And like that, it’s all over…
We’ve made it to December folks. Congratulations!
Time has absolutely whipped past over the last 12 months and I’m sat here now wondering where it all went and what did I do with it?
2018 has been interesting year. I’ve undergone a fair bit of upheaval in my personal life and also faced a few professional challenges. It’s been a learning experience though and I’ve certainly come out the other side equipped with an improved skillset and the knowledge that I can adapt to change in all areas of life!
My highlights from 2018:
A new roommate
In January we were joined by a very grumpy and demanding old lady called Winnie, who loves nothing more than curling up on the sofa. We are very alike actually…
Lots of food…
As usual, most of my yearly highlights revolve around food and drink consumed in venues familiar and foreign. The beginning of the year was mostly spent sampling York’s thriving food scene, with repeat visits made to consume the excellent street food at Spark York and Brew York.
The really heavy stuff came in Paris though, where I gladly gained some serious weight in the name of sampling every bakery the 11th Arrondissement has to offer. This is not a joke, I had at least 2 pastries a day for two weeks and regret nothing.
The following month this excess was walked off in Slovenia and Venice, despite the fact we also indulged in hearty Alpine dishes and gorgeous Venetian street food.
Summer in Paris
As I mention above, in July I spent two full weeks in Paris due to Des’s work. Before you get too jealous, I will mention that we stayed in a 1 star hotel with no air-conditioning during the hottest summer on record. This certainly made things… memorable….
Alongside profusely sweating and eating croissants, I spent the first week of our trip working remotely at my usual day job. This actually worked really well, especially as Paris has so many pay by the hour co-working spaces. I quickly settled into a good rhythm of working at one venue in the morning, then stopping for lunch and walking to the next spot for the afternoon.
I spent my second week in the city of lights as a tourist, exploring all the sights one would expect! My real highlight of the trip involved taking the train out to Versailles, somewhere I have wanted to visit for years. I had a fantastic day walking around the chateau and then out past the main lakes, stopping occasionally under a tree to escape the heat for a while.
Attending Turing Festival in Edinburgh
Having been to Turing Festival in 2017, I had high expectations for this two day tech conference in Edinburgh. The event comprises of 20 hours of content from over 40 expert speakers who cover topics focused on the areas of Product, Culture, Growth, Engineering, Marketing and Strategy. Basically all the ingredients you need to run a successful technology company!
To be honest, whilst there wasn’t a bad talk during the whole 2 days, I personally found the Growth and Culture tracks to be the most engaging and really rated the following sessions (you can subscribe on the Turing Festival website to see the full videos):
Rebecca Moore (Director of Growth, Skyscanner) - Self-Disrupt for Growth
Des Traynor (Chief Strategy Officer, Intercom) - What We’ve Learned From Scaling to 0-25k+ Paying Customers
Kirsty Lynagh (Chief People Officer, Nucleus) - Architect and Anthropologist: the two roles needed in your team to win in the workplace in the future
Rand Fishkin (founder, SparkToro/Moz) - Why Nine Out of Ten Marketing Launches Suck (and how to be the one that doesn't)
Late-Summer trip to Slovenia and Venice
After returning from Paris in a state of sunburn and exhaustion, I managed to enjoy a few weeks at home before heading off on my next adventure with Des and a couple of friends.
Loaded with supplies and lots of hot-weather clothing, we embarked upon a triple-destination trip through Slovenia and Italy, ultimately ending in Venice.
It was an amazing 9 days, filled with swimming, mountaineering, lots of food and many historical sites!
Finding my Fitness Community
I have been going to the gym regularly for just over 6 years now, with most of that time spent doing solo workouts.
2018 was the year where I discovered training with other people and it has dramatically improved both my motivation and results. (I currently work out at Compello Fitness, a box gym based in York.)
For the past year I have been doing a weekly mix of HIIT style classes and semi-private personal training - 1 personal trainer per 4 people, which is a lot of fun!
Alongside meeting a bunch of awesome people and making new friends, I’ve also found that the variety of workouts has finally managed to pushed me off the fitness plateau I reached in 2017.
This year I’ve lost several % points off my body fat, taken off inches across my body and also increased my strength and cardiovascular endurance dramatically. Most importantly, I’ve learnt to ignore the scale (I weigh more than I have done in 7 years, a fact which no longer terrifies me!)
Speaking at Dot York
After attending DotYork in 2017, it was an honour to be chosen to speak at it in 2018!
In case you aren’t from up North, Dot York is a digital conference based in, you guessed it, my fair city of York. The event is focused on bringing engaging ideas and content to a mostly tech/design/digital audience. The themes for 2018 were wide ranging and ambitious: Survival, Money, Freedom and Identity
My talk was scheduled for the Survival session and focused on my work in the ethical business space. I wanted to use my allotted time to explore the big question of how do we make decisions at work that have a positive impact?
Contained within this question there are a number of sub-questions that I also felt merited discussion:
Who, or what, gets to decide what is good and bad in this context? (i.e. is this prescribed by top-down by an authority beyond individuals, who makes the rules?)
Can we actually make a difference, is it worth even trying? (e.g. is it too late to save the planet and late-stage industrial societies from ecological, social or political collapse).
The whole day was an awesome experience and despite my (probably very obvious) nerves I felt I did a decent job of providing an engaging and thought provoking talk to the audience. You can be the judge of that yourself though, as videos will be online shortly.
Watching my sister on the big screen!
My incredibly talented sister, Catrin, is the lead singer in London based indie band Another Sky.
2018 has been a seriously good year - they have been played on Radio 1, appeared on Late Night With Jools Holland (jealous? Moi? YES! ha) and also played on the main stage at Citadel Festival in London.
Not wanting to give up the chance of guest-list tickets and a day out in one of my favourite cities, I decided to head down South and watch the band in action alongside a couple of other favourite artists of mine (Dermot Kennedy, Tame Impala and CHVRCHES to name a few).
There’s something pretty surreal about seeing your former nemesis and playmate 20ft high on a big screen in front of a massive crowd. She rocked it!
I honestly feel like I have just been let loose on the world as a fully formed adult - school and sixth form is a recent memory in my mind, despite being over 10 years ago now.
I used to be scared of getting old and the responsibility that age brings, but with every year that has gone by since my early twenties I feel like life is getting better and freer. I am currently in the best shape I have ever been and feel genuinely satisfied with my lot in life (not that there isn’t room for ambition or growth!).
Bring on 2019.