Inside My Brain

Thoughts about startups, tech, marketing, and life

AUTHOR: Mike Chan

What if things went right?

Prospect Theory graph

Most people believe losses hurt more than gains help.

When presented with a difficult or speculative decision, many people’s first thoughts would be about what could go wrong.

But what if things went right?

I’ve invested some money into Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other cryptocurrencies and frequently have conversations with others about this. Some of the negative things I hear are:

  • Have fun losing your money!
  • I’d never invest in anything not backed by a real asset
  • Crypto has no intrinsic value – I’ll pass

I’m not saying that you should invest in things you don’t understand. I totally get if crypto is too speculative for many, and I’m prepared to lose the amount I invested; it’s not enough to break my bank if things go to shit.

But what if some cryptocurrencies actually panned out? What if the underlying technology is the future of the internet (which I believe it is), adoption rose over the years, and thus the value of these cryptocurrencies increased in lockstep? A lot of money can be made.

There were so many things that could have stopped Uber or AirBNB from becoming a reality. Local regulations did not allow for ride- or home-sharing. Riders or travelers would certainly think sitting in someone else’s car or sleeping in another person’s home would be sketchy. And who the hell would want someone else in their car or home?

If the founding teams of Uber or AirBNB actually allowed these hurdles to stop them from creating these products, the world would be a very different place right now. We’d still be waving down cabs on the street and staying in overpriced hotel rooms.

But Travis Kalanick, Brian Chesky, and the companies’ investors thought about what could go right, instead of wrong. And these companies have changed the world.

Humans are naturally loss and risk averse, and according to prospect theory, losses have more emotional impact compared to an equivalent amount of winnings.

It’s difficult to go against human nature. It’s natural to think about what could go wrong, especially if you have a lot to lose and people depend on you.

But what if things went right?

What’s your thesis of the best path to success?

There’s a great Twitter thread that I took part in that was started by Josh Felser, investor at Freestyle Capital. Here is Josh’s initial tweet:

Of course, with Twitter being Twitter, there was some vitriol spewed at Josh.

I jumped in, asking about my situation in particular:

 

Everyone is going to have a different opinion on how to best get things done.

Some founders – those with families, lots of debt, and other factors – will have more constraints than others and can’t fully take the leap to work on their venture. Others may choose to be more risk-averse and work on their startups on the side until the time is right to make that jump. And some may go balls-to-the-wall, leave their gigs, and just run as fast as they can to get their startup off the ground. 

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach. We all have our theses. 

Josh has his thesis about those founders who won’t quit their job until they get funding. If you don’t agree, that’s fine. Just find another investor who is more aligned with your approach. I’m sure they’re out there. 

Josh may miss out on some successful investments. And he’ll have to be OK with that.

My wife has been extremely supportive of my startup endeavors, is the breadwinner of the family, and carries the brunt of paying for our expenses. I couldn’t do this without her. 

As much as I would love to work full-time on my startup, I have to contribute to my family’s well-being by bringing in income. The time to go full-time on my startup will come, but now’s not the right time. Josh won’t fund me, and that’s OK.  

There are different paths to success, and everyone will have a different opinion about what that path is. Do what’s best for you. 

The plight of the non-technical startup founder

Tech startups are hard.

You need all kinds of people to make a startup successful.

Depending on the type of product you’re building. who your customer is (consumer vs. enterprise), what stage you’re in, and other factors, you’ll need product leaders, software developers, sales reps, marketers, designers, operators, recruiters, administrators, and many other roles.

But in the very early days of your startup, if you’re a non-technical founder, by far the most important member of your team is the software developer. If you can find one.

No matter how much you know about the industry, the user, the product features, and everything else, the software developer will be the one who can actually ship a product.

You can do all the research in the world. You can talk to scores of potential customers to learn their pain points. You can create mockups and wireframes.

But all of that doesn’t mean much if you can’t ship a product.

That’s why software developers are the rock stars in the tech startup world. They can bring ideas to fruition.

