Reading Time: 15 minutes
Here’s the time, and I’ve just got back from an 11km run.
My first run of 2021.
Strawberry (my partner) is in Italy atm and she sent me images for each month of the year in 2020.
I’ve been getting various 2021 New Years Resolutions types of stuff as well as 2020 in reflection content.
So, it was in the shower after coming in from the freezing cold (my fingers still ache from the bitter chilliness of the outdoors) that I felt inspired to write a blog about 2020 in reflection before I unload another stream of consciousness thinking about 2021.
Here I am (at my parents place) currently, having whipped out the old ‘photobooth’ to take a picture.
2020, overall I think for me personally has been a good year.
Covid, of course, changed the global direction of life and society, but I’d like to not focus upon that and focus more instead on how things have developed over the year.
Broadly, I think this has been a year of solid self-development for me.
I mean – I’m proud of the consistent approach to content I’m developing.
It definitely has many many rough edges, but it’s still headed in the right direction.
It began, I think, in around December of 2019 that I started my content ‘kick’.
Unfortunately, I wrestled for many years with the idea that you need to do ‘keyword research’ and identify the best kind of ‘stuff’ to write about.
That’s actually why I failed to produce content regularly.
I hate writing content for other people…I like to write content for myself.
I’m certain that that will massively limit the exposure and reach my content has but so be it.
What it DOES do – is ensure that I, me, Deepak Shukla am actually writing the content itself and that I’m not paying some ghostwriter to half-arse my thoughts – because well – how can they?
They are MY thoughts, and I’ve got a strong voice that will only be diminished through others trying to communicate on my behalf.
Table of Contents
WRITING OVER 300k WORDS
So that’s why this is getting its own heading.
I started writing my blog on Feb 22nd:
Right now I’ve got as far as:
And I think there’s a couple more scheduled.
Seems like I took a break from June to November:
Almost 14 weeks of nothing being published on my blog. And given I started Feb 22nd – that’s another 7 weeks into the year.
Actually, hang on I’ve just spotted another gap of around 3-weeks:
That means for 24 weeks (6-months of the year) – I didn’t publish a thing on my blog.
Knowing that makes me proud.
Because I’ve written 75 blogs (Around 100k words) and 80 newsletter pieces (Around 120k words) and I wrote the first draft of my novel (Around 72k words), plus some other shorter content (Around 20k words).
That means more or less I’ve written around 312,000 words in the year of 2020.
For me, that makes me really damn proud.
And scarily good, because I did that without writing on my blog for 6-months of the year (although given the size of the newsletter as well as the novel etc) – that doesn’t really bother me so much.
WRITING MY NOVEL
So it’s not finished yet, but I’ve made a solid start – for The Death Of Richard Finkford.
This came as a natural outpouring of all of the content I had written up until October 2020 when I decided I wanted to write something more.
It’s damn cool knowing that I managed to tear my way through the first (very rough) draft of a novel.
I’m now needing to enter the editing process in this month of January – and I’m glad I’m here talking about it.
Because that would make for a glorious 2020/2021 present to myself.
WRITING MY 52k NEWSLETTER
This is a fun, intermittent project that I enjoy writing.
It started in 2019, but I really nailed it in 2020 – and it’s an epitome to that whole thing of ‘being authentic’.
I really made attempts at writing content for a ‘particular audience’ – but Christ I’m NOT that ‘SEO’ guy or not even that ‘MARKETING’ guy and writing this newsletter about random sh*t I do, or my journey was soooooo much more enjoyable than writing anything else.
It’s also NOT time-sensitive so it’ll still be something people can read and get value from and learn about my life even in 5 years from now.
Here’s the link. Damn, that was fun to write – and hang on let me check –
I’ve got it up to part 81.
That’s damn cool.
It would be great to see it get to 120+ this year!
That would be a good accomplishment 🙂
A COMMITMENT TO READING
Well, there’s no escaping this one.
