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2018: Year in Review

Over the years, I’ve built a habit of spending the last week of the year reviewing how my year went, what I learnt and what I want to achieve in the coming year. I use mind-maps to do this brainstorming (here’s my 2017 review).

Last year, I celebrated my New Year’s Eve in Sydney under a lit up sky.

This year’s NYE going to be a little quieter – at home, with family & friends. 🙂

My theme of 2018 was all about balancing calm and focus. While there were some clear wins and misses there, I made a lot of progress around that aspect. I did manage to complete about 70% of my resolutions!

As usual, I’m going to write this letter in the way that I’m being both honest with myself and useful to you.

Work

What a big year at work! Massive changes and wins in my professional life.

  1. Changed verticals – After 4 years at Hubstaff (time tracking), I moved to Close (CRM). For anyone looking to join a company, I’m incredibly happy to recommend both of them.
  2. More challenging projects – This year, I tackled some incredibly exciting & challenging marketing projects, specifically around pricing optimisation, market expansion, internationalisation & positioning. I feel I really improved on my craft here.
  3. Improved storytelling – I read a wonderful book on copywriting, worked closely with world-class copywriters & practiced copywriting this year. I experimented a lot with video, audio & text to improve my storytelling. While there is a lot of room for improvement, I definitely I have lesser “umms”, able to explain things with lesser words & improved my body language.
  4. Launched RemoteMarketing.org – Applied a lot of positioning concepts on my side project, that finally culminated into this blog and a long term mission to “make all colocated marketing teams, location independent“. It’s a long mission but this is where my heart lies, it excites me and it helps me bring change to the world in my own little way.
  5. Remote Marketing Newsletter – I sent 12 editions this year vs 6 editions per year previously. That helped me grow my newsletter’s subscriber base by 200% this year. I also met 9 of my subscribers in person in Australia, Spain, Portugal & India. 🤗
  6. More work on personal brand – This year, I was invited on 4 podcast shows, spoke at 1 conference, published 6 articles & got mentioned in another 20. That was a big push to my personal brand and I’d like to improve on it in 2019.

For a lot of you who don’t know, joining Close was bittersweet to me because I’m back into the world of CRMs after a gap of 4 years!

From CRMs to time tracking to CRMs again!

Travel

I travelled all the way from the French Riviera to south asian hawker markets to the astoundingly beautiful landscapes in New Zealand. I travelled to 8 countries this year!

My 2018 according to Google Maps.

I made some amazing memories with my family/friends – my college buds flew down to Barcelona for my birthday, I went hiking in Sydney & explored the French Riviera with other friends. I drove the Great Ocean Road with my sister & explored the unique landscapes of New Zealand & food markets of Malaysia with my parents. I also met & spent a week with the Close.io team in Lisbon!

Health

Good fitness level, majorly because of a healthy diet and partly because of more variety in workout.

  1. From being a foodie to a ‘healthy’ foodie – In 2018, I started eating smaller portions, eating healthier foods like salads, smoothies & toned down versions of ‘parfaits’.
  2. Massively reduced my craving for sugar – From craving for something sweet after every meal to replacing that habit with natural sweeteners like dates (esp. medjoul!), dried cranberries & fresh fruits, I massively reduced my craving for artificial sugar.
  3. Added more variety to my workout – This year, I really started enjoying High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). I also tried bhangra classes, zumba, boxing, rock-climbing, slack-lining & yoga.
  4. Investing in good gym clothes – One of the benefits I got from this is that stylish gym clothes are an automatic trigger for you to go to the gym often. You look and feel good and you automatically feel like working out. Good hack!
  5. Focused on mental wellness – This year, I really took care of my mental health. I routinely took out ‘alone’ time, made self-reflection and writing a habit, tried out some of David Burns’s exercises and also attended mental wellness workshops. I feel I’m the most mature, resilient & self-aware I’ve ever been my life right now.
  6. Balanced work/life properly for the first time – I feel this is the first year where I properly balanced work/life. I stopped working on weekends, I defined my work boundaries, took out time to do “nothing” & socialise.

Top influencers in my life/work

Who do I have to thank? If you’ve read 5 people you’ll meet in heaven, you know about the concept of 5 people in your life that you may or may not have ever met who changed your life profoundly.

Below is a list of folks who did profoundly impact my life this year. This is not an exhaustive list,

  1. Family/friends – Biggest support, biggest hug for y’all. Thanks for being there! You introduced me to new ideas, kept me in check and helped me focus on the right things. I’m so incredibly lucky to have you all in my life.
  2. Dave Nevogt (CEO of Hubstaff) – The lessons Dave taught me in my 4 years with him benefit me every day. A lot of that flows around how I think through constraints & problems, how I strategise, how I brainstorm & how I implement.
  3. Ramin Assemi (RM subscriber & my colleague) – For being the reason why I’m here working at Close with him, Mr. Austria (yes!), Steli Efti & other amazing people.
  4. Close.io team – I feel so privileged to be working with folks who’re exceptionally good in their craft & committed to a long-term vision.
  5. Dale Carnegie (read his book) – For teaching me better people skills. I struck up conversations with more strangers than ever before this year.
  6. Remote Marketing Community – You shared your stories with me, you hosted me in your respective cities, you helped me expand this community & craft this beautiful mission. You continuously push me to show up every day. THANK YOU. I’ve hired some help for this community in 2019 so you’ll be seeing a lot more instructional content on making remote marketing teams work!
  7. Myself – I pushed myself really hard this year and I’m proud of everything I’ve achieved. I don’t normally thank myself, but this year I’d really like to shower some self-love. I followed through on my goals, even over-exceeded some of my goals & challenged myself every day.

