(This is a personal post, meant for one reader: myself. You’re obviously welcome to read along but just a disclaimer: it’s long & personal!).
2020 Has not been the year I or anyone else on the planet expected. No doubt the “word of the year” will be COVID, and unfortunately it will probably be the same in 2021. From my understanding vaccines are likely to be available for the masses around summer 2021, but let’s see.
Putting a few words in each quarter:
Q1: Work, fun & unhealthy:
I’m not happy about Q1. Q1 Was decent, but I didn’t have enough genuine fun & experiences and didn’t live healthy enough. The highlights:
- Worked a lot. Closed our seed round, got the investment, and moved offices. We also hired multiple people while doing a lot in the company.
- Had a lot of fun. Saw multiple women and really enjoyed a lot. However, very few real experiences crossed off my bucket lists & it was more “casual fun”.
- Not very healthy. Gained weight during this period, despite running 175km this quarter (~15km/week)
A big thing happening in Q1, however, was I hired an interior designer who designed my home which was a very big change for my home.
Q2: The lost quarter:
Q2 Is the quarter I’m the least proud of for the last 10 years. Denmark went on lock-down start March and all of the Q2. The highlights:
- I spent insane amounts doing nothing important (playing games, watching movies). I think I only worked 45 hours per week here.
- Completely opposite Q1. I didn’t have a lot of fun, but the fun I had was amazing: Went to Sweden with a girl, went to 3 summer-house trips with friends, biked 400km with a friend to Skagen, tried a Michelin restaurant, had an amazing hotel experience
- Q2 was meh on health. I didn’t gain or lose weight. I biked ~900km in this quarter while running 145km.
Imagine if I had not wasted at least ~15 hours a week (~180 hours in total) on useless shit. Could’ve been a brutal quarter!
Q3: Fucking amazing quarter!
Q3 is where I’ve felt the best. I decided I wanted to hire an accountability coach as I’ve really been tired of my missing performance lately. I think the relentless focus on performing and having to explain myself regularly really helped with a lot of things.
- I’ve been through the biggest transition in my work career ever. I’ve finally braced going away from being an operational CTO, to becoming a real “leader” and taking strategy to heart. I wrote an article about this which I consider the biggest change I’ve made since going, entrepreneur.
I love the change, but I also work a lot
- The perfect mix of fun & experiences. I traveled all over Portugal and had one of the best vacations ever for 2.5 weeks, crossed multiple things off my bucket-list (paddleboarding, seeing Skagen, home-made pasta, see Aalborg). All while trying lots of great restaurants, seeing multiple women, having great hotel getaways, and more.
- Best quarter for health for a long time:
1) I’m out of my soda addiction! I’ve been drinking 3-4 sodas a day on average for at least 2-3 years. I’ve developed breathing problems, so if I drink 3+ sodas I need an asthma inhaler… That plus having my accountability coach is a game-changer.
2) I found fasting. I’m fasting 4-5 days per week for 16 hours (ie eating dinner at 7 pm, and not eating against until 11 am). I started to lose kilos so I’m finally going down! Lowest weight in 2020 so far!
The exercise was horrible in July as I was 2.5 weeks in Portugal, but August and September has by far been my best running months (173km in August and September alone), and I plan to run at least 30km more in September (writing this on 26th September morning)
Q3 has been bigger than it sounds here. I’ve done some other big things:
- I’ve started tracking my economy extremely detailed, and make sure I save at least ~13.000 DKK per month and invest in stocks (~2k USD)
- For the first time in a lot of years, I’ve allowed myself to fall for a girl, whom I’m dating at the moment :)!
- I’ve consistently meditated at 5 min 3-4 days per week
So that means, I’m going into Q4 with a really optimistic mind!
However, I want to make Q4 the most ambitious quarter yet…
Planning for Q4
Background for Q4 decisions
Embracing my situation:
I’ve made a really big mistake in my later years that I plan to correct in Q4. My mistake is that I’ve not fully embraced my life situation.
I like to see myself as a successful entrepreneur. A successful entrepreneur for me means freedom. A successful entrepreneur in my mind is someone who:
- Have an open calendar and lots of freedom over what to do and when
- Can work wherever he/she wants geographically
- Has a high salary
- Lots of economical freedom
- Can design their life to have as much enjoyment and travel as possible
- Typically spends time on “lifestyle” including having an online image
Many of my friends fit the above characteristics. And I’ve been in that category myself for multiple years. However, I don’t fit this category anymore.
Being a co-founder of a venture-backed scaleup is something completely different. Today, I’m the official CTO / head of product of a fast-growing startup with 30 employees. I’ve 3-4 direct reports and 10+ indirect reports. I’m part of a leadership team that tries to grow this company. I’m a co-founder and I’m a part of the board.
I’m a manager & leader, not an entrepreneur.
As much as I idealize the above lifestyle, it’s not compatible with my current role. My job is running Likvido, and running a company means you have a commitment. Every. Single. Day.
