Lessons From 2017

Approximate read time: 26 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.


  • Most people are inherently lazy, but that’s okay, because if things were easy to achieve everyone would have them.
  • Most people want stuff for free, but that’s okay, free is a great brand building tool, and most of the time you only get what you pay for.
  • Content is one of the most scalable free forms of branding and brand awareness.
  • Most people are jealous, but that’s okay, what others think of you is totally reasonable and out of your control.
  • Most people are selfish – they ignore you until they need something from you, then forget/pretend they ignored you to get what they wanted. An elephant never forgets. This leads too…
  • Most people are stupid. The amount of people who are “intelligent” on paper, yet still believe in conspiracy theories and fake news astounds me.
  • Most people are incompetent. The amount of who are in “reputable” positions, despite their idiocy also astounds me.
  • Most people are full of shit, 100% to the top. The amount of embellishment I have witnessed, that is verifiable untrue, astounds me. Do people not know Google exists?
  • Social media makes it easy for posers and charlatans (both in terms of content and popularity) to exist. Again, the amount of exaggeration I see here is astounding.
  • Most people live very boring lives and are looking for any bit of excitement, which makes standing out quite easy.
  • Most people don’t have an informed opinion. This leads to…
  • If someone has an uninformed opinion, you don’t need to listen to them.
  • You should only consider taking advice from people who come from a respectful and loving place and add even more weight if they actually have expense in what they are talking about.
  • The bar for life is set exceedingly low and you don’t need to do much extra to stand out, sadly.
  • Most things are really easy to achieve or have, it’s the execution and behaviour change that is required for that is the hard part. Which leads too…
  • Turning up consistently is Archimedes lever for a lot of things.
  • Persistence pays off.
  • You can be really efficient at implementation, but without an effective strategy you’re going nowhere new.
  • Likewise you can have a really effective strategy, but with inefficient implementation you’re also going nowhere new.
  • You price of price of admission is one of the most important things you can realize and articulate.
  • Most people don’t know what they want (specifically and in general), and if they do, they are terrible at articulating it.
  • When you reveal something about yourself, it tells one thing about you, but how someone responds tells you everything you need to know about them.
  • Incomplete information always creates false assumptions and making assumptions is dangerous.
  • Assumptions are usually wrong. There are things you know you know. There are things you know you don’t know and there are things you don’t know you don’t know – The latter two combined are limitless and assumptions live in there.
  • Reciprocity, that is where people are more inclined to return free support received, works every time.
  • Gut instinct exists.
  • Be the shit stirrer for change. The pebble in the shoe always wins.
  • Business and entrepreneurship probably has some of highest rates of sociopathy.
  • Playing with fire is fine if the house needs to be burn down.
  • If you make a promise, makes sure you deliver on it, or it’s very hard to gain trust again.
  • It’s also okay to not make a promise, too. You’ll get more respect because you can say no in a world of yes’s.
  • Some promises don’t make you happy so you need to make promises you can’t keep, this is very liberating.
  • Your subconscious desire will always win.
  • Cognitive biases have more power on use that we care to acknowledge.
  • Medical practitioners who hold the keys to a vault of useful information that the general population doesn’t have, need to give impartial medical advice based on medical fact and not based on their personal conscience.
  • Deferring your agency leaves you without power and if you defer your agency, you can’t have cake and eat it too in terms of results and accountability.
  • Privacy is dead.
  • Your actions change as soon as if what you do/say/be was on the front page of the newspaper for the world to see.
  • If how you act in public is the same as how you act in private and also is consistent with who you want to be, they you will have unshakable confidence.
  • Put your authentic self out to the world, and the universe will deliver what you want.
  • No one wants to risk being the first.
  • Doing free work almost always pays off.
  • Strategy is about being effective.
  • Implementation is about being efficient.
  • It’s much harder to invent something new, than it is to copy: it’s usually more productive to be a fast follower than a leader.
  • If you want things you have never had, do things than never done.
  • Only dead fish follow the stream.
  • Feminism is about the ability to get what they want without the restriction of another deciding what their gender has to do with it.
  • For many universities, the Titanic has already sunk because they bit the hand that feeds.
  • Acting congruent with how something should be is a myth: if it’s common “knowledge,” it’s most likely not the efficient or effective way of being or doing.
  • If you feed the media monster and it may end up eating you.
  • Hindsight is amazing, yet totally impractical.
  • Virtual Reality will be the default tool for teaching empathy.
  • Life is a full contact sport, expect to get punched in the head when you are not looking.
  • The objective explanation and the subjective explanation are almost always different yet you believe the latter and not the former most of the time.
  • Every benefit has a cost.
  • “Someday” doesn’t exist and never will.
  • By creating a strong suit you make it hard to love yourself.
  • Live in constant expectation but don’t have expectations.
  • Nothing has inherent meaning, so create your own meaning.
  • A decision is based on past, a choice is based on the present and future.
  • Rolling a dice helps create new behaviours.


