Annual Review 2020
This is the first annual review that I’ve done since I started Elite Game Developers. To build out this format, I used templates from James Clear and Steve Schlafman, who both conduct and share their annual reviews online.
As I wrote this after doing my 2020 review, I found out that James Clear’s annual review format is from Chris Guillebeau.
I think Chris has the best templates that I’ve so far seen for an annual review. Next time, I’m going to take a look at his templates.
Here are the questions that I decided to got through. I’ll cover most of these in this article.
- What went well this year?
- What didn’t go so well this year?
- What did I learn this year?
- The purpose for 2021?
- What do I need in 2021?
- What personal qualities do I want to strengthen?
- What do I no longer need?
- Focus for 2021?
- What do I want to become?
- What I won’t be sorry about if I do/don’t do in 2021?
- Big Beats for 2021?
What went well this year?
My book came out in March 2020
After launching three big products this year, my highlight of 2020 was the launch of my first book, the “Long Term Game: How to build a video games company” which came out in March 2020.
To write the first draft of the book, I had a goal of writing 1,000 words per day. The book ended up having approx. 42,000 words, and I did finish writing the book in less than 1.5 months.
After that, the editing and publishing of the book was the much harder part. I’m glad that I decided to partner with a few folks to get past these final hurdles and eventually launched the book in March 2020.
I recently passed 1,000 copies sold and the book is trending towards 1,500 as I write this.
Newsletter keeps growing
Out of all the mediums that I’ve used this year, I’m the happiest about how my newsletter grew in popularity. As this post is going out on Dec 16th, I have 2,148 newsletter subscribers, which is almost 3X from where I started the year, when on January 1st of 2020, I had 402 subscribers.
Similarly, I’m getting the most feedback about my newsletter. What people like about it and how they can’t wait for Friday 9am CET to come around and a the latest EGD News to hit their inboxes.
I did lots of investor work
This year, I’ve completed five angel investments. What I noticed is that I could have done a lot more, but I’ve said no to several dozen companies, who I felt didn’t meet the criteria that I’ve been talking about.
Started investing other people’s money
When I started my angel syndicate and did the first deal, I took a step towards investing other people’s money. It’s an interesting format, compared to only doing angel investments with my own capital. With the syndicate, I pool in a bunch of angels and together, we write a bigger check.
I believe that angel syndicates are a great way for founders to have optionality, when considering VC funding, as many syndicates can write over 100k checks. I talk about syndicates a lot in my angel course.
Started treating everything as experiments
I feel that I left behind a mindset of each project having to be perfect. I started seeing each piece of content that I create as an experiment. The I do this is I don’t put any expectations, goals or desired outcomes on the projects I work on.
The only goal I have is to learn something from these experiments. I felt I could really let go of a lot of worries if I’m not stressing too much about the outcome. For example, I started treating the angel investor course as an experiment: what would happen if I created a course on angel investing? The best outcome is that some people would learn to angel invest. If no one learned anything, I would spend time learning from this failure and then build something new again with all the learnings.
I used to think that I need to have the best tools in place. I need to have the best community service for the courses, but then I noticed that a good old Slack workspace for the course would do just fine.
Just treat everything as experiments and it will all go fine.
What didn’t go so well this year?
Podcast didn’t grow
At the beginning of 2020, the podcast was gaining an average of 3,000 downloads a month. In November 2020, the download numbers have stayed at around 4,000 to 5,000 downloads per month. This growth is disappointing, compared to how much the newsletter has grown.
Was it the pandemic, that people were commuting less, listening less to podcasts? Was it the smooth voice and dull guests? I didn’t really figure out.
Not focusing on diversity and inclusion
My goal is to elevate the gaming ecosystem, and I believe that one of the best ways to achieve this is to help founders in building better games companies.
I only had a few founders and investors on the podcast who were from diverse backgrounds. The white male founder or investor was a featured guest on 90% of the episodes of 2020.
I can do much better in 2021 and that will be a focus.
No long-form content
In 2020, the only long-form article that I worked on was the Stillfront article with the fellows from Master the Meta. In July, I wrote out several ideas for 8,000 to 10,000-word long-form articles but didn’t eventually get around to writing those.
I love long-form, as it allows for the possibility to have several perspectives on a topic, also spending ample time on research and then putting all that effort and study into a piece with 10,000 words.
