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My 2016 Annual Review

I did my first Annual Review back in 2013 (read my 2015 Annual Review here). I got the idea from Chris Guillebeau, who I actually met twice this year (once randomly at the Sacramento Airport, and then again at the 99u Conference in New York after the career workshop he ran). The reason I've continued to do Annual Reviews is because they are fun, and I learn a lot through the reflection. I look back at pictures from the year, analyze my calendar to see how and where I spent my time, and tally up my goals and stats from the year. The learning comes from me trying to find themes and writing down the lessons.

First of all, I turned 30 years old this year! And this year is the most fun I’ve had in a single year in my entire life. I saw the Eddie GO in Hawaii, won a free American-made Fender Telecaster guitar, gathered 40 old friends in Tahoe for the Tough Mudder, snuck passed security into the mosh pit at Social D, and road tripped it from the Sierras to the Rockies with the Mountain Collective Pass... this year was truly epic, and I’m so grateful for such an amazing year. I will for sure grow older and forever tell stories from the "good ol' days" of 2016.


"I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means.” -Joan Didion

One of my goals in 2016 was to write 1 blog post per month. Ezra Klein, one of the creators of Vox Media, has a good quote about writing, that's very similar to the Joan Didion quote above: "I read information that I am interested in. And I process it through writing." I couldn't have said it any better. I am constantly reading books and articles, listening to podcasts and interviews, attending conferences and hearing speakers and keynotes, and the way I process what I am actually learning from all of these inputs is to try and write about it. I also write as a way to timestamp my thoughts, and that's one of the reasons I like writing these Annual Reviews so much, I love looking back a few years later to see what the hell I was doing and thinking back then. But at the end of the day, I write because it's fun, and challenging, and I like it. My favorite article of the year to write was Patagonia Inc., which was a deep dive into the company and it's founder Yvon Chouinard. Here are the 12 posts I wrote from 2016:

Photo of the Year

It's a tie, between the above photo, which won my girlfriend some free sunnies from Raen in the #366daysofsummer Instagram contest, and the below photo of John Florence before paddling out at the Eddie, which he would go on to win later that day.


"Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself in your way of thinking." -Marcus Aurelius​

I read an incredibly wide range of books this year, everything from stoic philosophy to Native American spirituality, to habits and leadership. My favorite book of the year was Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Lief Babin. It's one of the best leadership books I've ever read, and it's highly applicable to my business. I read it twice this year, once over the summer, and again with all my District Managers over winter break. I also re-read Let My People Go Surfing this year for the 2nd time, inspired after Patagonia donated $10 million to environmental causes on Black Friday. It was better the 2nd time around. The other book worth mentioning is A Guide to the Good Life by William B Irvine. It's a book about stoic philosophy and the art of living. I can definitely picture myself re-reading that one in the future. Here is the full list in chronological order:

  • The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday
  • A Guide to the Good Life by William B Irvine
  • Anything You Want by Derek Sivers
  • Tribe by Sebastian Junger
  • Barbarian Days by William Finnegan
  • The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
  • The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
  • How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid
  • The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell
  • Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday
  • Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Lief Babin
  • Let My People Go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard 
  • The Holistic Life by Ian Lillington
  • Mother Earth Spirituality by Ed McGaa

Travel: Year of the Road Trip

"You didn't quit skateboarding because you got old... You got old because you quit skateboarding." -Jay Adams ​

I logged a lot of miles on the Highlander this year. Me and my brother did back to back weekend missions to Mammoth. I did a road trip up to Big Sur, where I ate shit skateboarding down a hill and came home on crutches. That was my one hospital visit of the year, which is now a 5 year annual tradition. Hopefully I can break the tradition in 2017, fingers crossed.

