I was really excited to write my annual review this year. It was a year of challenges and opportunities for growth both personally and professionally.
As I’ve done in previous years, I’ll focus on the highlights.
My goals from last year were to:
- ✅ Scale Omniscient to multi-million-dollars in revenue. Completed.
- ❌ Build 2 new revenue streams for Omniscient. Decided to abandon this to focus on the main revenue driver: SEO and content marketing services.
- ❌ Build or buy a second cash-flowing business. Abandoned this in the name of focus.
- ❌ Get PADI certified. Abandoned this.
- ✅ Continue maintaining and improving my mental, emotional, and physical health. I was inconsistent at times due to travel and work, but will consider this a success. I continued going to the gym and taking care of myself.
- ✅ Continue to build relationships. I was much more intentional with reaching out to and meeting with people.
I add tracks I enjoy to a playlist through out the year every year. The songs don’t necessarily need to be released in this year, they’re just songs I enjoyed this year. Many are actually throwbacks. Here are the tracks I enjoyed the most this year.
I turned 32 this year. I often contemplate death and how I should live my life knowing I (and everyone around me) is going to die at some point. For me, that doesn’t mean jumping on a plane and traveling around the world. It’s about spending time with people love and care about, building a business and finding meaning in the work and the relationships I build through work, and through that, building wealth to enable a rich life for me and my loved ones.
I categorized my personal highlights in three categories: family & friendships, fun, and fitness.
Family & Friendships
Intentionally invested in relationships.
I got better at just texting and emailing friends when I thought of them. It could be as simple as a “how are you?” message that turns into a meetup for coffee, which sometimes turns into a recurring catchup.
When I traveled to places like New York or Austin, whether for work or personal travel, regardless of the purpose of the trip, I made the effort to reach out to people to meet up.
I did this with both new and existing relationships, some were people I may have only met a few times or just connected with on LinkedIn.
This resulted in deeper friendships and professional relationships that I consider more to be friendships.
Deepened my relationship with my partner and our dog.
We both went through a lot of change this year. It was my first year as a full-time entrepreneur and all the challenges and adaptations that came with it. She left her job and started business school which also required lifestyle changes, new ways of communicating, and new social commitments.
In an effort to be supportive and, quite honestly, to get something out of it, I’ve been as involved as I could be with her business school activities, which has meant making my schedule work around that. Maybe I can’t work as late or I have to skip the gym to make it happen.
Our dog, Chance has been a champ this year with all the changes. It unfortunately meant we haven’t been able to spend as much time with him as before, but he’s been doing well. We’ve maintained as much structure as possible for him, and he now gets to go on a long hike with his dog friends through Trails and Tails once a week.
Parent’s visited Boston
Connected with a network of Cambodian professionals.
I’ve made an effort to connect with more Cambodian-American professionals over the last few years and it culminated in joining a WhatsApp group and we now have a monthly call on the calendar.
I have some ideas for more community-building I’d like to do, but I’ll continue to enjoy the community in its current state. It has expanded beyond American-born Cambodians, but also Australian-Cambodians, French-Cambodians, and folks born in Cambodian and now living abroad.
My Instagram feed is now dogs, fight videos, workout videos, and chefs.
I’m not an amazing cook by any means, but I decided that since I have to cook, I might as well try to get better at it. My Instagram feed is now a lot of chefs and while it’s mostly passive consumption and watching them cook, I like to think that I’ve picked up some techniques. I’ve started improving my knife skills, preparing the mise en place, and using more butter (:
I used to do MMA when I was a teenager, but it got too expensive for my parents so they got me a punching bag instead. I recently picked up Muay Thai at Sityodtong Botson and been going once a week – albeit inconsistently.
This falls under fitness as well, but my mentality toward weightlifting used to be focused on maintenance and minimal risk. I wasn’t trying to be the strongest or biggest. I didn’t want to risk injuring myself either. I just wanted to maintain my level of fitness.
Well, I got bored.
So I switched my approach to weightlifting to challenge myself. This shift has given me new-found excitement about going to the gym. I resumed taking whey protein and started taking pre-workout and creatine. I bought a weightlifting belt and grips to help with my deadlifts and squats. I’m counting my macros, which I never thought I’d do.
It wasn’t my busiest year of travel and it was mostly domestic but I’m glad we got to see some other cities and spend time with friends and family.
- Montreal, Canada – To see extended family.
- Philadelphia – For a wedding. It was our first time there.
- London – For work and fun.
- Los Angeles – Annual trip home to spend time with family during the holidays.
- New York – Visiting friends.
- Aspen – Ski trip with friends.
- Washington DC – Friend’s birthday.
- Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire – Business school retreat.
- Okemo Mountain in Vermont – Business school retreat.
- San Diego – Team offsite.
- Scottsdale – Team offsite.
- San Francisco – CMO Summit conference.
- Austin – Spryng conference and founders offsite.
- Chicago – Leadership offsite.
- Portland, Maine – Founders offsite.
Includes mental, emotional, and physical.
Joined the 700 Pound Club
The club means the total weight of your one-rep max for your bench press, squat, and deadlift add up to 700lbs. This became a goal because the guys in my accountability group said they were going to join the 900 Pound Club.
They’re at a different weight class than me and I had not ever lifted anywhere near what would be required to reach that club so I said I’d join the 700 Pound Club instead.
I ended up hitting 735lb.
Worked through injuries and ensuing mental barriers.
I injured myself twice this year. I hurt my back deadlifting, which took me away from heavy lifting for about 3 months. I also rolled my ankle during Muay Thai, which took me off intense physical activity for about 3 months as well.
I was a lot more cautious with physical activity after both injuries. I was scared of reinjuring myself. Justin helped me with a program that eased me back into certain movements and buid up my confidence to get back to heavy lifts and Muay Thai.
Restarted working with a coach.
I started working with David Sherrod as my coach again this year. It’s not business coaching, but it’s related. It’s not life coaching, but it’s related. I consider it mindset coaching.
Most of what we discuss is not groundbreaking, but my coach offers additional perspective and reframes some situations to help me get to a resolution, sometimes actionable, sometimes just to help reduce my anxiety.
He helps me maintain a positive and productive mindset rather than spiraling into anxiety.
I credit him for helping me work through some really challenging moments this year.
Able to identify when I’m not investing in myself enough.
This is a reframing for myself. Rather than guilt trip myself for not doing enough to take care of myself mentally and emotionally, I want to focus on the fact that I was able to recognize when I needed to prioritize myself, then make the appropriate changes as the situation allowed to remedy it.
For example, I was near my burnout point in October, and I knew it, but it didn’t feel appropriate to take a vacation during what became the busiest time of the year for the business. Instead, I took weekends to myself. I chilled at home, allowed myself to spend hours immersed in a sci-fi book, watched TV, and sometimes do some work to get ahead – as long as the work was from a place of excitement, not anxiety.
This meant I couldn’t go to every dinner or get-together, but these small moments of self-care got me to the end of the year and avoided a bad case of burnout.
It was an exciting year for Omniscient Digital. Despite the economic and industry challenges, the business and team came out stronger.
The partnership is still going strong.
Fortunately, my co-founders, Alex and Allie, and I are still going strong. It isn’t always easy, and we have disagreements, but we have mature conversations to work through challenges and continue to trust each other. It helps that we each have our own coaches and have gone through therapy.
We jumped into the business full-time in the summer of 2022 so we’ve been full-time entrepreneurs for a year and a half.
The business grew 30% year-over-year. We survived and thrived despite a tough year that saw a market crash in March, tech layoffs, and bank failures.
We’re extremely excited about the team, which has evolved a lot this year. I believe we have a team that will take the whole business to the next level in 2024.
New clients we’re excited about.
We saw a lot of business activity in the second half of the year, closing clients like Loom, SAP, and Adobe. There were many other logos we signed on and are really excited about but not able to share yet.
Hosted team and leadership offsites.
We hosted four offsites. Two of them were for the whole team in San Diego, California and Scottsdale, Arizona. The other two were for our leadership team in Chicago, Illinois, and the co-founders in Portland, Maine.
The team will likely be at a size where it’ll make sense to hire a vendor to help us coordinate an off-site for the whole team.
Learning: Don’t host an off-site in Arizona in the summer. It was initially meant to be an international off-site, but I was warned about hurricanes (which I’ve now learned was unfounded).
We had the intellectual honesty to stop doing things that stopped serving us.
From the get-go, we were adamant that we would never do things just because “that’s what we’ve always done.” We paused and canceled various programs that are considered “best practices.”
What we’ve stopped doing:
- Monthly office hours webinars
- Virtual summit
- Posting on Twitter
Things we did for a long time but ultimately decided to pause so we could regroup and iterate:
- LinkedIn posting – I posted every weekday for 9 months. I got tired of being on the treadmill. We paused these efforts to figure out how to be more intentional with it in the new year.
- Podcast – We published our first episode in December 2020 so we’ve been doing the podcast for 3 years. We paused it for two months to make some improvements. We improved our audio setup, we got a podcast producer, we redesigned the podcast cover and creative, and now we’re back to recording.
- Newsletter – We also paused this as we weren’t sure what the point of it was anymore. It felt like just another thing to do.
