The year 2022 might have been many things, but dull was not one of them. A tumultuous twelve months saw me embark on a new career, co-found a company with my sibling, relocate to a foreign land, traverse the United States for rugby, and bear witness to the fickle nature of the corporate world.
I'm a couple months late on writing this, and I don't really have a great reason as to why - I've definitely had the time the past couple months to write. But with many things, I find the inspiration to sit down and hammer it out comes fleetingly. Although a couple months late, I'm sure I'll look back at this post in years to come and be glad I wrote it.
2022 started with a whirlwind. I began my new job as a Growth Associate at Clearco, an ecommerce venture capital firm based out of Toronto. At the time they were one of the hottest names in Canadian tech, a unicorn darling of some of the biggest VC firms in the world. I joined, and after a shotgun-wedding-esque onboarding, I learned more of what I was expected to do: lead the automation efforts of the company's sales pipeline. I won't lie when I say I felt a bit out of my league.
Less than a week into the job, I got a call from my then girlfriend, who was living in California at the time going to school. I'll spare the details, but long distance was tough, mistakes were made, and we decided that it would be better to move on. So for the first time in just about 3 years, I found myself single.
Talk about a period of change.
While all this was going on, I had recently started playing around with Algorand on the advice of my brother. I remained a crypto skeptic, but most of my high level criticisms of crypto seemed to be solved by Algorand - the chain was carbon negative, the fees were incredibly low, and the transaction settlement speed was mere seconds. I grew to enjoy the challenge of building an anonymous persona, and with interacting with a small community of builders and users from disparate parts of the globe.
On a walk together, my brother and I bounced ideas off one another for a project.
"I was thinking about making a generative art project, maybe something to do with fish"
"What if we made it into a game, where people could fight their fish?"
From this conversation sparked a company, Algofish Ventures. We worked feverishly over the next month, in the evenings after school for him, and after work for me. I focused on pixel art and marketing for the game, while he built the mechanics for the game. We ended up creating a great amount of hype, and the project sold out virtually overnight. We were thrust into the spotlight of the small ecosystem, having created the first PvP game in the Algorand community.
That first month was exciting as hell. Everyday I'd sign off of work, and spend my entire evenings messaging with the community, and having fun coming up with new ideas for the future of the project. We even took some meetings with VC's, but ultimately decided to keep the project funded through the NFT revenues - In hindsight I'm glad we made the decision to do so.
The major developments in March mainly revolved around rugby, and work.
From a rugby standpoint, I had been training with the Toronto Arrows Academy, and we got to head down to Boston for our first game against another MLR academy. On a cold and rainy St. Patricks day weekend, we fell short of winning against the New England Freejacks side. Still, I managed to score in the game, and enjoyed watching the senior team take on a strong New England side.
From a work standpoint, the project of automating the sales pipeline had taken on a bit of a new life: I had received engineering/data science resources for the project. Suddenly, I was able to dream bigger, and build systems that scaled better. We found ways to personalize emails en masse with what seemed like heavy personal research, when in actuality was a clever amalgamation of scraped information, and industry specific knowledge.
The leads began to pour in - companies that we had previously overlooked due to poor traffic metrics of one sort or another were getting funded. It was an exciting time for the project, and the potential felt endless. The company seemed to be announcing a record breaking deal every few weeks, and things looked to be going great.
I'm not sure if the word stagnation accurately represents how the summer felt, I feel as though it was more a series of small victories, small defeats, and overall little growth.
April started off good - I was invited last minute to take a trip down to Florida and play some rugby, and I had the opportunity to travel down to New York to play some rugby and catch up with some friends who had moved to NYC after graduation. From a rugby perspective, I was having fun and playing well.
Work was also going well, I had fallen into good routines, I enjoyed the people I worked with, and deals were continuing to flow in to the project.
In April/May I dipped my toes into the dating pool again, and had a series of brief outings for drinks or dinner with a few different girls that fizzled out for one reason or another. Near the end of May I had what I thought was a much more promising possibility of a relationship, but in retrospect I wasn't ready. I jumped in with my heart on my sleeve, and in a rush to replace the void of a three year relationship, simply pushed things way too fast.
Do I regret the way things went down? Yes.
Do I feel that I grew and learned from the experience? Also Yes.
