Sent on December 24th, 2021.

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🙌️  Annual Review 2021

“If you don’t look back at yourself and think, ‘Wow, how stupid I was a year ago,’ then you must not have learned much in the last year.” — Ray Dalio.

I can’t complain. 2021 was a great year in so many ways. I got to take many significant steps as an investor by doing a dozen deals with my angel syndicate, joining Play Ventures as Venture Partner, and helping over twenty founders and founding teams as they build the next big gaming successes.

I also started writing more than before. I felt that I had the right input and output for things, and I worked towards the right things.

Last year, I wrote my annual review after researching a few review models from James Clear and Steve Schlafman.

This year, I doubled down on what Steve Schlafman has written about his annual review process, which now consists of an entire Notion workspace on the topic.

Here’s what I wrote:

A. What went well this year?

“I never understand anything until I have written about it.” — Horace Walpole.

What am I most proud of personally and professionally?

I’m now involved in over twenty companies, doubling the amount from 2020. I did twelve new angel investments in 2021. The split by country: Finland 4, UK 4, Estonia 1, Israel 1, US 1, and Germany 1. In total, this takes me to 16 companies I’ve invested in, including the previous four from 2019 and 2020.

Including the investments, I now sit on the board of three companies, and I’m an assigned manager in half a dozen game studios with Play Ventures.

Last year I set a goal for myself to get into VC. I think I’ve now completed the first steps towards my “Get into VC” goal, as I’ve currently gotten involved in a venture fund as a venture partner.

What new skills and habits did I develop?

I am writing from an abundance. In 2019, I took David Perell‘s online writing course, “Write of Passage.” In the course, Perell teaches us to “write from an abundance.” I think that this year, this finally started working for me.

I read over 60 books in 2021 and have curated highlights from fifty of them into Roam Research. Now I can go back and use the highlights and ideas to create my pieces.

I am thinking about lifestyle design. I started thinking about what kind of place I want to be in ten years when I’m 53? The first is financial independence. I shouldn’t need to work for the sake of money when I’m 53. I want to work on things I care about. I’ve got ten years to figure out how to get there, reverse engineer the steps from my ideal.

At 53, I still want to continuously develop myself as a writer and author.

Also, I want to have the option to live somewhere warm.

B. What didn’t go so well this year?

“Luck is not chance. It’s toil. Fortune’s expensive smile is earned.” — Emily Dickinson.

What goals didn’t I accomplish? What got in the way?

The problem is that at the end of 2020, I didn’t set any goals to accomplish. I didn’t set out to achieve anything; things just happened. Lots of things compounded, like Elite Game Developers, investing, and making myself known in the games industry.

But there were no significant achievements. I said in my 2020 review, that I should “Complete Two bigger projects in 2021.” but I didn’t specify what those should be. Similarly, “Use whatever authority I have in the industry for the good” isn’t specific enough. If I’m setting out to do stuff, I should prepare with a plan and objectives in mind.

A possible fix would be to sit down more and evaluate how things are going. One review per year isn’t enough. I need to do quarterly reviews.

Another fix could be to realize that I’m experimenting and exploring so much that it makes more sense to set goals that focus on progress, not exact deliverables.

Photo from my daily walk, October 2021.

What do I wish I accomplished?

I started working on a new book in Q2/2021, but I had long periods when I wasn’t doing anything to advance the book. I did lots of research over the year for the book, collecting them into Roam Research, and I did start working on a Table of Contents draft, which I showed to three people to get feedback. I wanted to have the actual book draft ready by the end of 2021, but I haven’t written a single page.

The fix: book time in the calendar for the project and make milestones that need to be achieved.

Another solution: the quarterly review process would help me create accountability and better goal setting/evaluation.

What habits or interests held me back?

Thinking about achieving things but not being specific about my goals and what they are. Also, I feel that I didn’t know what my priorities were.

I also didn’t do enough planning on what I wanted to do. I spent most mornings writing articles for my newsletter, which is excellent since it’s the work that I need to do to share what I’m thinking. But it wasn’t tied to any particular objective.

C. What did I learn this year?

Here are the subquestions to define what I felt I learned this year.

