So goodbye then, 2015.
Annual Review: At the start of a new year, it’s the time when people pause and reflect on the year just gone and pledge to make the next year the best year yet.
Yes ladies and gentlemen it’s time for my 2015 annual review.
Annual Review – What I’ve Read, Watched and Seen and The Lessons I’ve Learned
Whilst 2015 has on the whole been a good year for both me personally, and The Big Red Tomato Company business; I’ve been plagued with a number of minor health issues.
These have included: a persistent verruca, which had to be surgically removed (twice), the removal of all 4 of my wisdom teeth, (which was a truly painful experience) and sciatica – which has bugged me now for almost two years due to a disc bulging and pinching a nerve.
Consequently, having suffered pain in one form or another for nearly 2 years, my fitness has suffered as a result.
But the good news is that I’m now on the mend and have now joined a gym and signed up for a 10k run, so 2016 will see a slimmer and fitter me!
From a tech standpoint I’ve swapped iPad Mini 2 which I loved, for an iPad Mini 4 primarily due to the fact that I was always running out of storage space. Even though I bought it for storage, surprisingly I’ve actually found it the newer version much easier to use and has me using the new IOS9 features (like the side swipe and split screen) much more often than I would have thought.
I’ve also taken the plunge and upgraded my Apple TV to the latest generation with 32GB of storage – for the simple reason is that with a 5 year old, the Apple TV is probably the most used gadget in our house, for streaming music, sharing photos and watching movies.
Yes I know people will say that there’s better versions available and it’s too expensive (especially when compared to Amazon’s Fire TV), but to be honest, it works for us.
In this annual review I thought I’d discuss some of the books, TV shows and movies, I’ve enjoyed this last year, as well as the business lessons I’ve learned, which in some way have all contributed to how the year turned out.
Books I’ve read
Fiction wise I really enjoyed Lee Child’s Make Me, Peter James’ You Are Dead and I am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes.
Whilst I never used to be a great fiction fan, I’ve learnt over the years that not all the best management and business advice comes from business books. Plus it’s important to completely switch off from time to time, have a break and enjoy some downtime.
Make Me is Jack Reacher’s 20th outing as the former military cop, but now a drifter, who has a knack of sniffing out trouble. This book is probably the best of the last few years, in my opinion, although it does have some mixed reviews on Amazon.
In Make Me, Reacher uncovers a sinister community operating in the “dark web”of the Internet. Hidden from sight in a small town in the middle of nowhere and completely isolated from the outside – including the police. When an ex FBI agent goes missing, fortunately Jack Reacher is on hand to sort out the bad guys.
You are Dead is another book which is part of of a series. This time featuring a British detective Roy Grace – In this book, set in the British seaside town of Brighton, Grace uncovers a serial killer who has been murdering young women (all with long dark brown hair) for over 30 years.
Peter James is a masterful crime writer and if you haven’t read one of his books, you should definitely check him out.
I am Pilgrim, on the other hand, is a 600+ page turning unpredictable, race against time to save the US from an impending terrorist attack. Whilst the story maybe a little far fetched, it does have over 4,000 reviews on Amazon giving it 4.5 stars.
I am Pilgrim is about a former CIA investigator, now retired, but called into solve a terrorist operation which would have a catastrophic impact on the US. Far fetched or not, I really enjoyed the page turner and couldn’t put it down.
Non fiction wise, I found What I learned losing a million dollars by Jim Paul and Brendan Moynihan to be an invaluable read. (read my review of What I Learned Losing A Million Dollars) Tim Ferriss attributes a significant part of his wealth to this book, so it’s well worth taking notice of.
Fundamentally there’s 1000’s of ways to make money investing but only a few ways to loose it – most of which are down to you. If you can recognise these psychological factors both in yourself and others – then you’ll make more money or at the very least lose less!
I also found Ask: The Counter Intuitive Formula To Discover what Your Customers Want To Buy by Ryan Lavesque to be a very useful book. Whilst the book is about internet marketing it has many useful lessons which could equally apply to other businesses.
The Ask approach is based on finding out what customers want and then delivering it to them through a website and email sales funnel – using questionnaires to find out exactly what your customers want, then communicating to them using the same language that your customers use. Be warned it’s repetitive in parts, so you might want to skip some sections unless you want to read about Lavesques’s personal back story.
Movies I’ve seen
This year I took out a Netflix subscription which is essentially Spotify for movies. It’s a great way to watch movies (or TV shows) on demand at a minimal monthly cost. However the movie that blew me away this year has got to be Star Wars: The Force Awakens – not just because of the retro story, reappearance of old characters 38 years later, or the effects (which are amazing!) but because I went with my dad and my son. 3 generations watching it together. Happy times.
TV I’ve watched
Over the last couple of years I noticed I’ve watched less and less TV. With devices like Apple TV and services like Netflix, there’s much less need for me to sit and watch TV – I really can’t imagine a need for curated TV long term.
That’s not to say I’ve not discovered some great content. First off is Blindspot – essentially a crime/action thriller about a woman who is dumped naked in the middle of Time Square – with her memory erased and covered head to toe in tattoos. Each tattoo being a clue to a major crime. So in a nutshell, each episode is race to unravel the clue and solve the crime.
The second TV show I’ve enjoyed is The Profit with Marcus Lemonis. This is a show where Marcus helps struggling small business owners, invests his own money and then turns the business around. There’s a lot of really useful business lessons in each episode and well worth any business owner checking them out.
Annual Review: Business Lessons Learned
Over the course of the year I learned (and relearned) some valuable lessons which you can use to take you forward in 2016.
Here’s my top 3 business lessons:
Hire the right person for the job – this year I decided to have some work done on my website – essentially to give it a freshen up. I awarded the work to a designer I had used before.
However on reflection the work was beyond their capabilities and the project quickly went awry. Then the designer simply “disappeared” and stopped responding to emails.
Fortunately as I had paid using PayPal I was able to lodge a “dispute” and reclaim the payment I’d made. Lesson learnt: make sure your contractor has the necessary experience to undertake the work you require by looking at similar examples and if necessary get references off of satisfied clients.
Outsource the tasks you neither enjoy or have time for. This has been a game changer for me and probably one of the best decisions I have made in a while. As you know, I’m an accountant and well qualified to do my own books. However, despite having the skills and experience this isn’t a job I particularly enjoy – especially given the time it takes each month. So, this year I’ve engaged a book keeper.
The book keeper saves me about 2-3 hours a month, which frees me up to work with clients or go on a bike ride with my son.
Just ship – whilst working on a client workshop workbook earlier in the year, I spent far too long tweaking it which delayed me being able to use it in a workshop – whilst not directly impacting the clients attending the workshop it did remind me of the old adage to just ship – or as I much prefer to say is JFDI.
So there we have it, another annual review over and time to look forward to the next – and there’s plenty to look forward to in 2016.
All the best to you and yours in 2016!
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