Year 2021 Retrospective

A year of discovery

Intro

In early 2019, I decided to move out of my comfort zone and left my last corporate multinational company to focus on my startup idea. It somehow failed, and I joined a startup to get fired later.
When COVID-19 started in 2020, I cofounded a web-dev agency with a marketer friend while in lockdown. The mission was to help brick and mortar companies to digitalized their businesses. Note: We also adopted our first cat named Fel (a Scottish Short-hair).
And 2021 came and went. It was supposed to be the year for me to go all-out, as I've found my footing. But after several burnouts and mishaps, I realized what I was doing wasn’t sustainable. So I took a break and went back to the whiteboard.
Before moving on, let me wish everyone a HAPPY NEW YEAR 2022!🐯
“The Path Less Travelled” // Putrajaya 2021 // Taken with Konica C35 on Fuji S400 film
“The Path Less Travelled” // Putrajaya 2021 // Taken with Konica C35 on Fuji S400 film

2021 main highlights

I’ll split my topic into 5 areas, which will be my main focus moving forward.
tldr version:
  • Business
    • Focusing more on fractional CTO services work
    • Expanding my services globally to my non-local “internet” friends
    • Cutting down my usual development work and more on consultation (first bullet-point)
  • Growth
    • Started my #BuildinPublic journey by joining the Public Lab
    • Started my daily writing habit and created this blog site
  • Family
    • Sent kid to a new school
    • Levelled-up parenting skills
  • Fun
    • Had our first vacation in Langkawi
    • Went back to my hometown in Miri (Borneo island) for our first family gathering in two years

Longer version:

Business

I was doing OK with my agency work. But at the start of the year, I had this heavy feeling about my agency. The partner left to pursue higher education. The work has piled up, but it doesn't feel like I’m progressing, both growth and finance.
I decided to focus more on the fractional CTO services side and dropped almost half of my development retainers. I had more than enough projects and retainer clients as a good runway towards the end.
Then parenthood and life happened. I realized I wasn’t challenging myself enough.

Growth

In March 2021, was the time I jumpstarted my writing habit by joining #100WordHabit, an email writing course by David Kadavy. I bought leiflatiff.com domain (you’re reading right now) and built a blog site with Notion, powered by MDX.one.
After I discovered Kevon Cheung’s guide and the man himself, I decided to try building in public, which I thought could supplement my weakness with marketing. It worked, but can still be improved.

Community

I had already had weekly 1:1s for several months due to consulting and networking. And on one of these calls, I met Cathy from Australia. It was during this call, the idea of forming our own group was born. We saw too many cohort groups/communities that slotted at odd hours due to the time difference (mostly at PST/EST). And it’s a major pain for both of us.
So, we created No Code Asia with the initial idea of having our own accountability/support group. Too excited, I bought the domain and built the landing page on Dorik.com. We didn’t expect a lot of interest, maybe an additional 1 or 2 people apart from the two of us. But 13 people showed up.
With 68 members, a successful first hackathon, a revamped website and newly built portal later...
Oops, that’s going to be in 2022’s review.😉

Family

I’ve mentioned this before, I rarely want to talk about my personal life. But occasionally, I’ve shared a glimpse of my kid daughter (not showing her face) and our cat, Fel. I’m very protective of my family.
2021 was a year I’ve levelled-up in parenthood. Due to certain limitations, we have to move her to a new school. Oh boy, how happy we are with that decision! I couldn’t thank my wife enough for being critical.
Our kid is happier now and is back on track with her learning. I’m sooo glad, tears running down my eyes. Or not. Probably the dust.👀

Fun

Did I say, I had several burnouts (again)?
Yep, you’re right! Just months after we wrapped up our very first no-code challenge. I couldn’t get back to doing my normal work. So I took a break, started to learn about web3, especially DAO.
In December, we went to Langkawi for a much-needed getaway. We didn’t really explore the island, just lazying at the resort we’re staying. The border was still closed and domestic travel had just reopened, so we had the whole place to ourselves.
Even before we went to Langkawi, we had already made the decision to go back to our hometown. It’s been two years and I have missed my family so much.
Coincidentally, all of my siblings were there. Great timing for a new family portrait. Oh yeah, my sister just got married in November, so it’s a good time to get to know her husband and his family.
Since we travel more, it’s also a great time to take out my new-old film camera. Here are some of the pictures taken. It’s a 50-year-old Japanese made Konica C35 Automatic rangefinder film camera. That’s a mouthful. I created a new Instagram profile just for this renewed hobby. Enjoy!