  • Food is a very emotional topic for people.
  • Most people over eat without realizing it.
  • It’s impossible to out train over eating.
  • Effort to burn ration of cardio isn’t as effective as people think, relatively speaking.
  • Food before 1 is just for fun.


  • No one can pick winners, and if they say they can they full of shit, statistically.
  • People don’t recall your slogan as best you think they do.
  • Electing what your brand and embodying what that should be are two very different things.
  • On the promise end, that is marketing, brands say one thing, but on the delivery end, is a very different customer experience.
  • Far too many large organizations have a marketing budget and they spend it ALL on graphic design and advertising and confuse that for a brand.
  • Marketing needs to be congruent with the brand (whatever that maybe.)
  • Marketing and sales outcomes only come from embodying what you have elected.
  • Customer facing names should be different than internal facing names.
  • Put your marketing and sales language it in the language of your prospects, or risk losing sales.
  • Don’t make ads look like ads.
  • Native content builds trust.
  • Sometimes you have to market with restricted marketing channels or market commodity products: this is where marketing innovation starts.
  • Technology integrations give you more marketing reach.
  • You should be spending 2/3 of your day working on marketing and sales and 1/3 of your day working on products, product, services or solutions.
  • Most businesses concentrate on marketing & sales activities and outputs not outcomes, in the hope that doing activities (based on the wrong strategy) create outcomes. They don’t.
  • A confused prospect never buys.
  • A notable name is really important for your brand, especially a startup.
  • Click bait existed well before the internet.
  • Fake news existed well before the internet.
  • In fact everything that worked in marketing and sales worked well before the internet.
  • Internet based adult entertainment pioneered almost all digital marketing and sales tactics and tool.
  • The day you sign a client is the day you start losing them.
  • Owned media should trump paid and earned media, almost every time.
  • “Valuable content” is an overuse terms and really means the difference between the start and the end of the content.
  • Any time the client gives you compliments is a great time to ask for a referral.
  • There are more “currencies” than money and they have more leverage than money: there are plenty of millionaires who are miserable as hell.
  • Digital is a channel not a business model.
  • It ironic to see that the generations who endlessly berate millennials as being lazy, pissed their money away in their younger years and are now the biggest burden on the national budget (15%) and have been growing the burden year-in-year-out since 1999.
  • Purchasing a house as a home is a lifestyle investment, not a financial one.*
  • Fees are a silent killer to financial wealth.*
  • You make money looking forward, not backwards. *
  • There is a lot of luck, more than most want to admit, in making financial wealth.*
  • There is a big difference between investing, speculating, trading, betting and gambling. Know the difference if you are going to “invest.” * And…
  • If you are going to “invest”, you should think heavily about risk tolerance, risk appetite, exit points, entry points, timeframes, liquidity, opportunity cost, psychological cost, investment temperament, control, objectives, allocation percentage and ROI.*
  • The block chain will change the way the world transacts.
  • *Not financial advice.