Ironically, we had our busiest season after we paused all our marketing.
Outgrew Entrepreneurs Organization Accelerator.
I participated in EO’s Accelerator program, which included a monthly accountability and coaching group, a quarterly workshop on a theme (People, Strategy, Execution, and Cash), and various networking events.
The Accelerator program requires that you’re making less than $1 million in revenue and Omniscient had passed that threshold. It also felt like the discussions I had weren’t as productive or valuable for the stage of business I was at compared to where I was when I joined.
There was an option to graduate into EO proper which was quite expensive ($20k) for where we were as a business. We were aggressively cutting costs at the time so I couldn’t justify the cost.
I ultimately decided I could find a network of people to learn from without paying a hefty membership price. I may consider rejoining EO in the future.
Attended various conferences and built professional relationships.
Conferences aren’t new for me, but it had been a while since I had attended one. I attended Spryng in Austin and CMO Summit in San Francisco. I had missed the energy of in-person events and meeting a bunch of new people in a short amount of time. We’re going to do more conferences next year.
I also hosted 3 dinners with growth and marketing leaders in Boston. I’m not used to hosting groupsc but went out of my comfort zone and enjoyed it. I plan on hosting one a month next year.
Overall, I connected with at least 2 new people per month, often more.
- It’s all about people. I enjoyed investing more time in my friendships and my relationship with my partner. I’m fortunate to have two amazing co-founders, who I also consider two of my best friends. Omniscient wouldn’t be where it is without an amazing team. At the end of the day, people make life enjoyable.
- Focus is a competitive advantage. Most people suffer with shiny object syndrome. I’m guilty of it as well. I’ve found from this year that intense focus will ensure the business stays operational and that I achieve my goals.
- Trust each other. We can’t go at it alone in personal or professional life.
- Comfort with commitments and tradeoffs enables speed. Comfort with making decisions enables success. I’ve learned not to be paralyzed by indecision. I have to make the best decision with the information I have. Some decisions will be very tough, but most are irreversible. We can be intellectually honest and reverse a decision if we gather data that tells us there’s a better decision.
- Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success by Phil Jackson
- The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni
- The Great CEO Within: The Tactical Guide to Company Building by Matt Mochary
- Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter by Liz Wiseman
- A Promised Land by Barack Obama
- Scaling Up by
- I Who Have Never Known Men by
- The Poppy War Trilogy: The Poppy War, Dragon Republic, The Burning God by RJ Kuang
- The Bear
- This Is Us
- The Night Agent
My goals have evolved over the last years, not just in theme but in length. When I was younger, I would have a long list of goals. I’m much more focused now.
- Double Omniscient’s annual revenue
- Speak at 4 events
- Hire someone to help with sales and marketing
- Host a monthly networking event for Boston tech and marketing leaders
- Have one high-quality leisure time activity and produce something non-digital each month
- Build relationships and continue to be the person that reaches out and connects people
- Take 2 mini-vacations
- Join the 900-Pound Club
- Gym 3x a week
- Muay Thai 1x a week
- Coaching 2x a month
- Journal every night
- Meditate every night
2024 Theme: Trust
I’ve had trust issues for most of my life. I grew up believing that no one was looking out for me, which made me feel like I had to fend for and champion myself, “Gotta look out for number one,” I’d say.
I’m 100% sure it came from how I was raised (what isn’t?).
It wasn’t until my mid-20s, after lots of introspection, therapy, and coaching, that I realized it was a false sense of danger and I began working through my trust issues.
It has been beneficial for my personal relationships and enables me to live life more fully. In business, a lack of trust is a limiting factor in business growth. You can’t grow a business if you don’t trust your partners and your team.
This year I watched The Playbook on Netflix, a series about coaches with championship résumés who share their personal rules for success in sports and life.
The first episode was about Doc Rivers, famous for coaching the Boston Celtics, taught the Celtics the concept of “ubuntu.” Ubuntu is a Nguni Bantu word that means “humanity” and is occasionally translated to “I am because we are.”
It encapsulates the idea that “I can’t be all that I can be, unless you are all that you can be.”
Phil Jackson, famously known for Coaching the Los Angeles Lakers, states, “The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.”
By doing our best, we enable the people around us to do their best. And when we can’t give more, we must rely on our team. And they must rely on us. Trust is required for that. So I will lean more into trust.
Trust in my relationships.
Trust in the team.
Trust in myself.
- 2022 Review
- 2021 Review
- 2020 Review
- 2019 Review
- 2018 Review
- 2017 Review
- 2016 Review
- 2015 Review
- 2014 Review
- 2012 Review