Covid-19 was the biggest accelerant when it comes to me deciding to start learning again (and aggressively so).
When I look back at 2020, writing was something that became a cornerstone of my growth.
I have always loved writing, and I found a way to make it work within my business in a manner that actually supports me.
But then as of May the 15th everything changed for my reading as well:
As you can see – that was the day I decided to start ‘learning’ again.
So we’re coming into the 8th month of me deciding I would read, learn, implement as regularly as I could – and as you can see (like with everything) – I attacked listening on Audible aggressively.
That has been an absolute game-changer for me.
I’ve just done a quick check, in fact.
In 2018 I listened to a grand total of two books –
I got through them both in one month as you can see here.
Now I MAY have read more – but all I have is my Audible reviews go upon (and I always leave reviews now so I can keep it for historical record)
In 2019 it got even worse:
I listened to one book…
I mean MAYBE I listened to more but I’ve got nothing in my audible reviews and I can’t be bothered to go through the trenches of trying to figure out how many books I read in 2019.
So in 2018/2019 I reviewed 3 audible books.
(Not a surprise most of the change in my life has come in 2020 is it?)
Now let’s check out 2020:
Well I’ve got a total of 63 reviews (minus 3 from 2018/19) which means…
I listened to 59 books in 2020!
And that was with a May start. So in 7.5 months, I got through around 7.86 books a month.
It’s difficult to describe what that has given me in terms of personal growth – and I DON’T expect it to continue at the same velocity in 2021…although let’s see what happens haha I do have a 5-month head start 🙂
I’d like to get through around 6 books a month maybe in 2021 which would make it 72 in total – but most specifically – here’s why I’m not too too fussed:
So my reading really tailed off from maybe October/November onwards and at the time it concerned me – but then I remembered why….
This involved me getting on weekly calls with everyone listed above (some were only one call, others were 12+ calls) and basically learning/being given actions.
I’ve written Facebook status updates about the help these people have given me and it’s totally led me into many brave new directions, or the same direction but with much more vigour.
Chris for writing, Valentina for my relationship, Craig with SEO strategy, Paul with Technical SEO, Max with Sales, Udit with SaaS, and now Kostas with Web Development.
This was overwhelming at times but it’s also been training that’s been mostly recorded and helped take the team to well, higher heights ;P
TRAINING AND LEARNING
I finished going through Detailed.com blogs, reading a bunch more advanced link building guides by going through all that are on page 1 of Google, reading Joshua Hardwick’s MONSTER 400+ link building strategies.
I’m now taking courses/watching random videos on YouTube as part of my regular weekly routine.
So ultimately, just using what’s out there on the world wide web….a bunch more 😛
FITNESS BASED COACHING
I forgot about my two other coaches – Nick Antoniades and Marquis Stone, my running and boxing coaches respectively.
This all came as a consequence of reading ‘Born to Run’ by Christopher McDougall and realising that running was also science and that much could be improved with my form.
The 12-part training package I bought with the folks at The Running School ultimately led to me doing my personal bests for 1 mile, (4.30), 5k and 10k (I don’t remember I’ll need to look them up).
But that was a powerful incentive and accomplishment for me.
The journey with Marquis started in late October 2019 but didn’t end as I wished because of this damn virus.
But it was great to get into the fore with boxing again.
However, having read/heard more about CTE affecting even football players – I think my fighting days are over.
Nonetheless, it was great to go on this journey
RECORD MONTHS FOR PEARL LEMON
The last 3-months of the year finished with a bang as work really picked up and headway was made in terms of our inbound growth.
Ion, my head of sales, was closing regular deals. Joe Barr came back and closed several deals out of the gate. Daniel ,our US sales guy, closed 2-himself – and as I enter 2021 I’m determined to build out a solid outbound pipeline and have put steps in place to make that happen.