What were my top lessons learned?

Time block planning, a concept from Cal Newport, is valuable, and I can become so much more than what I’m now if I do focused time blocking every day.

My investor work needs to focus more on quality instead of quantity and FOMO.

A fun life is, in a way, quite simple: quality work, quality health, improving systems, setting goals.

How do you describe this year in 3-5 keywords?

I was compounding on what I started in 2020.

What am I most thankful for?

Having had the courage to start my entrepreneurial path in 2004 and continuously improve myself. Having kids give me so much purpose for the rest of my life. Also, I’m thankful for my parents, who are such great people.

D. Purpose for 2022?

“We need to talk about the future and our plans, to know where we are headed and why.” — Jordan Peterson.

What is my purpose for 2022?

Strengthen founders in gaming.

What 2-3 goals do I want to accomplish? What’s important about them?

Goal 1: Get one level deeper into gaming VC. This could be through leading deals, helping founders get acquired, doing something more significant. Why should this be a goal? I can do more and learn more from being deeper involved to gain knowledge that I can then use to strengthen founders in gaming.

Goal 2: Chase less of the same, but do more new things. Invest capital and time on unfamiliar things. Examples: Complete three online courses, read eight books from fields I hadn’t read before, go on one extensive trip outside Finland.

Who do I want to become?

To become a better value-add investor.

But, the big question is how to make this a goal? How to measure the work towards this goal?

Measure: survey founders at the end of Q2 to ask how they’d rate my help for them in Q1 and Q2. The goal is to score 8.0 or higher on a score of 1 to 10.

E. Finally, what do I need in 2022?

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” — Thomas Edison.

To end this review, I’d say that I need a few things in 2022.

Better systems. My angel syndicate has been growing, and I’ve been doing more deals than anticipated. To keep the pace up, I’ll need better systems to cut time on processing these investments as a syndicate. I already have a few ideas, and I need to continue working on them.

Saying yes to the right things. Recently, I’ve seen that giving 5 minutes to six people is much better than giving 30 minutes to one person. “Can you give feedback on my deck?” and I spent five minutes looking at the deck and writing down what I saw that works and doesn’t work in the deck. Those kinds of short interactions, which I can have in the dozens every week, will surface the needs of the founders out there.

That’s it. I hope you have a great end of the year, and I’ll see you in 2022.

(Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash)


Sponsored by Gameye


🎙 Ask Me Anything #7

In this week’s podcast, I’m doing my seventh Ask Me Anything episode, where I answer listener questions. If you have any questions you’d like me to answer, please submit them by filling out this form.

These are the questions that I cover in this episode:

  • How can an inexperienced shooter team raise funding?
  • I want to build a web3 game. What should I do first?
  • Are there angel investors dedicated to gaming?
  • How should I create late game coin sinks?
  • Have you thought about doing another games company ever again?

Listen to the full episode by going here.

📃 Articles worth reading

Rational design, Part 1 – The player — “It is often said that Design, especially Game Design, is perceived as the “Realm of Ideas”, i.e. designing is coming up with ideas. My answer to this misconception is that designing is actually coming up with answers, solutions. On a good day, that solution might also end up being a good idea. Why is this distinction so important? Well, games are an interactive medium, as in, they do not exist in a vacuum, but only through the experience of the user.”

What Startups Need In Their Data Room — “If you’re just starting a company, you might only have the vaguest sense what a data room is, who it’s for, and what should be included. This is fine! In the very earliest stages of your startup’s lifecycle, you probably don’t need one. But at some point — most likely when you go out to raise a Series A — investors will expect you to have one, because they want a one-stop shop to easily access all the information required for their due diligence.”

Three Steps to the Future — “The most exciting themes in technology today are transformative visions for 2025 or 2030: crypto, web3, VR, metaverse… and then everything else. Meanwhile, hundreds of start-ups take ideas from the last decade and deploy them over and over in one industry after another. And trying to keep up, the old economy faces waves of disruption from ideas we first talked about in the 1990s, that are finally reaching them.”

💬  Quote that I’ve been thinking about

“Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood.”

— Marie Curie


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I hope you have a great weekend!

Joakim