For me, 2014 was all about focus. I drastically cut the number of projects I was working on and roles I was performing. I dropped extras and was extra discerning about what I spent my time doing. Living a pared back life and dedicating myself to just a few things actually worked! AND as I wrote in August, I had an absolute ball.

“I met the Queen & Duke of Cambridge at Buckingham Palace, sat at a breakfast table with Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Lady Martha Lane-Fox, Mayor Bloomberg and Mayor Boris (all at the same time) and was called into meet with one of the most senior people of the company I currently work at.”

Some new things became the norm: I keynoted regularly, travelled to speak, delegated constantly and spent considerable time chasing invoices. Non-normal things happened frequently, but were still surprises: each award I won was a complete surprise, invites to special places were magical and success stories from the Stemettes got bigger and more meaningful. As I hoped, there was a colossal amount of learning about Team Building – something which was high up on my list of things to experience, fail fast and get good at. I hired some people and I had my biggest learning of last year: I fired someone (I’ll blog about this in 2015).

In focussing, on a few things, I found last year to be a year of ‘Living Lean’. I was effectively an MVP (a minimum viable product) of myself; with the minimum life features, doing a few things well, listening out for feedback and slowly improving on what I was up to. The deep concentration allowed me to think about ‘new features’ I wouldn’t have noticed, and get closer to my customers. So I started vlogging (check out The Stemette Life on YouTube), got myself on Instagram and downloaded SnapChat. I tried to be excellent at work and continued to think laterally about what we were up to.

‘The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.’

So, as the year rolled to an end and I began to think about what next, I guessed that my word for 2015 would be ‘share’. It made sense that I might want to talk some more about what a ‘lean year’ felt like, how it worked, what I learned and why everyone might want to try a lean year. I left ‘lean’ mode, entered holiday mode and began talking to friends I’d seen less of during the year and friends I’ve not seen for a while.

Friends reminded me of what I had said I wanted to achieve and friends gave me perspective on what I’ve been up to and what I could have been up to. I was reminded of the ‘brain trust’ I used to have regular meetups, dinners & lunches with and in a few moments I knew that rather than spend 2015 sharing, I should spend it building, bit by bit, on the lean, minimal life I’d lived in 2014.

This year, my word is ‘build’ and I’m becoming a builder.

I’ll be building:

  • My brain trust/’Personal board’ – of mentors, best friends and advisors who understand what I’m about, what I’m doing and whose opinion & perspective I value. I was recently sent this article by a friend and I intend to not eat alone for a while. I’m not necessarily on a recruiting drive for brand new members, I’m just going to make the effort to get back in touch beyond LinkedIn and Twitter updates.
  • Good habits – I’m physically lazy by nature and as time goes on this is becoming more of a hindrance than is necessary. I’ve been using the app Logsit to make sure I regularly eat right. I’ll be trying to walk more, keep receipts and help family & friends more. Over time these will become habits.
  • On my platform & experience – I’m constantly learning and gaining new perspectives. I’m getting better at articulating that and bringing it to the table when necessary. I’m going to build on some reading I’ve been doing, combine it with perspective & experience and blog a bit more about technology, startups & innovation with a bit of a slant on the banking sector. The more conversations I have with people about fintech, data in finance, our upcoming incubator and digital banking the more I realise I have so much more to give in that arena.

I’m off to get some bricks, cement and a ladder figuratively. What are you becoming this year?
tetris building blocks lamp