Revisiting 2019 – Simplicity is The Ultimate Sophistication!


There are only 52 weeks in a year, and even if we live a life for 70-years, it would be only 3640 weeks.

Out of these 3640 weeks, I have already completed 1700+ weeks. So, to be precise, I have close to 2000 weeks left to contribute my life for achieving my goals, my family and the work that I contribute for my extended family, that is you.

This post reflects my entire 52 weeks that I spent in 2019.

Every year is special, we win some; we lose some, but we can’t live our lives afraid of making mistakes. Most importantly, we learn things that help us live a better and more meaningful life in the days to come.

Well, this yearly review post is all about this.

  • How was 2019 for me, and what all did I learn?
  • My mistakes and my goals for 2020

Grab a cup of coffee and read every sentence like you reading someone’s autobiography.

If you want to revisit my last year, here is: Revisiting 2018- Do what your heart feels is right!

The 2019 Year in review:

January: Hello Goa!

On 31st December, I was at the Kochi beach with locals. It was just a simple night with the grand view of endless sea and sounds of Arabian sea vastness. There was something special in that simplicity and something I took with me this whole year.

I started the year with a goal of keeping my life simple and peaceful.

One of the major highlights of January was my trip to Goa. I spent some time with an old friend of mine “Gaurav Mishra” who founded few agencies and is now on a lead role in one of the biggest tech companies in the world.

In those few days, we had a long discussion on stuff like artificial intelligence, machine learning and on persona building.

We created a few personas for the ShoutMeLoud audience and also interviewed some of our regular readers. We interviewed users who have made a purchase from ShoutMeLoud or through ShoutMeLoud and every interview lasted for 90 minutes.

Anyways, after a few interviews, it gave me the direction for the next few months.

February 2019: Meditation and USA trip

I started February with my yearly retreat for Vipassana. This is a 10 days silent meditation retreat. I started this tradition almost 3 years back, and since then, every year, I go for one 10 days retreat, and one 3 days retreat.

Being disconnected from the outer world and connecting with my inner self helps me in decluttering my life and focus on what really matters.

I have seen a profound effect of this practice in my life. I also made a video to help others realize this free practice, available for everyone.

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In fact, I believe this is the best free thing available on this planet. If you have an opportunity, do take out 10 days and plan a Vipassana retreat this year.

Once, I was back from the silent meditation retreat; I went to the USA to meet my buddy Syed in Miami and to attend the Traffic and Conversion Summit in San Diego.

I hung out with Syed Balkhi in his Miami house for one day and we chatted about a lot of things. I was so intrigued by his life story and his journey as an entrepreneur.

I will probably invite him to share his journey with the world. For now, here are a few pictures:

From there, we flew to attend the Traffic & Conversion Summit (San Diego), where I met my buddy David Henzel and it was 3 days of knowledge bomb at the T&C conference.

I shared my learnings and takeaways in this podcast:

In LA, I met Tejas who is in the leadership role at SocialPilot and it was the first time I drove a car in the USA. I always wanted to drive outside Asia but was worried about the left side driving, and mate, I did it this time and that too at the Hollywood. It was such an exhilarating experience for a first-timer.

One of my goals for the coming year is to rent a car and drive across cities in the USA or Europe. Let’s see how that turns out to be.

March: Slovenia for InOrbit

In March I traveled to Slovenia to speak at InOrbit. Here I shared my journey to building a million-dollar business from the comfort of home.

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Slovenia was a place that I have never seen before. With mountainous terrain and mainly continental climate, It was a perfect place for a digital marketing conference.

I met with many of my digital marketing colleagues, friends and made so many new acquaintances. It was great to meet Andrea again, who I have met many times in the past 1 year.

Here are a few pictures from InOrbit:

April – May: My Video Blog

In May, I visited my ancestral house in Rajasthan with my grandfather. In case if you are not aware, my grandfather is the biggest inspiration of my life.

