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Over the last couple weeks to close out 2014, I wrote:

Now, we’re onto the final chapter of the 3-part series. This is tricky one only because, well, it’s like making public declarations of my intentions. If I fail, again, it’s public. There’s that accountability factor. Okay, so focusing on the short (for 2015) and long-term goals (beyond)…

Within Distance – the Year of 2015

Continue Hacking.

“Hacking” here is admittedly broad as I’m referring to hacking in the programming sense and in general business. Till I find that startup that keeps me going, I’m aiming to push a new idea out every 30-60 days (with half that time devoted to customer discovery, build out, launch, and the other half towards marketing and growth).
If an idea doesn’t see much traction, I learn and move on. After I spoke to one of the cofounders of Hired.comthis idea really resonated with me, and was recently suggested to me by another entrepreneur I’ve come to know well.

Reduce the “No.”

For whatever reason, I was life hacking (yes, hacking my life) trying to become more direct, and I surprisingly introduced just “No.” as a response to others. That is, just saying, “No.” instead of saying, “Well this is why this might be a better way…” or “I don’t see it this way.” This is more apparent in verbal conversations.
I remember the Allison Gilmore, Director of the PhD program at Emory’s Goizueta Business School (also performs Improv), giving my MBA class a session about responses. She taught us how “No” and “No, but” really shut down people. For whatever reason, this flew over my head, and I was doing the opposite. Even “no, but…” would be a better response than the curt “No.”
So I’m tracking when I give the short “no” in hopes of responding in a more positive way. Of course, I’ll throw in a “no” if/ when appropriate.

Stop taking on so much.

I love to help people, but sometimes, that means I say “yes” too much. In light to the above about saying “no”, I need to be able also say, “Sorry, but I can’t do XYZ…”
This past year, I volunteered a lot of time helping other startups, sometimes with little to no compensation. I took these chances as good learning opportunities, but now that I’ve got some other opportunities going, my time is that much more valuable. As such, this year will be the year of smarter multi-tasking.

Become a better communicator.

When I say communicator here, I’m also really focusing on the listening part. Late last year, I got some good constructive criticism that I have been… very energetic to different opinions. I’ve done a pretty bad job at keeping my emotions out of specific subjects, and I’m aiming to parse out the emotions in favor of patience and understanding.
Roger Fisher and William Ury’s Getting To Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In suggests that I take more of an interest-view rather than positional. In future disagreements (or just differing opinions), I’ll be more cognizant of others’ viewpoints (diversity is good). Especially where others may be affected by emotional attachments, it’s best for me to realize that it’s not oftentimes a personal attack. So I’ll need to take a step back, get a better understanding as to why, and make a mature approach from there.

Attend two startup events a month.

I used to be good at this – taking the time to attend Atlanta Startup Villagemeet-ups or other gatherings. However, I made excuses the second half of last year, and just stopped. This year, going to start attending startup events around Atlanta more often.
Goal is twice a month and make genuine connections.

Volunteer at least twice every quarter.

I’ll probably get back into Habitat for Humanity as the charity/ volunteer organization. I like what they do, their approach, and I like the skills and lessons I get out of each build.

Be a better Son, Brother, Uncle, Friend, Mentor.

Probably the most important one, but this is everlasting… This past Christmas and New Year’s, I got to spend with my immediate family and grandparents down in Florida. I couldn’t help but take a pause every so often to see my family laughing and walking together, and it was an amazing feeling to be a part of that. 
Add to that, every minute I spend with my little niece my love for her grows exponentially. It’s amazing just watching her develop. I’m looking forward to strengthening my relationship to everyone in my family, and my good friends.

Stopping biting my finger nails!

This needs no explanation other than it’s a bad habit. There. That was easy. Next!

Friggin’ lift 315 lbs on the barbell bench press.

Just because three plates is bad ass territory.
Also, yesterday, I just stunted a lot of good growth by straining my hamstring at a soccer game. Why? Because of poor warm-ups. Why? Because I was late to the game? Why? Because traffic was terrible. Why? Because I, Daryl Lu, failed to leave for the game on time from work. There. It’s my fault. So, I also need to stick to my schedule to prevent lateness which can prevent warming up which can cause hamstring strains.

Beyond the Horizon (2016 and Beyond)

Be featured in TechCrunch, or other national publication.

I’d like to have a startup be featured in TechCrunch… just to have that daily newsletter come into my Gmail with my startup’s name on it. Or maybe have an article republished on Entrepreneur.com or Inc.com… that’d be cool.

Build a lasting startup with at least $1MM in recurring monthly revenue.

$1MM’s a “wow” number, and I think that’d be sufficient to have a decent-sized startup team to lead to even greater.

Give a TED Talk, or other industry conference.

I’m sure as part of my journey, there’s going to be something enlightening that no one else has talked about yet, or maybe I’ll expound or counter on another.

Stepping Forward Now…

Obviously that even though this is part 3 of the Reflections 3-part series, like any good book or movie, it’s really just a glimpse of things to come. Hopefully, this post whets your appetite for your own goals both short and long-term.