As a non-technical founder, I know that I’m at a disadvantage. My coding skills, while improving little by little, are not even close to the point where I can build an app.

I need to be able to recruit software developers to help me build my product, and I’m competing against every other non-technical founder to do so. Not easy.

Once I successfully recruit them, I need to be able to communicate my vision of the app so they can build it. And a lot can get lost in translation.

Such is the plight of the non-technical founder.

Startups are hard. And if you’re a non-technical founder, they can be damn near impossible.

Rant over.

What I Learned from Indra Nooyi on Freakonomics Radio

Indra Nooyi

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

I recently listened to an episode of Freakonomics Radio with Indra Nooyi, the CEO of PepsiCo. It was an amazing listen, I highly recommend it.

While Indra talked about so many interesting things she has experienced during her tenure at PepsiCo and her life in general, I took away three main points from the interview:

  1. How getting close to the customer is all that matters
  2. The importance of a STEM education, even for someone in the food business
  3. Developing “adaptation strategies”

Let’s dig deeper.

How getting close to the customer is all that matters

Around 13:50 of the interview, Indra talks about how men and women eat snacks differently. Men will loudly crunch on their chips, lick their fingers, and tip the bag to pour the remaining crumbs into their mouths. Women won’t crunch out loud, won’t lick their fingers, won’t pour crumbs into their mouths, and like to store snacks in their purses.

Indra has institutionalized the importance of deeply understanding customers into PepsiCo and uses that knowledge to design all aspects of their products – from packaging, shelving, storage, all the way to consumption. She frequently scans supermarket shelves to see how products are displayed, and sometimes visits customers’ homes to see how they’re storing and consuming the product.

All of this research and knowledge goes into a bag of Doritos. Seriously.

No matter what industry you work in – food, construction, technology, or any other – if you truly understand everything about your customer, you’ll be successful. You need to figure out how they select products or services, how they consume them in different scenarios, what their pain points are, and much more to add as much value as possible.

Importance of a STEM education

Around 16:40, Indra stresses the importance of having a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education.

How does the CEO of a global food and beverage company benefit from having a background in science?

Her education helps her better understand the science behind the research, development, and marketing of new, healthier snacks and foods.

Because nutritious foods are more highly scrutinized, PepsiCo has to back up these products with scientific facts. And the CEO needs to fully understand and communicate these facts to customers.

Additionally, knowledge of science helps her better grasp and communicate to her staff and Board of Directors why she is funding these scientific R&D initiatives and how they will get the company to a better place.

Indra mentioned that science is much harder to learn when you’re older, and if you have that foundation in STEM, you can easily learn anything else along your career journey. So true.

Development of adaptation strategies

Finally, around 31:30, Indra talks about developing “adaptation strategies” to deal with the things that life throws at you.

Indra talked about how her mother told her to “leave the crown in the garage”, meaning that even though she’s the CEO in her career, she shouldn’t act that way when she gets home. If she did, she wouldn’t be a good mother, wife, or daughter.

I think development of these adaptation strategies is really powerful. If you don’t adapt to your surroundings, you’re going hate life. If you act the same way in every situation, you’re going to alienate a lot of people, or be alienated by a lot of people. If you don’t adjust to the environment around you, you might have difficulty moving forward.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t be yourself. But there’s a lot of value in recognizing the situation you’re in and adapting to the environment.

Conclusion

Being the CEO of a massive international organization is a tough job. And Indra Nooyi basically laid out a blueprint on how to excel at it.

Regardless of what industry or function you’re in, I would highly recommend giving the episode a listen. Let me know what you think of it.

I saw a therapist today for the first time

Yup, I went to a therapist today. First time ever.

Psychotherapy

No, I did not lie down on a couch. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Over the last couple of months, I’ve been having very odd dreams where certain scenes and scenarios repeat themselves.

There are certain buildings that I’ve never seen in real life popping up in dreams over and over again. I sometimes find myself in a vehicle on a car lift about 50 feet above the ground, scared shitless. I’m often running away from or toward something. Weird, right?

