2010 Review; Acomplishments & Lessons Learned

2010 was the year of… Evolution. There wasn’t a single area that I feel can be pinpointed as having the biggest breakthrough. Therefore, 2010 was also The Year of Diversity.

Looking back at the year is always fun for me. I get to see what worked well, where I learned the most, and how my plans matched up to reality. First I’ll share some of the lessons I learned in business and in life, and then I’ll discuss accomplishments.

  1. Systems give you power. This was a hard pill for me to swallow. Luckily I have a great support network around me and my friend and strategic partner Charlie nudged me into overcoming my limiting perspective around this. For the longest time, I’ve viewed systems (established processes in business) as something stifling and cold. I knew this was a limiting belief, and it was keeping me from having other people help out and carry some of the load so I could focus on my strengths. So I began thinking… How do I want to view systems instead? The way I framed them before wasn’t something I decided anyway, it was just a perspective I unconsciously picked up. Now I view systems as resources that make me more efficient, increase cooperation, and help me take better care of my people. Why I didn’t do this sooner, I wish I knew.
  2. First love, then money. In 2010 I really wanted to take my business financially to a more stable place. In 2009 I achieved my goal of becoming self employed, but my income was more sporadic than I would have liked. So this past year, my goal was to build more predictable income streams. And while pursuing this I occasionally got too caught up in the numbers and sales, and I could feel it taking a toll on my inspiration. Money started to carry more weight than love, and it felt off. I learned that while seeking financial stability is a worthwhile goal, it must always come from a conscious starting point of love and answering the reason why.
  3. I don’t have a killer instinct. In 2010, I competed in my first amateur MMA (mixed martial arts) fight. I learned that there’s a big difference between training and fighting. You can train incredibly hard — with brutal daily sparring — and it will still never prepare you for what it’s like to be in a real fight. Fighting requires killer instinct, something I’m not born with and something I’m not sure I want to develop. I haven’t decided if I’ll fight again, but it was an incredible growth experience.
  4. Relationships matter. Perhaps the biggest area of growth I’ve experienced this year is with my wife and within our relationship. This year we made the decision to join forces on the Illuminated Mind business and it’s been an awesome experience. I’m incredibly grateful to spend another year on this earth with Ev’Yan.
  5. Social media is can be a creation killer. It’s easy to get fooled into thinking you’re “building relationships” by “participating in the conversation” when you’re really just obsessively checking things on Twitter or Facebook. 2010 was the year I experienced firsthand the wrath of the “techno ADD loop” on my productivity. 2011 well be the year of consciously using social media, and not letting it overrun my creation time.
  6. In person connections rock! In 2010 I went to my first “big” blogger meetup: Blogworld. It was really awesome meeting in person and sealing bonds with people that I’ve been interacting and working with online for several years. I had so much fun and I don’t know why I didn’t do this sooner. One of my goals in 2011 is to go to at least three big conferences, I’ve already purchased my ticket to WDS, so that will be one of them.

I learned much more in 2010, but looking back those are the lessons that really stood out.

A lot was also accomplished this past year as well. Here are some of the highlights:

