2023 was a whirlwind year. We had so many ups and downs in both life and business. This year was the year that I got engaged; my business turned 12 years old, and I turned 32 years old. I adopted two dogs.
Life has been great overall, and the past few years have been amazing. I still live in the house I moved into when I first moved to Atlanta, and it’s growing on me. I started investing in my home gym to start working out from home. I began to educate myself on nutrition and how to eat healthier.
Engagement: I got engaged on Oct 13th this year. It was also a Friday, which was unique. It was a spectacular event, and my fiancé Nisha had no idea it was happening. All of our friends from all over the country flew into Atlanta to surprise her after the first surprise where I proposed at a restaurant in Atlanta called La Grotta.
Dogs: This year, we decided to add two dogs to our family. We first got Luna earlier this year after we came back from Veecon. Veeecon inspired us to get Luna because there was a section at the conference where you could pet dogs, and Nisha and I just fell in love. As soon as we returned to Atlanta, we got Luna. After a few months, we started thinking about whether Luna needed a friend, and we got Stella in December. Now we have two pets, and they love each other and keep each other company.
Fitness: This was the year I started taking my fitness journey slightly more seriously. At the beginning of the year, I set a goal to get at least three blood tests to help me understand everything about my body, what’s going on, and where I am deficient, which was helpful. I got two blood tests instead of three for the year and learned a lot. I realized that I had a vitamin D deficiency and a few other things, so I started to take medicine and supplements. I also started to educate myself about nutrition before this year. I was very uneducated about what macros and macronutrients meant. I joined a program called My Body Tutor, which was very helpful and kept me accountable on my fitness journey. Everyone can tell you it’s not easy but worth it. I am writing this in January, and I feel great, better than I have ever felt.
HungryJetSetters: My fiance and I started a brand called Hungry Jet Setters. The brand is a media company focusing on making travel and food content. We started this because we love traveling, and we can document all of our travels and provide helpful tips to others traveling to the same places that we may have been to and want to have a similar experience.
- CES: This year was entertaining at CES, but as always, we didn’t get to see the whole show because of how large it is. I went with some of my best friends (Kaushal, Lorenzo, Matt, & Alex) — As a crew, we always have fun. This was the year that got me tired of going to CES. It usually is a massive party and lots of drinking, but it’s not the ideal way to start the year. I decided to skip the next year because this would be my 5th year in a row going to CES.
- Cabin: This was our 2nd annual cabin trip that my business partner Kaushal and I do. It is also a mini getaway for our two families. We use this cabin time (usually a week) to set our goals and create a vision for the business. We first started doing these trips in 2022. I came across a book called The Vivid Vision by Cameron Herald. We began to follow this methodology to create our three-year vivid vision, which has been great.
- Taan Madrid: Being a part of a private agency network called Taan has many perks, including friends, knowledge, great food, and traveling. We visit different places worldwide and in North America for meetings three times a year. Last year, it was Switzerland, which I didn’t get to attend, and this year, it was Madrid. Our director of Paid Advertising lived in Madrid during this time, and it was great seeing her in person after a long time. It was Nisha, Kaushal, Amee, Lorenzo, and me. We went early to enjoy Madrid, which was a great idea overall.
- Dallas: We went to Dallas for the Roofing Expo. One of the things we decided to do this year was start a new division of our business that focused on SEO. We partnered with a Birmingham, AL firm to begin our SEO by Sociallyin division. You can learn more about that here.
- Nisha’s Birthday:
- Conexpo: Conexpo/Con Agg has been one of our longest-standing clients, and we help them with many different aspects of their social media through my agency, Sociallyin, but we also do on-site production work for the largest Construction equipment show in North America that happens in Vegas every three years.
- SXSW: This year was another great year at SXSW. I ended up going with Lorenzo this year. We both had free passes because we purchased passes back during the COVID year, and they canceled the event that year.
- Claire’s Wedding: We went to many weddings this year, and Claire Quirk’s was one of them. She has been our long-term Executive Admin at Sociallyin, and the wedding was unique.
- My cousin Vishal had a baby named Gianna.
- Taan Chicago: This was a tremendous TAAN meeting. I could go to Chicago earlier and see my friend Matthew, who is building a SaaS company for theatres, and find the best barber I’ve ever had. Check the pics…
- Veecon: This was year 2 of VeeCon; it is always epic. Next year will be the last year that our original Veefriends NFT will allow us access to this conference. Overall, this has been the best conference I’ve ever attended. Year one was more hyped and better, but also, this year was terrific.
- Thailand: This was going to be the annual birthday trip my friend Matt and I do every year with our partners, but I ended up going alone with my fiancé Nisha. The trip was terrific, and I cannot wait to return to Thailand. We went to a few different places, had unique foods, and saw things I’d never seen before.
- Philippines: Because we have a staff in the Philippines and I was already in Thailand, we decided to do a mini 2-day PH retreat, and it was one of the best things I could have done for the company culture of our team members overseas. We will plan on doing this every year.
- Dominican Republic (Lorenzo BP): This may have been my most fun Bachelor party. We went for about 7-8 days and had an absolute blast.