When you’re a manager and leader, you’re a “slave to the company”. This is by any means not a bad thing. Any successful startup or executive we celebrate as heroes live this life. Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, and Sundar Pichai – they cannot embrace “lifestyle design”. They cannot work remotely 3 weeks from Thailand when they feel like it. Yet, despite being among the wealthiest people in the world and they could stop any day – they still come to work every day.
Personally, the life I’m into is the entrepreneur’s life and not the latter. I much prefer having the freedom, an open calendar, and having the ability to do what I want.
This comes back to my big change in Q4. I want to embrace my current role. Instead of idealizing what could be, and the optimal lifestyle, my #1 and only task is making Likvido successful. This doesn’t mean I cannot have a life and enjoy things, but it happens in a different way. It happens in set boxes and a calendar that has schedules such as ‘Free time’. My calendar should be much closer to something like Marc Andreessen than a digital nomad.
This change is not something I particularly enjoy, but it’s essential. Now, the reason why I actually don’t mind the change, but actually look forward to it, is the concept of life phases:
My life-phases since I was 18: When I was 18-21 years old, I studied. When I was 22-24 years I full-time worked (and studied). When I was 25-26 years I was the successful entrepreneur. When I was 27-28 years I had my first large business venture, Monera, that failed. The last 2.5 Years have been Likvido.
Each phase of my life has given things to my life. The amazing thing about running a venture company is the learnings you get. It’s absolutely insane the things I’ve learned both running Monera and Likvido, and every single day, I learn something new.
Say I was decided to start a new company. I feel I have a deep understanding of what it requires. I know how to build a product, market the product, sell the product, fundraise, hire people, manage people, make budgets, and everything else you can think of. I’ve no doubts I could either earn at least 15k+ USD/month in a remote freelancing role or build a small lifestyle business that would provide a serious salary quite fast. Every month I work at Likvido, I feel more and more confident about my skills & how you do these things.
That’s also why I know that long-term I want to do something else, but as long as I keep learning as I do now, I’ve no plans of going anywhere in the next 5+ years. Say we’re on track to go public in 5 years, would I then quit? Absolutely not. As long as there are important learnings, I’m going to stay.
Business & Economy & Work & Productivity:
- Work as much as it’s required to reach the companies goals and company OKR’s.
- Continue my transition from being the one doing the tasks to being the manager of the person doing the tasks. All daily tasks related to day-to-day operations of product management should be handled by default by someone else (realistically supervised in Q4)
- Spend at least 8 hours per week reading (audiobooks doesn’t count) or thinking strategically around Likvido. They might seem to be two different things, but for me, it’s personal “thinking time”
- Develop 5 new habits of personal efficiency. Developing the below habits requires creating alternatives habits I’ve not yet decided on:
- Deleting social media apps that don’t provide value (ie. Instagram, TikTok, Reddit)
- Check e-mails 2 times a day, in a pre-defined calendar slot
- Have a non-reply policy for messenger apps and private social e-mails until specific ‘free blocks’ in my calendar
- Block and never visit a specific set of websites that provides no real value (ie. Youtube, EB.dk, dr.dk, Reddit)
- Single-tasking. I have a very bad habit of checking other things while doing work. While writing this post I’ve checked Snapchat 5+ times, Messenger 5+ times, been on at least 10+ websites, and more.
Health & Mind & Body:
- Run 25km / week, meaning I have to run at least 300km this quarter (biking on a racer bike counts 15% per kilometer – meaning an alternative could be biking 2.000km)
- Run a half-marathon by myself
- Drink less than 1 soda per day per week, never more than 1 per day, and never 7 am – 5 pm
- 5 16:8 fasts per week
- Get my first measurement of 83kg or below on the weight
- Daily intake of my 6 supplements (Omega-3, Magnesium, RHODIOLA, Niacin, Vitamin-C, and multi-vitamin)
- Sleep at least 7 hours per night on average based on Oura ring, including weekends & sleep-overs
- Change my sleeping rhythm so I wake up 7 am daily. This means I have to close the lights at 11 pm
- Keep my sleeping rhythm at the weekends. Moving waking up to 8 am is OK
- Meditate 5+ minutes every morning. Has to be at least 25 minutes per week, meaning 300 minutes of meditation this quarter
Lifestyle & experiences:
- Change how I use my calendar. Instead of being ‘default-free’, block my calendar down to ‘micro-blocks’, so my calendar is blocked 24/7. That includes adding things like ‘free time’.
- Try 3 things from my bucket list
- See at least one other country
- Buy the equipment to make Bao & make Bao at least 3 times! (Bao is my favorite dish, and I want to learn how to make them)
Simple todos I have to solve during Q4:
- Buy a new bike
- Add at least 25 new items to my bucket list
- My sure my bedroom can be completely dark at night
- Get broken things in my home fixed (door handle, bathroom)
- Get my racer bike fixed