Year In Review 2016

January 21, 2017 Will Lam

will lam 2016 year in review

*WHOOOOOSH! KRAKOW!* ⚡ If I was to make a sound effect for what 2016 sounds like, that would be it. While the first third of 2016 was intense as I was enrolled in Lighthouse Labs and heads down learning Objective-C, it was the remaining 2/3’s of 2016 that have been delightful, mind blowing and pushed my comfort levels on all fronts to the point where I if I was honest with myself I’d say, “WTF.. that was crazy.. how am I keeping up??”

In my last year in review, I mentioned the theme would be self-expression. That came out in so many different ways, whether it was through dance, communication, costumes or writing — my authentic-self shone through in spades.

It was a tremendous in terms of progress and my head is still spinning with all the growth I’ve made this past year. The wreckage of 2015  was cleared away and this was my year to really start taking things to the next level. I’ll start off by touching upon where I pushed my comfort zone in bullet form.

will lam at peggys cove
The only picture of myself during my solo East Coast Canada trip

How I pushed my comfort zone in 2016:

  • Was uncomfortable in terms as I was funemployed for the first four months of the year, but knew that it I needed the time to process, heal and put in the work for the next stage in my life and what I wanted out of the rest of 2016
  • Intellectually, while learning to build iPhone apps at Lighthouse Labs — probably the hardest thing I’ve had to do in my life thus far. I’ll touch more upon this later on.
  • I really dated the fuck out of 2016 and pushed my boundaries on what’s possible in terms of how radical honesty, authenticity, and vulnerability really made a difference in the quality of my dating experiences.
  • Took a solo east coast road trip to Halifax and let go of a few things before starting at Taplytics.
  • I took a chance in terms of switching my career focus from Marketing / Product to Customer Success — my growth and understanding of the mobile industry skyrocketed. Time to dig my heels deeper at Taplytics.
  • Went camping for the first time at Boreal Canoe Trip — with some help from new friends
  • My second year at Camp Reset was the catalyst for new aspects of growth — it exposed me to different fun and delightful things in terms of play and connecting with other lovely humans.
  • Went to Burning Man where I’ve seen and burned many different things — I made my way there to become more comfortable by myself and in my own skin, let go of things I thought I had let go, and cleared out space in my heart for new partners. (This will probably be a standalone post at some point)
  • Having a much better understanding of my finances and getting things under control now that I’m gainfully employed again 🙂
  • Training in Olympic weightlifting with the Barbell 101 team under Coach Dinn
  • Started really enjoying the rave scene
  • Going to sleep early — with the help of the Early Morning Resetters and Wake Up Ninjas crew.
  • Moved out of the parental units’ place again and finding amazing roomies — Ana and Becky 🙂

Financial Freedom

Things are finally looking up again in terms of finances — while I took a bit of a pause in terms of savings and building wealth due to a pretty hefty trip to Burning Man. It was a calculated move as the experience outweighed any expenses. It’s one of those once in a lifetime experiences that an open minded adult should check out and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

Other than that, I’m on solid ground to continue building my wealth. While I made a private commitment to myself that I’d hit $50,000 in revenues on side projects last year, it was wishful thinking and didn’t any sense as I had so much on my plate.

This year I’d like to re-commit to that and make a solid run for it now that I’ve got some really awesome things on the go. I’ll look more into maxing out either my TFSAs or RSPs depending on how things look by the end of the year.

All of this, of course, will force me to re-prioritize how I spend my time, notably in the mornings. During my mornings, it should be one from not just creation, but value creation that has an intended outcome of producing value for either the company I work at with me benefitting from learning through doing, or generating some sort of business out come on this very blog (email sign ups, consulting leads etc).

Quarterly reviews

I’ll have to do quarterly reviews on how those will actually come to fruition. I’m thinking that a reasonable estimate is to give myself about half a year to be able to build a foundation in terms of creating content and getting to becoming “somewhat known” for thought leadership in the mobile conversion rate optimization realm. 

I’ve kept up my fitness, transitioning from emphasizing general strength training and CrossFit met-con style workouts to Olympic weightlifting. While irregular at some points due to my Lighthouse Labs stint up until April, I’ve made a decent effort at maintaining my strength levels up until starting coaching with Coach Nicole Dinn and her team at Barbell 101.

My flexibility, form, and technique are steadily getting better under the watchful eye of Nicole.

