2015 was the year of the goat. 2016 is the year of the monkey. Goats and monkeys have a lot more in common than you think.
I hate coming up with introductions to blog posts. It can be one of the hardest things you can do. Sometimes I end up starting with a random line that has nothing to do with the entire post.
Welcome to my 2015 yearly review. I hope you are as excited as I am! Let's start with a quote.
Don’t compare yourself to anyone except for the person you were yesterday.
This is my first time writing a yearly review, so please apologize if it’s a little all over the place. I’m publishing this publicly for many reasons. One, I want to give a little background on what I’ve been up to. A lot of my friends and family think they know what I’m doing but really they have no idea. I also want to be held accountable for my 2016 goals. By posting them for everyone to see, there’ll be no hiding. And on top of that, it’ll be nice to be able to look back on these in the years to come.
So, here it is. Jeremy Ginsburg’s 2015 Yearly Review. It’s going to be split up into a few sections:
1) Shit I'll tell my grandchildren (highlights)
3) What didn't work (failures)
4) Goals for 2016
Highlights: Shit I’ll tell my grandchildren
A lot happened in 2015. Obviously, but I mean for me personally. Here are some of the highlights of things that stick out.
1. I started writing my first book. This is kind of a big deal. Maybe it’s too big of a deal because I’m now discovering how hard it is to finish it. But I’ll get done in 2016, don’t worry (see my 2016 goals at the end). It’s been really exciting to work on something for six months and I’m excited for this. Definitely a highlight of 2015 and hopefully a highlight of 2016 once it’s done. If you want a FREE copy when it’s done click here.
2. I cut my hair. After two years without a haircut, it was time. I think I’m going to grow my hair out again in my 30s, but for now, I’m sticking with hair that makes me look like I actually have a job. I’m excited to show my grandchildren this video, and glad that I don’t look homeless anymore.
3. I performed stand up comedy in Vietnamese. It sounds cool, but it was harder than you think. I was scared shitless to get on stage and I was worried no one would understand my accent or laugh at my jokes. It ended up going well and the original clip has over 6 million views. I don’t want to brag but my grandkids better think that’s cool.
4. Another highlight is that I got my own TV show here in Vietnam. It’s a children’s show called, “The Funny English Class.” It’s been a lot of work but overall a blast to film. I’ve also gotten really good at writing songs for children. I like it because I’m actually helping these kids, too. It’s cool to have my own show, but a little inconvenient. For example, when I travel, we can’t film anything because I’M THE HOST. It also puts a lot of pressure on me as well. If I forget my lines or mess up, then everyone has to start over again. But overall it’s been an amazing experience, and I’ve realized that I really like hanging out with kids. I get why people want to have kids of their own, and I’ve learned a ton from them.
Alright enough about this grandkids talk, it’s pretty weird. Other than that, I can’t think of and HUGE highlights. I think it’s extremely important to look back and count the wins, so let’s do that next.
Wins in 2015
Before I get into numbers and details, I just want to say that 2015 was a F*CKING BLAST. When I look back, I feel like I’ve matured in so many ways. I’ve gotten a lot smarter, I’ve gotten better at guitar, Vietnamese, writing, creating, time management, and so much more.
Alright, now to the wins of 2015, starting with TRAVELING...
I traveled to ten countries.
Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand (2x), Indonesia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, United States, Greece (pictured above), Israel. Five of these countries were new. I’m extremely grateful for this. Most of my friends travel a lot, so I often forget that most people don’t even visit ten countries in their entire lifetime.
At 24, I’ve been to 25 countries. I’m so lucky. My goal is to go to one new country every year so that my age is always less than the number of countries I’ve visited. This year was by far the most traveling I've ever done. AND I managed to SAVE money. More on that in a bit. Moving on...
I started reading.
For most of my life, I was told that reading wasn’t my strength. I believed everyone, so I always hated it. I tried books on tape and books that were about sports and stuff that interested me, but I never read for pleasure.
In 2014, I started teaching myself things. I started to educate myself through blogs, podcasts, and videos. I read a little bit, but 2015 was the year I actually started buying books and reading them. I’m not sure how many books I read this year (probably between 15-20), but I can honestly say that before 2015, I read less than five books a year. Here are some of the best books I read in 2015:
I put these three books first because I definitely plan to reread them in 2016. The rest were also good, but not as life changing.
