Annual Review 2018

I’ll get right to it: this year was great professionally, but extremely difficult on a personal front. I’m not good at telling half-truths, so I’ve chosen to share both sides, instead of curating only the work stuff. Here’s what went down in 2018:

What Didn’t Go Well

1) My grandmother passed away

My grandmother passed away in July, almost 15 years to the day as my grandfather’s transition. This hit our family pretty suddenly. My grandmother was a lively, opinionated, and generous woman. I miss her dearly.

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2) MY PARTNER AND I DECIDED TO SEPARATE

I shared this on Twitter, so I guess it makes sense to do it here as well. A couple months after my grandmother’s passing, my partner and I decided to separate after 10 years together.

This is THE hardest thing I’ve ever experienced—mostly because it was sudden and unwanted—but I’ve also learned a lot about myself in the process.

A few weeks after making the decision, I realized that I had a choice: I could choose anger and shut myself off, or I could choose compassion, lean into the pain, and grow.

That meant listening instead of blaming. Communicating instead of shutting down. I’m not gonna lie, there are good days and bad days, but we’ve chosen to face our separation with honesty and compassion.

3) Didn’t scope out a couple client projects very well

This year I had a couple client projects that were very unwieldy and went longer than planned. On the bright side, the experience helped me create better systems & contracts for future projects. It also led to my first retainer offer.

4) Missed my annual revenue goal by $10k

Not much to say here. Given everything that happened this year, I’m okay with how things turned out.

What Went Well

1) Best year of Zen Courses so far

Even though I missed my revenue goal, this was the most profitable year for Zen Courses so far. More importantly, I learned a lot of valuable lessons and built some great relationships this year.

Most of this success is because I made a strategic course correction in Q4 of 2017. In short, I started working smarter, not harder.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to do the work that’s uncomfortable and unsexy: planning, market research, setting up systems—these are paramount. But so is taking action.

Also, pay attention to what sells and do more of that. I focused on my most profitable segments & services, which paid off: I had 80% less customers this year, but over 200% more revenue.

2) FOCUSED ON fitness

Health is something that’s always been important to me. In all aspects: fitness, nutrition, spiritual health, mental health, and emotional health. But one of my biggest challenges is being consistently active. Mainly because of an undiagnosed hip issue that restricted me from doing the activities I most enjoy: cycling and running. Plus, in 2017 I seriously injured my shoulder to the point where I could barely raise my arm.

So in 2018, I decided to take control. I wanted to find an activity that was challenging, yet not harmful for my hip. And I made a pact to exercise at least 3 days per week.

How’d it go? Well…

  • While I didn’t exercise 3 times a week every week, I did do something active nearly every week of the year (missed two).

  • I started rock climbing, which surprisingly made my hips feel great!

  • I also began weight training, which really helped my core stability and significantly increased my shoulder mobility to about 90%.

3) Got out of my comfort zone

One of the best things I did this year was to stop trying to do everything on my own. More specifically, I stopped doing things I didn’t need to be doing or wasn’t good at. To make this happen I had to either a) automate or b) outsource.

a) Client Intake Automation

In lieu of a VA, I decided to automate my client intake. I invested in Dubsado (aff link) and it’s made my life insanely easier. I highly recommend it if you provide services.

b) Podcast

Then I hired a podcast editor. It wasn’t easy. My first choice didn’t work out. But eventually, I found my current editor, Julien. It took about a month for us to work out a system, but now it’s smooth sailing. Hiring Julien allowed me to re-launch my podcast and focus on recording great interviews, while he handles the rest.

c) Facebook Group

Another thing that was outside of my comfort zone was launching a Facebook group. I started Online Course Central in August with ZERO clue on how to run a FB group. Truthfully, I’m not that into Facebook, so I’m probably doing it all wrong—but that’s okay. It’s more important that I build a community of course creators who can connect and help each other.

If you’re not in our FB group, what are you waiting for? Join us!

4) Launched my first group program (and love it!)

One of the best things that happened this year was deciding to launch my first group program, Finish Your Damn Course!.

While some people enjoy self-paced courses, they’re difficult for me because I thrive on personal interaction with my learners. So I decided to try a group program. And I can honestly say I love it!

I’ve learned so much (and plan to write about it soon). But most importantly, it’s been AMAZING to see my group members make progress with their courses after struggling for years.

(If you’re interested in joining, I’ll be opening the program up for enrollment again in February.)

5) Finally got my hip PAIN diagnosed

This one is really important to me. I’ve had chronic hip pain for years. I had a suspicion that I had a labral tear (after reading the symptoms) from an undiagnosed running injury.

I tried everything from acupuncture to traditional doctors. Unfortunately, every doctor I visited would either write me off (after nothing showed up on the X-rays), scoff at my questions about labral tears, or try to give me steroid shots.

Fortunately, I read a study that found that patients of color are routinely undertreated when complaining of pain, especially Black women. So I decided to find a female doctor of color.

My first visit with her nearly left me in tears.

She listened. She examined my hips with her hands—something no doctor had ever done. Most importantly, she said she didn’t know what was wrong. So she referred me to a hip specialist (another woman of color) who confirmed, after an hour long examination, that I did indeed have a small labral tear.

I’m still unable to run without being in pain for days, but with physical therapy I can finally cycle again (as long as I don’t do too much). And for that, I’m grateful.

If you feel like something isn’t right with your health, trust your intuition. And keep searching for a doctor until you find one that will listen.

Amazing people I learned from this year:

  • Amy Hoy - taught me so much about business, how to be yourself and not worry about what people think, introduced me to Kathy Sierra’s work

  • Alex Hillman - writes the best, most insightful business articles ever and taught me a lot about building community

  • Justin Jackson - shared his therapy journey with me, which helped me decide to see a therapist myself

  • Sian Morson - I’ve been incredibly inspired by Sian’s entrepreneurial journey. From starting and exiting a successful startup, authoring numerous books, to making her transition into film, she’s consistently been a reference point for what’s possible in the world of entrepreneurship, especially as a woman of color.

  • Brendan Hufford - took time out of his workday to listen to me when I needed to talk

  • Chris Do - believed in my mission and invited me to speak in front of his audience when he barely knew me

  • Xayli Barclay - inspired me to share more of myself and start a YouTube channel next year

  • My clients - who helped me learn more about their business and trusted me to be part of their teams

  • YOU - for reading this and inspiring my work each and every day.

Looking Ahead to 2019

So that’s my review. As always, I’m incredibly grateful for the lessons learned. I discovered what I’m made of. I made new friends. And I’m ready for whatever 2019 brings!

Speaking of 2019…to be honest, I’m still mapping out my plans. Tune into the podcast on January 2 to find out what’s happening with Zen Courses in 2019!

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