2017 OKR Review

Around this time last year, I published my 2016 year in review in the form of OKRs (Objectives, Key Results) that I aimed to achieve and an assessment on how well I fared. In that post, I included my OKRs for 2017.

I’ll assess those OKRs, what they were, whether I achieved the goals and new goals that popped up through the year. The reason I do this publicly is to (1) express my values (2) set clear expectations for myself in a public forum and (3) hold myself accountable for these goals.

Since these goals change and need to be adapted throughout the year, I am going to ambitiously set semi-annual OKRs so the timeframes are tighter and it’s easier to assess and review. My 2018 OKRs are here.

Context

I’m 37 years old and at this stage in my life, I feel like I’ve succeeded. I am married to an amazing woman, Maddy, who is all I could have hoped for in a spouse. Together we have a son, Jack, and a daughter on the way. We own a gem of an apartment in Harlem. I love my job at ClassPass, love the people I work with and love what I do. Maddy recently accepted a tenure-track position at Manhattan College to teach criminology, her passion. We earn enough money to pay our bills, buy whatever we need and save. We enjoy spending time with each other and our son, with our friends and we’re able to do a lot of international travelling. So, life is great for us.

We experience life at the very top of the ladder. Instead of focusing my time and energy grasping for the next rung on my ladder, I want to continually increase the amount of time, money and productive energy towards advocacy, community and helping others.

This sets the context for how I want to spend my time and energy. My OKRs break down into 3 buckets:

  1. Family. Things that I can do that benefit my immediate family, such as buying an apartment or travel to new countries.
  2. Personal. These goals only benefit me, such as getting in good physical shape or learn songs on my guitar.
  3. Community. Things that benefit people outside of my network or in support of causes I believe in, such as donating money, building an app that helps people in some way, getting involved in my community board.

TL;DR

Here’s a quick summary of how I fared. (This format is a work in progress). The * asterisk identifies key results that were introduced during the year and not in the my original goals at the beginning of the year:

1. Family

Increase the size of our family

We are expecting a daughter in March 2018!

Visit 3 new countries

Achieved! Technically, we visited Zurich (Switzerland), Rome, Venice, Verona (Italy) in 2017, though they was really part of our 2016 Christmas to New Years trip.

We visited Helsinki (Finland) in March…

In which Rocky runs up the steps of the Helsinki Cathedral.

and Paris (France) in October.

The Eiffel Tower in the photo means we visited Paris!

Get life insurance

I went through HealthIQ (those Instagram ads really worked!) and found a plan I’m happy with that gives me peace of mind.

Host 30 people for Chez Novich dinners & make a Yelp page

  • I created a Foursquare location (it was easier, and Yelp never approved my request) and posted many photos of Maddy’s dinners
  • We hosted 42 people at about 46 dinners! More if we count hosting Thanksgiving.
We take Polaroids of our dinner guests and have them sign our guestbook.

Buy an apartment

This goal was not originally on our list for 2017. Our primary objective is to raise our family in NYC. To do that, you basically need to be able to afford housing and schooling. Our first step was to gain financial control over our housing. Several things worked out in May: A great place came on the market, our bid was accepted, our lease for our old apartment was about to get renewed. Maddy and her mom Lennie discovered this apartment, checked it out and had a vision for what it could become with style, design and (at some point) renovations. I learned the term ‘it has great bones’. So we jumped at the opportunity. We couldn’t be more excited to be permanent Harlem residents and continue to support our community.

Our newly purchased apartment. Jack did NOT stick his finger in an outlet.
Our living room, after Maddy and Lennie set things up according to their vision.

2. Personal

Develop my music and performance skills

  • Perform in a band at the ClassPass talent show. Ari, Nicole, Lydia and I practiced and we were pretty darn good! We were so ready! Unfortunately, the ClassPass talent show was cancelled due to a snow storm.
  • Learn 5 songs on guitar and one solo. In the months after the talent show, I was able to learn Bon Jovi’s “You give love a bad name”, Arctic Monkeys’ “R U mine”, Tom Petty’s “Refugee”, Jethro Tull’s “Aqualung” and a few others. No solos yet.
This was one of our last practice sessions. Sadly, without Nicole, our bassist. She had to leave early that night.

Compete in 2017 TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon

Aaron Smyth, Andrew Pinzler, Alex Tandy and I built Intruder.ai and won the Clarifai prize (a PlayStation VR set, $500 value, for each of us). This was my 14th hackathon win. Watch my 60s on stage pitch.

Watch my 60 second on stage pitch.

Deliver value, make a strong impact as part of the ClassPass team

  • Late in 2016, I began working on a program that provided free classes for ClassPass members by working with “up and coming” instructors and listing their fitness classes on our platform. At the beginning of 2017, this program was extremely unpredictable and was effectively like a startup with ClassPass. Our goal was to build this program into a sustainable, high growth program for company. Kathleen, the program manager, and I, over the course of many iterations, lots of testing and experimentation in market, were able to work with 100+ instructors and 18,000+ reservations in 5 markets. A Sweat Life wrote a great overview of the program. We paused the program as the weather got colder (much of it was outdoor classes) and now we are each focused on other business priorities.
  • Help bridge ClassPass and civic engagement. I helped organize a ClassPass town hall, in which employees got an opportunity to break out into groups and discuss the ideas they were most passionate about and how, as a company, we could express our values in the world through corporate social responsibility. Then we went to the Women’s March. It was one of my proudest achievements at ClassPass.
ClassPass Town Hall on International Women’s Day in March 2017
  • Use Cnvrge in a ClassPass social event. Ben and I put together an event where ClassPass employees could easily meet new people. The event used Cnvrge (a text messaging app I built that facilitates face to face meetings at an event).