Others

I’ve mentioned web3 before, that’s one of the things that is intriguing me at the moment. I have joined a few DAO communities. I specifically like OdysseyDAO in how they operate their company and organize their community activities. And PointerDAO which focuses more on web3 development learning community. They give NFTs and tokens as rewards, whenever you finish a tutorial. I have since received my very first NFT which I tweeted. And some MATIC tokens.
I know I should put health as one of my primary focuses this year. But for me, it should be a “ready” habit. And up until today, I have been diligently doing push-ups, almost on a daily basis. Also, once or twice a week, I’ll do a 3-5KM jog.
What I might want to focus on next (year) is my food intake. My wife started doing yoga, and a good diet is part of her priority. So, I just chipped in once in a while.
Langkawi 2021 // Taken with Konica C35 on Fuji Superia 200 film
Langkawi 2021 // Taken with Konica C35 on Fuji Superia 200 film

So, what’s up in 2022? A quick one!

Community Building

  • Double down on community business; community building, no-code starter kits and templates
  • Potential partnership/collaboration with community business leaders

Building in Public

  • Doubling down on building in public as well
  • Grow my Twitter followers to 3000 by end of year. Probably a modest number for some, but I’ll go with that for now.
  • On to learning, I’m currently on Tatiana’s Build A Community Business cohort, and it’s very helpful so far with my decisions (No Code Asia, community building).

No Code Asia

  • Using Sahil’s term, to “processized” No Code Asia by borrowing the elements of DAO which could potentially become one in the future (kiv).
  • Find a way to monetize; open for grants, partnerships, sponsorships, crowd-fund
    • to pay operational costs (domain, hosts, tools & services
    • to reward contributors (working team members) — more on this in a separate post

Family

  • Since I’m more flexible with my work (business), I’ll be taking over most of my kid daughter’s school and well-being

Fun

  • I know this can be under family as well; flying back to Miri (hometown) and do fun activities with my kid and her cousins
  • More photography outings with friends
    • Good for my mental well-being

Others

  • I will keep exploring web3 as a side, DAO will be prominent as I’m a fan.
  • Potential collaboration for short-term fun project
    • NFT project
    • Podcast
    • Others, anyone?😉
“Do you need a hand?” // Langkawi 2021 // Taken with Konica C35 on Fuji Superia 200 film
“Do you need a hand?” // Langkawi 2021 // Taken with Konica C35 on Fuji Superia 200 film

Closing thoughts

2021 was a good year for me as a father, an entrepreneur and a friend.
I’m grateful that I have a very understanding family — my parents, in - laws and siblings.
I’m thankful to have supportive friends — real life, internet friends (you know who you are) and new friends in new endeavours.
A special thanks to Cathy (yes, the same one mentioned above) for her “Year of You 2022 Virtual Retreat” which helped me a lot in structuring my thoughts.
This has been the hardest retrospective of any kind (monthly, quarterly or yearly), for good reasons, actually. I’ve already started working on my goals as soon as I touched down at KL International Airport back from Miri, and I’ve been busy ever since.
And I know it is good practice and discipline to write monthly (or quarterly) retrospectives, but for now, I’ll update on my NOW page instead. It’s what it was meant for.
And I’ll be tweeting more this year, whether it meets the build in public requirements or not.
I’ll probably share daily memes if I want to.😆
So that’s it. It’s a wrap! Bye 2021, let’s go 2022!🚀
Thanks for sticking around to the end.

Cheers for another productive and lucrative 2022 folks!🥂  Happy New Year.

🦓
If you like what you’re reading and are interested in knowing what I will build next, please subscribe to my blog. Want to chat? Let’s talk. Don’t forget to say hi and give comments on Twitter. It’ll brighten my day whenever I open my inbox.

Want to be the first to know my next project?

Maybe a newsletter? New no-code builds? A book?!

No spam. Unsubscribe at any time.