I don’t do resolutions, but I like to give a “theme” to my year. Oftentimes, it’s something I can only really nail down in retrospect:
- 2012 was the year I started something big.
- 2013 was the year of trial and error.
- 2014 was pure hustle.
And 2015 was the year of expanding horizons.
Usually I reflect and evaluate by asking the questions “What went well?” and “What didn’t go well?” but this year I honestly had a hard time thinking up things for the latter category. It was really a wonderful year – productive, full of accomplishments and growth, yet with plenty of time for leisure, friends, and family as well.
Here are 10 highlights (in no particular order):
1) Six successful months in London
We managed to plan, save up for, and successfully spend half the year in the U.K., where Christian took English classes and reached an intermediate level in the language. It was really rough going for him at first, since he went in as an absolute beginner (everyone else in his class had studied at least a little bit before) – but he stuck with it and ended up making great progress.
After so many years in Salvador it was nice to get out and simply experience a different day-to-day life. We played tennis, visited museums and medieval castles, and enjoyed the convenience and good customer service that always makes developed countries feel like five-star hotels to me.
2) Two visits with family
Spending time with my family is always a highlight of my year – especially since trips have been so few and far between. This year I visited the U.S. in June, and my parents and brother visited us in London in July.
My trips to the States are always a mix of sweetness and sadness. I always come back refreshed, rejuvenated, with my heart full of love and deep gratitude for my family, yet wanting so badly for Christian to be there to share in the experience.
This year’s trip was especially hard, because my grandmother passed away in May and we held a “Celebration of Life” service for her while I was in the country. But it was also especially sweet, since I got to spend time with my aunt, uncle, and cousins who I hadn’t seen in fifteen years.
One of my goals in entrepreneurship is to make it so that neither the cost of a flight nor the time constraints of work ever make it impossible for me to go see my family.
3) A month of rest in Germany
The small city of Halle was the perfect place to relax and recharge for a month. After living in an overpriced, tiny box of a room in London, we had an entire apartment to ourselves – and it was nice and quiet. We spent some nice time with friends and enjoyed a slower-paced lifestyle.
4) New experiences in Italy and Thailand
It was our first time in both countries. We didn’t do everything, but what we did do was very memorable! We enjoyed hiking in Cinque Terre National Park, driving through Tuscany, exploring the streets and markets of Chiang Mai, and interacting with elephants on a reserve.
5) Speaking at 3 entrepreneurship / digital nomad conferences
This was completely unexpected – I was invited to speak and present at three gatherings of entrepreneurs and digital nomads in Berlin, Barcelona, and Bangkok (DNX and DCBCN/DCBKK). Can’t say I wasn’t nervous… but I got AMAZING feedback and praise about my presentations! (See some slides here).
After both leading smaller workshops (20-30 people) and speaking on stage (400 people), I can say the former definitely appeals to me more. But it was good to get outside my comfort zone and share what I’ve learned.
6) Connecting with fellow entrepreneurs and capoeira friends
Living in Salvador can be very isolating in terms of work. Not only is there no entrepreneurial community here… but the entire vibe of the city is “party, beach, chill out, don’t work so hard…” That’s one reason I’m thankful for the DC – the online community of location-independent entrepreneurs I’ve been part of for the past few years.
Online relationships are great, but meeting and hanging out with people face to face was a whole new level of awesomeness. I truly feel like I’ve “found my tribe” of like-minded people; despite being an introvert, I didn’t want to miss a single minute of the conferences.
Although we get a lot of other capoeiristas visiting Salvador to train, it was really nice to go visit and spend time with other groups, both inside and outside class. We reconnected with old friends and made new ones.
7) My business grew 50%
In entrepreneurship, it often feels like you’re not making much progress from one month to the next – but when you look back, you can see you’ve accomplished a lot. It was especially interesting to run two collaborative promotions with other online English teachers, both of which were stunning successes.
I’m extremely pleased with where Espresso English is right now, and excited about where it’ll go from here. Four years ago, I never would have imagined that I’d go from this grueling schedule to reaching three million students a year with my homemade lessons!
“I enjoy the many Espresso English videos on YouTube; they are for me a good way to improve my English. The speed of your speaking suits me, not too fast, not too slow, like a stream carrying me efficiently towards fluency.” ~ A student of mine
8) Cooking more
Eating out in London is extremely expensive, so we made most of our meals at home. We continued this in Germany and are doing so back home in Brazil as well. I still can’t say I’m crazy about cooking (especially here in Salvador where the availability of ingredients leaves a lot to be desired) but I do enjoy when something comes out well.
9) Getting better at capoeira
Although our training wasn’t quite as frequent or consistent this year, it seemed to be a case of quality over quantity. I feel like training and playing with new and different people than the capoeiristas we’re used to in Salvador has helped my game become even smarter and more well-rounded. It was also really cool to get the chance to teach and lead class in London and Halle.
10) Our health & marriage are going strong
I don’t take either of these two things for granted! Very thankful for a healthy and happy year.