I said that last year that I’d compete at my first amateur Olympic Weightlifting competition, but with enrolling myself at the coding bootcamp at Lighthouse Labs and then starting a new job, it was a bit of a late start, but that’s okay. So as long as I continue showing up, putting in the work and taking care of my body with proper nutrition and sleep, I’ll be able to make that happen and be strong and explosive like bull 🐂.

Nutrition wise, now that I’m all grown up again and adulting, I can take control of my nutrition and eat to perform in the gym. I’m especially excited now that I’ve picked up a new Anova Culinary sous vide machine. It should be a delicious process in terms of hitting my macros and nutrition requirements to perform with some help from Coach Dinn. I’m looking forward to cooking more delicious home cooked meals and seeing meal prep as a sacred practice that will set me up for success.

Finally, sleep wise, with the help of the Early Morning Resetter and Wake Up Ninja groups that I’ve been a part of, sleep has become probably THE top priority in terms of my fitness. The level of consistency has not been at the level since I joined the groups back in September, but having people keeping you accountable and attempting to make the most out of their early mornings has been a strong incentive for me to keep going.

Learning

The majority of my learning came from my experience at Lighthouse Labs where I wrote briefly about my experience. It was probably the most intense learning experience in the academic sense — learning the foundational language, C to prepare for the course and then into Objective-C as we were building apps. I learned as much as I could during my stay at Lighthouse Labs, but I didn’t make the cut to stay in, which was tough to accept but at the end of the day, I’m happy with having gone through the process.

It was something that I deeply needed to explore and dive into the deep end, and I did. I learned so much from such an immersive experience. It definitely empowered me to make some major progress in that environment compared to learning on my own. While it was quite a bit of investment, I’m glad it led to having a much stronger foundation in terms of understanding mobile app development before joining my company at Taplytics, where our bread and butter is in testing and optimization for iOS and Android.

The other part of my learning came from working at Taplytics itself. It’s both an art and a science to understand and execute A/B tests as well as push notifications. Without having to go into the nitty gritty details, I’ve learned so much working at Taplytics and working alongside such hardworking and inspiring team members. I’m excited to dig in deeper and contributing beyond my role.

This is probably the best point and area where I can double down on in terms of learning and growth opportunity professionally as well as financially, which can open up to other business and consulting opportunities. It’s more of recognizing that it is a possibility. But of course, I’ll have to put in the work and actually wrap up our learnings through writing and creating meaningful content that challenges me to write meaningful and valuable content that I can reflect on and others can learn from as well.

At some point in time, I’ll be circling back building apps for the App store. I’ve failed miserably before and on several occasions, but the learnings I’ve taken away have been deeper and have actually stuck to this day. I am definitely not as intimidated, and will swing towards continue to learn building iOS apps and maybe web before the end of 2017, but we’ll see. I’m thinking a realistic time frame would be to pick it up again around April.

Career

During my stay at Lighthouse Labs it was to prep myself for my next role, while I was already in talks with my team at Taplytics, I was talking to other awesome companies as well. In the end, I ultimately chose Taplytics which provides a tremendous learning and growth opportunity. I’m excited that I can dive deeper into other things that add value to the company so as long as it makes sense.

Outside of Taplytics, I anticipate resurrecting DateIdeas, where I want to create an online resource that will be built up over time. I’ll slap ads onto it and see where I can take it in terms of creating a passive income. Nothing too crazy, but with some solid SEO and creating some really good long form content, I should be able to get a decent amount of traffic to get to around a few hundred dollars in Adsense revenue.

Outside of creating passive income streams, a way to push myself would be to actually do some consulting on the side. It will definitely be ambitious, but I’d like to make a real attempt to see if I can create meaningful value for other companies and revenues as a consultant.

Friendships

camp reset 2016
Camp Reset 2016: week 1 above, week 2 below. Can you spot where I am?? 🙂

With my breakup from my long term girlfriend in late 2015, it quickly made space for other lovely friends to fill the void.

This was a year where I made space for new friends from Camp Reset and adjacent communities like the Toronto Burning Man and rave communities, which have a heavy amount of overlap. A lot of those friendships from 2015 were solidified in 2016. And while many new dear friends have entered in my life, a few friends I’ve had haven’t been as present and have withered away. Much like anything else in life, they deteriorated of time because they weren’t given the time, love attention needed to maintain any semblance of a real social bond.

