Epic Business And Lifestyle Review For 2018
2018 has rolled around to an end and we’re back with this year’s Epic Business And Lifestyle Review.
As usual 2018 has been nothing short of amazing with lots of ups and downs. New businesses formed, old businesses gone and still onward and upward with growing the existing successes.
Highlights Of 2018
- Did a lot of travelling throughout the world for conferences, holidays, masterminds and more
- Spoke at some new events (and more to come in 2019)
- Renovated my investment property and moved into it
- Completed 15 months worth of events for Digital Marketers Australia
- Set the plans in place to launch my own digital marketing conference next year
- Moved into a new office in Richmond, Melbourne
- Got hit by an algorithm change which taught me a valuable lesson for one of my companies
- Lost all my wisdom teeth at once :'(
- Finished my time with EO (for now) + went on a mini retreat
- Started gaming again (kind of)
- Launched a mobile app again
- Started a futsal team with other digital marketers
Business Travel and Holidays in 2018
This has been yet another awesome year of travel for both work and pleasure. I actually tried to consciously reduce the amount of travel I’ve done this year so I can focus on more “deep work” out of the new office in Melbourne but nevertheless, it’s been a whirlwind of travel.
Went to Punta Mita in Mexico for a week with Digital Marketer’s War Room mastermind. Straight after that I flew to Las Vegas for a marketing intensive with the DM team on mergers and acquisitions and how to sell your company for a big multiple (favourite content based event I’ve ever been to).
Attended Traffic and Conversion Summit in San Diego
Wento to another War Room mastermind event in Los Angeles
Went on a “mini-retreat” to the wine region of Melbourne here known as the “Yarra Valley” (1.5 hour drive from home)
Spent three and a half weeks away in Europe spent mostly on holiday with my girlfriend, friends and family. The itinerary looked like this:
Barcelona > Majorca > Ibiza > Mykonos > Ios > Santorini > Crete > Athens > Singapore
Spoke at Digital Marketer Down Under in QLD almost as soon as I got back from my Europe trip
Attended another War Room mastermind event in Austin
Now this probably wasn’t quite as much travel as 2017 but after the mid year trip to Europe I was pretty tapped out of travelling out of my suitcase and was happy to be home. There were lots of day trips up to Sydney for Digital Marketers Australia events here and there as well. Next year’s travel plans are going to look very similar to this year’s, so look out for more travel in 2019.
I can’t recommend how important it is to travel and see the world to really get a good perspective of everything around you. From fresh business ideas, to just looking at how the rest of the world thinks, it’s important to get outside your bubble and routine to meet new people and change your environment.
While I’m still not a fan of flying or airports, the outcomes and destination are ALWAYS worth it.
Here’s some photos from travel throughout this year (I end up posting more photos in this thread every year than my entire Instagram feed!)
A cheeky United Polaris Business Selfie (Melbourne > LA)
Hanging out with Brandon by the pool/beach in Punta Mita
Quick snap the first night we landed in Punta Mita at an all inclusive resort
Taking baby turtles to the beach for their first ever swim into the ocean (incredible experience)
Took a Helicopter trip at sunset and landed in the Grand Canyon
Ran into the infamous Post Malone while I was in Vegas
Met Zlatan Ibrahimovic in a hotel lobby in Los Angeles
Had fun hanging out with Andrew Hubbard at Traffic And Conversion Summit
Had fun hanging out with Molly Pittman and Richard Lindner at DMDU
In the departure lounge preparing for our big Europe Trip
At Park Güell overlooking all of Barcelona
Standing on all the white hotel roofs in Santorini
Had the most incredible experience tasting 16 glasses of win on the side of a cliff in Santorini (probably the best thing we did all trip!) – Santo Wines
16 glasses of win on the cliffside of Santorini
Got the rig out when we found a secret beach in Mykonos
Climbed through the mountains in Crete to find another secluded beach (surrounded by mountain goats)
Walked through the town of Chania in Crete enjoying all the homemade food
Found myself at the highest point of Ios in Greece overlooking the entire island
While I was in LA I visited Dave Asprey’s Bulletproof Labs and tried red light therapy
At Bulletproof Labs I did a full health check to see fat %, heigh, weight, and all the other crazy body stats
Did a three minute cryosauna, highly recommended (especially before a long flight home!)
Had an awesome view from our apartment on the Gold Coast across the road from the convention centre
Connected with Tristan Bond who lives in Adelaide while I was in Austin for a mastermind. Got to catch up when he came down to Melbourne at the Sofitel!
