Much of my writing feels a bit bleak. A meandering through the reflective, therapeutic corridors of my life rather than the fun and frolics. Writing offers a chance to knead internal knots, a literary massage. Yet much of my life is filled with laughter, soulfullness, adulescence and fun, and as such these e-musings might give the impression that I’m a little more morose and negative than I am. Perhaps reflection reflects badly.
However, I’m not going to change that. It’s why I write here – to explore and to unravel, not to preach or even necessarily to be read. Selfish as it might be, I write for me. Strangely though, it is when I tune into that voice that my writing seems to connect most with others.
Last year I embarked on an experiment with one of my great friends – Jim Kroft – who I’ve written about on this blog previously. The previous year his brother had decreed a ‘Year of Awesome’ and had gone on to have exactly that. Probably on account of our uncharacteristic sobriety at a New Year’s party, we decided also to embark upon our own #yearofawesome and set about planning an awesome road trip in March of that year through California together.
Waking up the next morning with man flu, I didn’t get off to a go start. But 2014 did indeed end up being a truly awesome year.
In January, I returned to San Francisco to finish our time at 500 Startups. After a January of practice and planning I pitched our company to the world at demo day (video here, in case you’re interested). In the following weeks, my co-founder Raz and I quickly raised our round from some amazing investors as I bounded into meetings bullish on awesomeness.
Shortly thereafter Jim arrived and we embarked on a two-and-a-half week odessy, chasing bears, flying drones, taking photos, lighting bonfires and recording music videos that encompassed the Sequoia National Forest, Big Sur, Las Vegas, Joshua Tree, Mojave desert and Los Angeles. One of the best two weeks I’ve had in an age, spending rare time with someone who also has so little of it.
Returning home, my business partner and I built a new team in Bucharest, hiring an extraordinary team of ex-Facebook, Twitter and Dropbox stars and mapping out a new technical architecture that would enable us to index two billion profiles in six months.
In the summer I returned to San Francisco for Burning Man, which was awesome in its own unique and precious way. That humbling experience and the continued road tripping through California with friends who are still very dear to me is something that has affected me deeply.
Later in the year I took my team to Sicily, won additional funding from an EU accelerator programme and bought my dream house in Bristol. Plus there were many more awesome moments… but my aim of this post is not to be a year of awesome diary, but instead to focus on the declaration and what it brought.
At University, I gave up ‘deep shit’ one Lent, which simply meant that rather than getting embroiled in thinking too much, I just lived. I didn’t let problems or issues get in my way. The #yearofawesome was similar – a simple recipe for living that enabled a lightness with focus. Whenever I found myself at a crossroads, I’d try to follow what was most ‘awesome’. It was a times trite, but mostly it fun to goad the bombastic. Anyone following mine or Jim’s Facebook feeds probably noticed the regular exclamations of #yoa. Certainly we annoyed the hell out of friends, lovers and even each other with regular exclamations to anyone who would listen with, “hashtag, year of awesome”, accompanied by our gesticulated fingers mimicking a hashtag. I know that one friend suffering from a bout of depression found the fact that we were having a #yearofawesome particularly hard. I’m sorry, it was never meant to hurt anyone. But all-in-all 2014 was indeed awesome. A reminder that willpower is indeed a power that can be switched on and off.
The point, I’m rather slowly making, is that armed with self-propulsion and an #awesome mental attitude, it’s possible to lift oneself up, to achieve great things, to enable great things to happen. No great surprise, other than perhaps the gentle reminder that we are indeed masters and mistresses of our own destiny. The extraordinarily annoying proclamations of ‘positive mental attitude’ if channelled effectively (and supported by friends) are indeed supremely powerful.
So… although I do reflect more than perhaps I should and have a penchant for being ‘in my own head’ and deep shit, particularly here… don’t be fooled (and please tell me to snap out of it if I delve too deep) much of what goes on between these ramblings is indeed #awesome. 2015 has been pretty good so far, albeit with a less bombastic flavour. Whilst writing this post, Jim called for the first time in a few months… Clearly the wonderful serendipity and power #yoa is still with us both. When I told him the post I was writing, he declared we must get back on it. Watch this space.
For now, it would seem that the #yearofawesome gets past on by brothers – in this case to my sisters’, one who got married and moved to Bristol, 10 minutes walk from me a few months ago. And to my other sister, who’s also diving into awesomeness as her music reaches more and more ears and exciting gigs fill her diary. Here’s to #awesomeness and below is a ‘one second every day’ clip of a couple of early months in the #yearofawesome. Enjoy.