Lessons from 2018 — and why I won’t be speaking in 2019

2018 was one of the most important years in my life in terms of lessons learned and life changing realizations.

Some of them were: discovering how to truly feel fulfilled, finding meaning to what I’m doing, deciding what’s essential and what’s not, better time management, and more…

And here are some of decisions I made 2019:

1. Focus on my strengths, hack my weaknesses

Focusing on my strengths as Reactive Teacher Man (ng-conf 2018)

Recently I went through a mind blowing experience.

After learning about the “Myers Briggs personality test” in the book Principles (by Ray Dalio) and also hearing about it from a good friend, I decided to take the test myself.

Before taking the test, I assumed that my personality type will be something like an “Entertainer” or an “Entrepreneur”.

But to my surprise, the test result said: “Campaigner”.

“What the hell is a Campaigner?” I thought.

So I started reading about it…

And the more I read the more it felt like someone is following me for years and documenting what I’m thinking.

Almost everything rang true (especially the page about “strengths and weaknesses”).

I read about how my type is very creative but hates doing repetitive work and often overthink stuff, finds it hard to focus and avoids doing the day to day work which is necessary to finish projects he started.

Wow.

Sounds exactly like me.

This might be the reason I find myself with many initiatives I’m unable to actually finish.

I always want to do, learn and experience EVERYTHING!

The problem with that is that I often end up with a lot of open projects that got stuck at some point — a blog with 4 posts, a courses website with only 2 courses, a Facebook page with only 3 posts and so on…

But here’s the cool thing:

By reading about my strengths and weaknesses I was able to form a clearer picture about myself and my tendencies.

It’s like someone took all of my random thoughts and habits and put them on a map for me to see.

I started thinking about what I needed to do in order to get around my blind spots, or… how to hack the system called “Shai Reznik”… 😎

I realized that I need to find people who have complementary personality types who actually enjoy the things I don’t.

That way I could focus on what I’m best at and they could do the same and together we could move things forward.

Once I’ll be done with the inception stage, I’ll make sure the right people are in place and there’s a working system so I could continue to the next thing with a clear mind.

Each “thing” might take years, but knowing what I should be focusing on gave the ability to vision a future with much less guilt and much more satisfaction.

That’s why I decided to…

2. Minimize focus to one topic and make it great

Armed with this realization, I looked at HiRez.io — the online school I opened 2 years ago.

Initially, my goal for HiRez.io was to teach people with no background in programming — Javascript, css, html, node, Angular, docker and more.

I thought I’ll start with Angular, but soon realized that trying to teach ALL aspects of Angular in an in depth and entertaining way will require much more time and effort than I initially estimated.

That’s why I decide to narrow it down even further to a topic I’m very passionate about and also a much needed one —

Testing and more specifically — Angular Testing.

There is a lot of problems to solve and content to create about this topic and I feel like I’m the right guy to help with that.

This is not a small topic to take on, but I believe that if I’ll focus all of my creative energy into it, I could create innovative solutions and better ways to teach it that will solve the problems people are currently dealing with.

I’m going to make sure I’m not just selling information but I’m actually transforming people’s lives.

But focusing on one thing means I’ll need to give up on other things, that’s why another decision for 2019 was:

3. Practice Essentialism— Saying “no” to things.

Again, focusing is about saying no.

But over the past few years I kept saying “yes” to too many things.

I now realize that trying to do too much, doesn’t make me happy.

For instance, whenever I’m working on several high stakes projects at the same time — whenever I finish one of them I immediately shift my focus to the other 19 things I need to get done.

I don’t really take in and actually FEEL the satisfaction from a successful project.

After years of moving from one project to the next without taking a break and enjoying the fruits of my labor, I learned the following lesson:

Fulfillment, for me, doesn’t come from achieving small advancements in many fields.

It comes from achieving big advancements in one meaningful field at a time and experiencing it to the fullest.

The more it helps others the more fulfillment I get from it — when I allow myself to actually feel it.

These days I try not to forget to experience the experience instead of being in a constant state of stress.

For me, trying to accomplish too many thing at once came from the famous “fear of missing out” (FOMO).

It’s a false belief that if you’ll miss something you’ll get disappointed that you’re not “taking full advantage of what life has to offer”.

This is also called: “scarcity mentality” — fearing that there is a limit to the things you want (experiences, money, opportunities etc) .

It’s very common to think this way, especially if you (like me) grew up in an environment where this type of thinking was practiced often.

What I came to realize is that the only truly scarce thing is TIME.

All the others are abundant.

There is plenty of opportunities, wealth and good people to meet, waiting for us at any given point.

So if the thing you’re doing is meaningful to you and impacting other people in a positive way, there is no obligation to do 15 other things in order to fill like you “lived life to the fullest”.

I might not see all the movies I want to see, or experience all the things I want to experience, and that’s OK.

Choosing one activity doesn’t mean you’re “losing” something else.

If that thing is important, you’ll have a chance to experience it later, and if not, as long as what you did was meaningful, that’s all you need in order to feel fulfilled.

Life is about creativity and not about competition.

The “How” is more important than the “What”.

And that’s why I also decided that there will be…

4. No more lectures for me in 2019

My last lecture of 2018 — “Angular Testing in TDD — Writing a feature guided by a responsible maniac” from Angular Connect

I absolutely LOVE creating new innovative ways to deliver content.

