If you've been following me this past year you'd know 2018 has actually been super jam packed with crazy fun adventures for me. I travelled to Saigon, Moscow, London, Geneva, Zurich, Lugano, Monaco, San Remos, Saint Petersburg (FL), Miami, New York City, Los Angeles, Phoenix (AZ), Portland (ME), AND Quebec, Canada - all in one year! Looking back at it now, its hard to believe that I've come full circle back to where I first started; In my home office, reflecting on my personal growth while overhauling my website. If there's one thing professional marketers constantly struggle with, it's working on themselves. Unless you're narcissistic, nobody actually enjoys critically analyzing oneself. It sometimes could lead to comparison and that's the herbicide of personal growth.
However, I find that when I look back and face my faults, the lessons I learn raises the bar for my personal growth. Life is so much easier when we can forgive our faults and move on. That's why I thought, for a year that has given me tremendous growth and opportunity, I would reflect on all the times I fucked up and how I could have done better. I hope my vulnerability brings more light into your own life and also paint the picture of where I am today, and where I'm heading in 2019.
I'll start with my first fuck up.
01. I hodl'd
For the uninitiated, HODL'ing (Hanging On for Dear Life) is slang for not selling your cryptocurrency investment. If you've been living under a rock, cryptocurrencies and initial coin offering's were a big deal in 2018. During this time last year, bitcoin and the whole cryptocurrency market was reaching a new all time high. I had just made my first investment at $7,000 per bitcoin several months earlier. That may seem very high in today's market but at the time, bitcoin was quickly shooting towards $20,000 so I multiplied my investments in the span of a couple months. However, I fucked up by only taking out my initial investment. I let my earnings ride. In other words, I hodl'd.
Since its all time high in January last year, the cryptocurrency market (and my portfolio) has significantly dropped in value. Had I sold while the market was at the top, my position in crypto would have been significantly higher. I'm not complaining. I still made it out alive. The crypto bear market of 2018 was a huge blow to folks worldwide who've invested fortunes into this adolescent technology and poorly executed investment vehicles (*cough* ICO's). Investors lost a significant of money. In the tune of hundreds of billions. I was only playing with fun money.
On the bright side, because I had hodl'd and held on to my crypto throughout the bear market (when prices drop), I still own the same amount of bitcoin. I actually own more because I continued to invest as the price continued to drop (dollar-cost-averaging). In the end I didn't lose any money. I just didn't make money either. Hindsight 20/20 right?
Lessons Learned: It's ok to sell while you're ahead. That's the whole point. Buy low, sell high. Not, HODL till I die! Regardless, distributed ledger technology (aka blockchain technology) and cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ethereum are here to stay. It's only a matter of time until mass adoption is here. So till then, I'll HODL on.
02. I tagged my boss in an inappropriate video post.
Now, in my defense, he asked me to do it. It really was an innocent post but I admit, it didn't paint the company in best light to our shareholders. Let me explain.
It happened in April this past year. I was in Lugano, Switzerland on a two week international business trip with the CEO and the senior sales manager of the start-up advertising technology company where I had just joined as brand manager. As a matter of fact, I had officially become an employee of the company while we were already days in to our business tour. We had been traveling for days on end, country to country, city to city, pitching to potential crypto investors around the world. Lugano was our last stop in Switzerland and undoubtedly the most beautiful stop on our trip. We had just finished a three hour drive from Zurich through the pristine Swiss Alps. We were in complete awe from the beautiful drive and when we got to Lugano, it felt like we had arrived to the promise land. It looked like heaven on earth. Top it all off, we stayed at Hotel Villa Principe Leopoldo which had an incredible view of Lake Lugano and the mountains surrounding it.
High from the luxury of it all, I decided to film a short video post to update my facebook wall. I'll admit it - I was humble-bragging about my adventure and where we were staying. My intended audience was just my facebook friends, which also happened include my new employer. He didn't see any harm in my post and actually appreciated my sentiment. So much so that he asked me to tag him in it, which I did. In the moment, I didn't see any harm in it either but the next day my boss gets word that some investors had saw the post on his wall. Shareholders of the company didn't enjoy the video as much as we did. They saw it as too lavish for a business trip.
While my employer did his best to take full blame. I don't know how much of a mess I made from my post but I can imagine it didn't make look that great. It was less than one week in to my new job and I had already fucked up.
Lessons Learned: Be mindful of your audience. I know I had initially had the thought not to tag him. I didn't make the video for his friends, I made it for mine. So when I decided to share that content with an unintended audience, it blew up in my face. My video was completely harmless and perhaps even entertaining, but only to the right audience.
03. I didn't ask for enough help.
Working for start-ups and small businesses can be difficult when there's little to no resources to work with. Whether it's financial capital, human capital, or raw materials, many start-ups and small businesses lack one or more of these resources to sustain and grow. The advertising technology company I was working with this year was no different. Although they had managed to raise over 10 million in private funding, they had already experienced a failed launch and were in the process of recovering from a large layoff so staff, finances, and morale were low. The marketing team was in shambles and I was tasked to lead the department. Now I'm certainly no stranger to leading teams and departments but what I hadn't experienced was doing that for two start-ups simultaneously and with no clear budget.
Allow me to elaborate, the company was getting ready to launch its product in New York while at the same time incubating a blockchain/cryptocurreny project and ICO. As you can imagine, there were lots of moving parts and missed deadlines due to complications outside of any one department. Looking back at it, I could hardly blame myself for the failures the company experienced but what I can take full responsibility for is not asking for enough help. That is to say, I could have done a better job asking for more resources.
I did everything I could to bring value to the start-up and that in itself was my biggest fault. I tried to do a lot of it myself. Although I did hire great talent and grow the team, had I been more proactive in asking for more resources, I wouldn't have had to struggle and work as hard as I did. Seriously, I literally broke my back constantly traveling, working full days, wearing many hats and putting out proverbial fires every other day. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed and appreciated every moment of it. But like any game, sometimes you'd gladly hit the restart button and do it all over again just to get a better score.
Lesson Learned: Great leaders surround themselves with greater talent. The next time around, I'd be more realistic with what I'm capable of doing just myself--not to diminish my own value but to recognize the value of others. Having a good team around you can make or break a goal. To my former co-workers reading this now, thank you for having been a part of such a team.
Nobody's perfect. I'm sure if I wanted to dive a little deeper, I'd find some more missed opportunities and failures. But thats not what looking at the past should be all about. Blessing or burden, it depends on how you let the stories of your past define you. My failures don't make any less of man. If anything, this past year really pushed me out of my boundaries. I pushed my capabilities and rediscovered a part of me I forgot existed: the part that's not afraid to fail. That's probably my biggest lesson of 2018. It's unlikely 2019 will be filled with the same travels and adventures as 2018 but if there's one thing that's certain, it's that I won't be afraid of possibility. I've got nothing to lose.