2022: How Did I Do?
With 2022 coming to a close, I thought I'd share some quick thoughts on the year, and look back at what I'd hoped for from the year. Next week I'll write up some thoughts for 2023 and what I'm hoping for from the next 12 months (and not hoping for!).
First, the three themes for 2022: Optimism, Simplicity, Focus.
Coming into 2022 there was a lot to be optimistic about. Covid vaccines were available and many of us were lucky enough to have been offered our first and second doses of it. Christmas 2021 wasn't the Christmas everyone hoped for, but at least we had a future beyond Covid to look forward to.
My wife and I were also expecting our second child in April of 2022 (it's a girl!). Our first-born, a boy, is having a great time in Montessori and is healthy and happy. So lots to feel optimistic and grateful for coming into the year.
Then, in February, all that optimism was washed away with Putin's invasian of Ukraine. We all know the story there, so I won't go into too much detail here, but it was a reminder to us all that the relatively bright world we've been living in for the past two thirds of a century still has plenty of potential to become much darker in an instant.
Ray Dalio and many others like to talk about the idea of 100 year cycles. It's just over 100 years since World War I ended, just over 100 years since the Irish War of Independence concluded, and we're not all that far away from the 100 year anniversary of World War 2 ending. Obviously a lot has happened since, across the world, but it does feel like we're at the end of a 100 year cycle and the world is in flux right now.
Since the middle of the last decade, we've had a bizarre 2016 US Presidential Election, Brexit, and a series of populists coming into power in other parts of the world. Populism isn't always a bad thing - most politics these days includes some form of populism. But it's starting to feel like those that talked a big game, yet couldn't deliver on their big talk, have been called out and caught out. Including Putin.
If we're at the end of a 100 year cycle, it might be that we're about to enter a new one. And we're now living through a moment of chaos in betweeen.
So, as awful as 2022 has been for so many people, there's a lot to be optimistic about. Often things get worse before they get a whole lot better. That might be where we are.
Last year I wrote that "I'll be spending even more time thinking about - and working on - being the best dad I can." My goal was to introduce more simplicity to my life so I could create more space to be the best dad I can be to our two kids.
So, in July 2022, I left HubSpot after almost four years. HubSpot is an amazing company, and I learned so much there about how a sales and marketing mega-machine operates. HubSpot is arguably the best B2B company in the world on that front. I spent more time working at HubSpot than I did at Facebook. That says a lot.
All that said, 100% of my team - including all my direct reports - were based in the United States, from East Coast to West Coast. The larger the the team got, and the more responsibilities we took on, the harder I found it to juggle Dublin, Ireland with PST > EST timezones. I found myself declining more and more meetings, and felt guilty that I only really saw our 4 year old for an hour in the evenings for dinner/bedtime. This felt even harder to manage with a newborn in our lives.
So, whilst on 6 weeks paternity leave, I made the decision to leave. I'd helped the team grow the App Partner Marketplace and Program from ~150 apps when I joined, to over 1,200 when I left. And we took on the Asset Marketplace Program, too, with enormous growth of HubSpot CMS Themes over the past year. I'd helped operationalize the Program, including the launch of the App Marketplace at INBOUND 2019. So I'd mostly achieved everything I had hoped for. I even blogged a bit.
Initially, I had considered taking some time off and being my own boss again. There's a few ideas I've been mulling over for the past number of years, and whatever I do I can't cure the entrepreneurial itch that's in me. But a few opportunities presented themselves, including an opportunity to join Fresco to help them build out KitchenOS. More on that another time, but I'm glad I took the plunge. We're trying to create an entirely new category from scratch, by connecting the kitchen of today to the kitchen of the future. An interesting mix of food, industrial design, and - of course - Platform.
Bonus: most of the amazing Fresco team are based in Europe, so timezones are much more manageable.
I'm not going to lie, this one has been pretty hard to get right this year. With a newborn, new job, and the after-effects of Covid (my body took a hit) it's been eventful! But I've done what I can to block out distractions and get my brain and body pointed in the right direction.
I've found it tougher to concentrate for long periods of time and to present as well as I used to since I got Covid. No doubt it'll pass, but it's a surprising after-effect. Covid - getting it at least - wasn't all that bad. The effect of it after the fact is far worse.
Thanks to Covid, I'm an asthmatic again. I used inhalers from about the age of 4 or 5 up to my mid teens. Then it just disappeared - fairly normal. With my lungs at 2/3rds of their previous capacity since Covid, I'm back on steroids again. They're working well.
Since moving jobs, the spam-lords have found it harder to find me. The amount of spam I received to my @hubspot.com email address was insane. Mildly ironic as I was working for a CRM/Marketing Automation Platform company. So, more magical focus time unlocked.
Omission: NFT anything
Let's make this one a visual. Let's say I'm glad I avoided all that nonsense.
NFTs were Tulip Mania of 2021. Get rich quick schemes tend to not work out very well for the 99% of people that participate in them. If an asset is quick and cheap to produce, and you say it's "scarce" without actually being scarce, it's not an asset.
Celebs are being sued for shilling them, and a noticeable number of people on Twitter have removed mymadeupname.eth from their Twitter profiles. I can think of just one account I know of that still includes that NFT hexagon thing. And yes they're super rich, live in the valley, and are part of the "right place, right time" gazillionaire club.
Speaking of Twitter, it's been disappointing to see what happens when the gazillionaire club class get ahead of themselves and believe everything they touch turns to gold. The problems of the valley are not the problems of the world. Which means solutions born in the valley do not always translate beyond that. Which Elon Musk found out the hard way.
The gazillionaire class I'm talking about tend to be white and male by the way. If you've read Uncanny Valley by Anna Wiener you'll know what I mean.
Thank you, 2022
Overall a challenging year, a year of change in so many ways, but a lot to be optimistic and hopeful for at the end of it. 2023, let's be having you.