So I decided to see a therapist to discuss my dreams.

Years ago, the alpha-male version of myself would have looked at someone who went to therapy as weak and fragile, and the thought of going to therapy would have never crossed my mind.

I’m a different person now, and I think it’s because I’m an entrepreneur. For better or for worse.

My therapist said that dreams are the mind’s way of processing everything around you. Your environment, everything that you do and deal with on a daily basis, and all your fears and anxieties can be manifested in your dreams.

And that’s probably what’s happening with my dreams. The stress and uncertainty of being a startup founder is the likely cause of my weird dreams. What these dreams mean is TBD.

Whenever I speak with people interested in startups and entrepreneurship, I say that managing your psychology is the hardest part.

Many of these budding entrepreneurs and founders are really smart people who have seen nothing but success in their careers. They’ve climbed the corporate ladder, obtained raises and promotions, and haven’t failed at all.

I’ve been in their shoes before. So I warn them about how it feels when things aren’t working. And things will not work a lot. Things haven’t worked for me for five years.

I also tell them how good things feel when things do work, and how you have to celebrate little wins, as insignificant as they may be. This keeps you sane.

There’s a great post titled “The case against entrepreneurship“, where the Co-founder and former CEO of the mobile game Dots, Paul Murphy, describes how difficult entrepreneurship is. Paul describes a lonely and expensive existence full of problems, fear, and greed.

One of my favorite startup writers is Nate Kontny, CEO of CRM software Highrise. He wrote a recent piece titled “Making it personal” where he describes why he puts so much of his personal life into his content and talks about the lows as well as the highs.

This kind of content – real, raw pieces that highlight the tough parts of entrepreneurship – really resonates with me and my journey. Sure, the “how I grew my business 100% in 30 minutes” or “25 things you need to do before 5AM to be successful” articles are inspiring, but that shit gets old quickly. To the writers of these articles – I’m happy for your success, I really am. Maybe even a little envious. And you are inspiring. But I don’t just want to hear about your success, I want to learn about everything you went through, even the tough times, to achieve it.

Anyway, back to therapy.

Entrepreneurship is hard. Tech startups are even harder. I knew that going into it.

Managing your psychology is one of the most important and difficult parts of being an entrepreneur. It’s not helpful to keep everything inside and having it build up until you explode.

I’m not at any risk of hurting myself or anyone around me. Many might say that I don’t truly need therapy. Maybe they’re right. But I think talking to an objective, professionally-trained third party can help get my mind right, and I’ve chosen to do that.

Let’s see how this goes.

Building a movement is the best kind of marketing

One of the things I like best about marketing is how it can motivate people to take action and think differently about the status quo.

Online marketing has become so effective because you can measure nearly everything that someone does on the internet and spring upon them the perfect offer at the perfect time. And with all the behavioral data being collected by Google and Facebook, these transactions are getting easier to execute.

But they are just hard, cold transactions. Yes, they bring in revenue and profit, but most are lifeless and disconnected. There’s no real interaction with customers. Buyers find a product, enter their credit card info, click “Buy” and go bye-bye.

That’s why I admire brands that are built upon deeper relationships with its users. And the best brands create movements that develop these relationships not only between the company and customer, but also between customers to form communities of like-minded people. And these movements can be extremely powerful.

Here are some of my favorite examples of brand movements.

Dove Real Beauty

I am not at all the target customer of Dove’s Real Beauty campaign, but I love the movement that they have built.

Societal pressures have led us to believe that beautiful women can only be tall, skinny, and have perfect facial features and skin. Dove’s Real Beauty campaign looks to broaden the definition of beauty and give women of all ages, shapes, and ethnic backgrounds confidence in their appearance.

They’ve built an entire ecosystem around this idea by launching initiatives such as the Self-Esteem Project and giving women the ability to tell their own stories about beauty. This has allowed women to connect with one another, lean on each other, and build confidence together.