His story of how he moved from a small village to create a thriving family in a big city. How he lived life with his principles that have made him a respected individual and a leader in the community. Something, that takes a lot of insights and persistence to build.

Now, when we stay in two different cities, I try to spend as much time as I get an opportunity. As he is aging, living with him gives me so much perspective about life that I possibly could not put it in words. His attitude towards relationship building and generosity has always inspired me to do the right things.

Every year, we do a road trip from Delhi to Rajasthan and visit many places including our ancestral home and usually, he blesses me with his childhood stories and wisdom.

Meanwhile, a video interview I did with another digital marketer (Sorav Jain), went live on YouTube. You can watch it below:

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Soon after that, I went to Hyderabad for a photoshoot with my College buddy, Aditya, who is now a passionate photographer. I meant to do a professional photo shoot for a while, and finally, we spent two days in Hyderabad doing the photoshoot.

This is the first time I also made a video blog that you can watch below:

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This video blog was created with the help of just two tools:

And this whole process of creating the video blog did not take much time. However, I don’t fancy putting my day to day life on YouTube unless it adds any form of value for my subscribers.

In 2020, I plan to do a few more video blogs especially when I’m attending a conference. The next one would be WordCamp Asia.

June – Diving with Sharks

In June, I went to Thailand to swimming with Sharks. In case if you are not aware, I love Scuba diving, and one of my ambition is to become PADI certified so that I could dive at many exotic locations around the world.

Diving with Shark is available at Sealife Ocean World in Bangkok and it was completely different and tougher than diving in the sea. I always wanted to see the sharks up close and the whole experience gave me the goosebumps.

At one point of diving, a Shark was coming straight to me in a narrow path, and I zapped for a few milliseconds, and I noticed my instructor signaling me to move, and within seconds I was away from the path of the Shark. It literally rubbed me from sideways, and it gave a nice thrill to every inch of my body.

Facing fear up close and moving ahead is what made this dive very special.

Here are a few pictures from diving with Shark:

When I was back in India, the rest of the weeks went into diagnosing the traffic drop on ShoutMeLoud. We were hit by one of the recent algorithm updates and traffic was down close to 30%. Nothing significant was changed from the website architect.

However, while diagnosing, I realized the major culprit is the Keyword cannibalization and next few months; I fixed the KW Cannibalization and improving old blog posts. It was a devastating time as some changes were making a big difference in keyword ranking and some of them were hardly moving the needle.

Nonetheless, the overall ranking and traffic drop were not improving but as I have experienced many such cycles in the past, I knew the way forward is to continue working, and reward would follow.

July: SEMRush Summer Jam and Solo trip

In July, I went to Portugal to attend SummerJam. This is a yearly private event hosted by the SEMRush team with industry thought leaders, SEO ninjas, and people that matter.

This was 3rd year in a row that I was attending the event and the team always leveling up the experience. I got to meet many old friends and got acquainted with many thought leaders. One of the agenda of this event is to work with product owners at SEMRush to build the tool for the future.

I think this is one approach of making users the part of the product creation, that differentiates between an ordinary product from a world-class product. Something, a lot of SAAS companies could learn from the SEMRush approach.

We also had a workshop with David Allen, who is popularly known as The GTD (Getting Things Done) guy. He shared his wisdom of how to approach towards getting things done and it was very insightful.

In the later part of 2019, I implemented his technique and could see a remarkable impact on my career. If you have trouble being organized or having projects stuck in between, you should read his bestseller Getting things done book.

Here are a few pictures from SummerJam:

After 3 insightful days with the SEMRush team, I traveled to Lagos and Albufeira for my first solo trip in the past few years. This was first such a trip, where I was not meeting any friend or business colleague, and it was pure solo exploration.

I will be making one such solo trip every year to experience the life of my own. However, next year I will be traveling without my laptop and perhaps carrying just a diary and a pen. If you have never made a solo trip before, do plan and get one done. It would be one of the best things you would be doing for yourself.

Here are a few pictures from my first solo trip: