Today’s January 1, 2021. Happy new year! 🥳 As you may know, I put the blog on hiatus while I was writing my second book, Less. Yesterday, the last day of the year, I finally completed the writing stage, so I decided to continue the tradition of writing one post every 1st day of the new year to reflect on what the previous year has meant to me, as I did in 2018, 2019 and 2020.
Traveling (even more) slowly
We have been trying to travel slowly for some time. The COVID-19 pandemic not only ruined our travel plans for 2020 (we wanted to cross the American continent top to bottom) but also forced us to reconsider our travel lifestyle. We were considering traveling more slowly (6-12 months) for some time, so that was the perfect chance for us to put that into practice.
We didn’t believe it was responsible, for us or for others, to be traveling during the pandemic, so we decided to stay in Sofia just a little longer. The city is a perfect spot for nomads. Sofia is a beautiful European capital with a good standard of living, while still being affordable.
2019 was the year when I went from micropreneur to a proper CEO and business owner. It was a difficult process. I had to take care of things I’d never done before, like managing the growth of my customers, scaling my team, and looking for people who will take a position of responsibility in the company, allowing me to let go and learn to delegate.
So how does 2020 compares to it? Well, the team has grown to 25 people now, and so has our customer base. Everything now is more complex, to the point where I am no longer able to manage everything myself. Luckily I have found an amazing COO to take care of the operational side of the business. Hopefully I will be able to find a CTO in 2021 too.
The goal for this year for me is to be able to take care of the strategic side of the business. I have been neglecting it up until now. As the saying goes: The urgent stuff never lets you take care of the important stuff. I am quite excited about the future, and can’t wait to “get my hands dirty” and start moving the company to the next level. It may be too ambitious, but I want Companio to become a seven-figure business by the end of 2021.
I have mixed feelings about Less. On the one hand, I am very proud of what I’ve written. Minimalism is a fashionable topic nowadays, and there is a myriad of influencers, Marie Kondo evangelists, and other opportunists trying to present themselves as decluttering gurus. I find it kind of disgusting, and I didn’t want to sound like a guru or sell a lifestyle to anyone. I think I have managed to do it. I am only sharing a series of stories that I think might be valuable for others, nothing more. I think I made it without sounding cliché or guru-ish.
On the other hand, this book is completely different from The e-Residency Program Of Estonia: Launch and run a location independent business 100% online. That book was much more technical in nature. It shared my story, yes, how I became an e-Resident, opened my company through e-Residency, and how that gave me the freedom I sought to become fully location independent. While it had some personal points of view and experiences, it offered a lot of objective information.
On the contrary, Less is pretty much a personal affair. It contains a lot of me. As an engineer and man of science, I am used to dealing with data, objective facts, and other things I can measure. That’s what makes me nervous. I cannot analyze how useful this book may be for someone from a technical point of view, only hope that the stories contained inside will add value to the reader. I hope I have succeeded in that undertaking.
Optimist or pessimist?
2020 has been a hard year for everyone. The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged the limits of mankind’s humanity. Our solidarity, communal spirit, and even the influence of technology in our societies has been put to the test.
Unfortunately, the results have been largely negative. From negationists and anti-vaxxers to politicians claiming that elder people should sacrifice themselves for the economy. Humanism is dead. I may show headlines about everything that’s happened during the pandemic, but the best proof is not on the front page of any newspaper, it is on the streets and on social media. Normal people whose lives are so spoiled by generations of medical and scientific advances that are willing to believe any conspiracy theory they read on Facebook.
Add populist movements, Brexit, the erosion of democracy in many European countries, science negationists such as Trump and Bolsonaro, and a failed opportunity to revert climate change, and my evaluation of the situation is not very positive. I am convinced it’s only going to get worse.
I always thought that civilization was an upward path. Science and reason made humanity go always forward. During the last year, I have discovered that this is not true. History is like a pendulum, and we are now in a backward motion. The future is not very bright.
Still, I am optimistic, in spite of the people, politicians, anti-vaxxers, negationists, and other fanatics. Not because of the vaccine, or any other scientific or medical advance, but because eventually, it is up to us to make the world a little bit better, one good action at a time. We need to be there and add our two cents in the right direction.
I don’t know how 2021 is going to be, but I hope it will be a lot better than in 2020. I truly hope so, because we need to step up and rebuild some things that are breaking. Things such as faith in democratic institutions, in science, in the value of humanism, in the fact that every life matters, regardless of your age, and that no economic argument can be more important than that.
We need to stop looking at ourselves as the center of the universe and start caring about others as individuals and all of us as a fragile community. We need to understand that the world is a delicate ecosystem and we are now in a position of power. We can change things for the better… The question is, do we want to, or even understand the importance of doing so?