Hello, I’m an independent digital marketer. Every year I publish the most transparent review of my past year with the good, the bad and my plan going forward. I’ve stolen this idea from brilliant people like Patrick McKenzie, Nathan Barry and Dan Norris. You can read the review for 2014, 2015 and 2016.
In super short form: from a business perspective I refined my positioning, but I missed my forecast and have a challenging 2018 ahead of me. I’m doing great financially, but 2018 may see me committing to a big investment. I had a blast with my car on the road and on track, but I still haven’t fixed my love life. I’ve nourished my brain with tons of good stuff, but I’m still addicted to my phone. My body has never felt better than today, but I’m 40 and injuries are getting way too common.
This review is has 5 sections: Business, Financial, Personal, Mind and Body. For each section, I list the result, the bad and the plan for the future.
By going through this review you help me reach my goals for the year to come and I am very grateful for that. If you want to be my accountability buddy, please read on…
As always let’s start with the numbers. In 2017 I missed my projections. And that’s not that bad.
I forecasted a +100% growth. Instead, my business shrunk -32% over 2016. That’s still +34% over 2015 and more than enough to be satisfied. A big engagement with a very big client ended in August. Another client decided to divert their budget elsewhere for this year (they should be back in ’18).
A little revenue came from advertising on Educazione Globale, but it accounted for 0.5% of total revenue.
In 2017 I took some time off. A serious amount of it and that’s something that reflects positively in all aspects of my life. But in my experience if you don’t work, you don’t make money.
If you read my previous reports you can follow how my positioning evolved over the course of the last years. This year I nailed it.
This was the positing statement until 2016:
“La Fabbrica della Realtà is an innovation laboratory that focuses on digital marketing for entertainment, product design and business innovation.”
As you can see, the focus is on digital marketing for entertainment. But, at the same time, I’m still attached to a certain amount of startup lingo.
A year later I’m expressing my value proposition much more clearly:
“La Fabbrica della Realtà is an innovation laboratory focusing on digital marketing for culture and entertainment.”
There’s a new entry: culture. One of the greatest insights of the last few months has been that culture needs marketing. So I’ve incorporated it in my positioning statement.
What does culture mean? Here’s an expanded view from my bio:
“As a consultant I provide my expertise to creative and cultural industries, including the visual arts, the performing arts, cinema, the media, publishing, entertainment, tourism, fashion, design and luxury.”
Another aspect that has struck me recently is that – no matter how global I am – I’m also a local specialist. I have thus further revised my bio to accommodate this fact.
“I am a digital marketing consultant specializing in entertainment and culture, active in Europe with a special focus on the Italian market.”
Yes, most of my clients need help for the Italian market. And that’s great.
In the past I feared being boxed in by a definition: I wanted my potential to represent me. Now I appreciate how definitions help me set and achieve my goals.
That’s why I am happy to target Google searches for “entertainment marketing consultant”. That’s me!
Being clear on the fact that Italy needs more digital marketing applied to cultural industries, has led me to incubate a new project. I’m radically open, yet I am not ready to let you know about this. If you follow my newsletter you’ll know shortly all about it.
This year I’ve also done some pruning.
“Fast in, fast out” is something that I had to learn. Being nimble allows me to build, measure and learn quickly. And in this case learning also meant learning how to let go. You can find the whole story in this post.
Speaking of fast out: my Italian blog matteoc.com survived just a few months into 2017. I decided to shut it down because it didn’t reach the audience potential that I had in mind.
I’m happy to have measured this and to have reacted quickly.
Speaking of writing: content production has been my Achilles heel in 2017. I know how valuable it is to produce meaningful content and publishing it online. I’ve had my own website since 1993 and I’ve had a blog online since 2001. That’s 24 and 16 years respectively.
But in 2017 I struggled to follow my own calendar for content production. I love writing, but I’ve felt the strain of the publishing process as a whole.
I have thus published only 3 articles between January and November of 2017.
During this time I’ve also tried to delegate more of the publishing process, but had to come back to managing the release of new articles by myself: it would be dishonest for me to have my own social media manager publish from my personal account.
For better or worse, I’m my own bottleneck in planning, writing, publishing and socializing articles.
