Inspired by Greg Storey, who in turn was inspired by others, here is a brief overview of my 2017. Like most things in our professional lives, Greg’s is better thought out, mine is longer because I get too lazy to stop.
2017 saw some North American jesetting with work trips to Boston, Chicago, Dayton, Denver, Montreal, and Oakland. But none may have been more charming than a little trip over to Haddonfield, NJ. Adorable! That said, Montreal is pretty goddamn charming. Travel was made all the more enjoyable co-piloting with Rawle Anders on most of the trips.
In Boston my buddy Tito Botita took me to a Celtics/Sixers game, third row, right behind the pressbox. It was overwhelming and I have a whole new appreciation of the game.
The most important trip of the year was to Orlando, however, when the Rinaldi family made our inaugural trip to Disney World. Kids’ minds were blown, adults were reminded of what it was like to be a wide eyed stunned-by-awesome kid. It was a high point of the entire year, and as a parent. It felt extremely grown-up to take the family to Disney World. Mom and dad achievement unlocked.
The most important work development in 2017 was getting to work with my old “Shake and Bake” partner Rawle Anders. We’ve had more than a few opportunities to collaborate cut out from under us over the years and it was great to have the chance to saddle up again. On a few projects Rawle brought his +1 Mary van Ogtrop along to wordsmith and strategize, and the results were all the richer for it.
Clutch provided business development training, consulting, support, and prestidigitation to fantastic clients, and old friends including Sparkbox, Upstatement, [whitepenny], Pixo, Four Kitchens, Superfriendly, Armor, Assemble, Plank, Neo Pangea, and Dynamo.
And perhaps most rewarding of all has been the ongoing collaboration with/support of Eastern Standard, Studio.Zeldman, Chromatic, Koombea, and Gistia. It’s been a year-long engagement in many of these cases and the experience has been deeply rewarding. Getting to dig in at a tactical/front lines level scratches the itch on that phantom biz-dev-guy limb.
It’s been long enough since these 2017 Clutch projects kicked off to see real results too. One Clutch client extended key accounts to the tune of over $1M, another developed an outbound sales programs that started exciting new client conversations, one repositioned themselves for better differentiation, others landed meetings, created exciting new marketing content, signed projects, renegotiated more favorable fee schedules, and in general took more ownership of their sales process and results. Thematically Clutch has delivered business development with more intentionality. That’s been fun.
In hindsight I didn’t see a ton of movies (especially in theaters) in 2017, but more than made up for that deficit with some amazing streaming series, and lots and lots of podcasts. The other thing I consumed was basketball, all of it. With a 12-year-old fellow 76ers fan riding shotgun I think we watched 90% of the Sixers’ games and most of the postseason. It’s fun to share this passion with my little blonde haired shadow. I love my sons JoJo and Ben too.
Favorite movies (ranked) include:
- Spiderman: Homecoming (the best Marvel superhero movie to date)
- Thor Ragnarok (the second-best Marvel superhero movie to date)
- The Big Sick
- Baby Driver
- The Last Jedi (good but not great, fight me)
Favorite shows (ranked again, because make a decision jeez):
- Game of Thrones season 7
- Stranger Things 2 (made all the more enjoyable because our 12-year-old watched it with my wife and I)
- Master of None seasons 1 and 2 (I was late to this party, but now I’ve found Arnold and I’m whole again)
- Big Mouth
Favorite podcasts (none 76ers-related) ranked:
- My Brother My Brother and Me (still reigns supreme)
- How Did This Get Made? (is so good I’m listening my way through back-episodes)
- The Greatest Generation
- 99% Invisible
- Revisionist History
- Start Up
- Til Death Do Us Blart (This is an annual Thanksgiving Day podcast where the MBMBM boys and The Worst Idea of All Time podcast re-watch Paul Blart Mall Cop 2 every year until they die)
Favorite podcasts (76ers and basketball related) ranked:
- The Right to Ricky Sanchez (is actually my favorite overall pod, top of the list)
- Sixers Science (Randy Cohen is a gift)
- The Sixers beat (Godner)
- The Stepover Podcast
- Cookies (the only NBA podcast I listen to, even if they’re not talking Sixers)
- Then it’s a collection of Woj, J.J. Redick, Real GM, Game Theory, and Dunc’d On if the topics are interesting
Favorite books (many of these weren’t published in 2017, just enjoyed):
- Warlock Holmes by G.S. Denning
- Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve
- Artemis by Andy Weir
- The Art of Mondo
- and I re-read IT by Stephen King, but yeah the ending doesn’t work at all
The two things I deleted from my life that had the most benefit in 2017 were white sugar (mostly, I’m not going crazy about it) and Bill Simmons.
