Hey Shacknews, I am going to speak from the heart here.
This year was tough for everyone, and many people paid the ultimate cost. This post is not meant to lessen anyone's else struggles. It is really just a place for me to talk about what I went through this year.
To be honest, things took a turn for the worse for me last year.
Devastated.— Productive Citizen ✌🏾💙🙏🏾👊🏾 (@technosucks) September 12, 2019
I never really explained what happened on this day, but long-story-short, something happened that was completely out of my control at my investment company. It remains the largest setback I have ever endured in my 13 years of managing money.
I really never recovered mentally from what happened. On Wall Street, the worst thing that can happen to a trader is when they lose their confidence, and even though I didn't do anything wrong, I still felt like a failure. I actually considered going on a medical leave of absense in the fall of 2019 just to get my head straight.
I decided to keep going, and kept trucking into 2020. Shacknews had a lot of big plans for this year with events covering the globe along with a big entrance in the Smash Bros. competitive esports space with our Shack Smash Invitational Series. A lot of these events would require my oversight, and I helped plan everything on weekly conference calls starting in November 2019.
In January 2020, I am fairly certain that I contracted COVID-19 at CES in Las Vegas. There was no adequate testing at the time, so I will never know for sure, but you can certainly point to this moment as a tipping point for my personal health.
As talk of lockdowns began in early March 2020, Shacknews began looking at our live events schedule, specifically Shack Smash SXSW 2020. Our Shacknews Livestream Productions team had two gigs lined up in March, and it was looking like the company would actually be able to breakeven at the end of the month. After some discussions with our partners and the players, we made the tough decision to indefinitely postpone the event. At the time, many of my colleagues were trying to tell me that we could make up stuff later in the year, but I knew it was over. 90% of our expected revenues for 2020 were tied to live events, and we were going to have to cancel all of them. I was already depressed, so this massive setback didn't really sadden me further.
Our first-ever Shack Smash Ultimate invitational tournament set to kick off in Austin, Texas next week has been postponed. The health & safety of our competitors, casters, and livestream production team is our top priority during this ongoing coronavirus outbreak. #ShackSmash pic.twitter.com/yxz7lpMdfX— Shacknews (@shacknews) March 12, 2020
There's something about managing a company through a crisis that brings the best out of me. Shacknews was in rough shape when I became CEO in 2014, and 2020 was an even more challenging year as we had to rethink everything. I am super proud of how my team responded this year. We put together a plan to pivot to online livestream events, and got back to work.
Out of the chaos and sadness of the early days of the pandemic came some of the coolest things that we have ever done at Shacknews. The Shacknews Stimulus Games 2020 were born, and we ended up dishing out tens of thousands of dollars to people who really needed it. We also put together E4 2020, and ended that special June event with a very special livestream with ICE-T on the Twitch front page. I even got to interview superstar athletes Mike Tyson and Richard Sherman this year. Many of these opportunities were born out of the mess that COVID-19 created, and I hope that our relentless efforts to pivot will serve as an example to other people for how to deal with adversity.
Midway through the summer, I knew something was off in my body. I spent the rest of the year going through online telemedicine appointments with doctors and a slew of in-person tests. In September 2020, I received a diagnosis that served as a solid wakeup call to me that I had to prioritize my health over work. This is hard for any entrepreneur to hear, but I did step back to finally go on medical leave. It was almost exactly one year to the day that I had first considered taking a break.
What followed was a series of health setbacks that bordered on some sort of sick comedy. It's funny. I feel like a lot of my health problems were developing for years, but I was just too damn busy to notice them as I traveled the world doing my job. Being forced to stay put in Ohio for the year was truly a blessing in disguise. It's December 31, and I am still struggling to get to some semblance of my healthier self, but it is going to be a long journey back.
I came back to join our Shacknews Staff for our end of the year awards, and Extra Life marathon, but I am still on medical leave from the editorial team at the time of this post. In fact, I will be resuming my leave pretty soon.
I refused to replace myself or take a break from being CEO this year, and my focus has shifted to development projects here at the Shack. We launched Cortex in November, and I am insanely proud of how well it has gone. We have laid a groundwork for many future Shacknews experiences with our Cortex Gamification Engine, and I can't wait to show you the silly and wonderful things we have cooking for 2021.
I practice with 6 putters. I will walk to different spots in my yard and throw. 3/6 on this attempt from about 15 feet away. Disc Golf is great. pic.twitter.com/TX4wkmudqA— Productive Citizen ✌🏾💙🙏🏾👊🏾 (@technosucks) September 17, 2020
Being isolated in the house I grew up in has been a surreal experience. I don't have the best relationship with my family, and this house is full of some really bad memories. As an already introspective person, it has been really weird being alone in my thoughts in the house where I spent my formative years. I moved back here from California four years ago when I really needed an escape, and it has helped to rejuvenate my soul (despite how crappy as Ohio can be). It's weird how being home in your birthplace just feels different, but it really does.
I am rambling at this point, but whatever. I don't really have a conclusion here, as I continue to deal with my own personal health and mental struggles. Maybe the conclusion is that I am still alive despite 2020's best efforts to off me. Maybe the point of this post is to give hope to other people facing their own challenges. This is not to be meant as an excuse for any of my failings this year. Hopefully this article will at least give you some context for what exactly I went through this year, and what I am still dealing with going into 2021.
I am sorry that I was unable to fulfill all of the Shacknews Mercury orders this year. It is something that I have been doing by myself, and there have been countless times that I literally couldn't get out of bed this year. I am feeling better now, but I have my good days and my bad days as it goes with many ailments. I am going to continue to do my best to ship out stuff into the early part of next year, and I appreciate your understanding. Shacknews Mercury is the primary source of revenue at the company, and you folks are supporting efforts like the development of Shacknews Cortex or content like David Craddock's most recent long read.
I am happy to see 2020 come to an end, but I realize what challenges await me in 2021. Shacknews will celebrate our 25th anniversary in 2021, and I am very excited for you to experience what we are working on.
I am going to keep creating things that don't exist that I want. It is a simple concept, but that is the core philosophy driving our Shacknews development efforts. I hope you will be surprised and delighted when we launch everything next year. I am pouring my heart into this place, and it is my hope that these efforts will allow Shacknews to continue to flourish for another 25 years.