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Sucker for a New Year

3 min read

I’ve always been a sucker for a New Year. It’s a blank page – a chance to right wrongs, start again, drink the green juice, go for a run, and put the Baileys down. A time to let go of shit that doesn’t serve you and decide what does.

As I get older, I subscribe less to the “New Year, New Me” idea, but I do like to spend time thinking about the year ahead and how I can try to make it my best yet (I also did have some green juice this morning!)

I don’t think there’s such a thing as a “bad year”, but if there was, 2023 could be a contender. Political lunacy, economic unrest, rising costs and global instability all made business (and life) very hard. Across the board, most business owners I spoke to were tired, stressed, and worried about the lack of growth. Zeal hasn’t hit its revenue targets, and at times it felt like pushing a rock up a hill – if the rock was made of bees and the hill was on fire.

It’s easy to write a year off and say, “thank god that’s done”, but I think it’s super important to think about the good bits, the bits you’re proud of, the moments you loved, the people who made it happy, and the stuff you did that caused Joy. If you know what those things are, you can make sure to do more of them in 2024. So, here’s my Zeal highlight reel… and you can be sure I’ll be doing a lot more of this in the next 12 months…

1. Networking.

No, not those horrific networking events where everyone’s trying to sell and if you’re not buying, they’re already looking for the next punter – I mean building a real network.

One of my proudest things is knowing that I have an incredibly powerful network and that those people like me, support me and want me to win. If anyone’s wondering how to go about building a network, here are my tips – be so unapologetically you that you immediately turn on the right people and turn off the wrong people. Be honest, be vulnerable and make friends first and business connections second. Then, ask for help if you need it.

2. Build the right team.

This year team Zeal have brought me untold joy, pride, and laughter. The second half of 2023 felt like we clicked into place, and I have no doubt we have the right people doing the right thing. Hiring based on values and understanding how these values are displayed is the most important thing. We had a weekend trip to the countryside in 2023 which was my favourite Zeal thing. Just hanging around playing stupid games (or workshopping if the accountant is reading this).

3. Work with the right people.

2023 had some lessons for sure. For the first time in my entire professional career, I had to hang up the phone on a client. He was aggressive and inappropriate to my staff, and I regret ever working with him. I ignored my instincts, and we needed the revenue but no good came of it. 2024 will be filled exclusively with good clients who do business the way we do business.

Massive shout-out to our wonderful clients who do work like us. With respect, humour, understanding, and who are all doing amazing things in their own industries.

4. Change.

I’ve lost count of the number of times we “changed direction” in 2023. When you’re rolling a ball of bees up a hill that’s on fire you have to. I used to worry that the team would see this as a negative, but we need to change. Change is the only constant in life, and we need to make sure we are constantly evolving to survive.

5. Fun.

I had a lot of it in 2023. Life’s too short to take it too seriously. I listened to a podcast about measuring success and why it was the case that success is measured in profit, headcount, or fame and not “how many times you’ve laughed that day”. I know which I’d prefer…