Hello friends, family, clients, future clients and supporters! I have some exciting news.
2014 was hands down my best year in 10 years of business.
It would be impossible to tell you every amazing thing that has happened (because there were a lot of them!), but here are a few highlights:
Big Wins in 2014
- In June, I became a certified professional coach through New Ventures West and shifted my entire User Experience business away from consulting (“give them a fish”) to a more sustainable and effective coaching model (“teach them to fish”).
- As a result, I launched a whole new suite of offerings:
…with more launching in 2015.
- The Drupal Association selected me to be their User Experience Coach for the reimagination of Drupal.org. We’ve already done amazing work together, redefining how the community is segmented across more than 1 million Drupalistas, in order to better empathize with and serve their diverse needs. A huge thank you to the lovely Tatiana Ugriumova, Josh Mitchell, Holly Ross and the whole staff.
- New York Public Radio’s WNYC app re-launched to amazing fanfare. Its new Discover feature, for which I lead a UX evaluation and re-framing of the product strategy just prior to launch, is now responsible for the lion’s share of its usage and spurred a $10MM donation — the largest single gift ever awarded to a public radio station.
- I continued my work with Foundation Center to create a culture of user experience throughout their 58-year-old nonprofit organization. With my UX coaching, they launched new pioneering products and began serving new audiences. And this fall, I led a 2-month-long, 5-session UX training of their core team of product managers, data researchers and developers, to help them more fully embody the philosophy and principles of user experience in their daily work. This is all thanks the support and leadership of Vice President for Data and Technology Strategy, Jake Garcia.
- I conceived, designed and facilitated a full-day event for the 100+ member UX team at SAP America, Inc. Palo Alto on the role of Emotional Intelligence and Mindfulness in User Experience with SAP’s VP of User Experience, Siva Sabaretnam. She and her staff created an enriching and serene experience for all attendees, kicked off with a guided meditation by SAP’s first Director of Mindfulness, Peter Bostelmann. I gave the opening keynote on being an Integral Designer, moderated a panel on mindfulness in the workplace with cutting-edge designers, and lead a workshop on identifying your own social and emotional intelligence blindspots. The day was a smashing success, with attendees energized to bring new learnings into their work and life. I also received a personal congratulations from SAP’s Chief Design Officer, Sam Yen — who stayed the entire day.
- Last month I traveled to Manila (my third time!) for the inaugural UX Philippines where I gave the opening keynote and led a half-day workshop on Designing Your Career in User Experience with more than 130 attendees. At the end of the night, I spent about 45 minutes taking selfies with almost every single one of them. They are such a wonderful and thriving community. Thank you to Russ Morgan and Christine Balatbat of UXMNL and FoolProof Labs for inviting and hosting me.
- Business Insider named me one of “The 100 Most Influential Tech Women On Twitter,” using a measure I don’t fully understand but deeply appreciate nonetheless.
- Fredrick and I moved aboard our sailboat Jenny in October where I’ve been working at the “nav station” with much success (and hilarious reactions from clients over video chat). AND, I just yesterday signed a lease on a private office in a shared workspace, 15-minutes away in a super hip area of San Diego, so I can have my very own place to work, plot, write, read, think, host clients, and generally make 2015 even more awesome.
I said it was my best year ever, right? It was also my biggest.
But it didn’t start off that way…
To be perfectly honest, the year started off slow. Really slow. In fact, it was my slowest ever. We had just moved to San Diego, I was knee deep in homework and reading and “practice coaching” for my certification program. I was working tirelessly on a dozen revisions of a book proposal (and still am). And I just needed a break. So I kept turning down client work and went the first four months of 2014 without a paycheck. Yep, you read that right. It’s a good thing I had savings to fall back on. Then tax time hit, and I got the shock of my life: my accountant discovered I had earned too much and spent too little money in 2013, and my taxes skyrocketed as a result. No business owner ever wants to hear they owe more in April — we pay quarterly taxes to avoid it. But I owed big time. And I no longer had the cash.
Suddenly I needed to get back to work, I needed new clients, new contracts, and money in the bank ASAP. But it doesn’t always work that way. I hadn’t been manning the marketing machine, so now I had to kick it into overdrive. It took a couple months to spool up again, but I never could have predicted what happened next.
Big Numbers in 2014
- In the latter 7 months of 2014, I brought in more gross revenue than I have in any 12-month period ever. Booyah! I’m finishing the year with 36% year-over-year growth compared to my gross revenue in 2013.
- My business hit its first million dollars in lifetime revenue! I wish this made me a millionaire, but I’ll have to keep working on that.
- Q4 2014 is my first ever 6-figure quarter.
- My second half of 2014 is a 73% increase over any other half I’ve ever had.
- In the last 5 years, I have more than doubled my gross annual revenue.
- My significantly increased revenue did not require increased costs, as my 2014 expenses have remained the same as last year’s. (Pretty sweet, but painful at tax time.)
- This wee blog reached its 1 millionth unique visitor. I don’t know who you folks all are, but I love you! The most popular post of 2014 was my 200-word definition of what User Experience Is…. Pleasure & Pain now has 750 posts written by yours truly that have collectively received more than 4,300 comments. That’s a lot of sharing of insight, experience and passion! Thank you!
- If Not Now, my July post for The Pastry Box Project, went crazy viral and became one of their top 3 most-visited posts ever.
- Paul McAleer and I produced Season 2 of our podcast Designing Yourself and gained more than 3,000 subscribers to our RSS feed alone! (Listener stats are tough because iTunes doesn’t provide them, so we know our listenership is much higher, just not how much exactly.) We’ll be back with Season 3 in 2015.
- I started building my business credit with a hefty term loan that will be fully repaid by Q2 of 2015 — four years before the end of term. I also established a healthy line of credit that I can use to supplement cash flow, but that currently has an outstanding balance of $0.00.
And I didn’t do this all alone (finally!). My success this year is in large part due to the hard work and incredible genius of the following people:
My deepest gratitude to…
- My business strategist, Tara Gentile, who guided me through the process of re-envisioning my business as a coach.
- My administrative assistant, Kimberly Vigier, who is slowly but surely teaching me how to delegate for the first time in my life and supporting me in this amazing growth.
- My beautiful, talented, awe-inspiring clients (you know who you are), who trust my guidance and allow me to do the best work of my life.
- My therapist who continues to remind me to “let it go.”
- My partner, my caretaker, my rock, my love, my chef and co-captain Fredrick Selby, who makes every day possible.
- My parents, my entire incredible family, my dear, dear friends and my supporters around the world who believe in me, understand what I’m up to, can’t believe what I just did, and cheer me on every step of the way. I do it for you.
Thank you, all of you. I hope you have a very Happy New Year and a brilliant 2015 filled with inner peace and its outer effects. I can’t wait to see what happens next.