Year In Review: 2021

Inside this Sunday:

  • I’m reading about serenity.
  • I’m working on my new course and a new morning routine.
  • I’m thinking about not seeing work as a commodity.

I lost myself this year. I had a map, but it turns out it was the wrong map to follow. Thanks to what I realized and will reveal in my annual review, I know where I went wrong, and I’m a better person and in a better position for it. But if it wasn’t for some luck in the 2nd and 4th quarters, I may not be writing this from quite the same vantage point.

Ironically this year felt like the opposite of what it was like to have dreadlocks. Back then, some people thought I looked like a mess. On the inside, I felt like I had the keys to success. This year, what looked like a prolific year to others felt like busyness and burnout to me.

The theme for 2021 was Focus and Alignment. I largely achieved that, but at the expense of my own creativity and to some extent free will. I was lost in being busy.

The theme for 2022 will be Finding Flow but I must be careful not to over-correct in the same way I did in 2021. Finding Flow must be in harmony with Focus and Alignment all in the pursuit of creativity, connection, and happiness.

What follows is a breakdown of my year and a look forward at the next one. But first, a few thoughts on the concept of the Annual Review. I am confident you’ll find something helpful in here for your own form of review or reflection. Doing Annual Reviews and reading others’ has never failed to help me.

The Thing About Annual Reviews

Annual Reviews force you to be honest and clear about where you are and visualize in vivid detail where you want to be. In performing these activities you illuminate a bridge for yourself. The bridge is an indication of how far you need to go to get to where you want to be. But the bridge is also an incredibly useful map of the projects, tasks, and priorities for the year ahead. A map to help you close the gap.

I wish I started doing Annual Reviews earlier than I did because there were a number of forks in the road that would’ve benefited from more careful inspection. But I’m lucky and grateful to have ended up where I am and to benefit from the power of this now annual tradition to light the way forward.

A Quick Look At The Scoreboard

  1. Revenue growth: 141%
  2. Team growth: 6 humans to 12 humans.
  3. Personal growth: developed skills in marketing, sales, public speaking, and making Adirondack chairs.
  4. Vacation days taken: zero.

This is the story of my 2021 in review… continue reading on our website.

See you in two weeks.


For another edition running, my new course The Learning Culture Experience, was the most popular link.

How Not to Let Work Explode Your Life

This article was one of the most popular suggestions on a recent Shane Parrish tweet, and I’m so glad I found it.

It drives at the heart of one of the most vexing questions we all choose to ignore: why, despite unprecedented success, are we all still, deeply, unhappy?

We ignore this question because on the surface we’re happy. The unhappiness lies deep within, an uncomfortable place for many of us to go.

The authors use Modernism to point out how artists such as Picasso and Matisse, and writers such as Joyce and Yeats were onto a clue as to the answer.

We’ve lost serenity.

Peace, calm, tranquility.

The article then goes on to unpack three causes for this loss of serenity:

  1. Busy-ness
  2. Competition
  3. Envy

“It’s not our fault that we are agitated. Calm and tranquility depend on the thought that one has enough for tomorrow, that the challenges of the next period are ones we already know how to meet: we feel calm because we feel secureBut the conditions of modern life make such a feeling of calm very elusive. So even if we do get the prosperity and advancement that capitalism promised, we still end up anxious.”

Join 83K others in reading the full article

The Learning Culture Experience

I had a bit of a breakthrough with the new course.

I’ve got some exciting announcements to make soon.

In the meantime, if you’re interested in getting involved, I’ve included more details below.

If you know anyone in an L&D role, please forward this email and tell them to check this out!


5 AM Club

I’m starting a new morning routine this year.

I’m going to start waking up at 5 am.

Many of you have probably heard of the 5 AM Club by leadership coach Robin Sharma.

The premise is simple:

  1. Wake up at 5 am.
  2. Move – 20 minutes of vigorous exercise (that will make you sweat).
  3. Reflect – 20 minutes of journaling, meditating, planning.
  4. Grow – 20 minutes of reading or learning.

The idea is that this hour of the day is sacred. It’s when no one will bother you. By exercising first, you release serotonin, dopamine, and you begin to reset your body clock to make it easier over time. By writing and reading you maximize the freshness of your mind (which is scientifically proven to be functioning at it’s peak in the morning).

If you want to join me, I’m starting a WhatsApp accountability group. Just reply with “5am” and I’ll send you more details.

How Did You Learn That?

In ep 58, I traded stories with Jack Murray, author of The Magic Slice: How to Master the Art of Storytelling for Business.

More on episode 58

Avoid treating your work like a commodity. Instead obsess over the individuality of every asset, video, script, spreadsheet, or presentation that you create.


This email newsletter was originally shared with subscribers on January 2nd, 2022. To receive the latest newsletters twice a month, sign up below!

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