Happy St. Valentine’s Day! You can tell things are going fast, as my end-of-year report is coming out in February.
This year was a mixed bag. Below you’ll see a highlight reel of the good parts, but don’t be mistaken: there were struggles, uncertainty, and fear. This year we all tried to keep our Maslow pyramids in place, while the foundations were at the risk of crumbling. However, I’m incredibly grateful for everything, and happy to be where I am.
With three kids and two businesses in the family, my whole life is an exercise of enjoying the moment while keeping the worries aside.
To recap, we have three kids: two boys, 7 and 8 years, and a little girl who turned 2 this year.
My business was fine, but my husband’s business suffered many difficulties in 2020. While it course-corrected by the end of the year, it was a big energy drain for both of us. You can say all you want about separating life and business, but you can feel the weight of the problems hanging over your significant other.
The spring lockdown seems to be so long ago. We managed fine, with the homeschooling and all, but I recall the overwhelm and the daunting uncertainty.
The summer was great, though! We enjoyed many new outdoor activities, like bike rides and boat trips.
Our little daughter turned 2 years old and can do many things on her own now. Family trips are way more fun. Little girls are so sweet, an entirely different experience compared to the boys. It’s like a daily dose of joy and magic. However, given the company of boys, she can stand up for herself if necessary.
In September, our second son started school. The boys are now in the 1st and 2nd grade. It’s amazing how he went through the same exact adjustment. Seeing the same patterns and problems helps to take a systemic view, and worry less.
With the 2-year-old trying to participate in everything, it’s a merry-go-around. Managing the family feels like running another company. There’s no secret: I just get as much help as I can, babysitters and all.
I’m incredibly grateful for all the help. It allows me to break the rules and “sit on two chairs” — enjoy a big family and run a business.
Good outcomes here.
I started my weight loss journey in November 2019, and have gradually lost 26 lbs (12 kg) since then. Admittedly, it would’ve been easier to not gain them during & after the third pregnancy, but oh well, it’s history now.
For me, it’s about better eating and exercise. For nearly two years, I’ve been consistently going to the gym three nights per week. I even managed to exercise outdoors in spring, when the gyms were closed.
Not that I ever was a heavy drinker, but me and my husband stopped drinking alcohol in January 2020. I clearly like it better this way.
I also found my own perfect summer sport: stand-up paddle boarding. I can’t do many sports because of an old knee injury, and SUP provides a perfect level of physical activity. Oh, and that smooth sensation of gliding over the water!
There was a ton of amazing travel planned for 2020, including MicroConf in the US and a number of TinySeed retreats. But oh well.
We still managed a few trips without leaving the country (except for Armenia):
This was my first year without consulting, and I’m loving it. However, client deadlines were successfully replaced with SaaS challenges. Product work is more scalable, but the gratification is vastly delayed. What you do may (or may not) bring results in months, or even years. It’s such a long-term play.
The pandemic didn’t hurt us too much, we grew our MRR in 2021. But it’s not an easy game. As our mentors say, one never feels like they have it figured out, even when it looks different from the outside.
One of the big accomplishments was launching a new podcast for SaaS founders called Better Done Than Perfect. I’m proud of the guest lineup and the publishing quality, which includes detailed written recaps for each episode.
As I’m writing this in February, it’s pedal to the metal, launching new marketing projects and growing our team.
This year, we’ll be opening up Userlist for marketing email. This means it’ll be a full-on email service provider for SaaS companies — from building the email list to onboarding and nurturing customers.
I’m very excited for our future.
UI Breakfast Podcast exploded this year. We hit one million all-time downloads in March, and 1.5 million just 9 months later, in December. Imagine, it took 6 years to get to one million since 2014, and then 9 months to 1.5x that.
All while the whole podcasting industry (including ourselves) suffered a dip this year. The pandemic eliminated the commute & gym time for many listeners, which resulted in a 30% decrease in downloads in spring and summer.
It was soul-crushing, but we kept shipping.
In June I brought on a podcast assistant, Angie. This was a dramatic improvement. Finding the right person and onboarding them wasn’t quick, but I’m so happy now. She masterfully handles the production, writes the shownotes, and publishes the episodes. The audio is still handled by the Castos team (previosly Podcast Motor).
The sponsorships have also been working out well.
This podcast success story is one big proof that consistent effort pays back over the years. But you also have to enjoy the ride.
When in doubt, take care of your body first. Healthy body means so much, and we don’t value it until we run into problems.
Dare to do new things. It’s scary, but absolutely necessary to leave the comfort zone.
Nothing is new under the sun. Neither with parenting nor with business.
Just keep shipping.
Better done than perfect. Both myself and my co-founder Benedikt are “recovering perfectionists,” so this motto helps us move things forward. In December, I got a tattoo on my wrist that says b.d.t.p.
Same exact things as last year:
Thank you for reading. It’s a great honor to share the learnings with you each year. Here’s to a wonderful 2021 ahead!
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