting injured (again)
  3. Crypto/NFT investments


7. What did I learn this year?

I learned something very simple but life-changing. I have food allergies that slow me down and make me unhappy, in a big way. They also significantly impact my ability to be productive consistently.

The adaptations have not been easy, cutting out alcohol is one of them, but the impacts have been life-changing, and I’m only just getting rolling.

Happy Holidays folks, and here’s to an amazing 2023 👊🏼



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