I read a bunch more but I turned off my phone in order to focus on writing this post and I don’t want to check the Kindle App. Alright, moving on...
I made yoga a habit:
I started doing Yoga in late 2014, but 2015 I made it a habit and WOW, WAS IT AMAZING. I still can barely touch my toes, but I love yoga and everything about it. The sexy instructors, the zen music, the fact that I still suck at it, the sweaty mats, the names of the poses that I can never remember, it’s all wonderful.
I used to run 3-5x per week and now I do yoga. It’s much more sustainable for the rest of my life and I feel so much better because of it. I also think it helps with my headaches, and it has helped with self-control as well. I could write about yoga for days but I don’t think it’ll make any sense unless you try it.
This has been another HUGE game changer. I can’t even remember what life was like before I started meditating every day. Along with yoga, this improves my mood, makes me more mindful, and helps me live a more focused life. As someone who struggles with focus, meditation is nearly impossible. But, even though I still suck at it, I’m showing up every day and I notice a huge difference on days when I don’t meditate, so clearly something’s working.
I increased my monthly income....(a lot)
A year ago, I was performing music full time making between $700-$800/month with the occasional video editing gig. In May, I landed my first writing client and started making some respectable income. Since then, my bank account has gone up, I’ve paid off ALL of my college debt, and I’ve increased my hourly rate from $15/hr to $50/hr.
I’m not in love with money, but it is nice to have enough to afford yoga and extra avocado. It used to be a big stressor as I constantly had to ask myself, "Will I make enough money for rent next month or will I need to use my savings?"
I haven’t increased my monthly spending too much either, so all my savings go towards investments in myself (books, courses, conferences, etc.) and plane tickets. I don't want to brag, but looking back, this was a big improvement for me. But I've still got a long way to go until I can go to the moon.
I started my writing career.
Okay, maybe career is the wrong word here, but I finally found something that works. I did a lot of random jobs to make money in 2014. I taught Vietnamese to foreigners, won competitions on Vietnamese TV, edited videos, did social media managing, and performed music. I’m all for having more than one stream of income, but none of these were really making me very much money and none of them were scaleable.
I helped a client write several books and found my niche (at least for now): email marketing. I ended up getting a monthly blogging gig for a language learning website. It doesn’t pay a ton, but it’s nice to get paid to write about my passions. I realized that I’m a much better writer than I thought. It’s crazy to think that people will pay me for my words and it took me a while to realize that. It just makes me wonder what other skills I have that people will pay for. Probably not stripping.
I performed at a wedding.
One of my favorite movies growing up was "The Wedding Singer,
and BOY oh BOY, this was a crazy night. My bandmate and I got all dressed up and performed in a huge ballroom for about 200+ people. Three songs into our set, some drunk relatives came on stage and started yelling.
“You music, vedy good. Buh, we play, okay?”
We asked the bride and she said it okay. Four drunk uncles took the stage and belted Vietnamese songs for the rest of the night as we got drunk. We ended up getting paid over $200/each just to get drunk with her family members. It was a pretty sweet deal.
I took action.
2014 was a year I spent teaching English, performing music, learning, networking, and contemplating what kind of business I wanted to start. I watched videos, took notes, talking about my ideas, but I rarely took action. In 2015, I started hitting the “publish” button and just put out content. I created a Vietnamese course, and even though it didn’t sell too many, I’m still glad I took action instead of just talking about it.
I added over twenty videos about language learning to my YouTube as well, and I started the #JeremyGShow. I even put out a few vlogs in Vietnamese. I added over 150 videos to my YouTube channel and now I have over 600 subscribers. I still have a long way to go, but at least I took action. Everybody talks, fewer people do.
I started living by the quote, “Done is better than perfect,” and just put out my blog posts and videos even if they still could be improved. I want to help people more than I want to be a perfectionist.
I also realized that I’m so much happier when I work on a creative project. So, even if it doesn’t get a lot of likes or views, it’s still helping my overall being to create something and put myself out there.
By taking action, it landed me job opportunities. One of the reasons I got the job writing for the language learning site “Fluent In 3 Months” is because I submitted a guest blog post. The editor liked my writing so much that he sent me an email notifying me that they were hiring and that I should apply.