The planning part is the most critical here. I didn’t have a plan for most of the year.
Now I know what content I will be releasing from now till March. And I know the subject and content of most of the next newsletters in the same timeframe. That’s a big result!
2018 is a year of many unknowns. If in 2016 and 2017 I’ve focused on doing what I do best, with the best entertainment company on the planet. I don’t have that luxury in 2018.
I’m developing a strategy that mixes consulting with product work, but strictly in my field. I’m moving steps in the direction of the concept “marketing of culture”. I’m further leveraging my network of partners and friends.
In 2018 my goal is to help at least 2 distinct clients and my revenue goal is – again – to double my business by the end of the year. From where I sit now it does not seem like a good idea to bet again. But it’s in the optimistic nature of doing business to do so. And I have a pretty good feeling that – even though I may not double my business in 2018 – something pretty cool could come out of this new year.
2017 has been a great year financially: my income has been very healthy and my expenses have been consistently low.
I’ve increased my liquidity due to an unexpected upside. If I sum that together with my work related income, the final result is exactly in line with the 100% growth forecast from last year.
This is a coincidence if you will, but it speaks also to the power of goal setting.
My financial portfolio has remained unaltered. I’ve calculated that since inception the portfolio has ensured an average yearly return of 1.65%. I think I could do better, but overall for a total beginner it’s not that bad.
I am still frustrated by the rebalancing process. I hope to be able to automate this to some degree in 2018.
Looking back at the last 20 years one financial aspect emerges: my biggest financial success is capturing more value from work.
7 years ago I was an employee. That meant trading my skills for a secure monthly wage under the umbrella of a long term contract.
Today, I trade my skills for insecure engagements and capture much more value through higher consulting rates. The arrangement suits me better and creates the condition for a much higher revenue stream.
As far as I know there is no better “financial” product than this type of revenue.
There’s nothing bad about my financial health. I actually already reached my long term savings goal.
This would allow me potentially to sell all my assets, move somewhere cheaper than Europe and live off interest from the capital.
I love doing what I do today, so I wouldn’t leave my work or the city I live in, but it’s actually refreshing to know that I could.
The future in this chapter of my life seems quite complex.
My mantra has always been: keep your expenses low. And if you ask most rich people, that’s how they got rich. But I don’t want to be or act rich. Rather I would like to internalize most of the lessons I can learn from the rich people, in order to then behave like the hedonist that I am.
For this reason I pulled the trigger on a big financial purchase: a new car. And this time it will come new from the factory. Not only that: I will have a lot of upgrades performed to this car. Plus I will use it for track-days and trainings: all stuff that isn’t cheap.
On the theme of keeping expenses low: I moved to a new flat that is 30% more expensive than the previous. I thought it was also 30% better. But it actually isn’t. So I am once again looking for a flat. And this time I am not excluding the idea of buying.
Yes: setting roots. Ending the perma-temporary rental situation where you don’t customize your space because who knows how long you’re going to be there for. 2018 is the year I start looking for the nest. And this makes a world of difference financially.
There’s more: I want to do more with financial assets than I do now. Having money in a financial portfolio is not the endgame for me. I would like to diversify in 2018. I would like to invest in some other asset classes that are not available on the market. I am thinking about a brick-and-mortar business for instance, and a better understanding of crypto currencies as money storage solutions. And even a small investment in a digital business.
I am not ready to set a precise goal, but my ambition is to become a better all round investor in order to have a simpler life with more diverse revenue streams.
I turned 40 in 2017. Until age 39 I considered myself youthful. I prided myself to be young and to propel new ideas. To be a bit of a rascal. To think different. Now, after turning 40, my role has changed. I am now part of the establishment. My role is not to disrupt, but to lead. My skills haven’t changed: I’m still the same geeky innovator I was before. It’s the role that has taken a steep turn.
I’ve been blessed with the ability to spread seeds in a diverse range of fields. I am now sharpening my sickle and getting ready to sow, to benefit from my work, to strengthen my positioning.
This process will lead to many changes in the way I approach work, but it all starts from a personal, intimate reckoning of a paradigmatic shift. I’m not the new anymore. I’m the old, and I started to behave accordingly.