It was a good wakeup call that I wasn't in the right headspace, and it allowed me to take a step back and assess my feelings from the loss of a long term relationship more accurately.
On another note, Rugby continued chugging along, with the start of club season, and a trip out east to Halifax. The rugby played on the trip was disappointing - we narrowly lost to an Atlantic Selects team that we should have handily beaten, and then we (rightfully) got our hides beaten by a strong Canada West side. The actual trip was fun, and we managed to do some sightseeing, drive some scooters around, and generally have a good time.
July was memorable for my first brush with corporate death.
On a fateful morning right before the August long weekend, we were all called to a company wide meeting. During the meeting, it was disclosed that approximately 30% of the company would be laid off before the end of the day, due to a change of economic circumstances.
My gut reaction was that I would be part of the 30%. I knew that the automation project, while it had been marginally successful, was still an experiment that the company was running and not considered essential to the day-to-day operations of the business.
But as meeting invites with HR went out, my calendar remained open.
In the end, most of the people I worked with on the automation project were let go, or reassigned to more "critical" areas of the business. How I managed to escape could be attributed to my lower comparable costs to senior data scientists, my boss vouching for me, and a decent chunk of luck.
In the period following the layoff, I dove into my work. I no longer felt like I was at a high growth, high promise startup. Instead, I felt like the survivor of a crash.
You had a sense of guilt, thinking maybe you should have been part of the layoff.
You had a sense of loss, from coworkers you enjoyed working with that you no longer had.
You had a sense of fear, knowing that the other shoe might drop, and you'd find yourself unemployed.
With those feelings swirling around, I made a mistake. I had planned on taking a trip down to Los Angeles, to both visit my brother and play in a rugby tournament. But I cancelled my trip because I felt I needed to work. Truth be told, I probably needed that vacation.
The end of the summer brought with it something new: a relationship. I had grown accepting of being single for a while at this time, and wasn't particularly searching romance out. But life sometimes has a way of throwing a curveball your way, and it's best to run with it.
In what was supposed to be a cottage long weekend with the boys, I hit it off with the stepsister of one of my friends girlfriends. She was fun, beautiful, and overwhelmingly comfortable to be around. While we only had met that weekend, it felt as though we had been friends for years.
Over the coming months as our relationship grew, so did my urge to travel. Work had become stagnant, the weather was getting colder and I was looking for something that would offer a breath of fresh air.
That breath of fresh air came in the form of a spur of the moment decision to work from Costa Rica for the month of November. Along with my friend Sean, we booked a little seaside condo, and let our jobs know we'd be working remotely.
We arrived in Jaco, a small town on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica in early November in the middle of a rainstorm. We were just catching the tail end of their rainy season, and for the next month, we fell asleep most nights to the sounds of heavy rain and thunder in a barrage on our roof.
Our Airbnb turned out to be an excellent choice. It was a newly built set of 3 storey condos with pools right under our units. Across the street was a fruit market and one of the best (and cheapest) restaurants in the city. We quickly settled into a daily routine of waking up, eating fresh fruits for breakfast, working from 8am til about 4pm, then going swimming or exploring the town and the hiking trails surrounding us.
After a few weeks of this routine, my girlfriend joined us, and both Sean and I took vacation time. We rented a car and drove up the coast, stopping in Tamarindo, Santa Teresa, and the Arenal Volcano region. I hope to write more in depth at some point about our adventures, but we managed to surf, climb a volcano, trek through the rainforest, and jump off waterfalls.
As far as living went, this was as good as it seemed to get. I came back from the trip healthier, tanned, and generally way less stressed.
December was fairly uneventful, at least compared to the previous month. I worked for a couple weeks, then was surprised by our company announcing a two week holiday after Christmas. What I didn't expect was that the second week of January of 2023, almost exactly a year after I was hired, I was part of a second round of layoffs, this time affecting a further 25% of an already dwindling company size.
I took the news well, all things considered. For the past couple months I had felt like the company (and my growth) had been stagnant. With the severance, it meant that I could take a break for the next couple months, and not really worry too much about bills. It was a blessing, as much as it was also a disappointment.
2022 was a year of a lot of new things starting, and learning. I hope that 2023 can top it, bringing new professional developments, as well as new travels, friends and adventures.