That was my fuel for the past few years, ever since ng-wat I challenged myself
to come up with new ways to deliver lectures.

Taking inspiration from movies, TV, theater, improv (and even the UFC 😮 ).

I always asked myself: “What if…”

What if I can create a rap song about Angular.

What if I can take a format like “The Daily Show” and create something similar called — “The ng-show

What if I can create a stage play about Authentication.

This brought out the best of my creative energies and made me feel happy.

That was one reason I LOVED going to conferences.

Another reason is the chance to meet and interact with people from the Angular community.

Over the years a lot of them became good friends.

The Angular community is like one big loving family, and every event is like a large family reunion.

So often when I got invited to speak at an Angular event, it was hard for me to say no.

I kept thinking about these 2 things — creating something new the will create the WOW effect and meeting my good friends again.

But… it came with a cost.

First, mentally, having a deadline on a “new format no one has done before” became more and more stressful over the years.

I couldn’t really focus on anything else while I had this deadline.

There was always this voice in my head saying:

“Shai, you have a talk/show coming up soon and you didn’t even start working on it, why are you wasting your time instead of working on that?”

My stress levels reached a peak at ng-conf 2017 where I took on 2 major formats at the same event.

Although they were successful, I ended up not sleeping and not enjoying the whole experience because I was too exhausted (physically, mentally and emotionally).

So after that event, I decided that for 2018 I will minimize the amount of events I’m doing a year to 2–3 events.

Looking back, I saw that it takes me around 1 month of work to create a new talk format.

Yep, 3 events = 3 months out of a year dedicated to working on talks.

Plus, every time I end up one talk it takes me a while to get back into the day to day of running a business and pick up from where I left things.

So the loss of momentum probably added more hidden time I didn’t consider.

And if I’m trying to get serious about building a business — there’s the issue of the return of investment.

For instance, this year for ng-conf I worked on a talk called “I switched a map and you’ll never guess what happened next…

After doing that math — that talk cost me personally around 10,000$ in giving up work days (I’m a freelance consultant) and in paying my video editor to edit the (95) videos for the talk itself.

As I’m not getting paid for these talks and RxJS courses are not on my roadmap you could say that there wasn’t any return on investment, at least from a business point of view.

Up until that talk I never calculated how much I’m “losing” in terms of money on each talk I’m submitting to a conference.

I never really cared, because I did it for other reasons.

I wanted to do good for other people, create a better way to teach a complicated subject and in that particular talk — to work with my good friends Pete Bacon Darwin and Mike Brocchi.

And I feel like it did helped a lot of people judging by the reactions to the blog post I wrote about it and the talk itself.

So it was worth it.

But moving forward, I want to be more responsible and only say yes to things that also help me accomplish my goals.

Now, every time I say yes to something — I imagine all the things I’m saying “No” to, and it helps me say more “No” than “Yes”.

So in 2019 I won’t be submitting any new talks, even to my favorite events which are ng-conf and Angular Connect.

I will truly miss meeting my friends and hanging out, but luckily there’s that thing called — the internet 😃

Hanging out with ng-friends (Aaron Frost and Bill Odom) at the bar after Angular Connect (a tradition)

Saying more “No” will also help me to…

5. Take better care of myself and my family

A strong infrastructure affects how a certain product behaves at scale.

Same goes for humans.

I call it — human infrastructure:

It’s our body, mind and soul.

And instead of scale — they affect the quality of our life.

So I decided to take the extra time I’ll have from saying “No” to invest in my human infrastructure.

To take care of my body I need to sleep well (at least 8 hours), eat healthier and exercise often.

To take care of my mind I need to keep re-program it.

This year I decided that instead of trying to read/listen to more and more books and ideas, instead I’ll start re-reading, re-listening and re-watching to old books / videos and life changing ideas I already know, but do not practice enough.

To take care of my soul I need to spend more time loving (myself and others), giving more to others (without expecting anything in return) and spending time on things that makes me happy and fulfilled.

Now I will also have more time to work on my family.

“Work on your family? what are you talking about Shai???”

Relationships for example, requires constant work to maintain and keep from 
falling into stagnation.

Raising children requires lots of patience and investment (and soon there’ll be another one joining our family 😉), so learning how to be a better parent is something that requires active studying and practicing.

And I always remind myself what Simon Sinek said:

“How do children spell love?”

“T-I-M-E”.

So I want to make sure I’m loving both my wife, children and extended family by spending more meaningful time with them.

A minute before I threw her into the water… 😜

I also really love spending time with friends, having good conversations or just having a laugh.

I plan to do more of these in 2019 as well.

To summarize

  • Life is about creativity, not competition.
  • Think in abundance and not scarcity
  • Say more “NO” to things
  • Focus on the essential and double down on that
  • Take care of your human infrastructure and family

BONUS:

Books that influenced me this year:

Principles, Essentialism, Why we sleep, The science of getting rich, 15 secrets successful people know about time management

People who influenced me (in general):

Tony Robbins, Bob Proctor, Eben Pagan

I hope you’ll have a wonderful and amazing 2019!

Share you insights in the comment, I’d love to hear them.

Happy holidays!

Shai