  1. Launched The Dojo. This was the first partner-based product I launched and I’m glad that I did it with Charlie. I learned a lot about what it takes to co-create something and collaborate to communicate a shared message.
  2. Brought over 150 people into Paid to Exist. We launched PTE twice in 2010, both times were a great success. This year, we definitely won’t be doing two inductions; I’m not sure we’ll even do one. I have other projects I want to focus on, and while Paid to Exist is a lot of fun, it also takes a lot of work.
  3. Started using metrics in my business. Just like for a long time I resisted systems, I also resisted metrics. I tracked our finances and business growth in my head. Needless to say, that’s not the best way to go about things. In the last quarter of 2010, I started actually tracking revenue and a few other things and we saw record growth financially. Coincidence? I don’t think so. The lesson: what you track tends to grow.
  4. Created “The Armory.” Something I haven’t talked about yet… so this is as good a time as any. You may have noticed the sidebar changed from a signup form to an image that sends you to another page called Armory. This is where I’ll be releasing product-quality free guides to equip people with the tools they’ll need to live on their own terms. The first two are The Limit Erasing Technique and Seven Keys to Discovering Your Passion. I wanted to offer a more valuable and compelling reason to sign up to my email list, and this is my way of “upping the ante.” Expect more to be released here soon.
  5. Physical breakthroughs. As I said before, in 2010 I had my first MMA fight. I learned more than I ever wanted to know about what it takes to train for a fight (like fireman’s carrying people up a near vertical 2 mile trail). I also began barefoot running, joined my first gymnastics class, and started teaching Jeet Kune Do twice a week. Overall, I’m really happy with my fitness development, but think I probably focused on it a bit too much in 2010.
  6. Established a real headquarters. My first year of self employment I worked out of our living room on my laptop. While this wasn’t bad per se, I craved a physical home for Illuminated Mind. And in June of last year we moved in to a bigger place with space for an office. This year (in three weeks!) we’ll be moving to Portland, Oregon and the basecamp of Illuminated Mind will grow once again. Ev’Yan and I are really excited about this!

Overall, I’m pretty happy with the way things went in 2010. I experienced a lot of growth as a person, and learned a lot about how to build a business effectively and more sustainably. Since I get paid to be me, I see these two areas as parallel growth. I couldn’t grow as a person without growing my business at the same time, and vice versa. I couldn’t separate them if I wanted to. I like that.

This year I’ll be taking what I learned and setting my sights on even bolder visions and adventures, personally and with Illuminated Mind. One of those projects is a product I’ll be releasing within the next couple of months on crafting and spreading a powerful message, something I’ve been passionate about helping people with one-on-one for the past two years.

In the next update I’ll be talking about some of my goals and plans for 2011, and I hope you’ll join me in taking on a bolder vision.

Now, over to you…

What did you learn in 2010? What went well and what are you
proud of?

photo courtesy of bslmmrs

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Comment & Add Your Voice

Neurodermitis Portal January 9, 2011 at 1:22 pm

Hi Jonathan,

congretulations for your achievements in 2010! And thanks a lot for sharing the insights you’ve gained throughout the year.

You’re post pretty much motivates me :)

Wish you the best for 2011,



Evan January 9, 2011 at 3:18 pm

Fights are emergencies. And so are a poor model for daily life, which (unless you are in a war) is much more about the predictable and usual. So fights are poor models for most of our lives.

And training for an emergency can be important but doesn’t prepare us for most of the mundane.

Mindfulness can be developed in other ways than fighting – though losing it in a fight tends to bring immediate feedback that gets your attention.

Congratulations on a great year. Here’s to a better 2011.


Jonathan January 10, 2011 at 5:20 pm

That’s true, I don’t think (real) fighting is a good model for life.

However, a lot of what we learn is through play fighting. It’s the way most animals in the wild learn as well.

Martial arts training that isn’t specifically for a fight tends to be more useful, I’ve found.

ayngelina January 9, 2011 at 3:53 pm

I hear you on social media being a creation killer. This is the first year of my blog so I spent a lot of time building relationships through Twitter and Facebook but some days I’d look at the clock and realized I had spent hours without writing on my blog.

This year I’m going to be more focused – writing before tweeting.


Sandra Lee January 9, 2011 at 7:09 pm

Congratulations on your accomplishments. I really like how you interweave your business and personal accomplishments. I’m impressed by your fitness and dedication to martial arts. I’m glad you don’t have the killer instinct! I wish more were like that.

In 2010, I brought more positivity into my life and reduced my stress levels. Very happy about that!


Tom Meitner January 9, 2011 at 7:44 pm

Nice review, Jonathan! Best of luck to you in 2011!


IamDavid January 9, 2011 at 7:48 pm

I learned that I still have a lot to learn about building a successful personal brand. I quit my job in 08 and have been a self employeed internet marketer since, but building a blog and an audience around my message is still something I have not quite mastered yet. I still have much to learn from guys like you who are where I want to be.

What went well is my personal life, building real and meaningful relationships.

Best of luck in 2011 Johnathan!