By cutting white sugar out of my coffee intake and most of my snacks I’ve lost 15+ of the 20+ stress pounds I gained in my last year at Happy Cog.
By cutting Bill Simmons’ podcasts out I’ve exorcised a degenerate gambler, terrifying parent, and myopic Boston homer from my life, and opened the door to better pods.
This is a broad category, buckle up.
This is what I’m good at in many ways, matchmaking and developing connections. Most of my jobs weaponize one or both of these things. Add in “make ideas better” and those are all of the reasons to hire me, there are no other reasons.
In 2017 I found opportunities to connect lots of people to wonderful results.
I’ve been able to help folks find jobs and gigs they’re really excited about. I’ve connected clients to agencies and built projects. I’ve threaded agency teams together, and made tons of introductions. I’m a people collector in my bones and these kinds of connections are really gratifying.
I joined a 76ers Slack group that’s been fun to connect through to others around the games.
I coordinated perhaps the highlight of my 2017 social calendar, a Happy Cog alumni co-working day in December. Nearly 20 Happy Cog alumni (and Happy Cog-adjacent homies) spent a day at The Yard getting work done, not getting work done, and spending time together. It was wonderful to see all of those faces at once. Really filled a void. I’m looking forward to the sequel in a few weeks.
Last but not least I’ve made more of an effort to stay connected to my own opportunities. One of my regrets in my tenure as President at Happy Cog were missed opportunities. People I could have (and should have) worked with, but didn’t. The missed potential haunted the hell out of me.
Additionally I became aware of a bunch of opportunities I missed because I was viewed as untouchable at my old work address. This proved to not be the case of course, and in my first full year not working for Happy Cog since 2010, I vowed to make my intentions and availability better understood to the right people.
After a year of working for myself, working for someone else seems like a tall order, but there are people I’d walk through fire to work for/with (see: the aforementioned Greg Storey) and I don’t want to miss out on those opportunities. Jen Dary, Nancy Lyons, Vince Levecchia, Jay Fanelli, Ben Jordan, Dan Mall, Jon Lax, Art Adams, Joe Biden, and Oprah Winfrey all know (or know now at least if they’re reading this) that they’re on the “drop everything” list. No mo FOMO.
The last thing I want to mention in terms of connecting has been connecting with people I admire on Twitter. Twitter has become a Nazi-Trump-shitshow in many ways. I made attempts in 2017 to strike up a dialog, or at least awareness, with creators and public figures I appreciate. I was hoping to bring a little of that old fashioned engagement back to the twitters.
Whether admiring an actor’s performance:
Or a reporter’s effort:
Or an illustrator’s unmatched prowess:
It’s exciting to connect, gratifying to feel like you brightened someone else’s day, and an all around hoot. I’m pledging to do this more often in 2018. I will be the guy who remarks “Wow, great job on the air conditioning temp. It’s perfect.”
I have lots of thoughts heading into 2018, not the least of which is to finally breath life into a pet project I’ve been working on or flirting with for years. I want to draw more and write more too. Not blogging per se, although I want to do more of that too, but writing fiction. I have something I’ve been circling for a decade I want to get on paper.
Per Jen Dary’s stellar advice (she is wicked smaht) I’m not building a lifestyle company called Clutch. I’m building a lifestyle with Clutch. I want Clutch to fuel and fund some of these side projects, and I’m making an effort to get to a point at the end of the year where every Friday Clutch is closed and I’m busy doing these other things. I’ll try to share as I dig further in, and I hope to have some results to share soon!
If you lasted this long you’re probably my mom. Hi mom, I love you.