I started 2018 on the beautiful mountains of Hokkaido, Japan skiing, and ended it on the serene beaches of Tulum in Mexico. In-between I did unusually little travelling as I had been quite tired of excessive travelling in previous years and wanted to stay put, get into my daily routine and have a less hectic schedule.
That said, new places I visited for the first time were Montenegro & Croatia for a friends 40thwhich was awesome, and Abu Dhabi where I visited the Louvre. The rest were usual places I like to visit like the Trois Valle for skiing where had the best week ever in Feb there, south of France, Greek islands, Dubai to see family, Cyprus for the annual dosage of weddings, and Athens of course to see the PPH team there.
When we did our first hire in Athens in 2010 (Sotiris who is now CTO of our newest business, TalentDesk.io) we crammed everyone in a little apartment owned by my PPH CTO (Spyros) which has since become a thriving Airbnb business for visiting PPH team members. I think he has better occupancy than the Four Seasons! 🙂 We then got one floor in a 4-storey building nearby in the trendy area of Gazi. I did say back then that one day we will get the whole building, I suspect most people thought I was just being my usual over-bullish self.
This year, 8 years after that first hire, I’m proud to say, we finally did. We now occupy all 4 floors so its officially the PPH building
2018 was a year I’d describe best with one word: learning. A lot has happened in the year, some positive, some not so, but most importantly all lead to good learnings.
Some of the things I’m happy about are:
Continuing to stay disciplined with my daily training, even when I travel, and in fact mixing it up more and upping the intensity. My regular regime now is sparring sessions at least 2-3 times a week doing 15-20 rounds, 2-3 mins each of Muay Thai with the notorious Ash the PocketRocket (@Pashpocketrocket), formerly UK’a No1 in Muay Thai, and champion of UK and Europe. I often struggle to walk back to the office as I’m sure some have noticed 🙂 , but i’m getting addicted to the regular beating and hustling around for an hour in a room. It focuses the mind, trains the body, helps me destress, get my aggression out and very often puts me in that ‘zone’ as they call it where you are just in your element and you ‘flow’. Im getting more and more addicted to it.
The rest of the week I do pad and bag work , mixed in with some weight training for strength and plyometric training for explosiveness and endurance.
I’ve also started enjoying trying out different coaches in boxing and Muay Thai wherever I travel, if I can find one. I did this in in Dubai in November in a beautiful top floor outdoor ring, pic below, later on Miami in December, and – most enjoyably – in Tulum Mexico in Dec & Jan where I trained on the sand on the beach every day (yes including the 31stDec and 1stJan). Training on the beach has just taken the whole experience to a new level. It’s a lot more hard work and strain on the feet and legs but it’s just psychedelic. You connect with nature, the sea the sun the earth the wind and your body all right there in one. And at the end you just dip in the ocean dripping wet with sweat. Pure bliss, Simply magical.
I’m also happy for getting more religiously into intermittent fasting and improving what and when I eat, getting more disciplined about it, again, even when I travel, for which I feel so much better, more focussed, have a better immune system (did not get ill once since I started fasting) and feel generally lighter and more clear minded.
I’m happy that I got more into life coaching and now have a regular session with an amazing guy I met serendipitously (David) who coaches some of the top business people in Europe (not sure how I fit into that but I’m happy he’s accepted me as a client). We met for an initial 15 minutes as he usually does to ‘interview’ his clients, and we ended up talking non stop for two hours about everything and anything. I never met someone who simply just ‘got’ me instantly, almost like knowing me all my life. I guess that’s why he is so successful at what he does, but again, much like with a physical trainer, chemistry is everything.
Some people you meet and in the first 20 minutes you feel like you know them for 20 years. And then others you know for 20 years and you still feel like it’s the first 20 minutes.
As I said in a previous post here if our bodies can benefit with having a professional coach so can our mind. If the best athletes do better with a coach so will you.
I find that coaching declutters my mind, helps me see things clearer and cuts through conundrums that often torture us like a hot knife through butter. I intend to do more of that in 2019 and have regularised a bi-weekly two hour slot with David which I always look forward to.
Looking back at my last years’ 2018 resolutions post I think I kept true to some but not so true to others.
I kept my resolution to to cut off and stay away from toxic people in my life. Like I said in my last years post, people who always take and never give back, who have negative energy, often petty, and want the worst of you or others around them, Either out of spite, jealousy, or just small-mindedness. Toxic is the word. People we often find ourselves making excuses for beacause they were victim to XYZ or they don’t know better. The why, in the end, simply doesn’t matter. It is what it is. I’ve become a lot more clinical in how I cull people from my life.
Like David says, its like walking in a supermarket with a bag in each hand and keep chucking stuff in. If you don’t take some stuff out, the bags will get heavy and will break. The analogy stands – as we get through life we naturally, by the law of numbers, meet and end up having more and more people in our lives. We need to clear some out, starting with the most toxic ones, and then we start feeling lighter. More focusses. Less distracted. Less quantity, more quality of interactions. More connectedness and meaning.
