Man, I’m exhausted.
2014 was a year of so many firsts, lasts, and in-betweens that I’ve lost count.
The past 3 years since adopting the status of full-time entrepreneur have definitely been challenging ones. But I can honestly say that the last one was far and away the most difficult of my life.
Interestingly enough, I’ve managed to reduce my working week by a few hours each year since 2012; a good sign for sure, despite the magnitude of the various forces acting upon my time climbing to an all-time high last year.
Anyway, enough with the cryptic commentary. Let me tell you about my year.
2014 began with an almighty hangover, a sizeable chunk missing from the front of my left leg (and also my recollection of the previous night), and a violent dose of flu germs – evoked by an almighty New Year’s binge in Krabi, Thailand. The net result of which was a pretty cool scar and some lifelong memories with my two best friends and business partners, and our most favourite Thai lady.
When the hangover eventually wore off and the year cheekily popped its head out, Bonsey Jaden was just a wailing newborn baby, with Daniel and I being employees number 1 and 2.
We thought two years of startup life in Sydney had somewhat prepared us, but in fact we had absolutely no idea what we were in for.
Fast forward 364 days. The two of us had managed to clock up what I would estimate to be a staggering 160 flights around Asia, in the process of opening not 1 but 5 BJ offices across the region. We conducted over 250 interviews on the way to hiring 40 new staff, generating a very formidable first year revenue spilling into 7 figures.
Did I mention I’m exhausted?
Though definitely in that good, well accomplished kind of way.
Transitioning from the Australian music industry into the Asian brand market was a shock to the system. After two years of hanging out with musicians on couches and calling it quote unquote work, I received no less than an induction of fire.
During the course of the year we skipped our way merrily from e-commerce to retail, banking to insurance, skincare to nappies, tampons to condoms, and entertainment to reality television. We won work with the likes of Fox Sports, Fitness First, Fremantle Media, Kimberley Clark, Epson, Reckitt Benckiser, and many more.
And boy did they teach me a thing or two about agency life.
As the momentum peaked towards the middle of the year, I got a heavy dose of demanding and nitpicky clients, backbreaking workloads, and impossible deadlines resulting in more than a few all nighters; not to mention the ever-present growing pains from attempting to recruit en masse.
If the year taught me one thing, it’s that ‘impossible’ is just a made-up word we use to protect us from our fears, failings, and lack of faith in our own abilities.
No matter how implausible, how impossible it may seem, there is always a way.
On a personal front, the year wasn’t without its plot twists and pain points either. Though there were a few milestone achievements in there just to balance the scales and keep the faith alive.
Similarly to preceding years, I duked it out all year long with my lifelong invisible sidekick, the mystery illness. According to my imaginary scorecard and a quick sentiment analysis of my Twitter feed, I won some, lost some, and limped away from a few battles that were too close to call.
But at the end of each day we always ended by curling up together in bed and laughing about it. So I’m claiming that as a victory.
The year certainly wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t confuse a record number of people with my dedication to the patented ‘Triple S’ diet (sushi, steak and salad).
I guess it just seemed easier to stroll around like a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma, rather than trying to explain that I’m allergic to practically everything except raw fish, carrots, and extra bloody steaks.
In November, my life’s odometer ticked over to 30 – one of the few things that I was actually fairly well prepared for.
More than just a nice round number, it brought together my closest friends and family at a picturesque picnic spot by Newport Beach – the magical coastline where so many of my memories have been born and bred over the years.
It was kinda nice to be reminded of some of the things I sacrificed when I packed up and shipped out to Singapore the year before.
And when the timing is right, I’ll gladly return to daily sunrise swims, cuddles with my golden-haired buddy, the most amazing spicy Thai food (outside of Thailand) with my fellow fire breather and brown-skinned brother, and the homely comforts generously donated by a couple of loving parents.
Besides dropping home to Oz a handful of times, I was lucky enough to do a little road tripping through Thailand, venture into some of the more unsavoury parts of Manila, indulge in my first tantalising tastes of KL, take a self-guided tour of the perpetually vibrant Hong Kong, and reconnect with an old friend named Jakarta.
As it turns out, the whole of South East Asia is a shining oyster when you’re posted in Singapore.
Meanwhile, back at HQ I had the privilege of crossing swords with some quite extraordinary people during the year; none moreso than my new business partner and agency veteran of over two decades, along with his band of ‘brand architects’ (which incidentally includes an actual architect).
Despite feeling a bit like a duck out of water with so much to learn, it was truly inspiriting to be surrounded again by brilliant minds so willing to share their secrets.
Last but not least, 2014 was home to my musical debut in Asia. Prying myself away from the late worknights a small fistful of times, I took the stage for some Friday night soul sessions with a talented young songstress. We also wrapped the year up in a nice little package by way of a select few numbers to entertain our Bonsey Jaden crew at the company Christmas party.
I’m sure I could just keep going on and on here, but 1000 words says it’s about time to conclude; and to be honest I’m not so sure a single picture would have said quite as much. But all in all, I feel like this old dog was a year worth remembering (and documenting).
What will the next one bring?
Hard to say, though with so many proverbial mouths to feed I daresay it will be equally eventful and filled with surprises.
And safe to say, if I’m to pull through with any remaining sanity (and rapidly greying hair) in tact, I’ll be on the lookout for more chances to stop and smell the lemongrass, while exploring the many gems that surround this tiny speck I now call home.
And by the way, surf’s up on my couch for a very reasonable price in case anyone wants to join me for a big juicy bowl of Bak Kut Teh.