At the time, I had over 20 YouTube videos about language learning as well as a few blog posts about it already. So when they asked for samples, mine were in the same niche! I ended up getting the gig.
I also ended up getting another gig with Drop Ship Lifestyle. The owner is a friend of mine, and he saw the videos and blog posts I was putting out and wanted me to come help his brand connect with audience better. Moral of the story: Action leads to opportunities, idleness does not.
I developed a morning routine.
After helping a client write a book on morning routines, I realized its importance and developed one of my own. It was hard to stick to it when I traveled, but most mornings looked like this:
6:30 Wake up, bathroom, put in contacts
6:33 Stretching and Yoga
6:45 Cold shower, contacts, brush teeth
7:15 Journal/free write and write down 10 ideas
7:25 Read morning mantra
Then I eat breakfast and usually start writing/working around 8:00 AM. This is when I’m NOT traveling :)
Post-lunch power naps.
Maybe after going on a Vietnamese reality TV show and living in Vietnam for two years I’m starting to become Vietnamese, but this is a habit I wish I discovered earlier. After lunch, I go home and lay down. I listen to a five-minute meditation guide and set my alarm. 20 minutes later, I wake up to the sound of my alarm.
Sometimes I’m a little tired after the nap, but I’m usually refreshed and have a clear mind. It helps to eat a little snack after I wake up or drink some tea, but it helps me a lot with creativity, focus, and I feel amazing. Post lunch powers naps are incredible.
If you’re thinking, “20 minutes is TOO SHORT! I need to sleep more. But every time I sleep more, I wake up MORE TIRED than before.” Trust me, 20 minutes is all you need. If you’re really tired then try 10 or 15. Even if you just lay down and don’t fall asleep, resting in the day will still help you.
This year I also feel like I took big steps in getting to know myself. I started reading about philosophy, journaling and asking myself challenging questions.
Productivity up, up and up.
Since doing more freelance writing and getting a part time job, I had to manage my time better. I’m still working on this, but I developed a nice routine to stay productive. I don’t check Facebook or e-mail until 1pm.
I also moved all of my social media apps off of my home page on my phone. I gave myself rules for Instagram: I’m only allowed to open it when I post something. Am I missing out on my friends’ lives? Sure. But I’m gaining so much time and productivity so it’s definitely worth it.
I also stopped messaging all the Vietnamese fans that hit me up on Facebook. Some of them just want to say hi, others want to practice their English, and others want to date me. It’s a waste of time to talk to them, so I usually just send smiley faces until they get the point that I don’t want to be best friends. More on that in my book…
I also blocked my FB newsfeed and don’t see a need to bring it back. I also “unfollow” a lot of my friends who post stupid (in my opinion) stuff. My newsfeed is only accessible on my phone (where it’s harder to watch videos and read), so I spent less time on it. Plus, most of the content is uplifting or educational stuff, so instead of a time waster, I enjoy learning from my network. Speaking of network, in 2015, I feel like I made a big leap in my...
Relationships are currency.
In 2015, I went to my first business conference. It was intimidating at first, but overall I had a BLAST. I met so many cool people that are doing interesting things. It’s nice to have smart and successful people in my network. I’m so glad that I got into the online business world so early because some of my friends are in their 30s and 40s and it makes me feel young and ambitious.
I’ve met a lot of amazing people this year. It’s nice living in Vietnam because you have to be a little crazy to come and live here. I also have met a ton of really cool musicians hosting an open mic every Tuesday at Broma: Not a Bar.
I’ve also been more brave this year in reaching out to random people online. I feel more confident in my story and what I’m doing so I randomly will send emails to people that are doing cool things. Most of the time I get a response, too.
I’ve also made it a point to make introductions for people. Since I’m not able to help everyone directly, sometimes I just make an introduction to someone who can help them. Even something as small as that will have good karma. I hope, haha.
I have over 3,000 Facebook friends. I know it’s a ton, but I honestly know and respect most of them. I’m actually a little nervous because the limit is 5,000, and I meet a LOT of people every year. But, I’ll deal with that when I have to.
I started and accountability and a mastermind call.
In 2015, I started a bi-weekly accountability call and also a weekly mastermind call. Both are amazing. As an extrovert, I really enjoy working with people and bouncing ideas off someone. It’s been great to talk to the same people each week (or every other week) and catch up on life but also track our progress.