Also, if you actually want to learn how to throw Ninja Stars, check out this YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D_w6T4nO-KA

Happy New Year! Cheers! Entrepreneurial Ninja. Out.
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Ah, New Year’s Eve… how fitting to share reflections of 2014 today. Read: what a nice coincidence NYE falls on the day I normally post! So I’m sharing my accomplishments of 2014 as part of the 3-part series of reflections – today’s part 2. You can read Part 1 for the six reasons why I blog here. Today’s post starts with the question:

What was accomplished in 2014?

I learned how to code!

The beginning of 2014 started with a bit of a lull for me, and I took a weekend to learn Ruby on Rails through One Month. However, no way do I see that as where I checked off “Learn How To Code” mostly because I didn’t progress beyond a couple months with it. I didn’t find it sustaining. Nor am I counting my earlier knowledge in Visual Basic or SQL. None of those were actually harnessed into sustainable, marketable skills for mass consumption. I have a post about this, too – These 3 Questions Led Me to Stop Waiting and Start Programming.
Instead, it was the recent August-November months where I feel I truly learned how to code. That’s when I embarked on building Dee Duper in Apple’s Swift. The experience was up and down with a LOT of trial and error including YouTubing “How To” videos, figuring out how to properly Google help forums, etc. However, in December, I was able to get Dee Duper in App Store and released for the general public. Since it was so late in the year, I’m delaying marketing till the new year rolls around.
Till then, I’ve started working on another idea on iOS. I’ve made huge progress, and hope to wrap it up by the second week of January. Then, I’ll get it into testing before another App Store submission.

Body Boss was “zombified”.

In April, the Body Boss team decided it was best to let Body Boss continue to operate, but to not sink anymore resources into Marketing and Product Development. Well, kind of. We still do a little product development including moving and testing our skills with different services.
Body Boss today is a revenue-generating business, but is largely hands-off with some notable college and high school programs using it happily.
If traction continues to grow or my programming skills continue to develop (especially on Ruby on Rails and JavaScript), maybe I’ll revive the business beyond zombie-mode. For me, it’s still very much an idea I’m passionate about, and I see some amazing potential in it beyond the academic institutions but into the commercial and retail channels, healthcare, and yes, the consumer market.

Developed stronger business development skills.

This is really a more on-going thing, and probably not specific enough. However, along with Body Boss, I continued to refine my business development skills. After Body Boss’s announcement, I spent the summer consulting with a local startup with a new innovative marketing product.
I performed a lot of the day-to-day cold calls and performed demos, put together some marketing collateral including content for the site, and even helped put together some fund-raising materials including Pro Formas and pitch decks, etc.
Essentially, I did a lot of different things outside of programming. I’m still finding myself building on breadth rather than focusing on depth. Next year, I’ll probably need to work on the latter if I’m to find traction in or with a startup.
Outside of that, I’ve also connected with many great local startups and corporate executives from straight cold-emailing or tweeting, or random meets at Starbucks or conferences. I’ve definitely improved on my people skills and confidence in just walking up to others and finding ways to help which has led to other consulting arrangements.
Heck, I was introduced to the Jon Birdsong of Rivalry who allowed me to spend a few minutes in SalesForce – “3 Hours in SalesForce and I’m (Finally) an Expert”. I suppose that can be a check right there – “Get Working Knowledge of SalesForce/ some CRM”.

What was NOT accomplished?

Building a successful venture

Body Boss’s zombification pretty much marked one in the “failure” category. Then, I spent a few months doing various consulting projects and learning how to program. So nope, didn’t quite build a venture that would sustain a living for myself and one that I would want to grow into a business to provide job opportunities for others.

Benching 315

Okay, so this is less entrepreneurial, but it’s still a goal that was NOT met. Even though I’ve developed a lot of Strength & Conditioning acumen over the years, I’ve really lacked a good grasp of the science behind S&C. As such my strength for the barbell bench press has stalled a bit. I started adding more sets at high intensities to my workouts, and in effect, I’ve done nothing but increased injuries. I’ve tried to push myself too much, and actually decreased my strength.
During the latter part of 2014, I’ve decided to do more research and stick to the basic such as Prilepin’s table. With a smarter regimen, 315 can be an attainable goal next year.
Till then, I did accomplish bringing in a Leg Day (okay, 1.5 Leg Days actually) to the program. I’ve long held out adding a workout just for legs because I used to play soccer up to 4 days a week and mountain bike 1 day. The frequency I play at has slowed down considerably, so I’ve added this lower body day. I also added Squat Cleans into my regimen which was something I was mostly untrained and scared to do. Now, it’s one of my favorite exercises.
Oh, and I also got three plates on the dips.
3 plates? That’s nothin’. Let’s see 4 soon.

12AM on January 1st

Some of the above is a little hard to track and close (such as the Business Development Goal). Next year, I’m going to be more specific and discuss how I’m going to track the goals – I’ll detail this on part 3 of Reflections next week. Stay tuned and keep in touch!
What is just ONE goal you met and ONE goal you didn’t meet this year? Anything stick out to you like these did for me? Any thoughts on how you might ensure success next year? I’m thinking about mine…