Episode 298 - Featuring Lee Matthew Jackson
December 23, 2020
Whilst 2020 has been a difficult year, there have still been things I can be grateful for. In our Christmas Special, I’d like to share with you some Christmas memories and some of the positives we’ve experienced from 2020.
The positives include
Welcome to the Agency Trailblazer podcast Christmas Special. I’m your host Lee Matthew Jackson, and may I be the first to wish you a very merry Christmas for 2020 and a Happy New Year. I hope you are able to switch off for a few days and enjoy this holiday season. No matter what your beliefs, it’s great to be able to kick back, relax and to enjoy time with family, with friends, and of course spend plenty of you time as well.
Now, I’m very excited for Christmas Day because I know at least two of the presents that I will be getting. The first one will be an electronics starter kit for the Raspberry Pi4 Model B, that includes all sorts of gizmos and gadgets, most of which I have no clue what they do. But I really want to learn a new hobby. I want to start to understand how electronics work, how circuit boards work, and how I can create physical projects.
I’ve spent years being able to code for the Web to create great websites that do awesome things, but I have no idea how anything around me works. I can build myself a computer, sure. But actually knowing what’s going on, on the motherboard, on those chips, I haven’t a clue and it absolutely fascinates me. So I’m going to be creating a whole load of projects over the next few weeks with the Raspberry Pi4 with this starter kit and with the book that she’s also buying me, which will be computer python coding for kids.
It’s a step by step a visual guide to Python programming, specifically for children and I explained to her that unfortunately, I learn like a child. I need that visual guide. So I’m super pumped. I have been cheating just a little bit by watching a few YouTube videos and getting ahead of the game so I can understand the Python programming language so that I’m ready for those projects that are in that kid’s book for programming. Super, super excited.
I will let you know what happens with that, whether or not I managed to blow up the house or not in the Facebook group. If you are not part of our Facebook group, then you can join us over on agencytrailblazer.com/group, where there are over 3600 amazing people who love design, who love development, who use WordPress or other incredible platforms. But the important thing is that we’re all in there together supporting each other in business. That’s agencytrailblazer.com/group.
When you join the group, please let us know what are you getting for Christmas and also what hobbies do you have? What do you enjoy? I learnt that because I am going down the route of chip boards and electronics that I could be called a tinkerer. And I really like the idea of being a tinkerer. So that’s my new craft for t2021. What are you doing? What have you been doing or what are you thinking of starting as a project or as a new hobby, it would be great to have that conversation. So again, come and join us in that Facebook group.
I remember as a child begging my parents for a computer and unfortunately they didn’t have the ability to buy one. So over several years I saved my lunch money. That means I actually skipped meals, which I can’t even dream of doing nowadays, and was able to save enough money to purchase myself an Amstrad PCW16. It’s a sixteen Herts Z80 processor with one meg of Rom and Ram and oh my word, it was terrible, but it was my first computer that I bought with my money and that computer alone got me into web design, into web development because I wanted to understand how that computer worked and how I could code for that computer. And I got so excited about that computer that I started to build a website about it when I got to college. And it was by building that website and realizing I can make things happen online that really unlocked my passion for design and for development.
So I’m kind of hoping that when I start to tinker with these electronics that I know are winging their way to me, courtesy of Santa Claus and my wife, I’m hoping that this sparks something new and exciting over the next few weeks, years and months.
The reason why I’m kind of sharing all this is 2020’s been rough. It has been a rough year for all of us. It’s we’ve not been able to see family. We’ve had to be extremely protective of ourselves and of those that we love, that may have been arguments, there may have been issues in people’s businesses or with people’s jobs, it’s been a rough year. The news has been harsh, has been difficult. We’ve had to make so many sacrifices around the world. For myself, I’m usually considered a glass half full kind of guy, and yet I’ve found 2020 really difficult for my own mental health. I eventually had to stop watching the news because it was just bringing me down. It was affecting my happiness. It was affecting my relationship with my family. It was affecting my happiness towards the work that I was doing and my clients. And I really had to start to make an effort to just focus on us and on the positives that I could that were around me.
And in that vein, I’d love to share with you some of those positives we’ve experienced in 2020 and to encourage you to look at your 2020 and see what has been great for you. What are you grateful for? What have you enjoyed? What has been a blessing? What has been a life changer from 2020? We have a choice. We can either look back at this as a dark age, a dark time that was terrible, or we can take something from it and make something awesome for the future.
