Five Goals; One Year

A new year is upon us again.

2008 flew past me too quickly. I think I accomplished a lot but let go of many important things while doing so. Some of it already has faded from my memory (living in Hayward for a year) and some of it hasn’t fully clicked yet (helping 150 million singles connect on Zoosk). I still think 2008 was definitely a net positive year for me as an individual, but I can do better, don’t you agree?

So, I am going to do the cliché and come up with a few goals for 2009 for myself which I am announcing below. Why publicize them? In the hope that peer pressure from all of you great friends will help me achieve them faster and maybe even better. So, if you see me off track, please let me know in no uncertain terms and don’t let me to chicken out :-)

  1. Get my Health Back: Since I suffered stress fractures on my feet in 2007 it has been down hill for my health. I stopped working out regularly once I had both feet in cast for a few months and after that my startup life totally kicked health to the curbside. The obvious effect has been gaining plenty of undesired weight! Even more so, in the past 6 months I have started paying for my negligence in other ways as well. I now get sick too quickly. I have had back-pain, neck-pain, etc. THIS HAS TO STOP BEFORE IT GETS MORE OUT OF CONTROL. So, 2009 will be the year that I get back my health. First stop will be to get back into a consistent training program. Sitting on a stationary bike or running on a treadmill never does it for me. My answer: working out boot camp style ;-) Maybe even playing soccer again if I do well.
  2. Grow Zoosk’s Brand: Last year, my company Zoosk came out of nowhere and caught social dating by a storm. We have added more than 12 million users and made 150 million connections possible. Zoosk is now available in 12 languages some of which I don’t understand at all (btw, it is a very strange feeling to play with a site you built in a language you don’t understand). Pretty impressive if you ask me, but that’s just the beginning. In 2009, we will keep on growing but will have a much stronger emphasis on our brand. In our top countries, I want “cool online dating” to be equivalent to Zoosk in the minds of consumers. We have a tough road ahead of us with entrenched competitors and their multimillion dollar marketing campaigns to trump. But we have smart people on our team that don’t quit. I believe we can go beyond our wildest dreams in 2009. It will be a lot of hard work but man it is fun.
  3. Get Social Again: Ironically, working at a social web startup damages one’s own personal social life. The long hours of work and the do more with less attitude definitely keeps you away from getting together with friends new and old. But I am going to attempt to make the two coexist in 2009 much better than last year. I think the second half of last year showed a clear improvement in this regard thanks to moving to San Francisco and also because my girlfriend joined me in California. My plan is to build on that improvement in 09 and spend more time with people I care about and meet more people that are not directly business related. So, if I haven’t pinged you in a while harass me about it and don’t take “i am busy” for an answer. I need your help on this one.
  4. Share Ideas with Community: I think I have done a poor job sharing some of my learnings from the startup journey with others in the past year and a half. A good example of this negligence has been this very blog and lack of posts on it. I will be trying to revive my blog and post more often about things I learn while growing Zoosk. There is a lot of knowledge that people in my position gain (sometimes the hard way) that can easily be shared to help other entrepreneurs. Again I can use your help here. If there is anything in particular that you want me to talk about drop me a line or leave a comment and I will try to write up about it. I have learned plenty from reading about other people’s experiments and it is just fair for me to share back.
  5. Read More: Yes, I read a lot of blogs and other media through out the year but since I started Zoosk, my non-industry reading has plummeted to unheard of levels! I used to read WSJ and The Economist regularly plus books on culture, history, business, and politics. Last non-work-related book that I have read was in 2007! That’s just a shameful stat if you ask me. I need to reverse this trend quickly or I will turn into one of those ignorant folks that doesn’t know much beyond his nose :-(. The fix: start reading periodicals first and gradually make room for longer readings such as political books.

As you might have noticed by now, the challenge in front of me for meeting these goals next year will be smart time management. Most of these goals are in direct competition for my time and energy and to achieve them, I will need to balance my resources wisely. As with any other goal, I will need some metrics to see how I am doing on each of the five. For four of them it’s fairly easy:

  • Health: my weight will be a good proxy for my progress at least for the first six months.
  • Zoosk Brand: again we have plenty of metrics tracking this diligently.
  • Sharing Ideas: I can look at the popularity of my blog as a decent proxy for this one.
  • Reading: My book reading wishlist should start shrinking (or at least it should have new titles in it)

The hard one to gauge is going to be number three. The best metric here will be my friends’ and how they think I have done. So, please let me know.

One last note: In 2009 I will turn 30. Yes, the big three o! For some reason round numbers in age are more important than others. Don’t ask me why, they just feel that way! Crossing 25 was a major turning point for me as I looked back at my life and what I had accomplished by living for a quarter of a century! (scary, huh!) Now we will see what turning 30 will do. One thing I am sure of is that 2009 will be another amazing year with its ups and downs. Can’t wait to live it :-)

Cheers to a great year for all of us…

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8 comments
  1. I am with you about getting back into shape bootcamp style. I will make you a deal – we can buddy up on the training and help each other reach that personal fitness goal in the new year. Nothing is more motivating than having to see your training partner every day.

  2. Kudos on your willingness to share your goals with us. That takes guts. I hope your road to better health goes well. ~ESV

  3. 3 recommendations for health:
    The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief, Second Edition workbook for back & neck pains. It gives suprisingly fast relief.

    2. Acupressure’s Potent Points: a Guide to Self-Care for Common Ailments I was pretty skeptical at first, but just using a few of them have been pretty helpful.
    3. Gyms are difficult and take a ton of discipline. I’ve been doing Parkour for the past few months, and found it challenging, interesting, and accessible enough to keep me going. Lost 8 lbs in 6 weeks. http://www.baparkour.com

    BTW, heard about Zoosk through Brad Henrickson – and then found you through Mr. Tweet’s blog post. Small world!

  4. Shayan said:

    @Jason: Small world indeed. Let’s keep in touch.

  5. Shayan said:

    @eric: Thanks for the encouragement. That was the whole point of posting them and it is already paying off :)

  6. Tried one crossfit session last year – I see how it helps, but it still falls into the not fun category for me.

  7. Ersan said:

    Shayan: referring to this sentence, “btw, it is a very strange feeling to play with a site you built in a language you don’t understand).” Zoosk’s Turkish translation is just horrible. It is like Google’s translation.

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