My accountability call is also with two of my best friend from university, so it’s a great way to keep in touch with them. Other than those two, I don’t really keep in regular communication with any of my friends from the first 22 years of my life living in the United States. It’s kind of sad but I don’t cry about it so I guess it’s really not that sad. I don’t know.
Anyway, weekly calls about business have been huge. It really forces me to step my game and set challenging goals for myself. Plus, I learn a lot and it’s great to help out a fellow entrepreneur. I think every entrepreneur should be a part of at least one mastermind.
Alright, so I know that’s a lot. I probably left out some things as well. Like the fact that I went an entire year without taking any Adderall. Some of that may not even make much sense to you, so I want to thank you for making it this far.
This next section is where I really dive deep. It’s where I pick apart my year and discuss the things that aren’t as easy to talk about: THE FAILURES.
Okay, maybe they’re not failures, but just as it’s important to count your wins, it’s important to notice what didn’t work in order to learn and improve.
With no further ado….
What Didn’t Work in 2015
Taking care of my health.
At the end of 2015, the cyst on my right leg was so painful that I could barely walk. I ended up getting surgery that kept me in bed for almost four days straight. The recovery process would have been much shorter had I got the surgery earlier. I had the cyst for over six months, but it didn’t hurt so I figured I didn’t need to do anything. Looking back, that was pretty stupid.
I also still get a lot of headaches. Some are worse than others, but I just really wish they would go away. When I have a really bad headache, I can’t write a long blog post like this, make a video, or do any creative work really. I really don’t like taking painkillers, but maybe 2016 is the year I start to. I just feel like it’s not natural. Maybe I need to sleep more? Maybe I’m eating too many bananas? I don’t know, but my headaches did not work in 2015.
I also have athlete's foot and a dry scalp. Both of these things aren’t that big of a deal, but because I itch my head and feet every day, they keep getting worse and worse. After months of ignoring it, I finally bought cream and spray and they seem to both be getting better. I’ll admit that I am lazy but I really need to start taking care of my body better. If I were my own mother I would spank myself.
I gained weight on all my travels.
I need to develop better self control. Yoga, meditation, and having a strict girlfriend helps, but I need to do it myself. I know that traveling is a time for adventure, a time to try new foods and just “live a little.” But, because I travel every few weeks, it’d be easy for me to fall into an unhealthy routine of always eating that extra exotic desert.
Plus, there’s a balance. Just because I’m on vacation doesn’t mean I need to try every single slice of cake at the Hong Kong buffet and then go back for seconds of the ones that tasted good. Nothing in excess. It’s easier said than done.
That being said, I don’t remember throwing up from eating too much so that’s a good thing. I also cut back on carbs so I’m on the right track. But I’m still searching for a way to stay healthy while I’m on the road. I tried doing yoga every morning, but I still gained a few pounds.
I feel like every time I travel I just want to cut all my habits. I tend to act more on emotion when I’m in an unfamiliar place. I also try to spend less money so that ends up eating more unhealthy too.
And airplane food. Ugh, it’s so gross and bad for me and I know that. I even make it a point to pack a healthy snack or eat right before the flight but I still have a hard time turning down free food. And sometimes I eat the leftovers of my neighbor if they fall asleep. Okay, that was only once.
Getting Famous did NOT work.
I bet you didn’t see that coming, did ya? 2015 my goal was to get famous. I can’t lie. It kind of worked. I went on a bunch of TV shows, I had a lot of fans messaging me on Facebook, I had a lot of people recognize me on the streets.
But, it didn’t work. Wanna know WHY? READ MY DARN BOOK. Just kidding, it’s not out yet so you can’t. It didn’t work because I had no plan. Well, here was my plan.
Step 1: Get famous (what does that even mean anyway?)
Step 2: Be rich and happy
I realized that fame and attention was not fulfilling. I also realized that Vietnamese teenagers are on Facebook chat 24/7. I’m not sure when they sleep.
It was cool for a week or so, but then I started to get insecure. I felt like I wasn’t enough. I saw it affecting my personal relationships. I saw it going to my head. I saw the path I was going down. And I realized that I didn’t even like entertaining people as much as I liked helping them.