Cindy January 9, 2011 at 8:50 pm

First of all I’d love to hear some specifics on your systems epiphany …

Secondly, I’m an uprooted Portlandier soon to be back–a little after you and the Peach get there (hope she doesn’t mind the fondly granted nickname).

Third: I just msg’d World Domination Maestro because it looks like the bloggers conference is sold out. I hope to create raw vegan delicacies or ease tired shoulder muscles in a work exchange to get in those doors somehow!! ;)

Next off: my year in review takes entirely too much paper for here and also much of it is TMI nonetheless, 1) Spend less money by not shopping, go directly past the store. 2) (and this works!) 2) Make more money by working longer hours. (This really helps me!) 3) Never depend on someone else to make you miserable enough to get out there for your morning run because you can make yourself miserable easily. 4) DEFINITELY meet up in person: I made my best ever raw gourmet vegan carrot cake this year by getting ready for the meetup potluck and I realized by so doing how talented I am ;) ALSOOOOO that other people really LIKE me which I couldn’t discover at home alone online. Yay!!

Seriously though I really love getting your updates and bought your first (?) e-book and it keeps kickin my butt so–THANKS!! Happy New Year I’ve got to meet you and Ev’Yan.

Also, it’s kinda neat you don’t have that killer instinct thing. I think the discipline of the martial art is a meditation and your inner knowing would kick in if you ever had to be called upon to protect someone or something but otherwise, it’s Light and Love and that’s very awesome!!


Jonathan January 10, 2011 at 5:24 pm

Hey Cindy,

I’m sure Ev’Yan won’t mind. Most people call her Apricot, but Peach is just as nice.

Hope to see you at the World Domination Summit!

Milo January 10, 2011 at 2:34 am

Very inspiring Jonathan, thanks for being so open about your achievements and challenges througout the year. I would be too cowardly to take part in a fight in the first place!

I was all over the place in 2010 but when I look back I did do a lot, it just wasn’t focused.

Most importantly I finally got my new blog set up, the concept for which I’ve been working on since taking part in the first ever Paid to Exist. I launched it on January 1st and got a great reaction in the first week, so I’m already feeling very positive about 2011!


Jonathan January 10, 2011 at 5:24 pm

Dude, congrats on hanging up your shingle. That’s the first step, and one of the hardest.

Contrarian January 10, 2011 at 9:21 am

Hey Jonathan –

So, you never told us … did you win or loose your MMA fight? If you want to feel good about yourself as a fighter and looking for some MMA inspiration , I’ll fight you. I guarantee you’d be able to knock me out within 30 seconds of the first round ;-). lol.

Win, loose, or draw, you did a lot of stuff and had a very eventful year, so you should feel good about that.

Thanks for the recap.

– Contrarian


Jonathan January 10, 2011 at 5:25 pm

I lost the fight. I went into detail about it in a previous post + video.

I learned that just stepping into the ring makes you a winner. It takes a lot of chutzpah.

jonathanfigaro January 10, 2011 at 10:28 am

My plans for 2011…

1. Drop my e-book = personal development/ world domination…everyone will know me and what i have created..( pure financial freedom..eternally wealthy)

2. give back to the community

3. start my book tour and career in music..

4. live life to the fullest with no regrets.

great post.


Laurie January 10, 2011 at 1:51 pm

Hi Jonathan, sounds like 2010 was awesome for you!

The most important thing I learned in 2010 was that if I really wanted to find my way to true freedom, I needed a good place to START. I learned that I need to sort out my inner world instead of trying so hard to fix my outer world, and 2011 is already rockin’.

See you at WDS :)


Simone January 10, 2011 at 5:13 pm

I’m still learning. Currently I am learning a lot about my limiting beliefs and in the middle of trying to understand them, and also how to tackle them.

I think 2010 was somewhat of a bumpy ride, where felt I got nowhere rather quickly.

Fears is a huge word in my life right now…hopefully I am brave enough to tackle them :)


Steven | The Emotion Machine January 10, 2011 at 5:25 pm

Very impressive accomplishments Jonathan. You’re a few plateaus ahead of me in terms of business, but I’ve learned a little bit in some of these areas too (for example, I just started using metrics as well).

