2019 In Review: MBA Earned, TEDx Given, Blog+Podcast Launched, & 46 Books Read

This year was the best year I’ve had yet and I’ve found that the little wins, habits, and skill sets I’ve built over the last ten years are beginning to compound. Still, this year was not without its setbacks and disappointments as well. This blog post is more for my own personal reflection and documentation more than anything, but I thought a few of you might want to take a peek into my 2019.

This post is organized by the accomplishments, setbacks/discouragements, and lessons learned. So, without farther ado, let’s dive in.

Personal Accomplishments in 2019

This is where 2019 will stand out as a breakout year.

I Earned My MBA

In March, I earned my Masters in Business Administration (with an emphasis in Information Technology Management) from Western Governors University (WGU). How I earned a master’s degree in six months is another blog post for another time but it is possible (though not easy).

I Gave My First TED Talk

In May, I gave my first TEDx Talk at TEDxBethanyGlobalUniversity on what nonprofits can learn from tech startups. The talk became the basis for this blog and the Nonprofit Growth podcast. It was only after crafting the speech that I realized just how passionate I was about the topic around nonprofit management and growth.

I Read 46 Books

I generally read between 25-30 books a year but adding more audio books to the mix has almost doubled that number this year. I listen to books while I run, do dishes, fold laundry, run errands, and most times when I’m not with people or working.

Here’s a list of all the books I’ve read with a rating system I stole from Claire Oritz.

* {eh.}
** {useful information, but likely not something the general masses will fawn over.}
*** {good, but with the caveat that I have eclectic tastes and this may not be mainstream}
**** {darn good. worth buying a hard copy of to put on a nice shelf.}
***** {love! top-10 placement! life-changing! gold stars 4eva!}

I’ll bold the five star (*****) books.

  1. The Way of the SEAL: Think Like an Elite Warrior to Lead and Succeed by Mark Divine****
  2. A Guide to Project Management Body of Knowledge by the Project Management Institute**
  3. Lost and Founder: A Painfully Honest Field Guide to the Startup World by Rand Fishkin***
  4. Million Dollar Consulting: The Professional’s Guide to Growing a Practice by Alan Weiss**
  5. Turning the Flywheel: A Monograph to Accompany Good to Great by Jim Collins***
  6. Crafting & Executing Strategy: The Quest for Competitive Advantage: Concepts and Cases by Arthur Thompson Jr***
  7. Talk Like TED: The 9 Public Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds by Carmine Gallo***
  8. Morgan: American Financier by Jean Strouse *
  9. Vlog Like a Boss: How to Kill It Online with Video Blogging by Amy Schmittauer *
  10. I, Justine: An Analog Memoir by Justine Ezarik ***
  11. The Path Between Us: An Enneagram Journey to Healthy Relationships by Suzanne Stabile ****
  12. Tell to Win: Connect, Persuade, and Triumph with the Hidden Power of Story by Peter Guber ***
  13. I Will Teach You to Be Rich: No Guilt. No Excuses. No B.S. Just a 6-Week Program That Works by Ramit Sethi ***
  14. The 3-Day Effect by Florence Williams *
  15. YouTube Secrets: The Ultimate Guide to Growing Your Following and Making Money as a Video Influencer by Sean Cannell & Benji Travis *
  16. Innovation and Entrepreneurship by Peter Drucker **
  17. The Dream Manager: Achieve Results Beyond Your Dreams by Helping Your Employees Fulfill Theirs by Matthew Kelly *****
  18. Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity by Kim Scott****
  19. The Gospel-Driven Church: Uniting Church Growth Dreams with the Metrics of Grace by Jared C. Wilson **
  20. This Is Marketing: You Can’t Be Seen Until You Learn to See by Seth Godin ***
  21. The Toyota Way by Jeffrey Liker ***
  22. The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business by Patrick Lencioni *****
  23. Be Our Guest: Perfecting the Art of Customer Service by The Disney Institute ***
  24. The 1-Page Marketing Plan: Get New Customers, Make More Money, And Stand Out From The Crowd by Allen Dib ***
  25. The Lean Product Playbook: How to Innovate with Minimum Viable Products and Rapid Customer by Dan Olsen **
  26. Anything You Want: 40 Lessons for a New Kind of Entrepreneur *****
  27. Overcoming Dyslexia by Sally Shaywitz ***** (If Dyslexia is a thing for you or your loved ones. Thank you, Melanie Hurlbut, for pointing me to this book).
  28. What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done by Matthew Perman *****
  29. The Servant: A Simple Story About the True Essense of Leadership by James Hunter ***
  30. Cracking the Sales Management Code: The Secrets to Measuring and Managing Sales Performance by Jason Jordan, Michelle Vazzana ****
  31. The Nonprofit Marketing Guide: High-Impact, Low-Cost Ways to Build Support for Your Good Cause by Kivi Leroux Miller & Katya Andresen **
  32. The Digital Fundraising Blueprint: How to Raise More Money Online for Your Nonprofit by Jeremy Haselwood *
  33. The Networked Nonprofit: Connecting With Social Media to Drive Change by Beth Kanter & Allison Fine ***
  34. The Burnout Generation by Anne Helen Petersen **
  35. Lean Impact: How to Innovate for Radically Greater Social Good by Ann Mei Chang ****
  36. Managing the Non-Profit Organization: Principles and Practices by Peter Drucker ***
  37. Family Worship: In the Bible, in History & in Your Home by Donald Whitney *****
  38. The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company by Robert Iger *****
  39. The Non Nonprofit: For-Profit Thinking for Nonprofit Success by Steve Rothschild ****
  40. Engine of Impact: Essentials of Strategic Leadership in the Nonprofit Sector by William F. Meehan III & Kim Starkey Jonker ***
  41. The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth: Live Them and Reach Your Potential by John Maxwell ***
  42. Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear ****
  43. The Sales Acceleration Formula: Using Data, Technology, and Inbound Selling to Go from $0 to $100 Million by Mark Roberge *****
  44. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth *****
  45. Free to Focus: A Total Productivity System to Achieve More by Doing Less by Michael Hyatt ***
  46. Bull’s-Eye: The Power of Focus by Brian Tracy ***

