2019 Year in Review

What went well and what didn't in 2019.

2019 Year in Review

Here are the "Year in Review" posts for 2017 & 2018.

It's that time of the year again.
Time to wrap up presents, eat like there is going to be a global famine and ask three simple questions:

  • What went well this year?
  • What did not go well this year?
  • What do I want to do next year?

Now as you read this keep in mind that it is mostly written for my  benefit, so I can reflect on the year and have this journal to refer  back to later. I do it in public because I think you may enjoy it and be  able to learn from it in some way.

Last year's goals

Every year I set a few goals for myself. These are last year's:

  • Save £10,000
  • More meaningful relationships
  • Grow my business to $25,000 MRR
  • Write 2 blog posts per month
  • Read 25 books
  • Get in shape. Target weight => 85Kg.

Here's how I performed:

  • Save £10,000
    I managed to save about £750/month and hit my goal.
  • ⚠️ More meaningful relationships
    It'd be wrong to say I have "failed" at this but equally I can't fully  say I've achieved it. Part of the problem lies in the fact that I never  specified what "meaningful" means to me. Lesson learned: be specific  about your goals.
  • Grow my business to $25,000 MRR
    I didn't hit the goal to grow my business to $25K MRR. I fell short.  Not by much, but still short. As I'll explain later, I've got some plans  for next year.
  • Write 2 blog posts per month
    I didn't hit the target I set for myself at the beginning of the year,  mostly due to the fact that I lost interest in this particular goal  half-way through the year. That being said, I still wrote 13 posts,  which I'm quite happy about. One thing I've discovered this year is  that as inspiration comes in random waves for me and I can't force it  into a strict schedule. Some weeks I wrote 2 or 3 articles, then nothing  for months.
  • Read 25 books
    I actually went over this target and read 27 books.
  • ⚠️ Get in shape. Target weight => 85Kg.
    I didn't hit my target, however since June I started training really  hard in my local gym with visible results. I've still got a long way to  go but I'm definitely in better shape than last year.

👩🏻‍🎤 Bristol

In January Vicky and I moved to Bristol (UK) for a new chapter of our life.

Moving to Bristol wasn't a walk in the park. We started from scratch in a  new house and a new city (and Vicky even started a new job!) with no  friends nor contacts.

Nevertheless, we have found a beautiful flat that we adore and Vicky has  made it "homie" as only she can. We have found amazing people here and  made a few new friends. Some of them might even become long term friends  :)

So far we like Bristol but it does have its problems (homelessness is a  very big one). Even if we decide to move away from Bristol (Bath?) I  think we'll stay in the South West for the foreseeable future.

💍 Wedding

On the 12th of August I got down on one knee and asked the love of my life to marry me. Incredibly, she said "Yes".

Thus, we are getting married next year, on the 16th of May, in Tuscany.  Organising the wedding has turned out to be more stressful than I  anticipated but also very rewarding. If everything goes well, the next  "Year in Review" post will have many photos of my wedding.


In last year's "Year in Review" I complained about my sedentary lifestyle. Things have definitely changed in 2019.

First off, moving to Bristol and getting a desk in a co-working space means that I get to walk at least 30 minutes a day.

But by far the biggest health change this year has been sticking to a routine of 3-4 workouts per week, every week.
In August I even went as far as getting a Personal Trainer (Adam). It's  not cheap and sometimes I ask myself if I should save that money for  other things (like, you know, the wedding) but God if I can see the  results!

Adam pushes me beyond, way beyond, my limits and the results in "just" 5  months of training with him have been impressive. My strength has grown  dramatically, both in the upper and lower body, and so had my stamina  and flexibility.

To put all this to a test (and to have something to look forward to) I've signed up to the Bristol 10K and I'll probably sign up to the Tough Mudder too.

On the 28th of July I attempted my first 72 hours fast. I actually  failed when there were 4 hours left on the timer (I had a sugar crash  and almost fainted) but it was nonetheless a terrific experience and one  I'm sure will be repeated in the future.

In total, I did four 48+ hour fasts this year.

Kind of big news: after 7 years as a pescatarian, I've reintroduced meat in my diet. A couple of things here:

  1. there are many reasons for my decision, which I'll hopefully  explore in a separate blog post, but the main one is that I've come to  the conclusion that a moderate, ethical and conscious consumption of  meat is possible (and indeed desirable)
  2. because of point 1, I only eat meat one or twice a week, usually on the weekend. Monday to Friday I'm still a pescatarian
  3. because of point 2, I can afford to buy higher quality meat and  more expensive cuts. Whenever possible, I'll only have high-quality,  grass-fed beef steak
  4. because of point 3, it's probably more correct to say that I've reintroduced "beef" in my life, rather than "meat"

📚 Books

As I mentioned earlier, this year has been a great year for reading. I've hit my goal of 25 books. Again. And here lies the problem.

Hitting arbitrary numbers doesn't satisfy me anymore. Actually,  sometimes it feels like a aimless endeavour. What is more important to  me is: how much of what I read translates into actionable insights? How  much had any meaningful impact in my life?

Also, every person who reads a lot knows that there are only a few books  that have meaningfully impacted their life. And these are the books  that should be read over and over again.

In the words of Naval Ravikant:

I don’t want to read everything, I just want to read the 100 greatest books over and over again.

So next year I will change my approach and instead of setting an  arbitrary number of books to read I will re-read the 10-20 books that  have had the biggest impact in my life. I haven't made a list yet but I  will soon.

✈️ Travels

This year I haven't travelled as much as previous years but I still  managed to visit 6 countries. Notable mentions: Boston & Barcelona.

In October Vicky and I went to Boston to see our friends Justin &  Barbie. Boston was great but we absolutely loved New Hampshire (where  Justin's parents live). The colours of the autumn (pardon... fall) were  just amazing. Something I hadn't seen in a loooong time.

In June I went to Barcelona, alone, for a mental detox of 3 days. It  wasn't my first time in Barcelona but it was my first time at the  Sagrada Familia and it blew my mind. The entire building, its history,  colours and shapes were so powerful, almost mystical.

I have felt a feeling of awe before for things made by nature but never  for something made by man. Until I saw la Sagrada Familia.

💰 Business

2019 has been, overall, a successful year for business.

I've finally rebranded Maître to ReferralHero (I don't know why it took  me so long). Revenues have grown this year but there are still many  things that need to be improved.

I've a product and marketing roadmap outlined for next year and I can't wait to get started.

In June I started working on a new product, SparkLoop.
SparkLoop, in a nutshell, is ReferralHero for newsletters. It's a tool  that helps people with a newsletter grow their email list organically  through an ambassador program.

In September I got my friend Louis Nicholls to  join me and help me build and sell this product. I really like my  relationship with Louis so far. We seem to be on the same page about the  important things but also keen to challenge each other when we think  it's necessary.

We still don't know how far this project can go but we are confident it can turn into something really exciting.

My goals for 2020

My goals for next year are:


  • Send 8 issues of TheFireside
  • Learn to play guitar
  • Pick up a manual skill (ideally wood carving)
  • Re-read 10-20 of most impactful books


  • Get to 17% body fat
  • Get to 88Kg
  • Run a 10K in < 50 minutes
  • Do a 72 hours fast
  • Fast 4 times


  • Grow ReferralHero to $X MRR (not disclosed publicly)
  • Grow SparkLoop to $10K MRR
  • Get 100 customers for DoveLetters

What are your goals for 2019?