I should probably take heed to social media being a creation killer. I have been using Twitter and Facebook A LOT lately (and with some noticeable improvements), but I think I need to balance it out with some more content generation.

Thanks for the lessons!


Graham Phoenix January 11, 2011 at 3:05 am

I learnt a lot in 2010 and went through ups and downs getting there. The end result has been to help me focus my efforts and concentrate on writing awesome content as task #1.

I have learnt:
1. To start with one project and get that working, 2/3 blogs dissipates your effort early on.
2. To burn your bridges. If there is a plan B, that’s what will happen.
3. To follow what your passionate about. Blogging about what you know isn’t good enough.

Thanks, Jonathan, hope to see you at an event sson.


Graham Phoenix January 11, 2011 at 3:07 am

BTW, I like the new design, it’s clean and clear. Your idea of ‘lots’ of free guides for the list is great. It sets a new bar for us to reach.


Note Taking Nerd #2 January 11, 2011 at 2:37 pm

Hey Jonathan,

Love your list and #1 got me thinking. One of the programs I’ve taken notes on was Stompernet’s “Formula 5? course that was conducted by the genius Paul Lemberg.

One of the 5 elements in “Formula 5? had to with organization of time, resources, assets.

In this section he talked about how to create processes and what a business should have systems for. Below is a small section of my notes I thought might be useful to a couple of people here who are serious about systematizing their office work…

Steps to Create a System:

1. Decide on the purpose
2. Figure out the steps
3. Graphically Illustrate it
4. Build a Checklist / Worksheet
5. Add Clarifications
6. Add Tools
7. Create Metrics
8. Test
9. Train
10. Tweak

3 Situations That Need Systems:

Situation 1) A well-known procedure that isn’t documented.

You know how to do it or somebody in your business does but there isn’t a list of
steps recorded. This should be easiest of all.

Situation 2) A procedure you don’t know well and you don’t have anyone in your business who’s an expert at it enough to document it. This is where you find someone outside the company who’d be willing to share it.

Situation 3) A brand new procedure to your company so there’s no existing procedure here or any where that you know of. So, you get to invent it from scratch.

4 Ways to Figure Out The Steps:

Catch Someone in the Act

This is simply observation & capturing a useful level of detail

Things to Capture

o Process
o How they do it broken into discreet steps
o Conversations can be turned into scripts
o Actions (Physical/procedural
o Documentation
o Mindset stuff
o Why they do what they do

Tools for capturing this stuff


Best way to do this…


Screen capturing/Camtasia

Story boards…
Can be the fastest way to absorb the process

Interview Someone Who Knows What They’re Doing…

Can be someone on your team who you can’t observe or a consultant, outside expert or non-competitor in the same field. Highly recommended

Seminars, conferences & training programs…
Interview multiple experts there because someone may shine light on something in a way that really makes it easiest to understand

Adapt Something That Works…
Carry over something that’s working in another field and drop it into your

Invent It From Scratch


Survey Experts…
Ask them how they’d go about doing it. People pay Paul all the time to conceive processes for them.

Trial & Error…
When you do this make sure to document what you’re doing so you don’t repeat what doesn’t work. Conceive, draft, and document. Refine & test, refine & test


Thank you Jonathan for sharing your wisdom here. I’m a total geek when it comes to being curious about what’s unique and working for other entrepreneurs. Especially knowing that life is nothing but continuous evolution of perspective.


jonathanfigaro January 12, 2011 at 9:58 am

I had to copy ad paste all this information…haha

Natalie Sisson January 30, 2011 at 2:54 pm

I so know what you mean about systems. I too was of the elk that you just didn’t need them because they stifled creativity.

Yet I’ve realised how incredibly powerful they are for organizing your life so that you can free up more time to be creative.

Love this list, loved meeting you at Blogworld and looking forward to so many more adventures this year!



Milo January 12, 2011 at 4:23 pm

Thanks Jonathan – it feels good to be moving at last! And yes, I did have to overcome my fears to put it out there.


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