Launched a Blog & Podcast

While I have dabbled with blogging since 2008, I could never buckle down and get serious about it. It’s taken me ten years of procrastination, exploration, and learning to even figure out what I was passionate about and had enough practice to speak to.

This year-end review is the 53 blog post of the year and in 2020 I’m hoping to triple this number (this includes blogs created from podcasts and videos).

Other Wins of 2019

  • In 2018, my wife and I discovered that she had a large benign brain tumor. She had brain surgery to remove it right away and I’m happy to report that it has not returned in 2019!
  • I fulfilled a dream of mine by taking my family on a Disney Cruise in February. Worth every penny.
  • My marketing and technology team and I successfully migrated our donor database and donations management system from Raiser’s Edge to Salesforce and Classy. This was two years in the making and I’m so proud of my team for pulling this off. It’s a task that most organizations our size would have spent well over $150k for that we accomplished internally.

Setbacks & Discouragements

This year was not without some setbacks and heartaches along the way.

Didn’t Meet Our Goal for BGU’s Enrollment Growth

A big part of my job as the marketing director for Bethany International is growing the freshmen intake of Bethany Global University. While we had massive growth for three years in a row, that growth has stagnated for the last couple of years. The marketing and admissions teams have worked hard, experimented, and learned so much, but we have not yet been able to grow past our current ceiling of about 100-110 incoming fall freshmen.

That won’t stop us from working harder and smarter, however. I’m certain we can grow that number past 200 in the next five years.

Had to Part Ways with a Close Friend

I can’t say much about this but I had to make one of the hardest choices in my life this year. I could have handed the whole situation better and I’m hoping to do better with this next time if I can’t avoid it in the future.

Discovered My Sons Dyslexia

This is one of those things that you never expect will happen to you, but now that I know more about dyslexia there’s actually a pretty high likely hood that you know somebody who is dyslexic or you are dyslexic yourself.

5-10% of the population has dyslexia and as many as 17% are affected by it to some degree. This is a huge deal since reading affects so much of our lives.

Here’s the crazy part. It’s scientifically proven to be reversible if you catch it early and take proactive measures. The current school system is doing a poor job of this and you have to take this matter into your own hand as a parent. It’s not been an easy road to walk but it is a relief to know that my son can live a life without having to compensate for dyslexia.

For this topic, I can’t recommend the book Overcoming Dyslexia enough to get a firm grasp of what dyslexia actually is and how to overcome it.

Other Discouragements

  • Regardless of how much I achieve, self-doubt, depression, and anxiety are weekly companions.
  • Repeated small hurts from others can compound into resentment. I’m still trying to figure out how to not let it get to that point.

Regardless of all these things, God is good, he is faithful, and his grace is enough to press on.

2019 Lessons Learned

Here is a shortlist of what I am taking with me into 2020:

  • Execution > Strategy: A great strategy poorly executed is much worse than a poor strategy that is executed with excellence. Since it’s hard to know if the strategy you picked is the winner, it’s much more effective to focus on execution.
  • There’s more to project management than I thought. After taking a formal class on the subject, I discovered that having experience managing projects does not mean you know how to execute effective project management. It’s a highly under-taught skill set that I believe anybody doing any kind of administration work should study.
  • Writing down your goals is great. Rewriting them down over and over again is even better. It’s certainly worked for me.
  • Family worship time is essential to discipleship. It’s not a practice I grew up with but it is something we are doing regularly in my household now.
  • Ranking #1 on Google is not as hard as professional search engine optimizers make it out to be. I’ve secured multiple top-ranking positions without a single backlink and with zero use of social media when I started blogging this year.
  • One of the greatest things you can do as a manager is to ask people what their dreams are and then do what you can to help make their dreams a reality regardless of how they are related to the company.
  • Just because conventional wisdom says something is supposed to take so long, cost so much, or be so difficult, doesn’t make it true. It’s possible to accomplish more with less than you think.
  • If you really like something, be unapologetically enthusiastic about that thing. I’m not sure if this is just me but I feel like our society likes to put a limit on how enthusiastic a person ought to be about something.

Dan Sanchez, MBA

Dan Sanchez is a marketing director, co-host of the B2B Growth show, and blogger. He holds a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) and BS in Marketing Management from Western Governors University. Learn more about Dan »

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