By choosing to focus on all of the good throughout the bad that we’ve had in 2020. We feel encouraged and inspired as a family and ready to take on 2021 in the hope that there are far better times to come. The first positive I’d like to draw from 2020 is me learning the ability to slow down. You know, I produce absolutely heaps of content. I put myself out there all the time. I run two companies, I have a family, I have hobbies, I have commitments to church. I get involved in so much and that’s actually pretty bad for my mental health.
2020 has taught me that I don’t have to do everything all the time, that I don’t need to keep pushing myself. That things will still happen even if I take my foot off the pedal a little bit. In fact things will still happen. Even if I say I will no longer do that, I will no longer take responsibility for X, I will no longer contribute to Y because I need to protect my mental health or my time, or I need to focus on things that are important.
Things will still happen without me. I am not God’s gift to all of mankind. I am not Superdad. I am not super husband. I am just Lee Matthew Jackson who needs to slow the heck down, take his time and do a few things really, really well that move the needle that allow him to do those things he wants to do with the people that he wants to do them with. For me, that is growing a brand through Agency Trailblazer where we can attract agency owners, web designers, developers from all around the world, helping them build a business that they love. In my family, it’s having real great quality time with them. And for myself, discovering new passions and learning about myself rather than charging around everywhere, trying to do everything.
It’s been a gift to be forced to stay at home because I’m no longer traveling from location to location, visiting clients, visiting offices. Instead, I’m at home. I need to manage my time at home. And I’m given all of this extra precious time with family that frankly, I’ve had to learn what to do with.
And that’s the next positive of 2020. We’ve learnt the importance of conversation as a family. We’ve learnt the importance of quality time. We’ve always had that mantra that together is our favourite place to be and we do that. We’ve lived that for years. But sometimes that together is just to simply be together in the same room or perhaps the same house. And that’s great. But often we may have ignored each other. Maybe we’ve not spoken to each other, maybe we’ve used devices, maybe we’ve had other distractions.
I remember just a few days ago when we were having our dinner and my daughter just said, I love it when we chat and we don’t watch TV because frankly, sometimes we would watch TV whilst we had our dinner instead of having a conversation. Instead, we had a great conversation. Where we shared memories of Kate and I as teenagers, we shared memories of our daughter when she was little and we had a really good laugh, Ella learnt things that she did not know about her parents, and that was a precious moment.
Speaking of family, 2020 saw our family grow and that was the birth of little Eddison David Jackson. He arrived in September and he is our rainbow baby. You’ll remember a couple of years ago I shared on a personal update podcast how we had a miscarriage, and that experience completely broke our hearts. In fact, that experience made us worry that we’d never have children. So Eddison is a real joy. He’s now three months old and we are exhausted.
He’s not sleeping when people say he should sleep, he’s not following anyone’s rules but his own. And you know what we’ve learnt? We’ve learnt that it’s absolutely OK for us to embrace Eddison and his time. We’re going to let him develop and grow and we will be there to support him, to comfort him. We’re not going to push him to adhere to what other people say a child should be. Perhaps it’s our age, but we are so much more chilled this time round as we look after our little rainbow baby, our little Eddison.
A great positive has been we’ve accidentally saved money by not traveling, by not investing in holidays abroad, by not spending the sorts of money we might have spent at weekends, by not having the extra costs in our businesses. We have saved a significant amount of money. You’ll remember in the episode where I discuss agency finances, how our personal decisions as the director, as the owner will put undue pressure on the business. There have been less financial pressures on our business and on our personal finances, highlighting how we don’t need to work as hard as we put ourselves through.
A lot of the work, a lot of the effort, a lot of the stuff we’ve been striving for has just been to fund decisions we make that perhaps we don’t need to when there are actually more important things in life. Hear me right, I am not discouraging success. What I am encouraging is for us to work smart so we can achieve those things that we want to in life that will be of benefit to us, that will enable us to do those things that we so want to.
I’d encourage you to listen to last week’s episode where I help you create a list of goals you have for 2020 and then work out the why and the outcomes that you want to put the most important at the top of the list and then to break them down into small achievable actions that you can achieve over the course of a year. This is a framework for myself I’ve been developing over the last three years. And yet, as I said earlier, I still struggle with getting distracted, with getting busy and doing stuff.And I’m grateful to 2020 for slowing me down and making me intentional.