Get in the best shape of my life

  • Complete 100 ClassPass classes. I completed 128 classes this year! (2015: 39; 2016: 81). A 58% improvement from last year!
173 hours of Citi Bike rides!
  • Try a barre & yoga class: Missed this goal.
  • 40 training sessions with Roger (my personal trainer for 3+ years). Missed. Sadly, due to the apartment purchase, I decided to cut our expenses and stop my sessions with Roger.

(New) Build reputation as product expert

Update: Watch the full AMA!

(Stretch) Cut our household expenses by 20%

I read Mr. Money Mustache and was inspired by his ability to cut his expenses and post them each year. Early this year, we set an ambitious goal to systematically review each and every variable expense we had (not including rent/mortgage) and try to find creative ways to slash them. We cut our expenses by 19%! I’m working on a detailed blog post that breaks down how we spend money and where we were able to cut back. Will publish in January.

3. Community

Our goal is to contribute to our community both locally, nationally and globally in meaningful ways. Maddy and I strive to donate our money as often as we can to a variety of causes. In terms of civic involvement, I strongly believe we should get involved with our community, learn about what our neighbors are passionate about and develop new relationships with people outside of our current circles.

I strive to think about this all the time.

Increase donations YoY by 30%

Unfortunately, with our purchase of our new home in Harlem, we had to keep our purse a bit tighter than we had hoped though we did manage to increase our donations by 1% YoY. In 2016 we donated to 28 non-profits, charities and causes. This year we donated to over 41, a 46% increase. Here’s a partial list of where we donated:

Planned Parenthood, Refugee Rights Initiative International, NRDC, Girls on the Run SF (Go Christina!) & GotR NYC, HumanWire (2 Syrian refugee children), Wounded Warrior Project, National Kidney Foundation, Lifting Hands International, The Trevor Project, Lesbian and Gay Law Association Foundation (LeGaL), Transportation Alternatives (Go Chelsea!), Wikimedia Foundation, Jimmy Fund (Go Sharon!), Houston Food Bank, Gleason’s Give a Kid A Dream (Go Luigi!), United We Dream, Atlas DIY (Go Mackenzie!), Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands (Go Jarod!), Hispanic Federation, Unidos por Puerto Rico, Girls Who Code, Thorn Digital Defenders of Children, Streetsblog, Chalkbeat, People for Bikes Foundation, Bike New York, Emily’s List, Riders Alliance NY, National Brain Tumor Foundation, The Institute for Criminal Justice Training Reform, Enduring Hearts, Justice For Salih, Save Snopes, The Baldwin Prize, to send a kid to Paris (Go Lionel!), Union Capital Boston (Go Eric!), Propublica, Union of Concerned Scientists, Center for Reproductive Rights, Ross Barkan for State Senate

Volunteer 1–2 hours per month

Missed. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to volunteer my time directly but allocated it to several community projects.

Increase my community involvement and civic activism

The key result I set for this was to attend 2 Community Board meetings (in CB10 in Harlem). I adapted this goal and was able to attend the following meetings and events:

  • CB4 Transportation Committee (fighting for bike lanes in Chelsea)
  • CB5 Transportation Committee (fighting for Fifth Ave bike lanes)
  • Transportation Alternatives monthly meetings (Attended 3)
  • TA City Council Candidate Forum
  • CB10 General Meeting (where I brought Maddy and Jack)

Release ReportedPD v1.0, and v1.01 and get 10 reports from users

  • Maddy and I used the Civic Hall Labs funding to develop v1.0 of the ReportedPD app in both iOS and Android; then released a major iteration of the app based on user feedback
  • The app has seen over 40 submitted stories from New Yorkers about their interactions with police (4x our goal!)
  • I published a Medium article describing the full experience from idea to execution

Promote bicycle and pedestrian safety

  • Successfully lobbied for ClassPass (my employer) to offer Citibike membership benefit to employees ($60/year, instead of $160).
  • Increase TLC reports in my app Reported by 30% YoY. Yes! Submitted 1,200 reports in 2017, a 65% increase YoY, more than 2x the % goal! For reference, in 2016 there were 723 reports.
  • Presented Reported app at Transportation Alternatives meeting
  • Published the vision for Reported
  • Rode TA Century Ride with Jack/Zak, 35 mi through NYC
Jack enjoyed the ride a bit too much.

Additional Key Results:

  • Attended the World Day of Remembrance to honor victims of traffic violence by fighting for traffic cams, enforcement and Vision Zero redesigns on streets.
  • Rode with TA to fight for crosstown bike lanes
  • Got press for footage I tweeted of the horrible concrete barriers put up in the Westside Greenway after the terror attack (West Side Rag, CBS, WPIX11, ABC7)
  • … My video/tweet was also mentioned in a NY Daily News article
  • Did an interview with WPIX11 about the West Side Greenway concrete barriers after the terror attack; they cut about 10 minutes down to two 5-second sound bites, but that’s what I expected.
  • Wrote my most viral tweet about divesting from Tesla after Elon Musk made some silly comments about public transit; was then covered by Fortune and later Market Watch; then Elon Musk blocked me on Twitter! Ah well.

Note: I only invested in Tesla several years ago because I believed in his vision, of electric, autonomous vehicles. I believe in solar, efficiency, safe mobility. But it was a vote of support, not an investment strategy. I decided to divest because, though I think the company will be great for shareholders, it is ultimately just a car company, and I don’t believe car companies will bring great transit options to the masses. I realize Musk probably has a more nuanced view of public transit and I like to assume that we share a lot of the same values, but these unprepared, imperfect comments have given me enough from which to make a decision.

That’s a wrap! Coming soon, my 2018 OKRs…