RUNNING WITH MY SIBLINGS
In the last month of the year, my siblings (we’re 5) and I entered the 100k challenge on Strava and I’m really pleased to say that….I came last
As you can see my siblings all beat me – which was fantastic to see – so proud of them all
If you know anything about how much I like running – this may seem minor – but in actual fact is very significant to me – because it’s the first time I’ve been in a competition where we are all encouraging each other to drive towards success – and the fact my brother did 133km is absolutely amazing.
And looking at my race stats – this was the most I’d run a several months – and it was all driven by this hope I could climb to the top
That was evidently not the case – but it sets us up fabulously so for 2021 – as evidence by the 11km I ran today (I’m currently 1 amongst my siblings – let’s see how long that lasts lol)
GETTING A HAIR TRANSPLANT
So I made such a big push with running from December 14th because I actually got a hair transplant on November 13th.
I guess that’s a pretty big deal.
I’d spent the lockdown period growing my hair and discovered a couple of months in that the crown of my head is balding and I’m suffering from dreaded male pattern baldness.
It bothered me more than I realised as I’d started the lockdown with a hope to be able to grow my hair – and quickly discovered that there would be no ponytails or anything of the sort.
So having seen a friend, Craig Campbell get his 2nd hair transplant – I decided it was time to follow that journey and get mine done.
At the time of writing I’m what, 6-weeks out from the operation; just over – and still look as bald as ever.
But I’m excited to see where my hair is at in 3-4 months from now.
I’m going to get a PRP injection on the 6th which should be pretty interesting in terms of seeing what that does for my hair growth but yes….
Going bald made me realise that damnit…
I’m getting old….which we’ll touch upon briefly now
THOUGHTS ON MORTALITY
I’m 34 right now.
I’m going to be 35 this year.
That’s not young anymore…depending upon who you’re talking to.
But more to the point it’s certainly a stage in your life where I certainly feel like I’ve figured some things out.
The woman I love, the entrepreneurial journey I’m on, and the few important people in my life
Here’s some of the reasons that 2020 made me think about my mortality a lot more:
I presume Covid played a part as well…what with all of the challenges and death that bought.
You then really take time to think about who you love, the path you’re on and what kind of legacy you wish to leave – which is why in part I guess I’m writing what I hope will become a tradition of the years in review
THE PEARL LEMON PLACEMENT PROGRAMME
This is something I’m very proud of.
Adina was my first intern for Pearl Lemon who applied in April of 2017.
It’s taken me a couple of years to figure things out – but this year I really laid the foundation for finding and developing real talent.
The placement programme we’ve built is a site to behold and a testament to what I’m trying to do with building my legacy business at Pearl Lemon.
I now have a fully fledged placement programme with 20+ people in there at any one time and so far…
Akhila, Tenny, Lydia, Federica have gone full time/been offered full time work. Others have gone on to find great work since completing the programme and since we got the website live – it’s been an absolute game changer in terms of attracting high calibre people and building a programme worth talking about!
This I didn’t see coming.
For a while I’ve wanted to start a food business – and this has come from the shoddy service I’ve often been on the receiving end of at the various restaurants I’ve eaten out at.
The original idea was to build a restaurant called ‘Sita’s Way’ – named after my mum and her wonderful cooking.
(This is still the plan by the way)
This ultimately (with the help of my business partner Wadah – turned into Plant Sumo:
Website version 1:
Website version 2:
As you can see since August 25th there’s already been two significant changes to the website.
It’s got off to a slow start but this project is perhaps going to become the biggest Pearl Lemon company and it’s amazing to have this up and running ready to make a big splash in 2021.
It’s weird (still) to think I’m in the food business, we have a chef, kitchen and all of those pieces 😛
I’m really excited to see how we progress this over the next year
MY SAAS JOURNEY
This has been something of a mixed bag, but what I am happy about is my commitment to getting into the world of SaaS in general.
Serpwizz, Omnireach, Resumecats – all of these have been 2020 projects that have been initiated and all of them hopefully will do big things in 2021.
It’s been interesting identifying developers and partners and getting to know them and build products together.