In 2017 I also clocked 18.000 Km on my car. And have enjoyed each single one of them. My car has allowed me to explore Austria, Poland, France and the Czech Republic. I’ve explored some great locations in Germany and I’ve been to Italy multiple times. I’ve also visited a number of racetracks including the now closed Lausitzring, Groß Dölln and most importantly the famed Nürburgring Nordschleife.
I need to spend a few words to talk about my encounter with the Nordschleife. It has been an awakening. A true surprise. I had read all the stories that told how fun, exhilarating and addictive that bit of road could be. But I was not prepared for how much I enjoyed driving it. And I drove it slow. The 30 laps that I managed to do in total were all about learning the track and staying safe. I never pushed the car close to its limit. And the track spoke to me: it told me that I needed to upgrade myself more and more. That there is always margin for improvement in driving. And it taught me how zen-like and meditative the driver’s mindset can be.
I’ll be back in the beautiful Eifel soon. Most probably with the new car.
Driving has increased the pleasure that I get from traveling. And the freedom of movement that we enjoy in Europe makes it an ideal playground. For this reason I’m planning to use the car for even more long term transfers in 2018.
Between the end of August and the middle of October I’ve also enjoyed the luxury of downtime and I’ve learned to enjoy it quite a bit.
Usually when I am not working, anxiety takes over. This time it didn’t happen. I was able to enjoy a stretch of time with no work, no clients, no income and higher expenses due to traveling.
Rest has done wonders to my personal health and has helped me with my goal setting not only for 2018, but for the future.
In 2017 I still haven’t encountered the love of my life. I’ve kept dating at a slow-ish pace and every time I invested a bit more into a possible partner, the possibility of a connection vanished. At the same time nobody has capture my heart this past year, it’s been a year of muted feelings. I hope I don’t get a repeat of that in 2018.
I would like to keep this very good life-work balance in the years to come. Working less is my good luck charm. Specifically: 1. Working fewer, more focused and productive hours. 2. Continue helping clients with their marketing and communication. 3. Being able to go on working for the longest possible time in the future.
I would like to make some new local friends in 2018. I feel the need to invest in the knitting of my local network of people, as my loved ones spread even more around the planet.
Obviously I wish to either stop being single or grow the desire of a single life in 2018.
2017 has been a year of intense fruition of audio in the form of great podcasts. My player is always full of insightful and memorable stories, great journalism and some idle chit-chat. My top picks of the year are Reply All, Revisionist History, Everyday Driver’s Car Debate, Spike’s Car Radio.
I’ve consumed a good mix of fiction and nonfiction titles this year. I’ve discovered some great new science fiction (Richard K. Morgan) and have started reading a fun edition of the Mahabaratha (curated by Ramesh Menon). In the nonfiction department I would highlight Sapiens and Whiplash (Joi Ito).
I’ve also kept up with a lot of online articles, but not as many as in previous years. Current events seem to interest me less and less, and I am not really looking to be exactly up to date with all the fizzling micro-trends that tech press throws at me every day.
Talking about mind, but also emotions: I’ve started my 3rd therapy in 2017. Right at the end of winter I’ve felt an all too familiar feeling: it was like my imagination had stopped producing images and projections, my motivation engine had ran out of “reasons why” and instead of feeling enthusiastic about great things to come, I started feeling crushed by the here and now.
This prompted me almost immediately to trigger both a meditation course and to seek a psycho-therapist. As it happens in these cases both names were suggested to me by some friends.
I’m super happy to have started the therapy. It’s the 3rd time around that I use this powerful tool and I have the most positive attitude and expectation from this new adventure.
I know there is a stigma connected with going to the doctor that cures mad people. And I frankly reject this notion completely. Talking to someone that is on your side that will reflect with you about life choices and struggles is a massive plus. The weirdos are the one that don’t go to therapy. We, instead, are the sane, resolved and happy ones.
I would like to erode some more time from the smartphone, tablets and SVOD services to read some more long form.
I’m tempted by a smartphone vacation either on a weekly basis, or an actual week without connected devices where one could reconnect with the actual now.
My mind is well nourished, even though the routine of smart-phoning from early in the morning to late at night is plaguing me.