That’s the next positive that’s come from 2020 is I’ve become far more intentional with what I do. About mid 2020, I was considering running several podcasts, getting involved in several projects in widening my net, and I suddenly realised I was getting distracted. I was trying to do more and more and to achieve more and more and I was losing sight of those things that were important to me.
I didn’t need to do all of that work. I didn’t need to launch new websites, new brands, new podcasts. I didn’t need to develop new audiences in order to branch out into areas that weren’t really my passion, but just seemed like the logical place to go. What I did need to do was to be really intentional about what I had already built and to look after what I’d already built and to go after those goals for what I have already built, which is to grow that audience of agency owners whom we can help build those businesses that they love.
So instead of widening the net during 2020, I actually focused in and became more intentional in all of the activities and the content that we create, honing right in on our target audience. And if you’re listening to this podcast, you are our target audience. We actually ended up closing Angled Crown entirely so that we can focus fully on Agency Trailblazer as the core business. So, Agency Trailblazer is the cash generating entity rather than the old development services that we used to offer. And we’re obviously supported by EventEngine, my sister company.
This means my businesses have taken exciting new directions that I couldn’t have imagined in 2019, and I can’t wait to see what 2021 has to offer. And finally, like I said, right at the very beginning, over the last few months, as I’ve slowed down, as I’ve started to spend a little bit more time on self care, I’ve developed brand new hobbies and interests that has unlocked a whole new wave of creativity inside of me, a whole new wave of excitement.
I remember running down stairs just a few weeks ago on a Saturday morning because I was really excited to power up my Raspberry Pi. I was going to try a Python script that I had thought up overnight. I know that sounds ridiculously geeky and nerdy, but I felt like a kid again. I got really excited at. That was a really special moment.
You can see here that out of everything that I’ve shared, it’s not been about making loads of money. It’s not been about heaps of financial success in business. It’s not being about winning hundreds of brand new clients or launching a brand new business and becoming the best of the best. Instead, all of these positives, those things that I thought I needed money to achieve. Seems ridiculous, doesn’t it? That a lot of the time I have strived and worked my ass off to create these times. And yet 2020 has forced me to take this time and the world didn’t stop.
I was still able to carry on. My business has pivoted to allow us to carry on and to learn a new way of living and to appreciate those things now rather than putting them off later. There’s a book by Tim Ferriss, which is the four hour work week, and within that he talks about enjoying many retirements. We started doing that in a few years ago. We spent a couple of months in Florida. It was an incredible time and then we kind of got busy and stopped doing it.
So 2020 has reminded us that we should probably be enjoying many retirements through our lives and living a little bit slower, living a little bit smarter and enjoying our life now and our family time now as we are still young and healthy enough to do so rather than working ridiculously hard just so that we can enjoy a retirement of which we may never get to or we may be too ill to enjoy. I shared with you many podcasts ago about the death of my father and how that completely changed the way I look at life. And yet still I find myself charging around like an idiot because I think I need to work hard to be able to enjoy those positives that I’ve enjoyed in 2020. Instead, amazingly, twenty twenty has forced them on me and I’ve really, really appreciated them.
Those have been the positives of my 2020. Can I encourage you to come and join us in the Facebook group that’s agencytrailblaze.com/group and share with us your positives as well. I also recognize that for many people 2020 has been extremely difficult and I would encourage you to reach out for support. If you’re struggling with your mental health, then please check out Big Orange Hot Dog. If you would like somebody to chat to. If you would like a network of friends, then you can find them there at Bigorangeheart.org, but also at the Agency Trailblazer Facebook group plus agencytrailblazer.com/group. If you want to make new friends and to find some extra support as you do life, as you do business. If you do head on over to the Facebook group.
I would love to know what your favorite Christmas songs are. Mine include Last Christmas by Wham and we saw that film just the other day, is a new film. Newish film came out last year, which is a romance with a twist and it was a fantastic film. So I encourage you to check out last Christmas. It’s full of Wham and George Michael music. And I also love some of the old carols because they just remind me of being a child and reading those old Charles Dickens books and imagining myself, back in the Victorian times. Trust me, I’m not that old, I was a child. I remember tapes and all those things, but just those sorts of Christmas carols just take me back to being a kid and the imagination and the excitement that I would feel as a child about Christmas.
I really appreciate you spending the time to listen to me ramble about memories and about my 2020. I hope we can continue this conversation into 2021.
Have a wonderful holiday season and have a wonderful Christmas. Have a prosperous New Year. Stay safe and we will see you in 2021.
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