Speaking At Events And Conferences
This year I had the opportunity to speak at multiple digital marketing events across a bunch of different topics in different cities.
I plan on doing a lot more of this in 2019 too as it’s something I get a lot of enjoyment out of.
I spoke at at couple of the War Room masterminds that happened throughout the year, had a brief talk on a panel at Traffic And Conversion Summit and then also presented at the Digital Marketer Down Under event on the Gold Coast.
I was also invited to speak at Ben Simkin’s mastermind on how we’ve been building big media properties and marketing them across lots of different niches. I shared a bunch of our growth hacks and strategies to his high level group. This was the first time I’ve ever presented on our media properties which was great to hear what people thought of the presentation.
I also spoke at a WeTeachMe Master’s Series event with Nathan Chan (Founder of Foundr Magazine) on how to build big long lasting brands.
In 2019 I’m scheduled to speak at James Schramko’s Superfast Business Event along with my new conference that’s launching in 2019 (more details on this further down).
But most importantly on March 18th & 19th I’ll be hosting my conference which I’ll be speaking at alongside our 20+ other speakers.
Here’s some pics from the events mentioned above:
My brief speaking session as part of a panel at Traffic And Conversion Summit
Speaking on the panel at Digital Marketer Down Under on the Gold Coast
My break out session at Digital Marketer Down Under
Attended an event in Las Vegas on acquiring and scaling companies
Connected with Ashley from SEMrush when she was in town and came to one of our DMA events
Spoke at Ben Simkin’s Mastermind In Brisbane
Renovations And Clean Up
In 2016 I purchased my first investment property which was a big milestone for me, so this year the plan was to move into it (eventually) but first I needed to give it a big refresh and renovate the place.
This was totally new to me given that I don’t like anything handyman related, so luckily my family was able to help with some of their contacts from other projects and I was able to be connected with the right people to get the job done.
Everything went very smoothly luckily and turned out better than I expected. I had everything complete just before I flew to Europe for three weeks so it was a pretty chaotic time of year but managed to pull it off.
Beyond the actual work that was necessary, it was a great lesson in project management and planning. A few good project management lessons came out of this for my upcoming conference preparation.
Digital Marketers Australia Continues To Grow!
Out of all the things achieved this year, this is what I’m most proud of. We consistently ran Digital Marketers Australia meetup events every single month without a hitch.
Here’s the links to all the events we’re up to:
Last year we planted a stake in the ground and said we were going to run monthly digital marketing events…and we did exactly that.
We brought the top digital marketers from around the country in every month to speak in Melbourne at our events.
100% free events with free beer, cider and pizza at every single event.
Beyond that, we made some fantastic industry partners like MYOB who have helped to sponsor and host us at their fantastic venue in Melbourne.
Without collaborating with great companies, it’s impossible to get ahead and the team at MYOB have been fantastic to deal with.
Here’s some photos from our events throughout the year.
We even ended the year with a Christmas party as well!
Hold another one of our DMA events in Sydney
Adam Weiss captivating the crowd on video marketing strategies
Found our new home in Melbourne @ MYOB
Nik Thorkaral teaching our audience about decision trees and survey funnels (advanced stuff here!)
Then we moved to MYOB mid year and had a huge turn out for our SEO strategies evening
A quick snapshot of the networking that happens before each event
The Digital Marketers Australia Christmas Party
Stage was set for Q&A With Tobi Skovron from CreativeCubes.co
The Digital Marketers Australia Conference Coming In 2019
Now this is by far the BIGGEST project I’ve ever undertaken and planned this year.
Just before I went to Europe in July I made a decision to host Australia’s biggest and best digital marketing conference that’s ever been run.
After about 6-8 months of our free monthly events, I knew there was only one logical way to turn this into an actual institution that the industry would get around, and that was a real, tangible conference.
And who else better to run one that the guy who spends most of his year travelling, networking and attending them? So that was it, I made the decision to host this event. Initially, the plan was to run it in November of this year (which I’m glad I didn’t) but I realised that I definitly didn’t have enough time for that so I pushed it back to March 2019.
Luckily I’m surrounded by talented, smart BEASTS in the space who I leaned on for help.
I’ve never run an event of this calibre before, so it was up to me to put together the A team of events, so I did exactly that.
We’ve got Australia’s top event manager coming down, amazing staff and coordinators to make sure everything runs perfectly.
