2021 Year in Review

For reference, previous years: 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2014, 2013, 2012.

It’s a new year and I’m back to writing! Starting with my 2021 annual review, my ninth review post.

What went well this year?

Bought a new, bigger home. A few months into Henry joining us, we were quickly overwhelmed with how cramped our home felt, especially with all the baby stuff exploding everywhere. We had a baby during the pandemic, so we figured, why not buy a new home too?! We found a fantastic place that was well taken care of, had tons of upgrades (the owner thought it would be her “forever home” - ope!), and that’s only 12 mins west of our old place, which means we can remain close to downtown Madison. I’m proud of owning this home. After years of hard work, hustling on nights and weekends to learn, grow, and improve my career, this feels like a physical manifestation of my success.

Strengthened my connection with my son. Given the pandemic (i.e., long weekends at home) and since he gets sick all the time (and passes it along to us, thanks, buddy!), I spent a lot of time with my toddler son. Becoming a parent has been very tough, especially the first six months when he wasn’t sleeping well. I love this little guy so so much! Watching him grow is a lot of fun. He experiences everything with such intense curiosity! It’s inspiring. He’s shown me how to be silly again, too, since he can turn anything into a toy. Henry radiates joy - so much so that they call him “Mr. Smiley” at daycare. Whenever I’m feeling down, he makes me feel better simply by being himself.

Biking! I got into bicycling shortly after moving to Madison. It’s a fun hobby, great exercise for heavier folks like me, and I love exploring Madison’s many bike trails. Many mornings, I dropped Henry off at daycare then went for a ride before starting work. It was a great way to start the day, and this year, I’d like to keep pushing myself to go for longer rides. My longest ride in 2021 was 27.49 miles (2 hours, 59 mins).

I got vaccinated and began hanging out with friends in person again. What a relief to finally get the COVID-19 vaccine. I got my first shot in late March, aka as soon as possible. We’re anxiously awaiting it to be available for children under age five, but in the meantime have visited with close friends we can trust. We hosted Henry’s first birthday party with only vaccinated friends and family in October. Reconnecting with them after an awful 2020 felt great.

De-stressing with gaming, books, movies. These activities are pretty typical for relaxation, but I have to share that the Nintendo Switch, in particular, has reignited my love of video games. My favorites include the Mario games and various indie games like the Ori series, which are the perfect fun, creative, and relaxing mix.

Work at Ionic. I’m closing in on four years at Ionic and have loved every minute. It’s a fun and challenging place to work. This year the pace was intense, as the business and team grew substantially. Highlights include the company hitting a major revenue milestone and my work to launch eight new products - basically one per month for eight months straight!

I was promoted to Head of Product Marketing in February, and one year later, on February 1st, I’m moving from marketing to product management. I’ll become the Product Manager for Appflow, our mobile CI/CD cloud service. I’ve received three promotions (and four job titles) in less than four years, which is mind-blowing. I’m thrilled to work for a company that recognizes my hard work!

What didn’t go so well this year?

I worked too much. While work was incredibly satisfying this year, I feel like it was too much at times. This is partly due to pandemic disruptions, needing to make up hours when Henry was sick, and the volume of products we released. To be fair, I’m never pressured to work more from teammates or management - the opposite, in fact. Leadership especially has been very thoughtful and supportive of us during these times - “we’re all in this together,” but they really mean it!

My health. We’ve all likely taken a hit due to the pandemic, but I gained so much weight into 2020 and 2021. I’m the heaviest I’ve ever been and beyond unhappy about it. My weight training has gone well - I’m physically stronger than ever - but it’s not enough as I frankly overeat!

Keeping in touch with friends. We’ve started to see friends in person again, but I need to make an effort to contact them more. I always think of it then get distracted.

What am I working toward?

“A fit body, a calm mind, a house full of love. These things cannot be bought — they must be earned.” - Naval

Improving work/life balance and health. I’m committing to better time management, saying “no” when appropriate to focus, and improving my health, so I have more energy. My new role should help too, as I’ll be able to focus on just one product, instead of all of them. And, they hired two people to take over my role, which is a smart move. On the health front, I’m seeing a nutritionist and learning how to watch what I eat using noom. I’ve lost a few pounds so far and am enjoying the mindfulness it provides. My goal is to lose 50 pounds by the summer.

Growing relationships. In the Fall, Lisa and I started going out for monthly date nights. We switch off who is in charge of planning, which keeps it fun and a surprise every time. Even just going out for dinner for a couple of hours while the grandparents watch the baby has been incredible for our connection and de-stressing. On the friend front, it’s all about intentionally making time for them. Playing games online in the evening. Visiting them in person. Calling or texting someone immediately when I think of it so that the moment isn’t lost. I’m also hoping to pick up a certain side project, which should help reinforce this habit.

Continuing to make our new house a Home. Our new home is in great shape, so I’m thankful I can focus on fun improvements instead. We are designing the spaces to fit our esthetic, getting new furniture and more.

Becoming a great Product Manager. While many skills from product marketing will carry over, I have a lot to learn if I’m to become a great PM. Thankfully I have an incredibly supportive team that I can grow with. We’ve started a product book club, I have Marty Cagan’s PM workshop in February and more ideas planned.


2021 was an intense year. I focused on “surviving” day to day. To make 2022 a successful year, this has to change if I’m going to thrive personally and professionally. I’m ready! Let’s do this. Happy New Year!

comments powered by Disqus