Movements can change how people perceive and define what’s around them, and act accordingly. And I think the Dove Real Beauty campaign does a great job of this.

Dove Real Beauty

Salesforce

Salesforce was the first Software-as-a-Service (where software is delivered via the internet instead of installed on your computer or in business’ data centers) customer relationship management (CRM) platform and they really built an amazing movement around “No Software.”

nosoftwarelogoAt the time of launch, which was around 1999, Salesforce’s competitors were companies like Siebel Systems and SAP, who sold client-server CRM and ERP software that had to be installed on-premises, which could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and take years to implement.

That’s why Salesforce’s SaaS approach was so revolutionary back then.

The SaaS model would replace huge upfront costs with monthly payments over time, minimizing commitment fears. Software would be upgraded much more frequently at the same time for all users, alleviating the need for companies to bring in consultants to manually upgrade on-premise software every couple of years.

But because it was so different, the company had to really market the idea of “No Software” to convince prospective customers that moving to the SaaS model was the right thing to do. Salesforce’s CEO, Marc Benioff, was the head cheerleader of this campaign, and it helped build Salesforce into the $80+ billion software behemoth that it is today.

T-Mobile

I’m a T-Mobile customer and I love what the company and its CEO, John Legere, has done to truly change the entire cell phone industry for the better.

T-Mobile’s “Un-carrier” movement has put its competition on notice and forced them to replicate many of their tactics.

Legere helped the company deeply understand mobile subscribers, how they used their phones, what services they accessed most frequently, and the pain points they faced. These are things that the other carriers neglected.

T-Mobile understands that:

  1. Taxes and fees can add a lot to your cell phone bill, and no one has any idea how much they will amount to. So they built these fees into the cost of their plans so you know exactly what you’ll pay each month. Transparency is powerful.
  2. Due to huge termination fees, customers were basically stuck in these two-year service contracts until they expired. T-Mobile was the first to do away with annual contracts and covered termination fees when a new customer switched from a competitor.
  3. They’re giving Netflix subscriptions for free! They actually want you to stream more content on their network.

All of these tactics truly put the customer front and center, and the “Un-carrier” movement has allowed T-Mobile to be one of the fastest growing major cell networks in the US.

The Past Two Presidents’ Campaigns

A presidential campaign is quintessential marketing. While awareness isn’t much of an issue, getting people to understand your “product”, compare it favorably to the competition, and take appropriate action is front and center.

And our current and past presidents launched movements that changed the course of our nation.

It pains me to say this, but our current President, Donald Trump, ran a very differentiated campaign that caused a huge movement among his constituents.

His mantra of “America First” led to a level of nationalism rarely seen before. “Drain the Swamp” conjured thoughts of all the corruption and incompetence in the Government and how he would clean it all up.

His campaign movement was based on hatred and lies, but it was a movement nonetheless that got him elected. Yes, he did not win the popular vote, but apparently he won the votes that counted. Ugh.

On to more positive topics…such as the campaign of our 44th President, Barack Obama.

Being the first African-American candidate to be nominated on a major party ticket is tough. Convincing the public to elect you as President would be even tougher.Barack_Obama_Hope_poster

Obama’s campaign represented “Change we can believe in” and a “Yes, We Can” attitude. It called for progress and hope for an improved United States. He needed the American public to think differently because he was so racially different than any other president in history.

And his team leveraged social media and other new technologies so effectively to spread the word and recruit evangelists.

The movement was certainly effective. Obama’s campaign convinced 63% of eligible voters to run for the voting booths, the highest in 50 years. And he became the first African-American President in US history.

Conclusion

Movements are powerful. They can galvanize communities and enact real change.

So whether you’re an entrepreneur, marketer, politician, or just someone trying to do good in some small way, try to find that angle where you can position yourself against the status quo.

Consumers want to be moved, and not marketed to.

What are other examples of movements that you’ve seen? I’d love to hear about them.

Expectations can really mess with your mind

Expectations can really impact your judgment in life, business, and careers.

