What an interesting year.

Published 7 months ago.

Year in review

I have to say, 2023 was an interesting year. I learned a bit about myself and what kind of person I am.
  1. Have 42 dates with my wife / Accomplished ♥️
  2. Go to at least 10 new restaurants in Miami / Accomplished (standouts include Table, and Pastis) ♥️
  3. Support my wife in having a healthy baby (via cleaning, food prep, etc) / Accomplished ♥️
  4. Find and hire a nanny, and night nurse before April / Accomplished ♥️
  5. Ensure we have a new home with a dedicated room for our new child / Accomplished ♥️
  6. Drop body fat to 14% or below (15 lbs) / Partial Miss 🏋🏽‍♂️ - Lost 15 pounds, but only at 19.6% body fat
  7. Consume at least 100 grams of protein daily / Complete Miss 🥩
  8. Weight train at least 150 times / Accomplished 🏋🏽‍♂️
  9. Run 150 miles / Mostly Missed 😱 - Did 53 miles
  10. Grow QuickNode by at least 700% / Not publicly disclosing growth anymore 🫠
  11. Help Nathali launch Upshift / Complete miss 🏋🏽‍♂️
This is all sort of expected, the interesting parts were the unplanned stuff I learned this year, which I'll explain below.


Having finally made progress towards my goal, I want to reflect back a bit and attempt to explain the factors that have led to me to what appears to be meaningful progress.

When I first set my health related goal in 2020 (for 2021), I wanted to go from 17% body fat to 12.5% body fat. Instead I gained so much weight in 2021 that I got to 21% body fat and managed to get into the "overweight" tier by 1lb. 

I resolved to make the goal a bit easier for 2022 by making the goal 14% body fat instead of 12.5% body fat. I thought maybe I should focus on my inputs a bit more in 2022 (exercise, diet, sleep, etc). It didn't work, I stayed at 21% in 2022 despite amping up exercise, exceeding goals for that input by 16%, eating fruits/veggies about 50% of the time and literally doing thousands of push ups. 

This actually continued into 2023, I kept working out like a mad man (getting stronger than I ever have been in my life) but struggling to drop fat or weight in a long term / sustainable manner. That is until I had a a health scare in early November.

I was on vacation in the Bahamas with my wife and baby, since I'd been trying to make progress I invested in an Apple Watch and checked my stats often. Towards the end of the trip, I noticed 3 days of sustained increase in sleeping heart rates that were 20% higher and increasing. I felt fine, but noted it nonetheless. Two days later (Sunday night), when we were back home, I had a massive headache all day, followed by shivers/cold sweats all night long and a 102 fever. The following day I felt extreme soreness in my right arm despite not having worked out (which I shrugged off as having slept wrong or poorly), coupled with more headache and night sweats. The day after left arm and left leg. Then right leg on Wednesday. Throughout the entire ordeal, sleeping heart rate still climbing. Thursday morning though, I felt fine again, close to no headache, no soreness, no fever. Went to the gym, everything fine. The following Sunday, a full repeat! My wife's father is a doctor and suggested I visit the ER because I may have a blood infection or some kind of mosquito related condition (dengue, malaria, chikungunya, etc) so I went, they tested me for Covid, Malaria, Dengue - all negative. I booked with my primary care doctor who also ordered labs.

The labs came back mostly normal except for 1 thing, fasting blood glucose was so high I was in pre-diabetes category. I jumped into immediate action with my wife discussing how could this be? I'm in the gym 3-5 times a week, I eat healthy at least half of the time, I sleep well. We resolved to do 2 things: 
  1. Move away from supplementing our meals with Uber Eats 4x a week to 1x or less
  2. Get rid of all processed sugar in the house (no more cookies, and other "healthy" sweet things)
This was just after Thanksgiving, where all of my efforts had yielded me a "normal" weight (178lbs) and 20.8% body fat. However, since moving to more homecooked meals consisting primarily of vegetables and drastically reducing processed sugar and fruit intake, I dropped from 178lbs to 168lbs and from 20.8% to 19.6% body fat. Insane. I imagine this is going to continue for some time as I continue to eat at home and avoid sugar.


Her room.

I don't publish photos of my child on the internet, nor do I publish her name, but if you know me, you know her name and you know what she looks like! She was born in 2023 and is by far the best thing to happen to me in a very long time.

My experience in early parenthood is filled with moments that are absolutely meaningless to your friends (even the ones with kids), but absolutely positively some of the most fulfilling moments of my life. These moments are so inconsequential to others because they're inconsequential in general. A baby smiling for the first time is typical and happens millions of times per day across the world - but when I've had 4 weeks of continuous crying, coupled with extreme lack of sleep and I had my child smile at me for the first time, the entire world melted away and I cried a tear of joy. It was a ray of hope. A glimmer of what was to come.

In the following months things like recognizing herself in the mirror, learning to get around on her own, respond to her name, give hugs and more have made my life 1000% better. 

One thing that I thought was extremely remarkable is the time management ability that felt inherent in being a new parent. I have not had issues with procrastination for years, but I did have leisure time built into my day for browsing the internet randomly. After we had our child, the amount of focus and intensity I have for a given task is insane. I think it's because there is a very real deadline that is looming at any given time of the day; the next feed, the next nap (in fact I had to break up the writing of this post into three parts because of naps 😂), and from time to time a surprise issue like a tummy ache, cold or some other thing. It feels like I get more done in roughly half the time, but I do have concerns on quality going down if this is a sustained pace of work.

I look forward to being there for her as she grows and truly hope to add 2-4 more siblings to the family.

