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Hustle & Heart

Annual Review 2015: Lessons in Hustle and Heart

hustle and heart 2015 annual review

There’s a first time for everything and this year, it’s an annual review.

Unlike Chris Guillebeau, who conceived the idea that spawned this post, i don’t have a week to lock myself in a cabin and reflect on the past year.

I’m just not there, yet.  There’s a good chance that, as an entrepreneur dad, you aren’t either.

However, between the hours of 3 and 5am on a few weekdays during my winter break, I cut off all work on Ok! Kimonos, my Brazilian jiu jitsu company, my podcast, this blog, and even my coaching work, to dedicate it to reflecting on 2015 and planning 2016.

Before we start, I want to give a massive thanks to the team at Fizzle for producing this podcast that reminded me to check out Chris’s annual review process.

And so we begin the 2015 annual review…

Having never done this before, I was really excited to sit down and get started.  reading through the last few entries Chris has made, with a warm cup of coffee, was incredible.

Side note: During a period of recent personal development work, i took the strengths finder 2 test and it said my top strength is called “intellection.”  I like quiet time to think, reflect, and specifically, to read and write.

With what I’ll propose in the next post in this series (for 2016), there will be more alignment with my strengths: daily writing practice and daily reading practice.

Back-to-the-Future2015 was supposed to be an amazing year (Thanks BTTF!) and although there were no great tragedies for me this year, there weren’t any incredibly wins either.

I didn’t have a six-figure launch

I didn’t quit my job

I didn’t become the next startup unicorn

I didn’t do any of those things that fake gurus would make you believe will make you happy.

I am, however, the happiest I’ve ever been.

This lead to an overall feeling of “training.”  With a baby due in January, it felt like this year was gearing up for that, as well as defining what I really want out of my life and business and making the incredibly difficult decisions that go along with that.

We’ll cover all of this in detail in the review over the next week or so, but let’s look at what went well, and what didn’t for me in 2015:

What Went Well in 2015

In 2015, I launched my first ever digital course, Sidepreneur University (not currently for sale).  Through a combination of promotion to my email list for my podcast, Facebook ads, and talking about it over the course of a month on my podcast, I was able to get a few hundred people to register for webinars that I entitled ‘The Art of the Start.’ (you can watch the webinar replay here)

In all, i was about to make about $4000 in revenue from it all, including getting my first major coaching client.  I refer to this client as ‘major’ because, for this client, I had to overcome a limiting belief of how much to charge for my services and started charging what I knew that I was worth.

This what incredible because, despite doing over $100,000 in revenue in my online business, I’ve never been paid for information or digital products before.  There’s always shipping, inventory to manage, etc.  But, this was a major pivot for me and I was incredibly happy with the ROI.

More recently, I launched my second course, the Hustle&Heart Productivity Fundamentals course, but other than two mentions on the podcast and a few emails, I didn’t promote it very much.  I think this was due to both constraints on my time, but also my feelings about the project. The course started as an ebook and, by the time it was a full blown course with videos, i was ready to move on.  Obviously, I wasn’t pumped about the ROI for this course and I’ll be doing some fun things with it in 2016.

Since that first client, I’ve raised my rates three times, secured multi-month contracts with a number of clients, and have begun to focus more not only on the coaching side of my business, but also on the practice of coaching.  Most people feel like their need a tactical expert to guide them through starting or growing their online business, but what they really need is somebody who knows how to ‘coach’ them to do it themselves and imbue them with the qualities that will make them successful in the long run, not just for the duration of the coaching relationship.  I focused more on the former and saw it pay off tremendously for those that I worked with.

I haven’t had any alcohol since may 26, 2014, but 2015 marked the first full calendar year without alcohol in my life.  i know i’ll write about it in the near future, so I won’t spend time writing about the WHY behind my decision to stop drinking completely.  a full calendar year of sobriety is a landmark achievement for somebody who hasn’t experienced that since he was 17.

