2015 seems to have flown by. It has gone so fast that my first instinct is to assume that it has been uneventful. In fact I think 2015 might have been one of my laziest years ever, I have probably spent more time ‘thinking’ or in the clouds than ever before.
So as 2016 arrived I had this hovering cloud at the back of my mind that the year hadn’t been great. Well, it turns out that even with all the naps, daydreams and TV binges I have actually got quite a lot done.
The year started with the Expert in a Year challenge coming to an end. The challenge saw me play table tennis every day for year with the aim to go from a complete beginner to one of the best in the UK. A pretty crazy target and one I rather predictably failed to achieve – but despite that I did get pretty darn good at table tennis and learnt a lot about learning.
The challenge ended in mid-January and in February we released a video showing 1-second from each day I played. The video went viral and by the end of 2015, it has clocked up over 2 million views.
That video also led to my first experiences with the mainstream media. We were featured on The BBC, Huffington Post, The Telegraph, DIGG and a bunch of other sites. We were also briefly interviewed on Swedish TV.
In March, I self-published my first book. A quick binge which I wrote and published in three days. At the time, I was quite embarrassed by it and released it under a pen name: Sam Piper. It is quite a dark story and probably full of plot holes and bad grammar. But now with some time to reflect I am pretty proud of it. For a story created in such a short amount of time, I think it is very good.
It’s called [easyazon_link identifier=”B00UTDOTYQ” locale=”UK” tag=”thearbblo-21″]The Empopath[/easyazon_link] and is basically a first person thought experiment into what it is like living as someone who has too much empathy. The opposite to psychopath.
Also in March we started selling our table tennis bats in the USA.
In April, I started a new ‘Expert in a Year’ challenge. This time round I was trying to learn Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ). I took it a lot easier than the table tennis challenge but throughout 2015, I still managed 192 hours of Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu. Which I think is pretty good as it included quite a bit of time off from injuries – including a broken finger and broken rib.
To monitor my progress and my friend’s Ben’s progress with a similar Marathon running challenge we created a new blog. That blog is still there but we only intermittently update it – it was taking up time I’d rather spend writing for this blog.
I got my first (and so far only) BJJ win at the English Open in November.
POST: My First BJJ Tournament
For the last few years, I have been a special constable in the Metropolitan police which basically means I am part-time police officer. In May 2015, I was promoted to the rank of Special Sergeant. The new position meant I was responsible for organising and running my own shifts.
In that position, I have run quite a few operations and was responsible for as many as 16 more junior police officers on the street at any one time. I mainly did anti-social behaviour operations where we focused on tackling fights and other anti-social behaviour. They were mostly new officer development duties which meant I would take out brand new officers to get them some experience on the street.
It was quite a learning experience. In particular, I found leadership and management inside an organisation that already has a defined rank structure and culture to be so much easier than in a company I’m trying to build from scratch! It was also terrifying to know that these newbies I was responsible for could get injured while carrying out my orders. I never quite got over that.
Here I am with some of my colleagues. I am on the right.
In June, we launched our new table tennis brand Eastfield Co. Our aim with this business was to create a more multimedia brand that we could bring everything table tennis related under. So far only one product has been launched, but we are hard at work on some more. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
For the next few months, we spent quite a lot of time trying to build a fashion-wear department for Eastfield. We eventually cancelled that project because we couldn’t make the numbers work. But stay tuned, we are going to try again in 2016.
June was also when I started recording my daily ideas on this blog. Each day I choose a topic and try and come up with 10 ideas. The topics are really broad, ranging from: “Ideas for food-related online businesses” to “Ideas for how to improve the metropolitan police service”. I didn’t manage to do it every day but, from mid-June to the end of the year I recorded 100 different topics and 1,000 different ideas.
POST: Daily Ideas
In August, we released the [easyazon_link identifier=”1515184498″ locale=”UK” tag=”thearbblo-21″]Expert in a Year[/easyazon_link] book. The culmination of seven months work. It quickly shot up the Amazon best-seller lists, peaking at #1 in Racket Sports in the UK, #1 in Sports Science in the UK and #1 in Table Tennis in the USA.
In September, we released the audiobook version of the Expert in a Year book. We recorded it ourselves and I did the reading. It was quite an experience, especially for someone who dislikes hearing their own voice as much as I do!
About that time I also started writing for Quora (be sure to follow me). Quora is a question and answer website, which I found to be perfect for my style of writing. Each question requires long form answers and are on very specific topics. That means that I could find people who were asking the specific questions I was answering in this blog. Throughout the rest of 2015 I wrote 140 answers, which were viewed 1.7 million times.
In September, I stepped down as a special sergeant. It was taking up a lot of time and to do the job to the level I wanted to would require even more time. So I returned to being a constable with an aim to commit about 20 hours a month to policing.
In November, we launched our new range of table tennis bats simulataneously in six different countries. The [easyazon_link identifier=”B016BQTCFU” locale=”UK” tag=”thearbblo-21″]Expert 2[/easyazon_link], [easyazon_link identifier=”B016BR89J4″ locale=”UK” tag=”thearbblo-21″]Master 2[/easyazon_link] and the [easyazon_link identifier=”B016BRJ7HW” locale=”UK” tag=”thearbblo-21″]Legend 2[/easyazon_link]. The [easyazon_link identifier=”B016BQTCFU” locale=”UK” tag=”thearbblo-21″]Expert 2[/easyazon_link] quickly became the best-selling bat in the UK.
We released them just in time for the Christmas rush and sold 1,325 bats in December.
At the end of November, this blog hit its one year anniversary. I think the blog is going pretty well and it starting to get some good traction. In 2015, I wrote 32 different articles and had 130,761 visitors.
But that doesn’t tell the full story. In the first six months of the year I averaged just 4,300 visitors a month, but during the final three months, that average came up to 26,700 a month. That’s some pretty great growth (which I believe is mainly down to referrals from my writing on Quora).
2015 was an exciting year full of growth and new opportunities, but interestingly I only managed to hit 3 of the 5 targets I set at the end of 2014. Here they are:
- I’m going to write and self-publish a book. (DONE)
- I will get The Wren coffee shop making enough money to pay back our investors by February 2016. (NOT DONE)
- I will launch a new sporting goods brand. (DONE)
- I will continue working on this blog and by the end of 2015 I will have written 100 posts and reached 1,000 email subscribers. (NOT DONE)
- I will launch a YouTube channel, perhaps linked to this blog and perhaps not. Maybe I’ll do a video diary of trying to get buff. (NOT DONE, but did get a viral YouTube video)
- I will increase our Amazon sales to £30,000 a month by launching in the USA and building our business in Germany. (DONE, in December)
- I will join a local table tennis league and win everything: it’s my turn to be a big fish in a small pond. (NOT DONE, I have only done a few local league matches and took up BJJ instead)
I won’t be making targets for 2016. Rather I will see where it takes me and enjoy the ride. I hope we all have a fantastic year!
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