  • Every time you judge someone in their presence, the less you get told new things.
  • You can have someone or you can have your judgment of them, but you can’t have both.
  • No one perfect, so don’t settle.
  • There is no settling down, without settling for.
  • There is no one person out there that will give you everything, and if you think there is, you have unrealistic expectations of people and will be disappointed each and every time.
  • You are not Chemotherapy: you can’t fix people.
  • You can’t change people who don’t want to change, but you can change (swap) people, by screening for alignment at the start.
  • Yet crucible style events change people, which you can replicate without the trauma.
  • There is no “The One,” there is the 0.67 that you round up to 1.
  • Anyone can leave at any time for any reason.
  • Every relationship ends until you find one that doesn’t, and you only know which one that is once you’re dead, even then you won’t know because you’re still dead, so quit stressing about forever, ever after etc.
  • Promises aren’t a magic pill that make people stay around.
  • People who choose to be there despite any formal promise that much more authentic.
  • Length of time has no correlation to giving or receiving value, and in many cases decreases both due to unrealistic expectations.
  • Be good, giving and game.
  • Present all your attributes as an added bonus not cancer.
  • Most people don’t like most people.
  • Insecurities don’t matter: people like who they like and don’t like who they don’t like and neither is correlated to who you reciprocally like.
  • Relationships aren’t depositions and you aren’t sworn under oath. Which leads too…
  • Relationships are stories you tell yourself and survive on white lies.
  • Relationships are public, what happens within them is not.
  • Only those involved in relationships know what they are. None of us can speculate on that, especially the press. And what people want and do their life, doesn’t make it less ethical than others.
  • You have your biological and logical family, neither overlap and you should choose you latter if the former sucks.
  • Fuck first.
  • The Karmic Rule of Honesty says if you reject an honest person, you will be stuck with a dishonest person.
  • Leave people in better shape than you found them for the next person that comes along.
  • Tea And Sympathy Rule says that if no harm was done in the past, then you will do no harm in the future either.
  • Emotional attachment is a blessing and curse and closely follows the Cycle of Addiction model.
  • “Marketing and sales” is the blueprint to getting what you want out of life with others.
  • Qualifying people is the force multiplier and one of the most important things you can do, not just the mechanics of it, but the harder part, of not caring what the outcome of it is.
  • Be honest in your intentions, there are plenty of people out there looking for that exact intention.
  • If you know what you want and you can articulate it, you are ahead of most people and by default will be great at qualifying for compatibility.
  • Look for those who are looking for you.
  • The only power you have is to put yourself, who you are and what you want out to the world and see who responds to that in kind.
  • Most people don’t identify with negative qualities (regardless of objectivity), so qualifying on this is useless.
  • Most people are passive aggressive as they don’t know how to be assertive. This comes from a fear of rejection.
  • Most people fear being upfront about what they want and need, because of potential rejection. Rejection is a positive thing, it separates incompatibility really fast.
  • If you are being rejected, it’s likely that people ae responding to their context of you, not actually you.
  • Most people don’t want to meet new people, especially in Adelaide.
  • Most people are not assertive. Ghosting is a shitty move and says more about them than it does you. They are creating future awkwardness for themselves: this is Adelaide and they’ll run into you again.
  • Rapport is important and is the foundation for hard conversations and loyalty.
  • Setting boundaries and parameters important.
  • Facilitating a psychological space where people can be themselves is rewarding for all.
  • Personality types matter with communication.
  • Information as intended from a Communicator to a Receiver is never 100% accuracy, 100% of the time.
  • Communication is always is conceptual: a photo of a car is not actually a car.
  • There is no perfect way to get rid of miscommunication.
  • Context matters: it’s provides the difference in responses from the same words.
  • More information and more trust gets you through conversational blockages.
  • You have zero right to tell others what to think about you.
  • Unless you have experience as a reference point for someone else experience, you can only understand them at a certain level: their description of the experience makes sense, but that is about it.
  • There can be no reward without agreement and no agreement without a request and no request without a possible rejection.
  • Just like a vampire cannot enter a house unless they have been invited in, you can only take what has been given to you, nothing more.
  • Labels matter.
  • If you are to call people out for shitty behaviour, do it in real time, not after the fact or you come across as manipulative.
  • If someone is trying to get you to do something for their self interest in the guise of giving you “advice” you can ignore it.
  • The energy in story telling is what matters, not the story content.
  • Story telling is the Trojan horse for changing people.
  • What can be said with words is better said with visuals.
  • Demonstrations are more effective than claims.
  • Networking is about meeting people and how you can help them, not selling to people or seeing what you can get from them: it’s all swings and roundabouts and karma always wins.
  • Always merge groups if you can.
  • Community building is about adding and consolidating value based on shared values.
  • Communities are not stagnant.
  • A community isn’t an ecosystem, and vice versa.
  • Coming from the known is always better than coming from the unknown.
  • People do things for those they know, like and trust.
  • People emotional willingness drops due to basic physiological factors or unusually circumstances.
  • Game mechanics are great way to incentivize people.
  • “Please do XYZ for me” is not a request that will work.
  • People can second guess your intentions, but don’t need to spend the time explaining it to everyone.
  • There are two sides to every story, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.
  • Social media is just like stand-up comedy, you don’t need to respond to every troll or heckler.
  • Dimming someone else light doesn’t make yours shine any brighter.
  • Resentment occurs with familiarity.
  • Getting a yes is always better than avoiding a no.
  • Berating people because you didn’t get what you wanted, will still never get what you want.
  • If you are going to ask something, be prepared to reciprocate or lose trust.

To Your Success In 2018…

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