Yearly Focus

2023 Focus: End Of Year Review

Better every year. That is my goal. I believe that through focused effort I can keep improving and ensure my best years are still in front of me.

With that in mind, at the start of a new year, I take the time to set my focus for the coming year. By being selective about where I direct my energy, I can achieve results that are exponentially greater than if I split my attention.

In 2023 I set out to learn about Strategy. You can read more about my intent here.

2023 Theme: Strategy

Self Grade: 10/10

I identified the following books as great places to learn about strategy and was able to make some solid progress.

  1. Good Strategy Bad Strategy (DONE)
  2. Blue Ocean Strategy (DONE)
  3. The Crux (DONE)
  4. The Art of Strategy (DONE)
  5. On grand strategy (IN PROGRESS)
  6. HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Strategy (IN PROGRESS)
  7. Playing to Win
  8. Understanding Michael Porter
  9. Competitive Strategy by Porter
  10. Your Next Five Moves
  11. Measure What Matters
  12. Your Strategy Needs a Strategy
  13. The Biggest Bluff
  14. Carl Von Clausewitz – On War
  15. Art of War

In addition I read a few books that weren’t specifically about strategy, but ended up being great examples of well designed and executed strategy.

  1. Shoe Dog (DONE)
    • About the founding of Nike with lots of insight into the strategies that helped them grow
  2. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (DONE)
    • About the evolution of human society with insight into the various strategies that worked, though many of them were more accidental than intentional
  3. The Machine Crusade (DONE)
    • A prequel to Dune about a war between humans and thinking machines that involved a lot of strategic elements
  4. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany (IN PROGRESS)
    • I’ve gotten to the German annexation of the Sudetenland so far and reflected a lot on the political strategy of Adolf Hitler and the alarming parallels between that and contemporary politics in the United States
  5. The Battle of Corrin (IN PROGRESS)
    • The sequel to The machine Crusade, more fiction about a battle and various strategic elements.

I detailed my learnings in this recap of what I learned about strategy.

This is exactly what I hope to accomplish with a theme each year – read a few well regarded books on the topic, process my learnings and put them into practice.

2023 Challenge: Become a Chess Expert

Self Grade: 6/10

I didn’t become a chess expert this year, but I did get a lot better. I would say I am competitive now and have a solid foundation to build on.

In terms of ranking, there are a few categories:

  • Puzzles – my ELO is 1720, which puts me in the top 8% of players on
  • Daily games – ELO of 1052, which puts me in the top 18% of players
  • 10 Minute games – 865 ELO, which puts me in the top 27% of players
  • 3 Minute games – 358 ELO, which puts me in the bottom 25%
  • 1 Minute games – 193 ELO, bottom 10%

As you can see, I am significantly better at slower games. I think I just don’t have the practice yet to be good at faster speeds – I haven’t memorized enough situations and committed them to heuristics. It turns out, I am also just not that quick a thinker.

2023 Habit: Weekly Strategic Analysis Reading

Self Grade: 4/10

Officially I did really poorly at this one, only recording a successful week 14 of 52 weeks. The thing is, a lot of my book reading (see section above on theme) contained strategic analysis examples, and I also regularly read a few newsletters that were related to strategy. So, in total, I think I actually achieved the goal of filling my head with a lot of examples.

This habit is a bit strange in that it isn’t necessarily one I want to maintain on a weekly basis, though it does seem good to continue to add more examples of strategy to my mind over time.

2023 Exemplar: Genghis Khan

Self Grade: 6/10

I read a short summary book and about half of a longer more detailed strategy book. I should have done more here.

Nonetheless, I learned a decent bit and enjoyed the subject.

2023 Bucket List Item: SUP Adventure into Untouched Wilderness

Self Grade: 2/10

I didn’t attempt to paddle into untouched wilderness this year. I had a great 35 mile paddle in the Netherlands and a 70 mile paddle in the Puget Sound, but decided against the 140 mile trip into Canada that I had been dreaming of. This item will remain on my bucket list for a future year.

In many ways, I got a lot of what I had hoped for out of the adventures I had. Paddling 70 miles was one of the more difficult undertakings I’ve accomplished, especially after the weather kicked in. Navigating through the Netherlands was my first international adventure as well, which was pretty cool.