2013 was a big year at Living for Monday. We started the 2013 year in review process with a detailed post on our website, blog, and podcast stats. This post makes up part two of the four part year in review series (inspired by Chris Guillebeau) as we take a look at what went well, or what we accomplished, this year.
The next two posts will take a look at what didn’t go so well, and what kind of plans we have for 2014 at Living for Monday.
I’ve broken our accomplishments down to the following:
- Operations & Infrastructure
- Coaching & Consulting
- Travel & Adventures
Operations & Infrastructure
Two major things happened at the same time in the middle of this year. First of all, I signed an investment deal that secured two years of operating capital to help us get the business model churning. That deal lasts us through mid-year 2015, I’m still in full control of the decision-making power, and we gained the advantage of sage advice from a successful business owner in our investor.
The mid-year investment deal came with the added benefit of making the first full-time hire to the Living for Monday team (aside from myself). Josh Winkles joined the team as the head of operations and has been one of the best things to happen to Living for Monday in the two years since we got our start.
Josh has been an awesome partner in turning my crazy ideas into reality while making everything we do more efficient. He’s transferred us over to WP Engine hosting, built My Living for Monday, and set us up with great project management and CRM systems (plus a ton of other behind the scenes wins). Thanks to Josh, we’re set up to shoot out of the gate in 2014.
The year at LivingforMonday.com was full of exciting progress. I won’t rehash everything from the stats post in this series, but I do want to hit on a couple of highlights.
First of all, we launched the first professionally designed version of LivingforMonday.com in January of this year. It seems like the site has been in existence forever, and yet in just one year we went from true launch to over 140,000 unique visitors over the course of the year. That is remarkable and something I am very proud of, especially as I look back at what the site looked like before the redesign.
The redesign was what inspired the story behind the $5,000 in 5 Days post. I wrote the article after I had to scramble to find the money to pay our design invoice at the end of 2012. We expect to do another full redesign of the site in 2014, which will reflect our more solidified vision for the company.
Along with the new site came a more consistent content schedule as compared to 2012 (although we’d like to be even more consistent and prolific in 2014). We published somewhere between 50 and 100 high quality articles this year, although we don’t have the exact count because we’ve purged some of that content for our increasingly focused categories. We also published 25+ podcast episodes, which is about one every two weeks, or about half of our ideal schedule of one per week.
On the email front, we built our list from 100 of my friends and family to 1,300+ people around the world. What a pleasure to get to write to so many people on a consistent basis. I also view it as a major accomplishment that we tightened our focus and let our list know about our focus on career content for young professionals. Accordingly, we started a new, more focused email list for young professionals and quickly grew it to 250 people. We expect that growth rate to explode in 2014.
In the stats post, I shared the most visited blog posts from the past year, but now I want to share the posts I’m most proud of from the past year. Here they are, in no particular order:
- What to Do When You Think You Want to Change Jobs (Especially when you haven’t been there very long)
- Mentoring: How to Find and Maintain a Mentoring Relationship
- Mastermind Groups: How to Consistently Surround Yourself with Remarkable People
- 14 Lessons from 14 Days with Seth Godin and the Mystery Project (Krypton) Team
- What Top Performers Do Differently in Their First 10 Years at Work
- The Fundamentals of Personal Branding
- How to Accept and Decline Job Offers
- My Story: 36 Things I Probably Shouldn’t Tell You
- Moments of World Domination (Or What I Learned from #WDS2013)
Aside from writing original content and interviewing amazing people for LivingforMonday.com, there were people crazy enough to interview me or feature my writing on their own sites. It’s such a pleasure to be featured elsewhere, and I view it as a major success that I was invited to contribute to the following:
- Lifehacker on Mastermind Groups
- Lifehacker on Job Offers (This post has been viewed 105,000+ times on Lifehacker. That’s about 2/3 the total number of visitors to Livingformonday.com this year.)
- Startup Digest Weekly featured the Job Offers post, which was where Lifehacker found it. This was hard to believe and drove a ton of traffic to Livingformonday.com.
- The College Info Geek Podcast with Thomas Frank on “Finding a Job You Love”
- The Cubicle Renegade Podcast with Caleb Wojcik on “Landing the Job You Actually Want”
- 7 Steps to Landing the Perennial Raises You Deserve on Brazen Life (This was also syndicated to Business Insider)
- The Shark Tank Podcast with TJ Hale on “Has Your Career Given You a Case of the Mondays?”
- An interview with Cynthia Bellmer on How to Win Your Partner’s Support for Your Business Venture (The question we tackle here is all about taking the perspective of your significant other when considering a new business venture. Her show is targeted towards women, so she asked me to share a guy’s perspective, but it’s equally applicable for men.)
- An edited version of What Top Performers Do Differently in Their First 10 Years at Work on the Coca Cola Unbottled Blog
- The Infinite Pie Podcast with Alan Fawcett on Living for Monday, my background, and how you can find work that matters
- The Income Press Podcast with Joey Kissimmee on “Living for Monday and My One Burning Desire”
Looking back, it’s crazy to think about the many great conversations and new ideas that were sparked thanks to these guests posts and interviews. In 2014, I hope our work at Living for Monday will continue to attract wonderful opportunities like these. But, at the end of the day, our work is not about being recognized, it’s about impacting the lives of our audience… That will continue to be our focus first and foremost.
It’s always been my ambition to create training courses for young professionals. Most people will read that and cringe, but I want to completely transform the way training is done. I believe most people think of training as boring, cookie cutter, irrelevant videos you watch in your cubicle. I think of training much more along the lines of CreativeLive, Fizzle, and other leading edge companies.