Angel investments

My pace of angel investing really slowed in 2023. I tend to invest in my friends companies, so this is also a reflection of the macro-economic environment, the people I know are starting fewer companies.  This has given me an opportunity to be more picky and selective on the companies where I'm not friends with the founder at the outset.

The investment I made this year that I'm most excited about is PassNinja - I like the founder, he's got 10+ years of subject matter expertise and is really open to feedback!

However this year, a few of my prior investments have shown themselves to be exceptional companies. Here are a few highlights from companies in my portfolio:
In 2024, I am hoping to resume 1 check every 2 months pace, but we'll see what happens. You can follow along here: https://www.bitsorbricks.com/angel-investing

The unexpected / hard parts

Despite all of the blessings and progress that 2023 brought my way, not everything was great and not everything was expected.

At QuickNode, I had to grow a bit and learn how to let other people lead. We've hired a bunch of people from companies like AWS, Digital Ocean and our competitors - one of the hardest things I had to do this year was give up the reigns to a product I built at QuickNode that had experienced about 40x growth since January to one of these people. Since the hand-off that product has done very well, but the amount of anxiety I had as it transitioned from my tutelage was very high.

Also I had to let go of a person on my team, and I did not get much say in the matter, which was pretty difficult for me. Living with other peoples decisions is part of the reason I wanted to start my own company.

I also had to move to a much more conservative stance on what I talk about publicly as the company matures, I can't just tweet about customers however interesting they may be. I can't post our topline growth numbers on Twitter willy-nilly. If you know me, you know I am very proud of what we have built at QuickNode and I love to talk about it because it's one of my most successful achievements.

On the personal front, I had 2-3 crisis I had to deal with this year. Earlier in the year, I got a text from a a person very important to me while I was at the gym that was telling me that they love me. This person never sends text messages like that to me, my spidey-sense was immediately tingling. Turns out they broke up with their significant other that day. I had to break into their apartment by convincing security I am indeed allowed to go up to the apartment and get their dog to open the door while I was outside of the apartment because he knows how to do it. I came in to find a zonked out, heart broken person absolutely reeling from the emotional pain. I had to do several visits until I convinced them to move in with their parents. It didn't help because they created so much drama with their ex that they had a restraining order filed and ended up overdosing. Throughout this process I had to do damage control across several dimensions, including supporting their parents and family emotionally, speaking to their ex asking them to consider the damage it would do to their former partners career and life should any charges be pressed and more. To say it was stressful would be an understatement. Luckily, they've been able to get their life back on track, improving their career and focusing on improving themselves.

Me and my grandpa at Maty's one of the best peruvian restaurants in Miami.

Further in the year, my grandfather's girlfriend became hospitalized, which resulted in depression which resulted in poor habits which snowballed into a stroke. His girlfriend and her family decided to move her into hospice because of the condition she was in. Due to certain conditions, he ended up living with me for a month or so. Couple this with my mother (remember her from 2020?) had a spinal surgery that she was recovering from and also moved in. My mom is not the most emotionally stable person, especially when coming off pain meds from a spinal surgery. I was responsible for making sure my grandfather was fed, clean (ever wipe an old mans ass? i have.) and improving in several dimensions of health. Balancing this with a 4 month old, wife recovering from pregnancy and a full time job was definitely the hardest thing I have ever done in my entire life. My grandfathers measures of health improved nicely during his stay with me. Sadly, he's moved in with family that do not maintain the same kind of rigor around his health and he's regressed into being in a wheel chair.

This was all as the Fed consistently hiked rates, decimating the macro demand for risky assets like crypto...

But it was not all bad or unexpected in 2023...

The fun parts

We had plenty of blessings in 2023, that is for sure.

Me and Nathali had an amazing time during the second two trimesters of her pregnancy. We did a lot of fun things, mostly based around eating at restaurants (lol) and watching the Heat. Here's a pre-baby photo at Juvia and then another at a Pizza making class we attended:

One of the highlights was that we were able to go see the Heat play in the playoffs. She was very nervous about us winning every game - as you can see:

We grew lots of fruits and veggies on our own! This has been something we've been doing for years. Nathali gets all the credit here. She's got a green thumb:

We moved into our new place as I alluded to above. We did a huge renovation and it was more hard than fun but the end result has been very much worth it.

I spoke at several conferences this year before the baby arrived! Animo summit and eMerge were standouts:

All of these experiences were so so special in retrospect. I'm very grateful for all the good in my life, the bad that happens from time to time makes the good even sweeter!

Twenty four goals

I am happy that I continue to get better at hitting my goals. I'm trending towards being able to hit every goal I set for myself, which is exciting. My hit rate for this year was 6/11 on completion, 2/11 on partial completion and 2/11 on misses. I'm now confident the progress will carry into 2024! 

My theme for 2024 is finance and family. I want to make sure I'm the best father possible, focus on supporting my wife through her personal endeavors as well as a mother and continue to improve my financial situation beyond the wildest dreams of my family. Also, I'm finally in a good position to smash that body fat goal, so look out for that. Here's the hit list:

  1. 52 dates with the wife
  2. Teach my daughter how to walk
  3. Teach my daughter how to count to 10
  4. Help Nathali launch Upshift
  5. Drop body fat to 14% or below (15 lbs)
  6. Grow net worth at least 50% YoY
  7. Create 3rd income stream (current: job and parking spots)
  8. At least 2 vacations with the wife to somewhere warm
  9. Invest in at least 5 companies

If you learned from this, you should book me on Intro.

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