I also lied on one of the TV shows so 50% of my fans think that I’m in love with a Vietnamese girl named Xu Xu and I’m not. I pretended to be someone that I’m not and it only left me worse off.
Sorry, this section is all over the place, I promise my book is more organized.
This did not work. Well, okay, it got me drunk, but it gave me the worst headache the next day. I got hangovers from one glass of wine. What the @#%$? I love being drunk, but when you feel hungover after a night of NOT getting drunk, it’s pretty shitty.
2015 I didn’t even drink that much, but every time I did, I regretted it. It makes me feel really anxious the next day, and beer has a ton of calories. I enjoy whisky, but it’s not worth the headache. I’d rather have an apple and a high five.
I didn’t hit my music goals.
I now have over 20 original songs and I thought I would finish recording my album in 2015. Well, it turns out that recording studios are expensive. When I was doing music full time, I couldn’t afford $100/song. Now that I’m making more money, I don’t have the time. Plus, it’s still not cheap.
I also never made a music video for my hit single, “Phở". I want to make an epic music video, but I’m having a hard time finding trusting people who will help for free. Again, it’d be expensive to hire a camera crew, actresses, and everything else. I really want this song to show how fun and cool Vietnam is, but it’s gotten to the point where it doesn’t excite me anymore. I’ve been planning this music video for over six months and though I have made progress, it feels even more out of reach.
Client work + Weekly YouTube Channel + TV show + Blog + Book = NO FOCUS.
I’ve got too many things that I’m working on. As a creative, I enjoy having different projects, I really do. But this year I didn’t do a great job focusing. I’m 80% done with my book. I have a few clients and that pays the bills, but I also have my own blog and my own Youtube channel.
For a while, I was posting weekly blog posts. That was nice. Once I started writing my book, I found it hard to post blog posts as well. Then I started the #JeremyGShow and started posting weekly videos. Then I got a part-time job writing content for a company. I’m doing a lot of creative work and it’s great, but I only have so much mental capacity on a daily basis.
Plus, my blog posts aren’t related to my book. And my book isn’t really related to the #JeremyGShow. I’m currently helping one client write a book about ADD (kind of ironic because it’s taking me forever to write it because I have ADD).
My other client helps people make money online through ecommerce. Then, I write monthly posts about language learning. I’m doing way too many things.
It’s great that I have people paying me to do creative work, but the ceiling isn’t high enough for everyone and everything. In 2016, I’ll need to figure out how I’m going to prioritize personal projects vs client’s projects while also prioritizing my own work.
Wanting what I don’t have.
I appreciate my girlfriend, but every now and then I see a dark skinned girl with a big butt and huge boobs and start to daydream. Then I remind myself that I’ll always want what I don’t have. This happened to me in other areas of my life as well:
When I got in great shape and had a 4-pack, I wanted a 6-pack.
When I made my first $1,000 online, I wanted more.
When I landed a client for $75/email, I wanted $150.
You see the point. What’s the solution to this? The best thing that has worked for me is appreciating what you have rather than thinking about what you don’t have. My girlfriend and I once spent four days without communicating with each other. After the fact, we missed each other like crazy. I appreciated her so much I didn’t care how sexy any other girls were.
I don’t have time to think about my friend’s apartment that’s way nicer than mine if I’m busy appreciating mine. If you fill your thoughts with gratitude, there’s no room for comparison.
Alright, here’s the hard part: setting goals for 2016. I've never set yearly goals before. Goal setting is a skill, and it’s a skill that I hope to get better at. Let’s just dive in before I get distracted and start clipping my toenails.
SCHEDULE IN GOAL SETTING.
How meta, right! Well, this long post is a start. But, I’d like to do weekly self-reflection and well as goal setting every week, month, and quarter. I doubt I’ll write something like this, but it’ll be nice to track my progress and see where I’m at.
It’s one thing to say I’m going to do it, but this year I’m going to schedule it in. It’s going to be on my calendar. It will be treated like every other meeting, but it will be a meeting with myself. I’ll show up on time, smile, and maybe even pick up the tab.
Call my mom and dad once a week.
After hanging out with my family in Greece and Israel, it makes me realize that I should keep in touch more. Sure we’re all in different stages of our life, but I need to talk to my mom and dad more. Sometimes it doesn’t sound as appealing as watching another #AskGaryVee show but I really should call home more. They created me and if I ever run out of money, I need to make sure we’re in good standing.
