Two years ago, I sat in the exact same Coffee shop in Madrid as today, sipping an orange juice and thinking about my next career steps, while evaluating destinations for our family sabbatical year (which ended up lasting one single week).
It looks like ages ago now, and I think it is time to reflect on 2015 and where I stand in this incredible journey.
This year has been a lot about traveling. And I mean it. I have spent more than 100 days out of Madrid, (it is not that easy to get the Iberia Oro, flying cabin) and I have realized that spending almost half of the time in New York leads to experiencing two asynchronous lives.
My life this year has not run on a single time-space continuum, where I travel from one place to the other, but instead I have jumped between two distinct realities which happen in almost parallel universes, where I interact with different individuals, undertake different tasks and have certainly different daily patterns.
Rhythms, office culture and, of course, the external environment, are pretty different comparing Madrid and NYC, and it is hard to connect emotionally with both every two weeks. And having my family and gravitational center in Spain, with wife and girls, makes it even harder, since your head is always leaning towards where you have the ones you care about the most.
These two lives in one, actually made months run much faster instead of slower, time rushed, and it has always been that moment, where I was about to take off or land somewhere.
If you add to this bi-polarity the inherent pressure of hyper-growth startups, the recipe for stress is ready. And I had a bunch of it in 2015.
Two years ago, we had no team members under sales and operations, and now our head count is over forty in this area. And the complexity of structure, customers support, product, etc has increased exponentially, moving from 200 to 1200 customers, or increasing our revenue over three fold yearly.
Having the chance to play in the champions league of entrepreneurship is a true privilege, and I am grateful for it, but it also implies strong responsibilities. It is pretty hard to grow that fast while building the company and disrupting a market. I was told that working with tier 1 VCs would take you to the edge of your personal limits and I feel more of this will come in 2016.
Giving back to the community
I had not much time this year to devote to classes, conferences or even writing in this blog. And I completely cancelled my coffees with wanabe entrepreneurs (I am so sorry for this). I definitely failed here, but it was a must considering my travel schedule. Time in Madrid has been precious to spent quality time with my girls and that was not something negotiable, at all.
A great highlight on this area was the success of In3, an awesome networking event to connect entrepreneurs on both sides of the pond. The enormous support and ownership of the US Embassy and the hard work of Chamberi Valley entrepreneurs made it possible, and helped to establish a space of mutual trust to close deals, learn and build lasting relationships.
Yin and yang
I am not a huge fan of Chinese philosophy, but I had a lot of yins and yangs in 2015. The whole family spent some great months in Brooklyn together and it was so good to have Carlota tell me confidently that she is “by far the best English speaking member of the family, daddy”. And we got to enjoy our newly acquired country house in Navacerrada, which will become a hub for friends and family as we planned. Moreover, new members came to the family, with the promises and strength of the future.
And I also got some dreadful news conveyed in ugly, medical words, that have destabilized the foundations I have built myself upon. Making me realize how much I still depend on the love and support of my folks and how much I need them to share my own path ahead. For many years.
What went well
Professional goals: I was right to join the rocket ship two years ago, and while CartoDB is bringing me to the boundaries of my skills and capacities, I am very proud of what we are building and the milestones we are achieving. Step by step. CartoDB is much more ready for global success now than one year ago, if we think of the funding, the team, new offices in NYC and Madrid, the product evolution…, keeping its culture of humility and frugality.
Personal growth: I learnt a ton this year, I feel I am more knowledgeable about funding, SaaS, operations and human relationships. I have played in the major leagues and I feel I have nothing to envy, except a bit more self confidence.
New friends and connections: I got to meet and get personally involved with a few awesome individuals, which are now great friends. It is motivating to find people you share your vision of the world with and I am looking forward to many more conversations in 2016.
What didn’t go well
Stress and work-life balance: Building a hyper growth company is very stressful, and I am the type of personality who is too perfectionist and too involved in everything to handle it well. I need to work a lot on this, how to delegate much more in other team members and generically worry less. And the same applies at a personal level, I need to stop thinking about stuff too much, and let go.
Health: As a correlation from excessive travel and stress, and adding to the cocktail the sleep deprivation induced by toddlers I could rest very little this year. Sleeping badly and having no time to exercise, my back has been hurting almost the whole year and I have felt my health and strength decrease dramatically over the year.
My goals for 2016:
I don´t know what to expect from 2016, I have put so much effort into 2015 that I am actually exhausted ;). I think results will come, tenfold, once some pieces click into their expected positions. These are my goals in no particular order:
• Smile more, forgive more, judge less.
• Take care of my team and delegate much, much more.
• Spend much more time with my Mom and Dad.
• Enjoy deeply the development of my family, caring more about Elena and the girls.
• Go back into practicing sport regularly, at least 1-2 times per week.
• Worry less and have much more fun, looking into the future with optimism.