My biggest resolution for 2019 is to make every single hour count. Literally.
We have a finite number of hours in this world, allocating them wisely, efficiently, in the experiences that we get true meaning and value from is my number one goal. In the year I’m turning 40, the realisation that time is our most valuable commodity, the one thing we can’t ever get back, hits me more starkly.
Our biggest enemies to that endeavour are saying yes too easily, either out of politeness, kindness, a sense of (self-inflicted) obligation, fear of missing out (FOMO), sheer stupidity or just because we can. Because we don’t stop to think, we just go from moment to moment, living life like a series of motions without the birds-eye view from above. Without real presence, as I say in this recent post.
We waste energy making excuses for people, or analysing why, or explaining ourselves unnecessarily. I now can’t even waste the 10 or 15 seconds it would take me to respond to a message out of ‘politeness’ if it’s the wrong person. Some may say ‘it doesn’t cost you much just to write back’ to be ‘polite’. But the truth is 15 seconds here, 15 there… it quickly adds up. And those 15 seconds you will never get back. And for what?
Given a choice I’d much rather be impolite but efficient than the other way around. Life is too short.
Sadly I id not keep to my other 2018 resolution of going on safari to see the gorillas or spending a week in a training camp (although I got plenty of training all the same and I think my body is already on the limit of breakage so maybe that’s for the better 🙂 ). I’m less bothered about this because I really did need to cut back on travel and get more in a regular routine.
The other upside of that is that once I did travel I ended up appreciating it a lot more. Spending time on the beach at the end of the year after being in London for a few months made me realise that the ‘animal’ in me needs more of that. There’s a connection I get with myself, my mind and my body which I can only get when I’m in nature. Its therapeutic, calming, sheds clarity in your mind, gives you fresh energy. It’s like hitting the restart button.
I’ve resolved to do more of that in 2019. Once every month I plan to go somewhere where I can connect with nature. Whether is the beach, mountain or countryside.
Business wise, 2018 – our 11thyear since our founding – was our most profitable and I think most productive year.
Even though we have been developing the product since the start of 2017, we only really launched end of 2007 and in Feb 2018 our first customer for TalentDesk.io– our latest innovation under the PeoplePerHour umbrella. Since then we’ve had consecutive growth every quarter since. We also built the TalentDesk.io team up to a decent size of 10 people although being part of PPH means we all share knowledge and resources across the whole team.
I’m very proud of the team’s efforts and results on both fronts. Both team PPH and team TD.io are truly world class, well gelled together, operating properly as a family and passionate about what they do.
I feel lucky and blessed to have every single member of both teams, and in particular to have the two leaders that spearhead each respectively – Spyros and Sotiris – who now do it fairly autonomously, without much involvement needed from me. This is great as it makes the business more independent, stronger and therefore more valuable. As emotionally attached as all founders are to their companies – they are our babies after all – our number one job, I believe, as leaders, is really is to make sure they can stand on their own feet without us. It’s that bitter-sweet joy (I assume here as I have no kids yet :)) of seeing your baby grow more independent of you each day and one day not need you at all. Then you know you’ve done a good job, putting the company above you – much like you’d do with your child.
Above all else, being Selfless always gets the better result.
Plus it gives me time to have a normal life which as a founder one forgets for many years in the beginning. Having your fingers in the fire is not sustainable for ever. You burn out (it is fire after all :)).
Other than making every hour count, in 2019 I’m looking forwards to my 40thbirthday which I’m celebrating with an amazing group of friends and family in the beautiful Burgundy, France, indulging in amazing wine, tours of the chateaux and countryside, good food and company for a long weekend on 3rd May (two days after my actual birthday). I really can’t wait.
I’d also like to spend more studio time (this is a recurring and failing resolution!) pursuing my art, write more, read more, and do the things that put me in zone, that state of ‘flow’ – where you are immersed in intense focus, awareness, at peace with yourself, moments of true presence, where you are in harmony with yourself.
For me normally that’s doing something creative, and interestingly enough Muay Thai fits that category too (the pocket rocket predicted that i’m a creative person from the first time we sparred so clearly there is an element of creativity to martial arts, its not just brute force and technique). Which explains why I feel zoned in when I do it. Other things that give me that sensation of flow are things like cooking, painting , writing, connecting with nature, listening to an amazing tune and walking in the streets lost in the crowds peoplewatching, imagining, thinking, as I often like to do in Soho around my office.
That’s my other resolution for 2019. Chase and find more moments of pure flow. And spend more quality time with good friends and family – people you have a real connection with. Making every hour count, and not wasting a single minute on meaningless experiences.
Below are some photos from highlights of my year 🙂
Wishing everyone all the best for 2019: inner peace and happiness.