Also in 2015, we found out that we’re going to have another baby!  My wife and I made a decision not to talk about this part of our life online, but for those who know me personally, you know this is monumental.  And while I don’t talk about it publicly, I do talk about it privately because it’s important for other would-be parents (especially dads) to know they aren’t alone in this. Just shoot me an email.

The double-edged sword of intellection means that i also use reading as a means of procrastination for action, or at least i have in the past.  I’ll read The Screwtape Letters, Sandcastle Kings, and every book by max lucado before I read the bible.  Why? Because it’s hard, it’s the truth, it’s heavy. It’s all of the things that make me feel like I can’t possibly get started.

But if I can’t, I must.

So I just started reading the Bible. I just started one day using an app on my phone.  I’ve been reading through Romans and Corinthians, as well as the book of Acts.  As i expected, it’s been everything that i knew it would be: transforming, challenging, and, at times, difficult to hear.

When i started to see the bible as a love letter from God and less of a book of rules, which it isn’t at all, it transformed both my relationship with God and with the Bible.  So far my relationship with Him has been pretty one-sided with me doing a lot of talking and him doing a lot of listening. I started to turn that around in 2015.

I joined a mastermind group. Alex Barker, an awesome member of the smart passive income community, set up a number of mastermind groups and i joined one.  The other members of my mastermind are:

Dave of Kindlepreneur

Renee of MadeOn and Hardlotion

Matt of MasterSketchup

Without being longwinded about it, you should join a mastermind group.  I could be wrong, but of the nearly 20 mastermind groups that Alex set up, my group is the only one that stuck together, which is pretty remarkable.

I recommend using something like Mastermind Jam to set something up.  Because there’s a small fee attached, you’re likely to get matched with better people for you and people who are dedicated.  Most free masterminds fail because people have no vested interest in helping others.

In 2015, I also joined Fizzle.  The courses inside fizzle could easily be sold for $1,000 each and the community is amazing.  The two things i try to provide at Hustle&Heart are the same things I get at Fizzle: training and community.

It also turns out that those are the two most important ingredients to building a successful business online.  Much like my mastermind, the Fizzle community is always there when you’re down for guidance and advice. Click here to check it out for two weeks for free (affiliate link).

Speaking of Hustle & Heart I also launched this site this year!  It’s funny that this isn’t listed first but I wanted to write this post in the most authentic way possible and that meant writing it in the same order I wrote it it in my notebook during the brainstorming process: in the order things popped into my head.

This also had a tangential bonus of me writing more than I ever have before, both here on the blog, and on Medium.

At the time of this annual review, my podcast is officially one year old!  It’s been an amazing way to put into the world things that I have to say and also connect with people i want to support.  one of the highlights of my year was having Gary Vaynerchuk reach out to me to be on the show (looking forward to his new book as well).

Between my day job, coaching, product launches, ad sponsorship on one site and the entirety of Ok! kimonos, I made over six-figures this year.  That’s incredible for a “teacher.”  We didn’t buy anything big or do anything amazing with the extra income.

Following advice from Dave Ramsey, we focused on paying off all of our debt.  This came in handy when a few medical bills arrived and transitioned jobs this summer leaving us with no insurance.  We paid thousands of dollars over the summer for insurance, but with a young son and pregnant wife, the peace of mind I was able to give my family was a huge blessing. It’s precisely why I work as hard as I do.

Despite feeling extremely frustrated at my job, I decided to focus as much of my attention as possible on one young man, a senior at my high school.  I saw potential in him in the past and found out he was skipping class, failing most of his classes, and was going to drop out or not graduate.  I called him into my office, set up daily meetings with him every morning, and used my considerable resources as an administrator to do everything that I could to get him to do the work pass his classes.  I was able to pass on to him a lot my beliefs about what it means to be a man, work hard, and what God has in store for us.  He and I both shed a few tears during the year and I count my time with him as some of the most significant work I’ve ever done in my entire life.

Men:  If you see a young man struggling at an impressionable point in his life, take action.  You CAN and WILL change his life.