Beyond that, we’ve started partnering with great companies who are sponsoring our event along with great speakers who will be sharing some of the top content in the industry.
They’ll be covering everything from:
- Facebook Ads
- Google Ads
- Instagram Ads / Organic
- Cold Emailing
- Growth Hacking
- Influencer Marketing
- Content Marketing
- Quizzes For Lead Gen
- Sales Funnel Building
And much more…
If you want to learn more about the event next year, feel free to check out all the information about the event here.
I’d love for you to join us – it’s going to be absolutely world class.
I’m sure I’ll have a lot to share about the event in next year’s end of year round up after it’s all happened.
Check out the video below to see what all the fuss is about!
Moved Into A New Office
For the first half of this year I was working from home a lot with our entire team being remote, but as the business has grown and our operations have grown along with it and it’s important to start building a team all in one spot.
So as soon as I returned from Europe I was on the look out for a new office space.
Funnily enough I met another Melbourne based digital marketer earlier in the year who was also looking for an office space which worked out perfectly.
So ended up both being on the hunt for a new space to share as we both have very similar businesses and are even working on some projects together too.
We looked at a bunch of different co-working options around Melbourne, but overall found that it wasn’t really what we wanted and were better off finding our own spot that we could work out of.
After about a month of looking we found the perfect spot in Richmond, Melbourne which can fit about 15-20 people if needed.
So we signed the lease and started fitting it out!
It’s been great working out of a seperate space to home for the last 4 months or so as it’s helped seperate work from home for a change.
The biggest difference is the setup I have at the office now is 100% optimized for productivity.
I’ve got a 3 monitor system, standing desk and all linked to my Macbook Pro which goes with me everywhere so it’s a super effective setup.
The effect on my output has really been game changing and I’d highly recommend looking at your own setup to see what types of changes you can make to boost your output in 2019. (More on this towards the end of the post)
We also had a mini Christmas party this year too!
Buying all the furniture
Buying all the furniture
Still buying all the furniture….
The huge boxes empire we were building as things begun to pile up
Another angle of the crazy amount of cardboard left over
As parts of the office became to come together
The double x3 monitor setup
When we were about 80% complete with the fit out
That time my biz partner surprised everyone by hiring a magician
What the office looks like right now (December 31st, 2018) – you can see about 70% or so of it
Google Algo Changes Hit Us :'(
One of my main companies is building media properties in different industries and even though we’re across multiple niches one of our biggest properties got hit quite hard and out of the blue by a Google algorithm update.
It wasn’t pretty.
We lost about 40% of our traffic overnight… I didn’t spot it for a couple of days and I thought it was just a website script or hosting error…alas that was not the case.
What took over 12 months worth of work was wiped out in one swift movement by Google’s algorithm.
While I don’t publicly share the brands we own or numbers of our web properties, if you want to learn more about what exactly happened you can find out more in one of the links here or here (take those with a grain of salt, just top results which may explain a bit about the changes).
Essentially Google made a wide sweeping update to a lot of health and wellness related websites and we got caught in the crossfire.
What was worse, is that they didn’t give any specific context on how to fix it.
But luckily for us we have multiple of these sites across different niches wich use other paid traffic sources (not just SEO) so we didn’t get wiped out… but it was a valuable lesson to ALWAYS make sure you’ve diversified your traffic sources and you focus on OWNED media (E.g. Email lists, push notifications etc.)
Left EO (For Now)
If you’ve been following my past round ups, you’ll know I’m a member of Entrepreneur Organisation in Melbourne which has been a phenomenal experience.
However giving it some thought, mid way through this year I decided it was time to leave the group and spend more time on growing the businesses I was working on.
If you’re looking for a support group of other like minded business owners, I HIGHLY recommend it and will likely re-join at a later date.
Here’s a picture of our dinner from the final “mini-retreat” we did earlier this year.
My EO group (I came straight from tennis straight to dinner and clearly not dressed the part).
Annual EO Gala Night
Started Gaming (Kind Of) Again
Back in the day I was a pretty big gamer in my high school days, but they were a pretty big distraction (still worth it though).
But somehow at some point this year I started playing Fortnite (I know, I know it’s for 12 year olds).
But it was super addicting and fun, and then I managed to convince more of my digital marketing mates to play and now we game and talk shop.
It’s lame I know, but if you’re into it, let me know and we can have a game sometime.
Has it affected my work productivity?
I’ve definitly lost some working hours playing it, but I’ve found it’s a great way to let off some steam.
Just make sure to not install it in your work environment, for example I only have it at home, not at the office.
