6 min read

In the year of our Lord 2024...

An attempt at some personal prognostication
In the year of our Lord 2024...

I had an unexpected realization to start off the year. Since I started the studio 3 years ago, I have started every year with a number in mind that is an amount of revenue that once I book it, I’m free to work on whatever I want with the rest of my time (h/t to Jan Chipchase and Craig Mod, both of whom inspired this approach). If you were along for the ride last year, I’m willing to bet you could identify the window where that happened.

The unexpected realization: it’s January, and I’ve already booked my number. This has never happened before. And, yes, sure, booking it isn’t the same as having the cash in the bank from doing the work…but it’s still an important signifier and allows me to operate a bit differently on quite a few fronts.

So one thing I’m going to do that I haven’t done before is share my annual themes and initiatives, instead of holding them close and only revealing them at the end of the year when I evaluate them.

But in case you want the Tl;dr, I’ve got a few asks from you for my own year ahead:

  • Do you know anyone that you think, “oh man, this person & Seth should know each other” or “man, I bet those two people would have a great conversation”? Introduce us! Even if you’re not entirely sure why you have that inclination. Especially if they’re in the world of public innovation, progressive education, urban planning, or game design - all the topics I find myself irresistibly drawn to.
  • Specifically, do you know anyone who is about to embark on a school redesign project geared around more creative, learner-centered approaches? Maybe K-12, maybe higher ed - but this is one of the project types I’d like to take on this year.
  • Are there specific communities or networks that you think I should connect into? I’m less concerned with the size and more with where there could be meaningful, authentic relationship around common interests.

You can just forward this along and be like, “hey, want me to introduce you to this rando?”

There you go, those are my beginning of year requests. This is also the place where I will - as has become an annual tradition - re-assert that this is a free newsletter and I very much want to keep it that way. There’s no paywall coming this year. The tradeoff, of course, is that I write this largely for myself so it isn’t particularly regular in its publication schedule or its focus. But you knew all that already.

This year’s themes

Let’s dig into the themes then. What I’ll do below is share my 3 big themes for this year, with a little narrative about why for each of them, and then I’ll share a few initiatives I have in mind to advance those themes (some of which overlap between multiple themes).

Theme 1: Stretch your muscles & be a bit ambitious

This theme was already brewing before I had my big realization, but that definitely cemented it. The past couple years have been about establishing the studio; consequently, a lot of the work I’ve done has been the kind of work that I know I can absolutely deliver on. That’s not to say that it hasn’t been challenging, but compared to the “plunge into the deep end of the pool” approach that has defined startup life for me in the past, the growth has been much more measured. I want to push on that a bit this year and get back into doing some work that will stretch and grow me.


  • Get comfortable enough in Dutch to volunteer at kids’ school for basic things

  • At least 1 of the following new project types:

    • a large school design project

    • a collaborative project that requires building a team of 3-5 people, Ocean’s 11 style

    • build an in-house product

  • Make 1 conference presentation

  • Attend 1 international coffee event

  • Double your audience through relational engagement (collaborations, novel events, etc.)

Theme 2: Put weird into the world

This acts a little bit as counterballast against ambition in certain ways…when I think about some of the growth measures (revenue, audience size), I know that there are ways to hack those a bit by doing things that are more mainstream. I also know that I will not find that approach to be particularly satisfying. If I think about what has worked for me, it’s always been about figuring out how to play my own game. At this point, I think I occupy a pretty distinct niche, and while I don’t mind opening it up a bit, I still want to indulge a lot of my own weird curiosity and interests. But I also want to do it a bit more out in the open.


  • If we go down that “in house product” road, I think it will be something pretty niche. There may be a future post about this - but I have a growing conviction that in the AI-future, there’s even more room for small, niche products. Even if the product never really comes to fruition, I expect to do a lot of prototyping this year around the random ideas that are floating around in my brain.
  • Which also probably means that I’d like to focus any public presentation I do on some of those weird random things as well.
  • Connect into a couple new networks where you can contribute and build meaningful relationships. This is related to that request above. I’d love to find some of the places where people who are similarly weird and random to me are hanging out.
  • Kick off 1 new research project. I always start the new year with a bunch of rabbit holes I’d like to go down. I have a few thoughts right now, but I want to get to a good place with the Pokemon Travelogue before I do too much more.

In the spirit of this theme, I’ve also already published my first Countertop Chaos of the year. There’s at least 3 more episodes coming before I wrap this first season, which has been a weird kind of fun for me.

Theme 3: Take a 10 year view on change

Something just hasn’t been sitting right with me when I’ve reflected on the level of stability over the past 12 months…I really don’t want to be holding still. Through my twenties and thirties there was dramatic change happening pretty regularly, largely because of choices I was making - most of which I don’t regret. There’s a lot about my life that is pretty locked in at this point: I’m happily married, our kids are increasingly independent, we own a house in a place we intend to stay for a long while.

But that doesn’t mean things can’t and won’t change. In fact, it means that I have a little bit more room to chart a direction and take a longer view on the kind of life I want to cultivate, the kind of opportunities I want to pursue.

The choice of 10 years was initially arbitrary, but then I started to think about it more concretely and realized that in 10 years my wife & I will be on the verge of becoming empty nesters, which opens up all kinds of possibilities.

So this year I’m thinking a lot about some of the things that set an initial direction that may take a long time to fully realize.


  • That Dutch language thing above is for real. To be more grounded in our community here and to open up as many local possibilities for relationships, for community service, and even for work, the language is really helpful. It’s also a prerequisite for getting permanent residency in a couple years…so might as well start getting in reps now.
  • By end of year, swim for 30 minutes twice a week. I don’t get super excited about exercise or fitness, but I do care about keeping up a pretty high energy level. Also, I just really love being in the water, so I need to make it an irrevocable part of my daily life and not just something that happens when I go on a beach holiday.
  • And, yeah, that coffee event. Coffee has become a pretty serious hobby in the past couple years. I don’t know that it ever becomes anything professional, but it’s a world I want to continue to be a part of and explore more deeply. I can’t quite imagine what the 10 year trajectory on it could be, and that’s kind of exciting.

There you have it. This is how I’m thinking of the year ahead. I am dead certain that some of this will change and shift, but I’m excited about the direction for the year and feel a pretty good amount of clarity.