We have expectations for everything. If they’re met, happiness! 🙂 If not, sadness or anger. 🙁

A recent conversation led me to think a lot more about how expectations can really mess with our minds.

Expectations of restaurants

The other day I was chatting with some friends about food, dining, and restaurants.

Pineapple and Pearls, a prix-fixe restaurant that is highly regarded as one of the best in DC and the country, immediately worked its way into the conversation. One of our friends said that she knew some people who had been there and weren’t impressed.

The first thing I thought about was how her friend’s high expectations might have gotten in the way of enjoying the meal more than she did.

What might have caused these high expectations?

First of all, the restaurant is super hyped. It’s rated the top restaurant in DC by Washingtonian, made Bon Appetit’s list of best new restaurants of 2017, and received two Michelin stars.

Next, the price. Pineapple and Pearls charges $280 per person (and is increasing its price to $325 per person in April). You expect the absolute best meal of your life at that cost.

Finally, the legacy. Chef Aaron Silverman also runs Rose’s Luxury, a more casual DC eatery that was rated the #1 new restaurant in America by Bon Appetit and received one Michelin star.

High expectations indeed.

My wife and I have been to The French Laundry in Napa Valley, the legendary three-Michelin-star restaurant that pretty much invented prix-fixe in the US and has been the gold standard for fine dining.

We’ve had better meals.

I’m cognizant of the fact that high expectations may have influenced our judgment.

Don’t get me wrong. The cooking was expert, the ingredients were certainly fresh, and the meal was delicious. The service was fantastic and the experience was excellent.

We just weren’t wowed like we’ve been at some other less-hyped restaurants.

$295 per person. $35 for a normal glass of wine. The aura of Thomas Keller, Napa Valley, and the esteemed French Laundry.

Maybe we would have enjoyed the meal more if the restaurant didn’t win so many awards and was so highly regarded (though it’s likely we would have never eaten there if this were the case).

Maybe we would have liked it more if this were our first prix-fixe meal (my first meal of this kind, at Komi, remains my favorite, maybe because I didn’t really know what to expect).

Maybe we would appreciate the restaurant more if it were located in DC (we like to be cheerleaders for where we live).

I don’t know. But I do think that our high expectations muddied the waters before we even stepped foot into The French Laundry.

Expectations in Business and Careers

If you have French-Laundry-like expectations for everything but those expectations are rarely or never met, you’re not going to be a happy camper.

Likewise, if your expectations are very low, you’ll likely be satisfied more frequently, but may not reach your full potential.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t have high expectations. We all should expect the best from ourselves. I’m just saying that expectations can cloud our definition of success, happiness, and satisfaction.

Everything is relative.

I’ve always had high expectations of myself, especially when it came to my career. And for the most part, prior to becoming an entrepreneur, I’ve met those expectations.

I wanted a career in consulting, and I got it. And I performed well to get raises, promotions, and more responsibility.

I then wanted to transition to a career in sports business. I worked hard and achieved pretty much my dream job at the time. And I was on the up-and-up until I left to become an entrepreneur.

That’s when everything changed.

I still have those high expectations and now I feel like I’m not meeting them.

Entrepreneurship and startups are a different beast than the corporate world, and progress and success looks much different.

success

Tech startups are really, really hard and can make you feel like you’re not good enough. I certainly feel that way often.

Entrepreneurs inherently have high expectations for success. What happens if those expectations aren’t met?

Conclusion

We’re rarely disappointed by eating at McDonald’s because we have low expectations of their food. But if a high-end restaurant with an exorbitant price point like The French Laundry fails to wow us, we can feel duped.

No one is going to complain about a bad episode of NCIS. But if an episode of Game of Thrones fails to deliver, we’re flaming it on social media.

High expectations of an amazing career and life can lead to great success and happiness if they’re met, or feelings of failure and depression if they’re not.

Expectations can mess with your mind.