They’re all underway (minus Omnireach which needs a little more time) and I’m hopeful these can all turn into revenue generating businesses in 2021.
Serpwizz is an on-page SEO tool that’s competing with products such as SEOptimer.
ResumeCats is well, a resume builder:
This is going to extend into a platform that’ll allow employers to post jobs – this has some way to go before it becomes anything sustainable.
Omnireach is a LinkedIn automation tool that we’re looking to launch:
There are more products in the pipeline but I guess ultimately 2020 has been about improving 2019’s attempts with the failed WordPigeon.
BECOMING A BETTER RELATIONSHIP PARTNER
Strawberry and I definitely were tested in 2020. Covid will do that to you :p
We spent A LOT of time together.
One of the things that came from that is realising I need to do a much better job of contributing towards the happiness within our relationship
So some tangible things came from this:
- I bought a table-top dishwasher so Strawberry would stop needing to wash dishes as much
- I signed up to a food delivery service which meant she didn’t need to worry about cooking for me as much
- I finally cracked using the actual dishwasher to wash dishes (sounds silly I know)
- I began to get better (slightly) at knowing when to replace toilet roll, kitchen roll and tidy up the flat and take the trash out
- I’ve started to, actually be more thoughtful with the gifts I buy and getting better at surprising Strawberry
These are perhaps small things – but were much needed as my relationship stability is critical to any other successes I have in my life
So through reading, coaching and some self reflection I’ve made some small but important steps in 2020.
I’d love to have it continue in 2021!
MY HEALTH IMPROVEMENTS
2020 was the year that I watched Game Changers on Netflix, went to see a homeopathic doctor for 2-months, bought a load of nuts and seeds to integrate into my daily breakfast and diet, cut down my cow milk consumption, reduced my beef and pork intake and focussed a little more on longevity.
I only make reference to the habits I still keep. I tried to do more, and work harder on this – but some habits have degraded – these are the one’s I’ve kept.
PROPERTY, FOREX AND OTHER INVESTMENTS
This space, dare I say, has been a complete mixed bag of sh*t.
Property went well I guess in that I own 5 properties. 4 up north, 1 near my mum’s place – but god does the process take eons.
I’m currently still awaiting deals on 6-other places which seem to have ground to an absolute hold (Covid induced).
But it is nice to have the stability of 5 places. I’ll feel even more secure when I can add another 6 to that roster 🙂
Forex blew up.
That hurt but was a long-time coming so when it was gone….other than some wretched pits in my stomach…I kind of got on with it and moved forward
My other investments that I made in 2017/2018/2019 all proved to do to shit in 2020.
I think around another £70-90k was lost on various projects (alternative investments, off plan properties etc)
Good lessons I guess.
And ultimately lessons I had to go through myself to understand why some things people (like my accountant) would never put money into.
Now my approach will and is much simpler. Invest in property. Nothing else until I hit 20 properties 😛
MY SIDE HUSTLE PROJECTS
Out of Forex failing came Kemistri – the joint venture with the team I’d had so much success with before my trading went belly up.
Then as a consequence of all the property sourcers I deal with – it made sense to set up camp myself and rollout Pearl Lemon Properties.
I expect both of these sites to generate revenue in 2021 and become hopefully – actual businesses.
Time will tell of course…and should these fail (I don’t expect them to) – others will replace them
This is not withstanding my barely breathing affiliate websites (there are 4) which cost in upwards of £20,000 and have cost me nothing but time and money at the moment. 😛
For all the things I’ve learnt – 2020 has been a good year.
It was the last 4 months I’d say where things really accelerated – and that CAME from really the May 15th moment when I took it upon myself to become a consistent learner, instead of doing it sporadically.
That’s why my record months have come for Pearl Lemon, and these new businesses I’m in the process of launching will see success much much faster than those that came before it.
I hope anyway 😛
I’m excited for what 2021 will offer and will be writing about just that in well…my next blog post 🙂