The only two games I’ve really ever played continuously have been Fifa and now Fortnite.
Again, everything is fine in moderation.
Launched A New Mobile App – Lazy Contact
So after attending conferences so often, a common problem I faced was sharing contact information.
I hate business cards and it’s always painful and annoying to add contacts to my phone.
Along with any international number conversions…. it’s just a pain.
So I worked with a mobile developer to put together a free app that allows you to create a “contact card”.
But here’s where the magic happens.
Anyone with an iPhone can simply hover over your QR code with their phone camera (no 3rd party app needed) and it’ll instantly bring up a new contact request which you can add straight into your contacts.
No 3rd party app. No entering information. Just simplicity.
Here’s a pictures of it so you can go download it now – it’s 100% free 🙂
Started A New Futsal Team
This year I joined a few friends of mine and we put together a weekly futsal team.
Results have been pretty mixed, but overall it’s been awesome to get together each week and score some goals and have banter.
Sitting mid-table right now, hopefully make the finals by the end of the season!
Best Purchases Of 2018
I added this section to the post last year and I think it’s a really neat way to re-cap purchases which have significantly impacted this year’s work or life balance.
1. 3 Monitor Setup On Standing Desk
This was by far the biggest impact in my work output for 2018. I did A LOT of research on YouTube videos, IKEA and all the different tech and furniture stores to see if I was able to pull this off, and I managed to do it successfully. I’m not really sure why more people don’t use this setup (I think it might be because a lot of laptops can’t handle the 3rd screen?) not too sure.
But if you truly want to be productive, then this is what’s involved in the setup:
- 3 x 22″ Monitors (I was thinking about going bigger, but it gets to a point where you’re moving your heard too much, so I found this was the sweet spot. What you can also do is get 1 big curved screen, but I wanted the flexibility of having apps open on different screens vs. a wide screen which I’d recommend more for gamers.)
- A bracket to hold up all the screens (this was surprisingly hard to find for this size screen, but makes the entire set up waaaay cleaner)
- IKEA standing desk (1800cm sized desk, perfect and still allows plenty of space. Don’t get sold on more expensive variations like I almost did, they’re all the same at the end of the day. But make sure to get an electric one).
*Note, you’ll need a lot of power points under your desk, we had to install a 10 power socket board + an additional 5.
2. Apple Watch
My girlfriend got this for me as a gift for my birthday and I’ve started wearing it each and every day. I’m actually a really big Fitbit fan (love the UI and app, also I have the really thin one which gets knocked around all day and can’t be broken) so I awkwardly wear both most of the time.
The Apple Watch however has been great for keeping on top of notifications and I’ve found I’ve stopped looking at my phone a lot of the time because a quick glance gives me everything I need.
It’s also been a lifesaver at the end of a long day or when I go out on a weekend and my phone has died. I used it for the first time to order and Uber directly from the phone and it was super smooth.
3. The “Stephen Esketzis Mug & Mousepad Collection”
If you’re looking for the optimal office experience, I highly recommend you pickup the SE mousepad and mug merch.
(jks… actually got given this through a KrisKringle gift).
I wonder how many people would buy this if it really was in an eCommerce store….
4. Sonos PLAY:3 Wireless Smart Speaker – Black
We purchased this speaker for the office and it’s been awesome. It wirelessly connects to your wifi and you can play anything you like off it. Sound quality is excellent and works a treat for social events and work functions.
So, What’s In Store For 2019?
The one word that I’m going to use to describe what I think 2019 will be like is, “hectic”.
With the big conference we have planned and the level some of the companies are at compared to last year, I think this year is going to be a very very busy year.
Lots of hiring team members.
Lots of operations management.
Lots of cash flow balancing.
Lots of networking and meeting new people.
Next year I feel like I’ll be pushing the boundaries financially and physically more than I ever have in my life and I’m looking forward to it more than ever.
You only have one life and you don’t want to be 10 years down the road from now looking back at “what could’ve been” if only I got my shit together.
I also feel that I finally have an A+ team in my corner ready to tackle anything that is thrown at us.
Lastly I talk about this every year and in my podcasts, but focusing is also going to be paramount. Being able to have tunnel vision on the businesses and opportunities that come up and not to be distracted by quick money (even if it’s very good).
Learning to stay in your lane and continue to develop the team and hit the goals that are in front of you.
I hope everyone has had a fantastic 2018, and is looking forward to taking on 2019.
See you in the New Year!