In 2013, we released our first course into the wild. It was quite the adventure, and we’ll use completely different strategy and tactics to build our future trainings. However, without Career Kickstarter, we wouldn’t know even 25% of what we need to know to be successful at building engaging/important/valuable training.
In that vein, it was a huge success to launched Career Kickstarter as an online product this year. We built out an entire website around the curriculum, wrote a sales page, solicited customers, made three different versions of the product, built a relationship with the Gumroad team, and so much more. Careerkickstarter.com was a huge success in that we learned and built something that changed the way a number of people search for jobs.
In addition to the online version, we ran a pilot program for a combined live/online version of Career Kickstarter for 42 students at the Terry College of Business at The University of Georgia. 28 of the 42 finished the program and 95% of them were very satisfied with the outcome of their career search. That’s ~15% better than the all-student placement rate within the college, which I viewed as a big win.
Consulting & Coaching
This year was an interesting one on the consulting and coaching fronts. We used the two practices to generate revenue, particularly before we sought out investment capital. As the year went on, I had more and more people approach me for coaching services without proactive marketing or sales.
At the beginning of the year, we helped a local insurance agency create the highest-growth 3-month period they had experienced in the last 3 years. There is no doubt that the growth was entirely fueled by their staff, but I believe the processes and coaching we put in place helped them reach their goals. In fact, their growth rate as compared to the rest of their region was remarkable and resulted in the agent receiving several calls asking for advice. That was a big win in my book.
We also did a project for a ballroom dance dress maker to help them create clear roles and responsibilities, more efficient processes, and effective systems to maintain the progress. Josh buils an incredible custom Podio application that allows the company to track everything from inventory to orders to workflow.
These two consulting projects showed just how talented Josh is and also just how well our skillsets compliment each other. We learned how much we can do for clients when they trust us and have the budget as well. We also learned that just because we CAN be good at something like consulting, it doesn’t mean it always fits our company’s vision. More on that in the next couple of posts in this series.
This year I increased my coaching rate by 444% thanks to the results I have been able to produce for my clients. Aside from the financial benefits, it has been such a fulfilling process to see how much impact a client can have in their professional and personal life when they have someone there to hold them accountable. As I have said all along, a coach primarily serves as a sounding board, listening ear, and a personal accountability system. I believe I’ve become very good at this, which has results in a growing coaching practice.
In addition to the great paid clients I serve on a monthly basis, this year I became a reverse mentor / strategic advisor to the Chief People Officer at a Fortune 50 beverage company. I also helped a Fortune 1000 pharmaceutical company’s head of HR organize a group of Millennials to participate in their strategic planning meeting for the year. “This could be a billion dollar idea,” was just one piece of feedback as a result of the meeting.
Despite our successes in these two areas, consulting and coaching are hot topics on the agenda for 2014. More on that in the next two posts as well.
Travel & Adventures
I see Living for Monday as a long-term venture that will grow to impact hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of young professionals over time. Because of that, I see us as more of a startup than a website, more of a business than a blog. That means I consider myself a founder and CEO, even if I don’t always refer to myself that way because of stigmas.
As a young entrepreneur, I have to constantly seek out ways to push myself out of my comfort zone, build relationships with people I can learn from, and have experiences that help us reach our goals over time. This year was quite the adventure when I look back at my travels and personal development pursuits.
First of all, I was elected as curator of the Atlanta Global Shapers. The Global Shapers are an offshoot of The World Economic Forum in Geneva, Switzerland. We’re a global network or entrepreneurial, impact-driven young professionals aged 20-32. We work to take on local projects whose solutions can have global reach. Being curator has helped me hone my leadership and organizational skills. I also got the chance to travel to Geneva for a three day conference with curators from 200+ hubs and 150+ countries. There is nothing that will humble you faster than being in a room full of impressive people from around the world.
Second, I was crazy enough to apply to participate in Seth Godin’s summer internship. After I submitted my application, I nearly forgot about it, assuming so many people would apply that it was highly unlikely I would be picked. Then I received an email from Seth inviting me to join the team. To say it was a life-changing moment is an understatement. Participating on the Krypton team under Seth’s leadership was one of the greatest experiences of my life to date.
Nicole and I also went back to Portland for Chris Guillebeau’s World Domination Summit this year. Thanks to it being our second year, we felt a strong sense of community. I got to see inspiring speakers I truly look up to, while also building strong personal ties to other entrepreneurs, bloggers, and creatives.
After WDS 2012, Caleb, Nathan, and I started a mastermind group that has now been in existence for more than 18 months. Consistently holding our meetings, first every week, and now every other week, has been one of the most impactful experiences of the past two years. They have helped me learn, grow, and make important decisions at Living for Monday. This year was no different.
Finally, closer to home, we started a new tradition of hosting monthly dinner parties for 10-12 Atlanta young professionals. The first party was a bit nerve racking and was definitely a minimum viable dinner party. However, as the parties have gone on, I’ve gained confidence, gotten more bold with the menu, and systemized the process so I can continue to host great people in Nicole and my home for the foreseeable future. I could not be more excited about great conversation with inspiring people from around Atlanta in 2014, because it was one of the great successes of 2013.
These were the major accomplishments of 2013 at Living for Monday and beyond. We had lofty goals for the year, but as with any new venture, we adapted to new information along the way.
Many of the entrepreneurs and thinkers I respect most consistently say that building a successful venture is a five year process. I believe 2013’s successes positioned us perfectly to continue along our five year trajectory to becoming the authority for young professionals who expect greatness out of their careers.
Next up in the series will be a review of some of the things that didn’t go so well in 2013.