2016 Rose, Bud, Thorn

A flat rose I made myself in Photoshop!

A flat rose I made myself in Photoshop!

2016 Blew by so Fast I Feel Like it Never Started

September 1st? Holy cow! I thought it was Feb!

November 30th? What the What! I thought it was Feb!

Every year I take stock and summarize the year as part of planning process. A quick look in the rear view mirror to appreciate where I've been and what I've accomplished.

I use this introspection to help frame up how to tackle the things most important to me.

The Year of Not Employment

2016 was meant to be a recovery year.

After leaving my last startup, The Arcanum in late 2015, I looked forward to whole year with no "work" and vast green field ahead of me. 

But I'm not really wired that way. I am wired for two states: ON at full power, or OFF.

Self-aware, I tempered my eager-beaveritude with reality of what had to happen in 2016 for myself and my family. 

I'm, proud to say that I successfully avoided being busy and instead remained focused on a few priorities. But more about that below.

Rose, Bud, Thorn

My good friend Dan Kimball intro'd me to the idea of "Rose, Bud, Thorn". It is a simple framework and exercise we use for family dinner conversation, a succinct method to describe your day into three buckets:

  • Rose = What went GREAT today
  • Bud = What to look forward to tomorrow
  • Thorn = What was a problem today

Clearly the framework is useful in a variety of ways. Why not apply the exercise to 2016?

Roses of 2016

  • Being a Family Man.
    Cooking, school, field trips, date night. I did it all!  
  • Finished a major house remodel.
    Worked daily hand-in-hand with the contractors. I am the son of an electrician and spent much of my youth on job sites. I love to know how things are put together and work. Being involved at such a deep level was incredibly rewarding!
  • Being a Maker.
    After building a new shop, I built an 80's Arcade with a Raspberry Pi, a Magic Mirror, a ping-pong paddle pedestal and lots more!

Buds of 2016

  • Advising Startups. 
    Outside of hands on making, working directly with a couple of startups and their founders was fun, fascinating and incredibly rewarding. Most of this work happened through new relationships with Desai Accelerator and TechArb Incubator in Ann Arbor.
  • Working with Student Entrepreneurs.
    I doubled-down on my contribution to the University of Michigan Center for Entrepreneurship (UM CFE) and led a workshop in Ann Arbor last spring.
  • Staying Active.
    Despite injuries (see below). I remained active and spent a lot of time recovering. My year-end numbers prove it.
    2015: Swim ~86 miles, Run/Hike ~196 miles
    2016: Swim ~67 miles (-22% yoy), Run/Hike ~69 miles (-65% yoy)
    I'm looking forward to building on this recovery year in 2017.

Thorns of 2016

  • Injuries. Injuries. Injuries.
    Three chronic tendonitis problems really hampered physical activity. I spent a lot of time in PT, icing, practicing strengthening exercises. 
  • Insufficient focus on mindfulness.
    How's that for meta? My morning journaling and meditation routine faltered. I felt the impact.
  • Not enough writing. Dang. Just writing this simple post took way too long. My lack of journaling definitely impacted my lack of writing. Posting on social media doesn't count! 

Enough Being a History Major

No more looking in the rear view mirror. 

I am going to build systems around the following in 2017 - the best year yet!

And yes, these are in order of priority.

Health. I am transitioning to a Paleo-ish diet and I've felt better in the last few months than I have in years. Practical Paleo has been my primary tool to build out a new system.

Fitness. Focusing on mobility and flexibility. I've already committed to yoga 1x week. Also looking into Gymnastic Bodies.

Family. Whole food dinners (Paleo inspired) and 1-on-1 trips with my 3 kids.

Creative. Build stuff that will challenge me. I have an idea for an app, want to build a new-fangled photo frame, and build a custom device that integrate voice interfaces like Alexa and Google Voice. 

Work. Partner with the UM CFE to build a new experiential "retreat" for the 2017 CFE WUST . Also looking for opportunities to work more closely with founders and their startups to help them achieve their goals.

What are your systems for 2017?

Let me know your thoughts!