Lessons From 2016

Approximate read time: 14 minutes

About Me

I graduated from Flinders University of South Australia with a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Laws and Legal Practice and is admitted as a barrister and solicitor in the Supreme Court of South Australia. I won the Australia Day Citizen of the Year Award for Unley in 2015, was recognized as one of the “Top 50 Australian Startup Influencers” and “Mentors you should know in the startup space” by Startup Daily.  Prunckun received an Honourable Mention in Australian Anthill’s “30 Under 30” award. I am a member of the Unley Business and Economic Development Committee.  I have spoken at Microsoft, BDO, Piper Alderman Lawyers, Flinders University, University of Adelaide, University of South Australia, The Inventors Association of Australia, Social Media Adelaide, Pecha Kucha and South Start Conference. I am a Director and President of Startup Adelaide Inc., a not-for-profit organisation that exists to foster and support Adelaide based technology startup sector.

Who Is This For?

At the end of each calendar year, between Christmas and New Year, I sit down and spend a full day without distraction taking stock of the year that was and looking toward the year that will be. I have been doing this for almost 2 decades now and find the return-on-investment (not strictly financial) to be phenomenal. During that time I do the following:

  1. Reflect on Lessons Learnt for the year across different 4 categories;
  2. Reflect on what held me back for the year;
  3. Capture a Word Cloud from various data points for long-term states of mind;
  4. Capture health metrics across 10+ categories;
  5. Account for goals for the past year;
  6. Account for behaviours to maintain, start and stop (AKA resolutions) for the past year;
  7. Plan goals for the upcoming year, the next 5 years and the next 10 years;
  8. Plan behaviours to maintain, start and stop for the upcoming year;
  9. Revise life purpose, vision, mission, personal brand promise, 50 year metrics for success;
  10. And a few other things…

This routine usually produces 25+ pages of insights and the process is a deeply personal exercise – for my eyes only, but I decided that the Lessons Learnt part may be useful to other people, so this presentation shows only a small sample of that yearly reflection and planning. The Lessons Learnt are divided into different 4 categories:

  1. Life;
  2. Health;
  3. Wealth; and
  4. Relationships.

Just like I used “return-on-investment” before, I use these categories in the very board definitions of the terms. I also sub-divide the categories further into internal and external categories. For example, health is not just physical health (external), but emotional etc. health (internal). Wealth is not just financial wealth (external), but intellectual etc. wealth (internal). Relationships are not just capitalized “Relationships” – romantic, but any relation with another person etc. (external), and with myself etc. (internal) and so on. I strongly believe this categorization is important to be a balanced person. You may be thinking, how did this list come about?  I simply captured things as they came up throughout the year to reflect upon or recall and ritualize the implementation of these rules. Many of them are not new realizations for me, but very good reminders on things to focus on. I hope you find it useful.  To your success in 2017.


  • Don’t be stubborn and resist things that have a social stigma. What people think (usually people you don’t care about) doesn’t matter one bit.
  • Getting clear on personal preferences for thing such as investing, communication, risk and learning is very valuable. These areas are high leverage and have high “lifetime value.”
  • Being bold and going for what you want is under rated. Even if you “fail” you’re still better off than not trying.
  • Writing undoubtedly refines clear thinking and is a valuable form of Intellectual Property as a side benefit.
  • The vocal minority is not reflective of the satisfied majority, even though they want you to think that’s the case.
  • If you want someone to do something, appeal to self-interest not gratitude (not my quote).   “Coffee to pick your brain” is not a good value proposition as potential value for both parties is diminished.
  • Anything worthwhile takes time.
  • People don’t see value even when it’s slapping them in the face – repetition and plain-English is the name of the game.
  • It’s really hard to debate nuance and detail, especially with hard conversations, via text. Pick up the phone or talk in person.
  • People need to call a spade, a spade. There are plenty of charlatans that embellish or hide facts – everything from anabolic steroid use to financial backing by parents and partners – remember in marketing, being believability is your biggest hurdle. People want evidence and plenty of it. This is about being authentic.
  • The best teachers don’t know everything and the ones who know it all are not the best teachers.  Education is not about fact transfer., it’s about empowerment and coaching students.
  • Sometimes you are at the wrong place at the wrong time and you get blind-sided and caught in shit storm. Don’t beat yourself up about it, we are less in control of life as we think we are and there are millions of factors that influence us that outside our control or sight.
  • Social and communication skills are learned.  There is a common myth that extroverts are better at social and communication. This is not true – they just get energy form people and thus spend more time around people, exposing them to more social and communication opportunities to learn and get better than introverts.
  • A Law Degree is a useful degree. Law is the building blocks and foundation of modern society.
  • The Law is an as close to a common denominator of ethics as we’ll practically get.  Someone’s subjective (usually judgemental) beliefs are isolated and are not close to the common denominator at all.  No one has the right to shame you based on these subjective views, so call them out on it.
  • We never have perfect information or insight.  You may wish to have your time again, but if you did, you’d still be in same position of not having perfect information or insight (remember you start from zero hypothetically).  Knowing this means regret become meaningless – the grass looks greener, but never is in this context.
  • If you are not where you want to be in life, you’re not communicating with others enough.
  • Living your life exactly as you want, is the best type of revenge.
  • If you have great ideas and make them reality, people are going to copy you and if they are a nice person they will credit you, but most of the time this will not happen.
  • Always be the first to report something – Reporter Psychology is weird and the first mover always has an advantage.
  • Undersell yourself and you’ll always over deliver.
  • When you find something rare, don’t mess it up by projecting your insecurities on to it.
  • The majority of people are flakes at everything. It’s far easier to say yes, than say yes and follow through with their word.