My focus ended being on short-form content: blog posts of 1,000 to 2,000 words. This short format is great for getting ideas out on a weekly cadence. I believe that I’ll need to break my weekly blog post cadence in 2021, to be able to work more on long-form content.
Need more in life besides work
This year, I’ve struggled to invent other meaning into my life besides my work. I love doing my work, helping founders, learning more about all the topics that I’m covering. But I believe that it would be even more fun, if I’d explore more topics outside of my work.
In October, I was on the Talouselämä podcast, and there I talked about how I’m still figuring things out after my burnout in early 2019. On the podcast I said that “[In 2019, I figured that I] need to have more things in my life besides the startups, and that my work can’t define who I am. I wanted to figure out what I could really want outside of work.”
All this is still work in progress, and I spend weekend thinking about work. I’m not at the computer or on the phone, but I am spending my thinking time on work. I believe I can enjoy work more if I’d have hobbies. That’s something to figure out in 2021.
What did I learn this year?
Webinars are great so many ways — This year I did a dozen webinars and saw many benefits with the format. I get to have it as a live event with lots of participants, who become more attached to Elite Game Developers as they’ve been on a “live call.” Then I can repurpose the video into a Youtube video, a podcast episode and for blog posts and newsletter content. Stay tuned for more webinars in 2021.
Experiments mindset — Not letting perfection rule my work, but a mindset of treating every project or piece of content as an experiment. I’ll learn more by pushing myself to not stress about perfection.
Angel investing is huge — I learned that anyone can be an angel. Angel investment checks like 2500 euros go a long way, and most people who’ve saved some money, have the possibility to start to participate in startup investments.
To stay calm and stoic — I used to struggle with emotions, the rollercoaster ride of startups getting to me. I’ve now gotten to the place where I’m fortunate to not worry about finances as much, but I worked a lot this year on feelings like hatred, anger, jealousy, loss aversion. I think I can keep these emotions checked if I try to treat my misfortunes with indifference.
How to love to read — As Naval Ravikant says: “Read What You Love Until You Love to Read” I read over 30 books this year. I think that my love to read finally kicked in when I got a Kindle Paperwhite in July. It is the best gadget for night time, as it doesn’t emit blue lights and is lighter than an iPhone. I’m publishing my favorite books before the end of the year. Stay tuned for that.
My Purpose For 2021?
Elevate global gaming ecosystem. How is it done? What are some ways?
Teach others to invest (min. 100 people)
When others learn to invest, there will be more capital available for gaming studios, which will in turn elevate the whole gaming ecosystem, with new jobs created, but also ideas explored, and founders getting more experience and eventually some will succeed with their first, second or third startups.
As I’ve now been investing for two years, I can now start expanding my teaching methods. I have the pitching course for founders, and the angel investing course for people who want to invest. I need to make sure that the content that I create is geared towards growing the ecosystem.
I believe that I won’t be able to do everything alone. I might need to partner with other people to achieve this.
This will hopefully be a big theme for me in 2021. There have been lots of scout programs in startups over the years. The latest one is Atomico’s Scout Programme where they’ve given funding for 12 individuals to angel invest.
I want to look into possibilities of setting up something like this for gaming. I believe, to be successful, I need to start small and treat the scout program as an experiment, it’s not a bigger-than-life project, but an initiative that could elevate the games ecosystem.
1) Get a partner for the program, someone who can fund the scout program
2) Find a dozen scouts in untapped ecosystems and underrepresented groups
3) Give each scout 100k to invest into game studios
I’m going to return to scout programs in 2021 with more content.
What I need in 2021?
More partners and co-creators — I believe I need to find a model where I’m doing more with a team of people, who are aligned with what I’m doing.
Exposure to VC — I’m thinking about joining a VC fund in 2021, as I do want to learn how VC works and how I could participate in building a VC fund that is the best choice for gaming.
Staying true to a purpose — I want everything to stem from my purpose for doing Elite Game Developers. With everything I do, I need to ask: How does my work elevate the global gaming ecosystem?
What I won’t be sorry about if I do/don’t do in 2021?
- Spending my free time on things that take my mind off of work
- I need to be happy with just a 2x increase in the Elite Game Developers audience
- Complete Two bigger projects in 2021.
Big beats for 2021
- Make diversity and inclusion big on EGD
- Get into VC
- Experiment with scout programs
- Use whatever authority I have in the industry for the good
That’s it. I hope you have a great end of the year and I’ll see you in 2021.
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