When Pauline and I celebrate our wedding anniversary together, we usually find a fancy restaurant which satisfies one important criteria: it has to be conducive to talking.
Then we talk about the year that was. All the highlights. Good times and bad. What we thought God was saying to us. Afterwards, satisfied with our summary, we talk about our hopes for the next year – and what we want to try to work on.
For this year, I was planning to have a big event to commemorate JGL’s first anniversary. However, due to circumstances (1-2 weeks being wiped out because of a nasty viral infection), I wasn’t able to plan it out properly.
I think it’s fitting though, that I get to celebrate JGL’s first year in a very simple fashion – through how it all started.
With a post.
So, like my annual commemoration with Pauline, let me just talk about the year that was, as well as my hopes for the future.
Matt was asking me the other day what made me write this blog in the first place. To me, it’s very clear.
I felt my whole entrepreneurial career was the result of intervention from God. I cannot and will not talk about my entrepreneurial career separately from the faith-process I underwent. There were more than a couple of very hairy moments, but by 2011, I just felt so freaking happy with my career! I was calculating that I would’ve made more money staying in corporate, but I just didn’t care. I was totally in love with being an entrepreneur and with what went with it. With this energy came two things: a) a humongous sense of thankfulness, and b) an unsatiable need to give something back.
At first, I wanted to write a book. That was taking a bit of time. So I said, “what the hey” and began this blog.
JGL started on November 29, 2011, with this post. I actually wrote that post early November, but I was afraid of posting it. Finally mustering the courage, I said to myself “what the hey,” and hit PUBLISH.
Then I just poured my heart out with post after post, hoping that at least I’d get to help even just a handful of people.
Then, something unexpected happened. I was expecting a few dozen hits in the first few days. Instead, there were a couple of hundred already. There were also a more than a few people I didn’t know who were reaching out directly asking for questions and advice. My heart was warmed. It turns out more than a handful of people were interested in JGL’s message. This strengthened my resolve to write more. To write better.
In three months, there was already a small community of folks interacting with me through the blog and through email. I figured, I NEEDED to meet them. I booked a small room in Astoria and opened up 40 slots. They were booked pretty fast. We held a pretty amazing event in Astoria, there was such energy in the room! I actually had to kick people out because it was getting late, so naturally, the conversations just continued along the corridors, and ultimately, into a very active Facebook Group.
This was also around the time that a reader, Glen, invited me to talk about startups over coffee. I was pretty busy, and my consulting background shrieked “you have charge for this,” but it was just out of the question. I met Glen, and we had a blast. Soon, I was meeting other people for coffee. This was the genesis of Startup Saturdays.
The energy of the event and these face-to-face meetings made me realize a lot of things. I had originally just planned to manage and write a blog – that was it. JGL was snowballing into something else though. I hadn’t bargained on giving up this much of my time and resources, and I had a ton of other stuff to do. But I realized this was something bigger than me.
I just had to give more.
By late August, we had our second event and attracted 200 people at the Ayala Technohub in QC. Smaller events – geared more towards sharing and collaboration, were also being held (and wow, what energy is created when you bring in entrepreneurs into a room). I was also getting to meet a number of entrepreneurs, want-to-preneurs, and venture guys during startup Saturdays. There were startups being spawned by activity from the Facebook Group.
To scale, JGL needed to be managed more like a startup. I could no longer do everything on my own.
Naturally, I suddenly get this crazy email from someone from California who said he wanted to work for JGL so much that he was willing to take a big continental leap, face uncertainty, and swallow a paycut. It sounded familiar. I was crazy enough to give him a shot. This brings us to now.
I find it truly amazing that all this activity was the result of a reluctant post I published just 12 months ago.
Thank you so much for reading. It is any writer’s satisfaction to be read. Thank you for the time you take in reading these posts. Thank you for sharing them to more people.
Thank you for going to the events and participating. I know there are a million other places you could have gone during those times. You have blessed me with your presence.
Thank you so much for letting me hear about not only about your startups, but also your stories. Thank you for trusting me with them. It is a deep privilege for me to be able to listen.
For those in the Facebook Group, thank you for all the contributions and the activity! I keep telling everyone what a blessing that Group is. It’s become a startup founder’s resource and a quick market research tool. Fun people, too 🙂
For the JGL “core team” – Sherwin, Ryan, Orvin, Nicole, and Eric. Thank you so much for believing in the cause and your profound gift of working for free. This is deeply, deeply appreciated. I hope to work more with you more this coming year!
For those who’ve started something as a result of some of the activity above, thank you for taking that leap. This means more to me than you will know. It’s ultimately what JGL is all about. And please, if you need any help, just holler.
Thank you, to the Maker of all things for making all this possible.
For next year, there is so much planned. More events. More events with investors. Going out into the countryside. Talks on specific topics. Podcasts. I could go on and on. But you know what?
If this past year is any indication, we’ll probably end up doing something really very different – and much better – than anything I’ve planned or thought of.
I might have started all this with a post, but it’s really YOU who has taken it to levels I never would have thought of. It’s you who have shaped it into more than just a collection of blogposts.
JGL isn’t mine, after all. It’s yours. Happy anniversary 🙂
So what do you think? Where should we take it? What is it for you? What have you appreciated? What else do you need? Hit the comments and share, knowing there’s a huge chance for us to incorporate whatever good idea you may have!