I rented a minivan and drove up the Lost Coast of Northern California. I took my girlfriend down to Baja Wine Country, and loved it so much that a few months later we went back for round 2. I road tripped to Bryce Canyon National Park and Escalante for some desert car camping and exploring. We did the Neon Canyon hike, which is right outside Escalante. The hike involved a flat tire, multiple river crossings, and some sketchy navigation. The hike is supposed to be 9 miles, but turned into 11 miles when we got lost and almost didn't make it out of the canyon. Scary shit. I learned first hand that "the desert doesn't care."

I did a trip to Lake Tahoe this summer, stopping in Santa Cruz on the way to surf Steamer Lane. I drove 3.5 hours south of the border to Punta San Jose to score no waves. I did a road trip to Yosemite to #optoutside for Black Friday. And last but not least, the Mountain Collective road trip! Squaw Valley Tahoe to Sun Valley Idaho to Jackson Hole Wyoming to Aspen Colorado! 3000 miles through the mountains with NO HEATER in my car.

I didn't leave North America this year, and I don't regret it at all. There are so many amazing places within driving distance. Yosemite was long overdue for me. And I couldn't get enough of Mexico and Tahoe last year, I went to Mexico 5 times and Tahoe 4 times.

Travel: 145 total days away from home

22 days in Mexico

11 days in Tahoe

9 days in Colorado

8 days in Hawaii

6 days in Chicago

6 days in Vegas

4 days in New York

4 days in Wyoming

3 days in Idaho

3 days in Utah

Many days somewhere in California

Beyond and between the epic trips and awesome experiences, I also really enjoyed the down time. Living at home with my Mom is pretty great. All around this was a very fun AND healthy year.


"Don't be heroic be consistent.” - Kelly Starrett

The four things I track every day are:

  1. Exercise 
  2. Yoga 
  3. Sleep 
  4. No meat

Exercise: I exercised 183 times last year, which comes out to exactly 50%, or every other day. More than 60% of my exercising is surfing or snowboarding. I had 98 surf sessions and 16 snowboarding days.
This is by far the most consistently active year of my life. I've realized that the best way to exercise often is to play often. I got 2 new surfboards this year, a 5’9 Misfit twin fin and a 5’6 Vampirate quad fin (thanks Jordan!). So stoked on surfing this year! I also got the Mountain Collective pass, which gave me ski days in Mammoth, Tahoe, Jackson, Sun Valley, and Aspen. I’ve also started to run a lot more. I ran my first half marathon in November, and somehow did it sub-2 hours with almost no training.


Yoga: I did yoga 70 times in Q4

My new favorite daily practice is yoga. Towards the end of the year I bought the Yoga For Surfers series on Vimeo. It's only 15 minutes a day, and it feels really good. This first thing in the morning, plus some Four Sigmatic Mushroom Coffee and I'm ready to rock the day!

Sleep: I got more than 7 hours of sleep 82% of the time. I also did a 160 day steak of not hitting the snooze button.
This was a BIG DEAL for me. This is the keystone habit of all habits. I wrote about sleep and snoozing twice this year: You Snooze You Lose and 9 More Minutes. Going to bed early, getting 7+ hours per night, and not hitting the snooze button is the reason why I've exercised twice as much as last year, and surfed almost 3x as much. I used to not care about sleep very much but now view it as the most important thing for living the lifestyle that I want.

No Meat: I went 287 days without eating any meat. On a per meal basis, I didn’t eat meat in over 90% of my meals.
And I’m okay with 90%, and don’t feel like need to identify as a vegetarian anymore. I still believe that not eating meat (and eating more veggies) is best for the planet, for animals, and for my health. But it’s hard to be super strict when traveling and eating with groups. And if I’m in Baja, I’m eating tacos at Taco Surf no matter what. When I first stopped eating meat, I took it too seriously and would beat myself up if I ever gave in. With a little bit more leniency now, I feel like it’s a lifestyle choice I can live with for the long term.

Favorite Quote of the Year

“The Earth does not belong to man; Man belongs to the Earth. This we know. All things are connected like the blood which unites one family. Whatever befalls the Earth befalls the sons of the Earth. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.”

-Chief Seattle, 1852

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