What I learned about my most successful 2017 Goal

In my former life as Principal Product Manager for an Enterprise FinTech company in New York that followed the Agile Software Development Methodology, I came to live in a seemingly unending loop. The loop included Planning (the software development work to be done), Construction (doing the work), Showcase (presenting the finished work to stakeholders), Retrospective (looking back on each loop to see how the next can be improved).

The Retrospective AKA Retro was my favorite part. It gave myself and the team a chance to reflect on the immediate past two-week loop AKA iteration to see what worked, what did not, issues we set out to fix from prior retros and how well we had done in fixing them.

I had a retro for 2017. I am doing this because Agile Software Development is actually a great way to live everyday life as Bruce Feiler pointed out in his TED Talk.

As I reflected on the year, I looked back at my various goals to identify what was the single most successful goal that I set and why I successfully accomplished that goal. This way, in 2018, I will focus on doing the types of things led to successfully accomplishing said goal.

The Goal

While I had invested in Nigeria before, I felt that I had not taken nearly enough risk. So I set a goal to invest in 5 startups by December 2017.

The Result

Keep in mind that for me, the goal was to invest. In that goal is an implicit desire to invest successfully and exit with some positive outcome. We are far removed from exits. I will let you know how that goes but I am glad myself and my partners took the step to setup an investment vehicle and invest in what we think are promising Nigerian startups.

Why it worked out

This is the point of the article. This is where I hope to take lessons learned and apply them again to other goals in 2018. I am convinced that this goal was successfully accomplished for the following reasons:

  1. I found a Team: I found like-minded individuals who wanted to go on the journey with me. This maximized the likelihood of success by ensuring that I did not have to carry the workload entirely by myself.
  2. I sought good Advice: I spoke to people with years of VC experience in my network, entrepreneurs that play in the scene in which I wanted to invest and mentors who live, work and invest in Nigeria. I got great advice and executed on them.
  3. I was ready: This is important. I was ready in that I had some startup experience, some angel investing experience, had a network I could use as a resource and I was just done with the status quo.
  4. The goal was SMART: Alright, B-school-type frameworks can be corny but this oldie, The SMART Goal Framework is still good as far as I am concerned. My goal was Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound. 5 startups by December 2017.

I am genuinely excited about what 2018 will bring. Make 2018 a great year for you too.