Note to My Future Self: A 2020 Retrospective

Dear Future Self,

Regardless if you read this in the year 2020 or many years in the future, I don’t think I’ll have to remind you just how strange the year 2020 was. It was a time of much uncertainty and great restrictions.

However, instead of focusing on the many things you couldn’t do this year, I wanted to instead catalog the things you did accomplish. While 2020 may not have been the ‘best year ever!‘ it still had its moments.

Let’s remember them now:

Travel

One thing that was especially difficult this year was to travel. Freedom of movement was perhaps the greatest luxury of the year, and despite it all, you managed to visit Vietnam, Spain, Sweden, and two trips to the United States. On those USA trips, you spent time in Venice Beach, Las Vegas, San Francisco Bay Area, Sutter Creek, and Big Trees. You discovered for the first time gold country California which was perfect for pandemic times as the gold miners are long gone, and so were the tourists.

In total, you flew 42,476 miles (68,358 kilometers) a distance that equates to about 1.7 times around the earth. You took 14 flights (compared to 27 flights the year prior) and spent $3,774.99 on air travel.

Writing

You had an ambitious goal to write and publish several books this year of which you fell short of. As it turns out, it isn’t easy to focus on writing when the world is burning around you. Nevertheless, you managed to publish one book about startup accelerators, update your existing books, and sell hundreds of copies from your catalog.

You published 7 blog posts this year, including this one. That’s perhaps impressive in the day and age of social media. Personal blogging has been dead for some years now, but you kept publishing as a stubborn old blogger.

You wrote and sent 2351 emails (compared to 1340 in 2019) from your personal account, which probably represents the same amount of text as several novels, typos and all.

Working hard or hardly working?

You left your last full-time job on January 1st, 2020, so you’ve been self-employed or under-employed for the entire year. Still, despite all the chaos in the world, you worked just enough. Truth be told, you worked the least amount of total hours this year than any previous year of your working life. Your income was only slightly down from the previous year despite this.

Additionally, you took off a lot of time and completely disconnected more than you ever have. You took the entire month of July and the month of December off. Even in a Nordic context, taking 60 days off work a year is unique, and it’s something you plan to do in future years.

New Skills

You tried to learn some new skills, specifically video editing, audio engineering, and creating YouTube content. You enjoyed learning new software and techniques, and while you’re no expert in any of these skills, you’re improving with each try.

You created two YouTube channels, one for the content of your book Working with Norwegians and another secret channel just for fun. Across the two channels, you acquired 2917 subscribers and thus far generated 153,635 video views.

Much Mentoring

The majority of work you did this year consisted of mentoring founders either directly or through accelerator programs. This gave you a chance to talk with a very diverse group of people from all over the world. With everyone working from home, this was perhaps the best work to be done given the circumstances.

Based on your calendar, you mentored 89 unique companies or founders. Across that group, you had 228 mentor focused meetings. That’s a lot of time on video meetings!

Investments

As much of the venture capital market contracted this year, you still managed to have some investment activity.

Through your work at Spring Capital Estonia, you had 61 startups pitch you for funding. This includes just the startups who managed to get a partner meeting from the overall larger deal pipeline. Of all those pitch meetings just 5 startups received funding. You also made 1 personal direct investment and 6 smaller investments through crowdfunding platforms.

Talks and Interviews

With the event industry pretty much dead this year you still managed to give several virtual talks, workshops, or podcast interviews. In total, you spoke at 44 different online events, with the majority of those talks given to startup accelerators.

Closing

It was a hell of a year for you and many others. You closed the year grateful that you fared so well knowing the many others did not.

There was much talk about 2020 being ‘the great reset‘ and while it’s perhaps a cliche to say such a thing you couldn’t agree more. You reset your own perspective on many things and restructured your priorities in life.

For all the things you wanted to accomplish this year but didn’t, there is always next year…

Sean Percival

Sean Percival is an American author, investor and entrepreneur.