In July, I left my position as an assistant principal to taking a teaching position at a new school.  in an attempt to be professional, i’ll simply say that leaving a disorganized, toxic, corrupt school culture for a fast-paced, positive and smart school culture was a welcome transition. for the first time in  my nearly decade-long career in education, i feel like the place i work at is winning.

Probably my favorite part of 2015 is the community that’s starting to be built around Hustle & Heart.  Between the email list, the Facebook group, and even the comments on this blog, i’m excited to have so many amazing entrepreneur dads together in one place, building businesses that support our families.

What Did Not Go as Well in 2015

To be honest, I feel a bit better writing this section than I thought I would.  When I made my initial list, it was full of really frustrating things that didn’t go well, and then I remembered that this process should only focus on things within my control.

I found a great deal of peace being able to delete half of the list and realizing that no matter what I did, a lot of the things that went well this year were in my control and most of the bad things were not.

At the end of 2014, I went out to California to attend my first major business event and ended up signing on with the event organizer and his team to coach me in my business.  Something in my gut kept telling me that it was a bad idea, but the mantra of taking imperfect action and making bold moves was being pushed really hard during the event and I bought it.

Not by accident, this was also the same type of motivation the first coach that I ever hired used to get me to hire him as well.  Neither relationship worked out.  In all, I wasted a lot of hours, thousands of dollars, and a GREAT amount of headspace on it and it’s a mistake that I won’t make again,

During the first half of 2015, I was extremely frustrated at my job.  As an assistant principal working in a corrupt charter school with a toxic culture, I felt hopeless to accomplish anything and disagreed with nearly every decision our school board was making.  Early in my career as a teacher, and in my online business, I’ve been known for my work ethic.  So, to check out mentally is very outside of my character, but it’s exactly what I allowed to happen.  Inaction, in itself, is an action.  Choosing to not work as hard as I could was not the right choice, but it was the choice I made.

During the summer transition, I had to pay for Cobra health insurance (Read: 2-3x my already insane premium) because my school defaulted on my contract and ended it in June as opposed to August.  This left us with large premiums to pay and, had I pretended that I was going to stay on for the next school year, this could have been avoided and some money saved.  But, my pride got the better of me and a poor decision was made.  The great feelings that I got from being able to leave and move on were balanced against the financial strain of paying for insurance.

Early in 2015, I set the goal to compete at least once in Brazilian jiu jitsu and I didn’t pursue it.  Without competition as a motivator to keep my weight at a healthy level, my weight also increased to the highest that it’s been in over a decade.

In fact, I didn’t train jiu jitsu much at all this year, at least not to the degree which I had before.

Without training regularly, and doing regular stretching and mobility work, my body was a wreck.  Additionally, going from moving for 8 hours a day (teaching) to sitting for that long (administration), also wreaked havoc on my body.  I’d often leave work with my knees and hips clicking as I walked down the hallway to my car.  While some of this was reversed when I went into the classroom again in September, I still didn’t do the flexibility and mobility work that I knew I needed to.

I focused my normal meditation time on working on my business which was, in retrospect, just a distraction.  In a time of massive stress we often revert to old habits so meditation went out the window. This is frustrating because I feel that one of the better decisions that I made in 2014 was to meditate on a regular basis.  After a month or two of consistent work using Headspace, I was having really vivid and surreal meditative sessions and the carryover into other areas of my life were noticeable

2016 Goal Categories

The next post in this series will be about my theme for 2016 and setting the goals that I’ll accomplish in specific areas of my life.  Using Chris Guillebeau’s categories as a guide, I’ve narrowed it down to the following:

  • Writing
  • Business
  • Friends & Family
  • Work
  • Faith
  • Health
  • Learning
  • Financial (Earning)
  • Financial (Giving)
  • Financial (Saving)

I’ll be diving deeper into each of these categories and the goals I’ve set for them in the next part of this series: 2015 Annual Review: Looking Forward to 2016 (The Calm Before the Storm!)

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