At one point over the summer, I was at the point of “breaking up” with a best friend of mine because of non-communication. Long story short, we were able to reconcile our differences and rekindled our friendship on much more understanding terms now that our lives are different, but not so different that it doesn’t make sense to maintain our friendship.

Our hangouts are more meaningful and awesome ever since getting on the same page with each other. 💪❤

Dating / Relationships

I went on a fair bit of dates this past year. Looking at my calendar, I devoted a fair bit of time to this area of my life. My motto was “victory through sheer volume.” And it worked. There’s a saying that I’ve learned recently, “While love is infinite, your time and energy are not.” This resonates with me as I’ve grown in terms of the way I love, play and communicate with my partners. It means being radically honest and transparent of where your heart stands and what your wants and needs are as well. It means standing firm on your values and not compromising your core values and finding common ground where you’ve negotiated with integrity and transparency.

There’s a saying that I’ve learned recently, “While love is infinite, your time and energy are not.” This resonates with me as I’ve grown in terms of the way I love, play and communicate with my partners. It means being radically honest and transparent of where your heart stands and what your wants and needs are. It means standing firm on your values and not compromising your core values and finding common ground where you’ve negotiated with integrity and transparency.

This area in my life grew by leaps and bounds in ways I never really thought possible. Without having to go into details, while extremely fun, but it was never really part of the plan that I originally set out at the end of 2015. It was more so a bonus level and I had an “Invincibility Star” much like in Super Mario, racking up experience and bonus points. It was more of a side adventure than a part of my main act.

It wasn’t until I had come back from Burning Man I started seeing someone whom I’ve grown very fond of. She stepped up in a big way when I was in a vulnerable. She’s such a loving, nurturing, supportive and playfully silly partner. She’s the bees knees in my books. 🐝😍

Travel

 

In dust we trust.. Thank you to @mowglizan for allowing me to go in his place! #burningman

A photo posted by Will Lam (@will_lam) on

While I wanted to travel more compared to last year, I didn’t make it to Asia as I intended. I did, however, make it to Burning Man. It was a lot of planning and cost a fair bit of money, but the experience was not unlike anything I’ve ever imagined or experienced. I’ll probably have to dedicate an entire post to my experience there eventually.

As for this year’s travel plans, I’d like to make it to Asia sometime during the summer, and a few other festivals such as Lakes of Fire.

In terms of side adventures, I went camping for the first time and definitely have caught the bug in terms of immersing myself in nature, whether in a forest or a desert 🙂

Failures

– Got kicked out of Lighthouse Labs because I didn’t make the cut there

– A few relationships that didn’t pan out

– Didn’t even get close to $50,000 in savings

– Didn’t create a course

– Didn’t compete at an Olympic weightlifting competition

Wins

– Made it to Burning Man

– Met an amazing partner 😍

– Cultivated an amazing ecosystem of friends in different communities ❤

– Getting into the rhythm of working at Taplytics

– Started olympic weightlifting training with Barbell 101 team 🏋🏻‍♀️

2017 Quarterly Goals:

– Q1: Build DateIdeas.net, create and publish mobile conversions content including an email course

– Q2: Prep for Amateur Weightlifting competition

– Q3: Compete at an Amateur Weightlifting Competition, Travel to Asia

– Q4: Release an iOS app

My end outcome for 2017 is to create $50,000 in value. It’s a bit of an arbitrary number as I’m allowing myself to assign value to leads that I generate, actual contracts signed, and passive income from DateIdeas.net.

Concluding Thoughts

I feel as if 2016 was laying a strong foundation to really fly this year. While the pace for 2017 isn’t as fast and furious I would like to due to some personal things I had to work through, I am patient. I’ve built the inner strength, emotional resilience and grit to keep forging ahead.

I am surrounding myself with amazingly supportive friends that keep me accountable, I’ve met an amazing partner, and I’m working at a pretty dope company with some awesome leaders and lots of room for learning and growth. I think I’m very much in a good spot right now and I’m grateful for everything I have.

If 2016’s theme was self-expression, 2017 will be focused on value creation.

All that’s left is me that will stand in my way of whether I achieve everything I want and feel I deserve. Below is a quote from a friend that I have as my iPhone lock screen wallpaper to remind me from this.

 

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