2017 – The Year In Review

2017 was an interesting year to say the least! I moved countries (Australia –> USA). Moved home twice in San Francisco. Changed teams. I’ve written a ton of content. An average of a blog post every 2 weeks and kept a daily blog on Facebook. Lets dive in!

Rocking it at Stone Henge

Rocking it at Stone Henge

Moving to America

I started the year travelling to London to see my brother. That was an awesome experience. I thought about travelling to other places in Europe. But I ended up staying in London for 2 weeks. It was the trip I wanted to do last year but couldn’t as I had surgery. I was meant to go with my 2 brothers. However, I finally did get to go to London! I reckon I could live in London for a year. Its a cool place. Actually its very cold, but I digress….

When I came back to work, my manager approached me and said there was an opportunity to join the mobile team in Mountain View, California. I said “yes” before the end of the meeting. In fact, he said that he couldn’t wipe the smile off my face as he told me. I’ve always wanted to live / work / breathe Silicon Valley and I don’t mean the TV show. Though the show is quite good.

It took about 2 months from when I accepted the offer to getting on a plane. I’m super excited to be living my dream. The funny thing was, the day I accepted my offer, Trump won the election earlier that week. My colleagues visiting from the U.S. were debating whether to go back to America. There were so depressed about the results. I said to them “hey so I’m moving to America… Is it still an ok place to live?”. I decided that it didn’t matter and I was going to go.

Living in America

I had been experimenting with Facebook live video and did my first one on “Moving To America” from my bedroom. It was about what I was going to take with me in my suitcase to America. People seemed to find it interesting. I decided to follow up with a blog post called “Day Zero: The Uncredited“. It was about the first 24 hours in America. I was surprised to find that its the 4th most popular post this year on my blog.

So I decided to write some more blogs documenting my experience living in America. These include:
Day 7: The Hunt For Rental Accomodation  (#5 most popular)
Day 13: New room mate, new accomodation (#8 most popular)

I realized that people liked what I was writing. However, I couldn’t be bothered writing long detailed posts about life in America. Whenever I start blogging, I end up writing something that takes 2-3 hours. But I still wanted to share the experience.

When I was moving to America, there was very few resources about living in America and what the experience was like. My friend Julius had a blog that he kept when he first moved there, mostly about looking for work. I wanted to write it for myself but also for my friends. To let them know what it was like, warts and all. Living in the US was something I always wanted to do. I felt that it was slipping away as I got older. So I wanted to share it with others that might be interested in moving to US or were simply curious.

Donuts are bigger in America

Donuts are bigger in America

It took too long to write as a blog. But I did have periods of time in the day where I was unoccupied. This was on the Caltrain. Its a 1 hour train ride from San Francisco to Mountain View where I work. So I decided to blog on Facebook. It was simple, easy to use, and I didn’t have to write perfect prose. I typed on my phone a few short paragraphs and uploaded a bunch of photos I collected during the day. I’ve been going strong and kept it up for 246 days now. I’ve shared everything from looking for an apartment, foods, weather, and when there was crazy smoke from the fires. I’d say that 33% of my posts are about the Caltrain because I’m typing from there. Follow my daily adventures here on Facebook.

All around the world

I almost skipped this section. However, I started jotting down where I’d been and its quite a list! I’ve done a fair bit of travelling this year.

* London (January)
* Singapore (January)
* Austin (August)
* Portland (September)
* Sydney twice (September, December)

Highlights were hanging out in London with my brother. Driving in Portland and hiking the trails. Being underneath a waterfall and capturing it all with my snapchat spectacles.

Drinking waterfalls in Portland

Drinking waterfalls in Portland

I felt like everyday I was in America I was travelling. It was a new experience. I’m lucky & fortunate to have experienced it.

Content machine!

In 2017, I wrote 23 blog posts. I had guessed every 2 weeks and I was right! I wrote 21,832 words. Woah! That’s the word limit for my college honors thesis. Its about 45% of a non-fiction book which typically has 50,000 words. I’ll come back to this a bit later 🙂

April was my top month since then is when I moved and got blog happy.

I recorded 11 podcasts, which is about 1 per month. I’ve stagnated towards the second half of the year. But I do plan to get back into it! I also moved from Soundcloud which looked like it was about to crash & burn to Libsyn. You can check out my back catalogue here.

My favorite pods were:
The Rose That Grew From A Roku
Increasing my email conversions by 3X with Brett Fox from Photzy

Top posts
Here are my top posts for the year. It might be a bit hard to read.

top posts

My favourite posts were:
Take Care Of The Person And The Rest Will Follow
Inspiring Teams With Missionary Zeal
Stranger Things About Product Management

Here’s my traffic for the year. I averaged about 1k per month. So nothing special. I probably should put more effort into it. I’ve really been lazy about sending out emails and doing more distribution efforts. About 2 years ago I started working on an automated email drip campaign. I need to finally set it up!


Work: Changing offices, changing teams

I moved from Atlassian’s Sydney office to their Mountain View office. I went from an office that had about 600 people to one that had 80 people when I joined.

The biggest change for me was joining a new team. I was previously in a product team and now was in a platform team. The platform team provides horizontal services for all the products. My team became the New User Experience (NUX) team for mobile. It was pretty cool being on the platform side. One of the projects I worked on was the new login for the mobile apps.

It was great working with colleagues that had Silicon Valley experience. The best people from around the world are attracted to the Valley. I was learning from colleagues that had worked at other tech companies. Such as Yahoo, Twitter, LinkedIn, Groupon, Facebook, Google and a lot of smaller fast moving tech startups. They had seen and done things that I haven’t. Its definitely helped shape my thinking into moving faster, delivering customer value, focus, building for scale and how to lead teams.

This was my second year as a product manager. I was a lot more confident and comfortable which comes with time. You can’t buy experience as a product manager. I had a better understanding of what to do as I had learnt from my mistakes in my first year. I was a lot more bolder & confident in my decisions and advocated more for what I thought was best. I became a better leader and started reading more leadership books.

I remember my manager said to me “This is what you need to do to become a world class product manager”. I smiled and thought to myself, this is why I came to Silicon Valley. I wanted to learn from the best in the world and to do that, I needed to be here. I wasn’t there to watch. I also wanted to take part. I had to lead and show what I could do.

Sydney Startups

Last but not least is my part time hobby and volunteer work for the Sydney Startups community 🙂 Every morning I’d wake up at about 6am and spend an hour or so moderating the forum. I’d do some more on the train and coming home on the train to catchup. I’d say I spent 2 – 3hours on Facebook a day, with 50% of the time interacting on Sydney Startups or doing something for the community.

We grew from roughly 5k to 11k this year. We had 2 fantastic AMA’s (Ask Me Anything) that we did. Plus one that failed. This is the Product Management AMA with Mick Johnson.

There was another awesome one we did on Raising Money with Mick Liubinskas.

Other things I did was organise an office hours session, where 24 startups got to speak to mentors/advisors/investors in the community about term sheets.

We threw a massive party for 200 people in the community which was epic. It was a lot of fun and I’m glad I came back to Sydney for it.

The end

I didn’t quite get to cover everything I wanted to in this post. However, its long enough. There may be a part 2….watch for the sequel 🙂

I’m out like 2017,
Matt Ho

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