The two sides of “checking the box”

Checklists are really valuable. They are an extremely helpful productivity tool that can keep you on track and organized when executing projects.

For instance, when I created episodes for my podcast, I had a Trello card that included 30 checklist items that needed to be completed before launching the episode.  This checklist identified who was responsible for each task and kept me and my producer on the same page. And once all of the boxes are checked off, we can publish the episode for all the world to hear.

Checking these boxes meant that progress was being made and work was getting done.

Trello podcast episode checklist

We had to complete 30 tasks before launching a podcast episode.

On the flip side, there can be a negative connotation for “checking the box.

Someone can just go through the ropes and “check the box” so they can move on to the next thing. They can spend the least amount of time possible to complete the task, project, or job with minimal effort.

That’s where checking the box means the opposite of getting work done.

If you’re just checking the boxes, that likely means that apathy and indifference has set in, which makes it tough to do good work. At that point, something has to change, whether it’s a change of scenery, learning a new skill, or moving to a new role or company.

Are you doing the good kind of box-checking? If so, awesome! If not, what change will you make?

The three technologies I’m most excited about in 2018 (aka my favorite buzzwords)

I’ve always been excited about how technology can change our lives, and there’s been a lot of new, almost Star-Trekky changes recently. But I’m most excited about the future of these three technologies and how they’ll gain widespread adoption in 2018.

Artificial intelligence

AI and machine learning were huge buzzwords the past few years, almost to the point of annoyance.

Every startup said that they were an AI company in some way.

Google identified that the world was transforming from mobile-first to AI-first, and they’re doing everything they can to usher in this world (Note: I believe Google more than the other startups).

Sales of the Amazon Echo broke records. 

AI products are getting better and smarter everyday. And in 2018, I think we as consumers will get more comfortable with AI handling more important aspects of our lives such as our calendars, emails, and shopping lists. I think we’ll get over the privacy concerns and the notion that AI robots will take over the world (they’ll just do backflips).

AI will be extremely prevalent in the enterprise, too, which will be evident in the ways we interact with these companies.

Enterprises will continue to use machine learning to have a deeper understanding of our habits, and thus the messages they send us will be more relevant (as creepy as that may be). Bots will automate many of our conversations, and they’ll be so accurate that we’ll think it’s a real person while accusing them that it’s a bot. There may be other times when AI is used and you won’t even know it.

AI has been hot, but I think it’s only going to get hotter and more widespread.

Voice recognition

As AI improves, voice recognition is going to get better in lockstep.

Siri sucks, but Alexa and Google’s voice assistant (who really needs a proper name) are pretty amazing. These are just previews of how voice will change how we interact with our devices.

I believe the existence of remote controls for our TVs, speakers, and ceiling fans is trending toward 0.

I think typing, like I’m doing now, will eventually go the way of the dodo.

I think we’ll interact with our devices with our voices so often that humans in the room will be confused whether we’re talking to them.

The enterprise will certainly be impacted as well. AWS recently announced Alexa for Business, where companies can build Alexa skills to pull up lead information, turn off conference room lights, or schedule a meeting.

We’re going to use our voices way more often in 2018.

Blockchain

I can feel your eyes rolling already. Bitcoin this, blockchain that. Blockchain was going to be the first section of this blog post, but I thought that many of you would get sick of hearing about it and stop reading.

Yes, Bitcoin, Ethereum, and the hundreds of other cryptocurrencies are overhyped. Yes, it’s very early in the life cycle of the technology, and lot of it is speculative. Yes, you might have fomo for not buying Bitcoin earlier (half kidding).

All that Bitcoin stuff aside, the actual blockchain technology is going to change the way the internet and the entire world runs.

I won’t get too deep into the details of the technology; you can read this article for a great overview of how blockchain works.

Just imagine not having to trust Equifax with all of your credit history. That trust was breached. Instead, your credit history will be distributed across thousands of nodes all over the world, encrypted and immutable.

Blockchain can be used to track the source of every resource in the supply chain, so you can find out where your T-shirt was sourced from and feel better that some 9-year old Vietnamese kid didn’t produce your shirt in a sweatshop.

