As we kickoff 2021 today on New Years Day, I wanted to write a quick post with some reflections for 2021. But before we talk about the year ahead of us, I want to say a quick word on 2020. While in many ways, I feel the same as the rest of the world about 2020 (read: it was a terrible dumpster fire of a year and we should all celebrate the turning of the new year by watching Death to 2020 on Netflix), I did want to take a moment and reflect on the positive aspects of the year. My daughter lived most of the her first year of her life in 2020 and because of COVID-19 forcing our company into a remote work situation, I was able witness almost all of it on deeper level than I would've otherwise. I got to watch her learn, grow and experience the world with such an adventurous and eager spirit that it brought immense joy to my life in 2020. An extension of that same joy came from getting to spend more time with my family as a whole. I also experienced immense personal and professional growth in 2020. On a personal level, I re-dedicated myself to staying fit, training martial arts, and committing myself to a healthy lifestyle for myself and family. I lost 35 lbs last year and built small habits that turned into big changes. On a professional level, I saw my company Armor accomplish a number of his growth goals, expanding its partnerships in the space and continuing to build the best SaaS security platform on the planet. But I also grew in my business acumen, leadership skills, and overall ability to contribute at the executive levels of a business. I couldn't have done that without the tremendous executive leadership team at Armor and personal mentorship of my direct boss, Josh Bosquez.  The important lesson I realized as I was thinking about these positive moments of 2020 was that the positive things came from the things I could control; the things I could focus on. In a crazy world of uncertainty, change, and fear, I was able to focus on the things I could control: how I focused on my family, my own health and workout habits, my weaknesses at work so I could turn them into strengths. This is where I found happiness and I'll be bringing that lesson with me into 2021 as my first reflection.

My next reflection for 2021 and the first one truly for this year is about the concept of Respect. I want to make 2021 the year of Respect. I was watching a replay of the UFC Championship Fight between Justin Gaethje and Khabib Nurmagomedov and after Khabib won the fight he talked about how fighting and martial arts is all about respect: respect for your teacher, dojo, opponent, the sport, the culture, the danger, etc. His words struck a chord with me not only because of their truth but also because they seemed to beckon to be applied to all aspects of my life. So my first reflection is to be mindful of respectfulness in 2021, particularly as it relates to how I maintain my body, my house, and my relationships in the new year.

My next reflection for 2021 is to continue to build habits around my personal and professional growth that will continue to lead to big changes for myself. The reflection can be summed up as "Small, daily, focused habits lead to revolutionary change." One of my resolutions for 2021 is to enter to fight and win either a Brazilian jiu jitsu tournament or a mixed martial arts match. I have enjoyed re-dedicating myself to training in 2020 and I want to continue to build on those habits. I want to train daily in mixed martial arts and do strength/cardio workouts 5-7 days a week in 2021. It will take patience, respect for the process, and a lot of help from my friends and family, coaches, doctors, and trainers but I am looking forward to the process and the result.  It will also take a focus on my health and my body. Outside of training and exercising, I am committing in 2021 to being mindful and data-driven when it comes to my health. I will write another post on this at some point this year but I began an advanced health tracking spreadsheet to help keep me focused on trends throughout the year.

Likewise, on a professional level I want to continue to grow and become a critical contributor to Armor's continued success and achieving hyper-growth. In order to do so I need to become the most effective product leader I can and directly begin to impact the top and bottom lines of the business in significant ways. In order to do so it will require that I adopt to small habits. One of continuous learning and reading every single day so I can learn something about product management, cybersecurity or corporate strategy that will help generate that next inflection point for Armor. The next is writing every single day so I can learn through teaching. I hope that both of these things help contribute to my growth as a thought leader in the industry and that these small activities plus constant focus and work on the task at hand of growing the business will lead to the professional growth I want to see for myself and Armor in 2021.

My last reflection for 2021 is about doing my part to ensure that last year's lessons on racial inequality in our nation don't just become diversity theater and that I actively do my part to increase diversity in tech. Therefore, I commit to making monthly donations to Code2040 that match any coffee donations I get on my Buy Me a Coffee site each month. From their website, "Code2040 is a nonprofit activating, connecting, and mobilizing the largest racial equity community in tech to dismantle the structural barriers that prevent the full participation and leadership of Black and Latinx technologists in the innovation economy. Through events, trainings, early-career programs, and knowledge sharing, Code2040 equips Black and Latinx technologists and their allies with the tools, connections, and care they need to advocate for and achieve racial equity in the tech industry." I will also do my best to actively increase hiring of diverse talent within my own teams at Armor.

I hope these reflections of mine on this up and coming year inspire some reflections of your own. I would love to hear what you are reflecting on as we enter the new year in the comments section below! If you would like to support my writing, my matching program with Code2040, or just keep me caffeinated buy me a coffee by clicking the button below. I wish everyone a happy and prosperous New Year in 2021.