- Blue Ridge Anniversary: This was our 4th anniversary, and we spent it in Blue Ridge, GA. Time flies when you are having fun. I can’t believe it’s already been four years.
- Lorenzo Wedding
- Shelby’s Wedding
- My Engagement
- Bhakti Wedding
- Cuba: We had extra airline credits and figured we could go to Cuba relatively expensive, which was not the case LOL. We had a fantastic time, and here are some recap photos.
- Baltimore: For my first time in Baltimore, I spent time with Nisha’s family during Christmas to see her brother.
- Inc. 5000 Company: We won for the 2nd year in a row, and this year, we decided not to go to the Gala, which was fun the first year. This award is something I am proud of and goes to show all that we have accomplished in the past few years. If a bunch of kids from Mississippi with no money and experience can do it, anyone can!
- SEO Division: We launched an SEO division with a good old friend who used to run an agency out of Birmingham, Alabama, and we decided that if we put our efforts together, we could grow a pretty big agency. Unfortunately, he and I had differences in how we wanted to run the company; overall, it did not work out. There are many lessons learned during this project. One of the most important lessons I learned was that focusing on what you have and making that the best possible is very important. I used to say to other people that the reason for Sociallyin’s success is because, you know, we’ve been consistent and focused, and this was one of those times where I couldn’t say that we were focused. I also quoted the famous Steve Jobs video about what Focus means. I recommend you check it out. Steve Jobs on Focus
- Virtual Retreat: We have hosted an in-person retreat every other year besides this year. Still, this year, we had quite a bit of staff that was not only in America but also overseas, and our staff was big. Due to budgeting reasons, we decided to do a virtual retreat, which was very successful. It was a week-long virtual retreat. Our culture committee and team put together an entire week’s agenda. We created games, we bonded, we learned about each other, and many more things all over Zoom. We may be one of the first agencies to make a successful virtual retreat while still servicing clients throughout the week. The learning was that you can pull off a retreat and still have bonding at a fraction of the cost of an in-person retreat. Now, there is magic to being in person to build relationships, and more than likely, we will continue to do in-person meetings throughout the year versus a significant retreat for everyone. I am planning on doing an in-person retreat for managers soon.
- In-Person PH Retreat: Because my fiancé and I went to Thailand for a vacation, which was supposed to be for my annual birthday trip with my friend Matt, we also decided to go to the Philippines, where we have a large staff because the flight cost was reasonably cheap. The Philippines retreat was a very successful event. We want to continue doing it every two years or even yearly. It allows us to see team members whom we typically only see over Zoom calls, which is outstanding. It was one of the most fun events we have done at Sociallyin.
- Pacesetters Award: The Pacesetters Award is a local award in Georgia that recognizes the top companies in terms of revenue growth in the local market, and we have won this award now for two years in a row, which again makes me very proud of the company, and everything that we have accomplished as a team, all of the different services, the studios, and everything in between.
Lessons I learned
- Cash Flows: There was a lot that I needed to understand about cash flows and how important it is to balance money coming in and money going out before this year. I knew what cash flows were, and I studied them in school. Owning a business for the past 13 years, I had a pretty good idea of what it meant from a surface level. I truly understood how important it was for the business when we were in a situation where we were cash-positive and didn’t have the money coming in in time. We currently use a tool called Float to help us with cash flow forecasting, and that has been helpful. The cost of not understanding proper cash flows has been well over $50,000 in interest paid through loans we had to take on because we didn’t have our cash flows dialed in
- Agency Capacity and Utilization: Since Sociallyin began in 2011, we have been up and to the right. Almost everything we have done has been positive; we have had year over year of growth, and it’s been good overall. One of the things that I didn’t learn quickly enough because of that year-over-year growth was how important agency capacity and utilization is. For those who don’t know, capacity is how much work you can take on as an agency, and utilization is how much of your staff is fully utilized. Say, for example, you have a full-time employee working 40 hours a week, and if that person only has a workload of 20 hours, your agency needs to be more utilized, which can be costly in a service-based business. I might write an entire blog post about this and what it means for an agency, but if you run one for now, know that you need to understand this. We use a tool called Harvest that helps us track our time and the utilization of the company overall.
- More important to do what you like vs work for money: This one is pretty straightforward, AKA do what you want and don’t do things for just money. I learned this the hard way as previously, we have taken on projects that we didn’t align with or something that we didn’t even want to do, and overall, that caused a lot of headaches. Now, it is essential to grow, and there will be certain cases where you will have to take on projects or clients that you want to avoid for the organization’s sake. Still, keeping the division and why you’re doing what you’re doing in mind whenever you’re building your company is essential.
- Think long-term when it comes to finances: One of the things that I learned this year as we approach year 13 is that I should have thought about my finances on a long-term horizon. For example, if ten years ago I started to put away 10% of my income or I started to operate my business or the Investments I am making on a 10-year decade Horizon, there would be a lot more accumulated over time versus where we are right now. I learned this year as I was reflecting on how much money I have saved up and how much money social and has saved up how many assets have and it just got me thinking about how we could have done a lot more if we were thinking about savings and Investments on a 10-year window. I might post a blog soon about my financial breakdown, investments, and where my money is. If you’d like to know about that, leave a comment below.