Some life lessons

  1. ‘Being comfortable with the uncomfortable’ was a big win – I lived in the cucoon of ‘uncomfortable’ this year (being comfortable with the uncomfortable) and I plan to do that in 2019 too. The more time I spend in this ‘uncomfortable’ zone, the more growth I see in myself.
  2. If someone doesn’t like you, that’s okay. There are some people who will like you and some who won’t and that’s perfectly okay and normal.
  3. Seek joy while working remotely (while listening to this song)
  4. Being imperfect allowed me to progress. For example, I started being comfortable shipping out videos that weren’t perfect. Slowly, the videos became better with lesser “umms” and awkwardness on video. Completing swiftly & imperfectly > delaying & shipping something perfect.
  5. Sleep for 8 hours every day without fail. Think about long term health.
  6. Be bold in asking questions. Be bold in taking decisions and bringing up anything that feels wrong.
  7. Question more, more & more. That’s where breakthrough ideas emerge.
  8. Practice self-acceptance. For a long time, I unknowingly pushed myself too hard. I was never satisfied with myself and kept pushing harder. That’s both a good thing and a bad thing, in my case it was the latter. I realised that I really needed to work hard on some self-loving, because ‘I’ am my life’s longest commitment.
  9. Nurturing & honing your existing relationships brings long term joy. That comes from dropping your ego, calling your folks, making plans & staying in touch regularly. It’s funny but I’m experimenting with an app to make this easier.

Top books of 2018

  1. Dark Matter by Blake Crouch – One of my all-time top 5 book recommendations. It’s a science fiction novel that has a “I must know WTF is going on” plot.
  2. Positioning by Al Reis – Learn how to position yourself in a global competitive landscape.
  3. Feeling Good by David Burns – This is an actionable book on emotional wellness with some interesting exercises. Powerful.
  4. The Product Marketing Manager by Lucas Weber – What should the product marketing team be responsible for when it’s just you, when you have a small team & when you have a large team? This book answers it all.
  5. Tested Advertising Methods by John Caples – One of the most exhaustive books on copywriting. One to read again and again. Lots of ideas.

Top purchases of 2018

  1. Canva for Work subscription – Beautiful graphic designs in minutes. Great to share ideas that stick in people’s mind. Here’s an example.
  2. Blue Yeti microphone – Professional audio with minimal setup and affordable price. I used this microphone on this podcast episode.
  3. Siteground web hosting – Reliable & secure web hosting with award-winning 24×7 support. I’ve never given less than 5/5 NPS to their support in every chat.
  4. WeWork membership – Beautiful & inspiring co-working spaces globally. What I particularly like about them – lots of open space, sunlight, plants & a thriving community (BIG plus if you’re working remotely).

New addition to likes

  1. Chamomile & green tea
  2. Turmeric latte or haldi ka dood
  3. Old Hindi songs (thanks to Bollyjazz)
  4. Green smoothies (didn’t know these could actually be made tasty)
  5. Soya milk / tofu

2019: The Year of CI

I’ve always been a curious person and ask a lot of questions. As a lifelong learner, I always pick up a lot of new things at the start of every new year. In 2019, I plan to do the complete opposite to that.

I’ll focus more on improvement on my existing items from 2018 and ramping up my progress there. That doesn’t mean that I’ll stop learning, I’m just going to spend more time on improving on the things I’ve already made progress on in 2018.

Every new year, I build out my resolutions around a particular theme.

  1. 2017 was the Year of Embracing Solitude.
  2. 2018 was the Year of Balancing Calm & Focus.
  3. 2019 will be the Year of Continuous Improvement (CI). 🎉

2018 made me realise the importance of routines, consistency and their rewards over the long term, which led me to decide that my theme for 2019 will be The Year of Continuous Improvement.

Some nice-to-have NEW items in 2019 however:

  1. Become better at estimating correctly – estimating project timelines, estimating effort & timelines in non-work stuff etc.
  2. Do a 10 episode podcast season with other remote leaders.
  3. Start delivering talks at physical conferences
  4. Explain clearly & in as few words as possible – Get rid of the ‘umms’ and gibbirish in between.
  5. Improve my first 30s when speaking on video and look directly at the camera like I’m talking to a person.
  6. Learn a sport and play it consistently – football, table tennis, or badminton.
  7. Get more groove in my guitar playing. Take inspiration from John Mayer.

Thanks a bunch for reading my Year in Review & being a part of my life. Wish you a terrific 2019!

To end the post, here’s a 54 second clip that Google Photos (❤️) compiled for me that summed up some of my great experiences and memories of 2018.

What are your biggest takeaways from 2018? Comment below!

Madhav Bhandari

I'm a marketer who's been working with remote marketing teams for 6+ years. My long term mission is to make all co-located marketing teams, location independent.

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