  • Intermittent Fasting is a force multiplier and impacts many facets of life outside of Health.
  • Calorie deficits are underrated.
  • Sleep is important.
  • Being “huge” is not the best differentiator in terms of looks. It’s not your size that matters; it’s your proportions that matter, particularly your shoulders to waist ratio.
  • Drop body fat first to get ripped, rather than start with gaining muscle.  Look good as quickly as possible and you’ll look good while you gaining muscle mass later.
  • “Spot reduction” doesn’t work.
  • Losing body fat is easy, but takes some patience.  Gaining muscle is harder and takes even more patience.
  • There are three ways to lose body weight:
  • Consume a calorie deficit;
  • Burn excess calories consumed; and
  • A combination of one and two.
  • Your body knows muscle is valuable for survival and should be preserved, so when you are in calorie deficit energy has to come from body fat not muscle.
  • The time when your body receives calories does not affect your body composition all that much.
  • If you are getting stronger, this means you are putting on more muscle.
  • If you are losing body fat as well as getting stronger, you are increasing relative strength.
  • If you are losing body fat as well as getting stronger, you are increasing relative strength.
  • The quantity of calories only really matters over a longer term such as a week.  This is because the body is not very accurate in how it deals with calories.
  • You get to consume chips, chocolate and cheese and lose body fat if you can adopt the following mantra: IIFYC – if it fits your calories (rather than IIFYM – if it fits your macronutrients.)
  • It doesn’t matter if you eat “clean” or “dirty” food.  Only calories matters.
  • If you eat a calorie surplus of “clean” food, for example vegetables only, you are still in a calorie surplus and will gain weight. Likewise, if you eat a calorie deficit of “dirty” food, for example chocolate only, you are still in a calorie deficit and will lose weight.
  • Consistency is the most essential factor in the body you want.
  • Relative strength increase is the ultimate metric of body composition progress.


  • Freelancers are the same as employees, just with less work security and more actual work (sales & operational) as opposed to just in the case of employee.  A freelancer better be asking clients for pay that is reflective.  Regardless both are hourly output which is a losing game.
  • Personal brands are valuable.
  • Meetings are generally a waste of time for everyone.  Extroverts seem to be the instigators of them – make them mutually beneficial for all.
  • Unless it’s the first meeting or the stakes are high/confirmed, there is no need to meet in person – A 1 hour meeting turns into 3 hours if you include preparation and travel time.  This is 2016 – use a technology that makes life easy.
  • Clients don’t realize that the reason they are in the situation they are in is because they continue to do the things they have always done.
  • Clients get an expert because the client doesn’t know to get out of the bad situation they are in. Micromanaging and questioning every step, rather than trusting the process and expert should be a client’s default.
  • The majority of people want to be decision makers but no one wants to do the actual work that makes a difference. Many are passionate, but not willing to step up.
  • No matter how “cool” being a strategist is, not everyone is a strategist and if you call yourself a strategist, you aren’t one. That’s not a good strategy for a strategist.
  • Expertise is the best form of exposure and branding.
  • People don’t value anything that is free.


  • Honesty, vulnerability, authenticity and transparency are under rated. In fact they are required to get you what you want.
  • No one likes rejection, but rejection reveals in compatibility fast. Seek it out. Yet, most people’s ego can’t handle rejection even when you give them zero consequences and the ability to save face.
  • At first sight, what seems to be inconsistent behaviour is because people have different criteria for different things, times, environment, value propositions etc. Behaviour is not inconsistent after all.
  • Just because you have opinion doesn’t mean you are objectively right.
  • If you are going to bring up the past, then mention it at the time it happens (or close to) otherwise you look manipulative and trying to saving face.
  • If someone is giving you advice that is related to you and them, by default they are being slightly manipulative to get what they want out of you.
  • Sometime people do the equivalent of coming into your house and graffiting on your walls, yet when your call them on it, they felt entitled to do it.  Stay clear of them.
  • You can’t change people but you can change, people.
  • Don’t feed the trolls.
  • People will do anything for those who encourage their dreams, justify their failures, allay their fears, confirm their suspicions and help them throw rocks at their enemies. (Not my quote).
  • Giving or receiving unsolicited advice never works to change someone’s mind.  Life changing events have that sort of epiphany for change.
  • Most people can’t or are unwilling to have hard conversations.
  • Most people don’t know what they want/need.
  • It easier to complain than to take action to fix something, so unless you are willing to make a difference, keep your mouth shut.
  • Most people never reply or say thank you. They aren’t rude or bad people, they are disorganized or don’t have experience with understanding how much small things like that mean.
  • What you say about others when they are not around say more about you than it does them (the content). Beware of the “looking through the fish bowl effect” that happens to you when doing so.
  • Give people what they want – you can’t change their minds, only they can do that.
  • You can’t control who likes you, just find those who do and who you also like.
  • Look for those looking for you – no matter how different you think you are, there are plenty of people out there just like you, who are also looking for you. Find your people.
  • Go for what you want. You statistically have 85 years to live, why are you wasting it.
  • People love gossip and rumour.
  • People who are hurting lash out in hostile ways.
  • 1% of people are going to hate you and what you do, not matter what. This says nothing about you (as the majority of people usually respond well or great) and says a lot about them – they are driven by what’s going on in their world view: fear, insecurity and jealousy.

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