I lay here 8:55am with my left arm grabbed and numb held as a pillow by my sleeping girlfriend and my right arm used to type out this reflection of 2018. My current state:
I got about an hour to write out my thoughts on 2018 before my day starts here in Melbourne (the first of 2019 actually) so let’s get to it.
So what kind of year was 2018..?
I judge my years generally by how much progress I’ve made towards my goals.
This year it feels I’ve made somewhat none.
2017 was big. It was fast. A year about going ALL-IN to the DREAM. I did the 100-day challenge. It was a big deal.
So 2018 was supposed to be the year that followed up on that launch of momentum. Bigger! Better! More growth!
In January my plans were to really establish Effective FC as a team, grow the Effective app by 10x, grow our In-Residence program and do a “52 weeks to Forbes list” weekly vlog amongst other aims and desires with Train Effective. During my Christmas break I chucked in all of these goals in a 60-page deck along with a plan to achieve them. I called it “The Blueprint”.
So from there we sent things swinging in the right direction.
The blueprint I communicated over a video conference with the team..
I launched my first “weekly vlog” with Sunday Reflections on my personal channel where I’d talk more about my personal updates, struggles and just share the journey.
In February I got invited to speak at my old university. With my palms sweaty, I hesitantly accepted the opportunity to face my biggest fear: public speaking.
After flying from London to Amsterdam, I ended up talking about my journey in front of 500+ people at a famous theatre called the Pathe Tuchinsky and you know what.? I actually didn’t do too bad!
Then came the “lost months” where life was centred around achieving our grand mission: “1,000 Daily Active Users” meaning our goal was getting 1,000 paying users logging onto Train Effective at least four times per week.
If we achieved that, then we’d really have lots of people spending time with us/our app thus really impacting people’s lives. That would also be enough to retain enough users to grow the business.
So over March, April, May, June that was really what the effective house was all about. Just grind.
And as cool as at is to live with people from all over the world (Gui and Lucas from Brazil who were both extremely talented in as a designer and developer) and work on building Train Effective – it wasn’t without it’s fair share of challenges.
Our goal was to grow Effective FC and get it ready for a launch in Summer but, we couldn’t even find a proper pitch to train on..
Some bags had to be sent packing from the house which wasn’t great for morale..
And on top of that we were having trouble scraping the funds together to survive.
So we (actually “I”) thought building an app for coaches to share Game Brain videos would help us make money in the short-term. We had one potentially big academy that was already interested in something like that so if we built in then he’d get it right away. Well.. he ghosted us once it was all ready. He was out of his job at the academy apparently. That was a month wasted.
We resorted to Airbnb to make cash. Hit and miss in itself, and it wasn’t fun sweeping up butt hairs.
I questioned if I had a strong enough team. If everyone was older / had more experience, we wouldn’t be making the same mistakes would we?
But then again, you wouldn’t find many experienced people ready to work for no money and live and work in a house together.
And at the end of the day, it’s on me. All I can do is just trust my gut.
By the end of Summer, the house felt like a jail and we all felt like packing our bags (some actually did!).
If felt like nothing was being achieved. The goals set at the start of the year were hardly getting any closer.
Effective FC I realised would require our full commitment and money to succeed. We played games anyway but it felt more like a chore than anything else.
The Sunday reflection vlogs just sorta died out.
Our user numbers with the Effective app were not growing.
And although our In-Residence thing is a truly unique experience, it was taking time away from the primary focus stuff.
I for one sat in the Ole & Steen near Piccadilly Circus lost in a daze of what to do next. On face time to Mum.. reading.. researching.. listening to Kanye, Cole and any other songs by artists I could empathise with and look towards for guidance.
With Ye’s verses on Bring Me Down and Gone on repeat and keeping my spirits in check, I’d think about all the things that needed answering. I built a list of 20 questions to answer.
Mine and my teams focus was on so many different things again (like it was pre-2017 when we concluded lots of different focuses wouldn’t result in remarkable success). So what was truly important and what wasn’t?
Some of those questions regarded my future as a football player. That question was as difficult to answer as whether to keep the Effective house or not.
I’ve hardly mentioned a single thing about my playing career in 2018. That’s because there’s nothing that’s really developed other than my training methods.
I’m still training. A lot in fact. I just calculated that I trained 262 out of 365 days in 2018. An average of 5 days a week.
I did less football specific sessions, less individual football workouts and way more focus on running and cardio.
In fact there were lots of periods where I didn’t touch a ball for 2-4 weeks but then do football everyday when we’d have a guest over.
My new thing became these extraordinary challenging treadmill workouts I’d do which pushed me beyond my physical and mental limits. I’d usually do them late at night after a long day of pent up energy running a startup.
I’d try reach 600 calories in 30 minutes, then once I did I’d go for 650.. and I’d achieve that too.
The highlight was a 10 mile zero incline treadmill run I did in 1:01:32.
I did my longest run ever too, 20k’s through hilly mountains in Izu, Japan.
Part of me thinks I’d be a really good ultra distance runner or triathlete. If I wasn’t a footballer, that’s probably what I’d be training for.
With these workouts being my anchor through all the struggles of making Effective a success, the only way forward was to keep going.
Because not once have I ever questioned if Train Effective is something I want to spend all my time on.
And so we kept on driving towards success.
The new app got released (in rapid time by Mr Lucas)..
A couple good meetings here and there..
..I finally found our “drock” to document our stories and the journey! Adrian’s great!
And sure, the ups and downs didn’t stop but the intent was/is always there to create an amazing experience. Working on all the ways possible to get to 1,000 DAU’s quicker (which we are nowhere near having succeeded in doing yet).
My #1 calling will always and forever be as an entrepreneur.
I’ve known for a long time in my heart that this right here is the right track.
There is without a slither of a doubt in my mind that we are on track to create a truly inspirational, incredible, amazing company.
My own football career will come to fruition at some point in there. I’m not entirely sure how yet – but I trust my gut.
And I guess that symbolises the journey itself.
BUT STILL.. as much as we are on “the journey, the process” ya-da-ya-da, there is absolutely NO WAY we are going to stagnate again in 2019. NO “meh.” year. This is gonna be a huge year. Really.
And I feel like early on we’re gonna get that momentum. 2018 was built for a crazy 2019.
I will not be satisfied unless I truly give my all every single day. And I got a plan to do that. To truly KILL 2019. Like BAM!
Here’s the little plan I made up on the plane. I call it: Give It 300 (thx Karen x Cheng)
So let’s go 2019!! Time to destroy !! Time to conquer!! Full focus!!
P.S. Reminder to self – don’t forget what’s truly important. I’m extremely grateful for the amazing people in my life, my family, friends and opportunity to live in a time where we can cross borders so freely. This year I could explore with my best travel buddy:
Now, 2019… L E T S GO!