All things considered, the biggest mind fail of 2017 is meditation. I started in April with a one-on-one training in Vedic or Transcendental meditation and was able to meditate for 90 days straight. But it didn’t go well. Meditation felt like a horrible chore rather than something actually relaxing.
I’m trying to get back on track with shorter meditation sessions next year. Right now it seems unlikely that I can get back on the meditation wagon.
On a lighter note, the other mission I didn’t accomplish is to go to the cinema more often. I actually continued watching more series than movies in 2017. Having Netflix as a client most of the year didn’t help. But, as the year ends and awards season begins, I am ashamed to reveal how few of the hits of the year I have watched in cinemas.
My mind plan for 2018 is easy: I prescribe to myself less smartphone & social media, a bit less series, same amount of podcasts and more books & movies. I would also try meditation again, even though I still feel a bit ambivalent about it.
Writing will have a big role in 2018. I want to churn out articles at a faster pace. I also want to write in a clearer manner, with better defined objectives and with a greater focus on my readers. I want to release my newsletters always on time and to publish at least a new long form post per month.
This will require being a bit stricter with my content calendar.
During 2018 I will also try to understand if the time has come to conjure up a longer form project. I’m talking about a book. And, since that’s a massive time commitment, I want to be absolutely sure about this project before I move the first steps in this direction.
This is the feel good part of this review. So if you’ve felt a bit of angst and strife in the previous sections of this honest review, please join me in a celebration.
I’ve stuck to my body plan for most of the year in 2017. On vacation I tried to go to a gym at least once per week, otherwise I’ve always been able to keep a schedule of 3 to 4 times a week.
I’ve continued to apply the principle of no zero days, meaning that I’m moving my body every day. I’ve also consistently done some body movement each day, before focusing on mind work. To speak clearly: I’m basically always high on endorphins. That’s legal, healthy and soooo gooood.
I’ve ramped up the amount of personal training from once a month to once a week. I check my performance with Nico at Spree Crossfit weekly. I can always ask him for tips to overcome plateaus and I catch mistakes much earlier with his help. I don’t talk about other people in this review, but every year I credit him with my physical fitness. I put in the work, but he’s the one that leads the way. Have no doubt: if you’re in Berlin, Spree Crossfit is the place to train.
Nutrition has been my Achilles heel for most of 2017. I’ve kept hovering around intermittent fasting and paleo for the first few months of the year. In October I had a breakthrough starting instead to track each single meal and following a 2,800 calories diet with a strong presence of proteins (240g per day) and a balance of fat (120g) and carbs (180g). Reintroducing carbs this time has worked quite well.
My weight is now hovering around 71kg with around 17% body fat according to my home scale. Important part is that rarely I have felt stronger and looked better.
Did you think it would be all positive? Well, where do I start? Throughout 2017 I have had all sorts of issues. I almost broke my foot in LA in March. My knee has been acting out during Deadlifts the whole spring. My left leg has bugged me between July and October. My right shoulder is still making me suffer almost every day.
In the last months of the year I’ve healed from most of the issues and I’ve started to work a lot on the upper back and around my shoulders. Years of computer work have left my shoulders in an awful state and undoing the damage is a lengthy process. That said I’ve started to mobilize back muscles that I didn’t know I had.
Towards the end of the cold season last year I’ve also suffered from tonsillitis (it happened also in 2013 if memory serves me correctly). I’ve also struggled with various coughs and a presumed viral bronchitis. While I love listening to my body and healing it by working out, I don’t really enjoy these seasonal illnesses.
More of the same. That’s the prescription for 2018. I would like to continue with a high protein diet, 3x a week of training, 1x a week personal training. Long or short walks every time I don’t train. No zero days.
My focus will continue to be the health of my shoulder, with a lot of work devoted to strengthening the upper back and rotating my shoulder backwards.
Most probably if Nico allows towards the end of the winter I would like to experiment with getting my body fat to descend to 15% or 13%. But let’s see how the training and diet go until that point.
That’s it with my yearly review. If you really want to know if I stick to my plan, please subscribe to my newsletter. There’s no better way to know if I’m going to be on track with my 2018 goals.