While it might take a while to pan out, blockchain is going to be one of the most transformative technologies we’ve ever seen.

Conclusion

Buzzwords, buzzwords, buzzwords. I’m not breaking any ground here, as these technologies have been hyped and touted as the next big thing for a little while now. But these are the three tech developments that I’ll be tracking closely in 2018, and I think they’ll dramatically alter the way we live.

A look back to 2017 and forward to 2018

At the beginning of this year, I didn’t make any resolutions like “lose 5 pounds” or “work out 3 times a week.” Rather, I just vowed to be more focused, disciplined, and consistent in work and life.

Let’s see how I did, and what’s in store for 2018.

Looking back to 2017

Focus

For 2017, I pledged to be more focused on a macro level (doing fewer things better) and a micro level (focusing more on the task at hand).

I’d call this a minor win.

In 2016, I spent a lot of time working on my podcast, the Go and Grow Podcast. While I really enjoyed it and it helped build an audience, it wasn’t getting me closer to my goal of launching my startup. So I put it on hold, which gave me more time and mindshare to work on WinOptix. That was a win.

But I did and continue to spend a lot of time learning how to program in Python. Python is great for data science (which will help with WinOptix) as well as back-end and web development. While learning Python took away some time and focus away from WinOptix, I think it will help me become a better technical leader, which will certainly help the company and my career in the long run.

On a micro level, there were certainly times where I got distracted from the tasks I was working on. But overall, I was very consistent in using the Pomodoro Technique and turning off notifications on my phone to stay focused. (Just as I write this, my phone buzzed. Ugh.)

Discipline

I vowed to be more disciplined with my schedule and diet and exercise regimen.

I’d also call this a minor win.

I made it a point to schedule my tasks in my Google Calendar the night before or morning of a work day. Specifically assigning a time to execute the task and setting its duration forces you to focus on that task and not allow it to expand. Super helpful.

Overall, I was relatively disciplined with my diet and exercise, if you leave out the last two weeks of holidays. 🙂  I worked out about 2-3 times a week, with a mixture of basketball, lifting, and push-ups and sit-ups at home. And overall, I think I ate pretty healthily over the year. Vicky and I did do the keto diet for a while, but my cholesterol spiked, so I had to stop. So I just went back to a balanced diet.

Consistency

I’d call this a draw.

I was pretty consistent in working on WinOptix. I worked an additional 10-20 hours per week on nights and weekends to make as much progress as possible.

I mostly kept up with posting to this blog weekly, only missing weeks where I was traveling or on holidays.

Unfortunately, I don’t think I was as consistent with blogging for Thorn Technologies. Writing about very technical topics like cloud computing can be tough.

And I was just OK in staying consistent on social media and keeping up with personal and home improvements.

A draw sounds about right.

Looking forward to 2018

2018 is going to be a big year. Yeah, I know, I say that every year. But for real.

First of all, I’m turning 40! So I better figure out my life soon. 🙂

Next, there are a few things that I’d like to accomplish this coming year.

While I’ll continue to be more focused, disciplined, and consistent, there are a few specific goals that I’d like to achieve.

The first is to acquire at least 5 paying customers for WinOptix. We’re launching the product by the end of January, and hopefully we’ll get a ton of feedback from our initial users to make the product better to the point where they’d be willing to pay for it. Then we can really go out to the market and sell it.

Second, I’d like to complete at least 3 Python projects. I’m currently working on a Pomodoro timer and a program that takes data from CSV files, concatenates them, and runs reports on the data. So my goal is to complete those and add one more project to the mix.

Finally, I want to be a better dad and husband. While this isn’t as concrete as the other two goals, it’s still something to strive for. I think I’m doing a good job, but I can always get better.

What are your goals or resolutions for 2018?

I’d love to hear from you. Write your thoughts in the comments, tweet at me @mikewchan, or email me at mike@mikewchan.com.