Just kidding, I really love my parents. The fact that they are divorced means I have to call home twice as much, but it could be a lot worse. I should call MORE than once a week since I live so far away and only see them about twice a year, but I also want to be realistic. Hey, mom and dad. Thanks for reading this but you can stop now and make sure that I am calling you once a week.
Publish my book by March 1st.
As hard as it has been to write my book, the final stages have been even harder and scarier. I don’t know what I’m scared of. I want it to be awesome, but the truth is, my first book is probably going to be shitty. Well, it may be good, but it’ll be not as good as my second book. I just have to pull the trigger on this one so here it is. March 1st, it’ll be in stores. If you’re reading this after March 1st and my book isn’t linked to then you can slap me in the face.
Get 5,000 youtube subscribers
After my books done, I want to focus more on my Youtube channel and the #JeremyGshow. I know it has some potential, but I want to step my game up. Instead of releasing weekly videos, I’m going to release two videos a week. I’m also going to take more time to prepare each video. Up until now, I’ve kind of been winging it and not writing a script. Q2 2016 is when my Youtube channel because a main focus and I watch it grow. I’ve now got 617 subscribers. It’s growing by a few each day, but I hope that the growth is exponential.
Speak at a conference/ give a Ted talk.
Ted talk may be a stretch, but I really want to do this. I’ve been on stage over a hundred of times. I’ve performed in front of hundreds of people, but this year I want to give a speech I want to provide value. I want to change peoples’ lives and I think a Ted talk is the best way to do this.
I have no idea how reasonable it is to give a Ted talk, but my back up plan is to speak at a conference. Hell, I don’t even know what I want to talk about, so I think I have to spend more time thinking about this one (that’s why I have quarterly goals!). Stay tuned.
Now that I’m making enough money (around $2,000 USD a month) to live comfortable in Vietnam, I want to start volunteering or donating money. I really don’t need very much money, and I usually save my money anyways. I’d rather help people.
On top of donating, I want to do some community service. Maybe I’ll hang out at an orphanage once a month. Maybe I’ll play some charity concerts. Not sure yet but it’s time to give back. Making old Vietnamese women laugh does make the world a better place but I think I can do better.
Visit one new country.
This is pretty arbitrary but to keep the travel bug inside me tamed, this year I hope to visit Italy, Laos, or Phillipines. Maybe I’ll go to all three of them. Who knows.
2,000 email subscribers.
This may be a reach. Right now, I have around 268 email subscribers. I’m a little worried that a lot of those are Vietnamese fans that don’t know English and don’t read my newsletters, but I want to get this number over 1,000. How? Guest posts, my book, Youtube, and paying more attention to my personal brand.
Again, I need to focus. But I really think I can double my email subscribers count every four months. I want to sell my own product or do 1-on-1 coaching so once I figure out my sales funnel, I’ll be able to invest in growing my list as well.
2016 is the year I build my personal brand.
First, I’ll need to slowly break away from client work. Ideally, I’d like to earn $2,000/ month without having clients. But, I like the consistency of client work and I also like getting paid to learn. I also have done some work for really cool and easy going people that are fun to work with.
My book will be my first product (aside from my Vietnamese course) so I’m excited to be able to sell that and make some money while I sleep. However, as I remain unfocused and keep trying out new things, eventually I want to grow my own business.
I want to hire people not work for people. I want to make money off my own email campaign, not get paid to write the emails for someone else.
That being said, I’m only 24, so even if I do client work for another few years, I’ve still got plenty of time to build my own thing and grow it from there. That being said...
Another goal for 2016. If I die, it’ll be really hard to achieve my other goals. I’m going to decrease my chances of death by:
- Taking Uber and taxis more often and not riding on motorbikes in Saigon.
- Yelling at any suspicious creatures who follow me for minutes at a time
- Maintain a healthy eating, sleeping, and exercise schedule
- Avoid green jelly beans. Something about them just creeps me out.
So there you have it, 2015 year in review. It took over 5,000 words, but we did it! Stay tuned for progress reports (maybe but unlikely) and please, if you haven’t yet, subscribe to my Youtube channel and my email list and help me get one step closer to my 2016 goals!
THANKS FOR READING ANY HAPPY NEW YEAR!