Here’s a look at how 2022 went for me. Thank you to James Clear for the inspiration. Read some of my previous Years in Review:
What went well?
I transitioned Edge to new leadership.
At the end of last year, I had started Infinity AI but did not yet have a definite plan for Edge Analytics’ future. Would it be subsumed by Infinity? Would it continue as an independent company? Would it just dissolve and people would go their separate ways? In reality, there was ambiguity in my mind about what I really wanted.
I went on a private boat cruise in Croatia to celebrate a friend’s birthday. On the flight home I reflected on what I wanted for my life and was able to see it with a level of clarity that I hadn’t had before (i.e. one of the benefits of travel). I want to start many successful companies. I want a strong AI community around me. I want Edge to survive and thrive.
Today, Edge is an independent company run by two amazing leaders – Brinnae Bent and Ren Gibbons. The team is thriving. And the company is set up for long-term success. Sidney and I continue to be owners and board members, but are no longer involved in the day-to-day of Edge.
The hardest thing in life is to decide what you want. Once you decide, then you just work like hell to get it. Of course, in the case of Edge, we also got incredibly lucky that the right people with the ability and willingness to lead Edge were there to take over.
One thing this experience reinforced is that it’s critical to get advice, but only from the right people.
We got advice from Fabio Gratton and Chris Sparling who have both set up executive compensation plans and executed several leadership transitions for their consulting businesses. Full leadership transitions are notoriously difficult to execute well. We could have easily botched something up without learning about the pitfalls Fabio and Chris had encountered in the past.
Lesson Learned: Advice is a dime a dozen. The only advice you should listen to is from people who have successfully done what you want to do. It’s hard to find these people but well worth the search effort.
I fell in love with a new relaxation technique (sauna plus cold plunge).
I have done sauna plus cold plunge sessions every Saturday for 3 months straight. It’s now the lynchpin of my weekend routine. Here’s what I do: 15-20 min of dry sauna, 1-3 min of cold plunge (or cold shower), 1-5 min of rest. Repeat. I do this sequence twice within a one hour session. I feel a magical high after I get out of the cold plunge. My mind is clear. My body feels like it’s floating. And I am completely de-stressed.
I discovered the hot-cold hydrotherapy circuit on my honeymoon. The hotel we stayed at had a 1-hour circuit (including dry saunas and steam rooms) that we did every single day. I had enjoyed plenty of saunas before, but never taken cold plunging seriously. I would simply do a quick dip and get out of the cold as quickly as possible. It turns out that the more significant cold exposure feels amazing (afterwards, of course), and it’s the most effective de-stressor that I’ve found.
There is significant literature showing that cold exposure leads to lasting increases in dopamine, and sustained elevation in mood, energy, and focus (read more from the Huberman Lab). My entire weekend routine is aimed at resetting my dopamine levels so that (1) I am able to see the forest from the trees when I get back to work on Sundays, and (2) I have the mental space to make good decisions.
I got married! (the good parts)
We finally got married after over 10 years of being together… hooray! Leading up to the wedding, I made it a goal to spend 1-on-1 time with everyone I had invited. It was wonderful to spend quality time with all the people who I love.
I was touched and honored by my Brazilian family who came – Mariana, Desiree, Rubens. It was so, so special to have them there. I am eternally grateful that they traveled halfway around the world to be present.
I was touched by my new brother in law Josh and the lengths he went through to plan things for us in the bachelor/bachelorette party and wedding.
My favorite part of the wedding was our vows. I had something that I had been waiting 10 years to tell my husband during our wedding day. In fact, the only recurring nightmare I’ve ever had in my life is that I was about to walk down the aisle but hadn’t prepared my speech and so I missed my chance to say what I had waited a decade to say. I had this nightmare with increasing frequency leading up to the wedding. Thankfully, both of our vows went on without a hitch. It was one of the most special memories of my life.
Ivo, our housemate, did a phenomenal job officiating and made the experience even more special. My parents put together a gorgeous Brazilian dessert table with hundreds of handmade sweets, which were a huge hit. My dad gave a great speech and showed a slide show with lots of old photos. My new Swiss family showered me with love. And the support of friends near and far still brings a smile to my face.
Finally, it’s nice to be married in a way I didn’t predict. I didn’t expect to feel any different after the wedding. I thought the point of being married was just to have a big party. But it feels nice to say “husband.” It feels nice to have wedding bands on our fingers. It does feel different to be married. And that feeling is really nice.
What didn’t go well?
I got married! (the bad parts)
Unfortunately, I feel like having a wedding almost tanked my companies. Getting a new company off the ground (Infinity) and executing a successful leadership transition (Edge) both take a lot of mental energy. Splitting that mental energy alongside planning a wedding was too much.
I spent the week after my wedding having intervention conversations with a few team members who were unhappy. There were different valid reasons for each person but the root cause was the same: my mental energy had been split for too long leading up to the wedding.
I typically spend 3-8 hours on Sundays doing higher-level strategic planning. These planning sessions are critical so that I can be proactive, instead of reactive. For many months, my Sundays were dedicated to wedding planning instead.
On top of that, I got COVID* at my wedding and long-COVID for many months afterwards. I never took time off (always a mistake) because I felt like I had already taken too much time away from Infinity for wedding planning.
The lack of foresight from reduced Sunday plannings plus overall exhaustion led to me feeling like I was playing catch-up all year. 80-20 focus is not enough for a startup. Startups require 100% mental energy. And it’s not enough to just work hard. The hard work needs to be combined with good decisions.
At some point in the winter, a switch flipped. My long-COVID symptoms subsided. I could finally see the chess board more clearly, and I did an all out sprint to the end of the year. Thankfully the year ended in a very strong place for Infinity – major customer deals closed, our angel round closed, we launched an improved product experience, and much more. I’m relieved to have ended the year well and to put the year behind me.
Good riddance to 2022. The year felt horrible. Onwards to a much better 2023!
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Planning a wedding is challenging because it (hopefully) only happens once in your life. I never had a wedding before so (1) I didn’t know what was important to me, and (2) it was hard to reason logically about what was important since there’s so much emotion loaded into a wedding. If I redid my wedding now, I would do it a lot better.
The one thing that I would 100% do differently is to find a high-quality wedding planner and pay for full wedding planning services as early as possible. It would have saved me a lot of grief if I had put more energy into finding the right person. The wedding planner I hired was not good and just increased my stress.
It’s like hiring any new team member. The right person can 10x your output. The wrong person can make your life miserable and slow everything down.
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*If I ever get COVID in the future, I would do whatever I could to get the virus out of my system quickly (take time off, take antivirals, etc). I kept working through my COVID, which I believe led to a lingering viral load and the resulting long-COVID symptoms.
I spent too much time on PR.
I actually made similar mistakes this year around both our wedding planner and Infinity’s PR (public relations) person. Announcing Infinity’s seed round (see here) ended up being a multi-month endeavor that was not worth the time it took. My mistake around PR ended up being trying to do it myself instead of hiring someone from the start. The opportunity cost of not having the right person (wedding planner) or of trying to do things myself (Infinity PR) is huge. My goal should always be to find amazing people and then figure out how to partner together for the long-term.
The silver lining of my PR experience is that (1) it went phenomenally well and we got a lot of great inbound interest, (2) I have gone through a successful publicity cycle and will now do it better and faster in the future, and (3) I ultimately did find a PR person I love and am excited to work with in the future.
Lesson learned: Find the right people and be willing to pay for them.