Annual Review Ryan Faulkner-Hogg Atlas Geographica

Annual Review: 2020

Annual Review For Ryan Faulkner-Hogg Of Atlas Geographica

Once Again… Yesterdays Tomorrow Doesn’t Look Like Today

As I left you last, my mid-year review in July, I was just about to embark down another change in scenery and pivotal fork in the road.

I made a commitment to a woman, came to the decision to leave my country and had also found within myself a steadfastness to be self-employed. My plan was to import some of Mexico’s highest grade arabica coffee into my new city, Stockholm. I have one mate in Mexico who is conveniently placed within the highest echelons of his countries coffee trade. He desperately wants more ships sailing east across the Atlantic and wants Europe to know his beans.

To ship from Veracruz to Stockholm however, is not as cheap as one might hope.

I was met, with particularly rude intrusion, by what many have stereotyped Sweden with the world over. And someone, who I am afraid, my relationship with is unlikely to get any better over time. The Swedish taxman.

Turns out that although I had a veryyyyy good price for veryyyy good beans, having them shipped to Sweden would just end up being too costly an endeavour to embark down at this stage. Once Sweden got it’s cut. I am not prepared to borrow money to finance this venture, so, unfortunately, and for now, the coffee biz is on ice.

The import tax was such that it only made sense to import the beans by the tonnage, plus, I was hitting the Stockholm pavement forcefully and within two weeks of landing had met most of the key players operating the coffee circles of Stockholm. The producers, the roasters, the sellers and the brokers. Everyone moaned of razor-thin margins (major red flag), and everyone doubly assured me that my commitment had to be resolute should this Koala Kaffe business I was proposing was to become a real thing.

I wasn’t resolute, I am no coffee artisan, and so decided to put the ambition to bed. However, In my research for the business, I uncovered some fascinating facts about both coffee and the industry surrounding it. Read about it here, and also perhaps later I will talk about my flirtations with Tequila importing as well, although preliminary investigations are suggesting that it might be more of the costly same.

Impressions Of Stockholm… Not What You Think.

I live in Nacka, the largest Island of the Stockholm archipelago.

If you tell this to a Swede they will immediately formulate an opinion of you that starts with the assumption that you are rich. There was some reality TV show which apparently no-one in Sweden missed from the early 2000’s. It documented a group of out of touch Stockholmers who all did their best to emulate ‘housewives of x’ drama. So I think an equivalent can be made. If you announce to someone you are from Beverley Hills then you can rightly assume they have some wealth behind them. If you announce you are from Nacka it can certainly not be the same. Because while it is true that some corners of this island house Stockholms richest, it is not all boats and beautiful houses. From where I am seated writing to you now, you’d think you were in Siberia rather than Stockholm.

Scenes from the window just to my left are framed by a large water tank, car dealership and storage warehouse. Immediately in front of me is a 4 lane highway, the cars of which you can hear at all times, on the horizon is a shopping centre, grocery store and the glorious golden arches of McDonalds. Scattered throughout these notable eyesores is a series of large, uninspired, concrete apartment blocks littered by periodic pine trees.

I live in a 3 bedroom apartment with Emma and two of her siblings. The apartment is large, the vibes are great, the location is convenient. All is good.

I Have Underestimated The Darkness

It is late December and I have not seen rays of that good D since the end of October.

This is not because the sun never rises, no, this is simply due to the grey a Stockholm winter brings forth. We have had no snow as of yet, just rain. The sun rises at about 10:00 and sets at about 15:00. The combination of this environment wrapped into a Covid lockdown has made for a dullness equal to which I have never experienced in my life.

Earlier in the year whilst living in Maroubra (Australia), lockdown was magnificent because I got to stroll down to take the dog for a walk in the morning and stroll down for a surf at lunch. And unfortunately, given the lack of nature surrounding me in Nacka, combined with the weather I find myself going days at a time without doing anything new apart from meandering to the shop and back.

But, it’s not all bad! Forgive my sower tones, there is actually significantly more good than bad at play here.

Silver Linings

I have never been so productive in my life!

Removing all distractions from my life has left me to focus entirely on the ambitions left unacted for so long. This has been reaffirming for me. Rather than just watching more TV, or playing more games, or fluffing around with distractions like I always have, I have instead produced more content and business than any other time in my life.

The biggest distraction that has been removed from my life is a group of friends. Now, this might sound sad, and it’s true that a lack of social interaction is partial cause for my grim impression of Sweden outlined above. However, I call someone new at least once a week and speak with them for hours and that leaves me feeling connected with the people worlds away. This maintains my emotional health and coupled with the upside my productivity has taken I would say the no friends trade-off is certainly good by me for now.

In addition to launching two podcasts and publishing over 10 new long articles, these short months that have passed since my arrival has also yielded the creation of my very own SEO Agency, HFH Digital.

SEO, when it is practised correctly, has the power to manipulate search algorithms to distil information to more relevant AND more targeted consumers. Traditional advertising involves paying for spaces of attention (TV, Magazine, Facebook, etc) which then works to convert inefficiently AND typically only one time. Your ROI on traditional advertising is good, but it is nothing compared to good SEO. This is because SEO, when it is practised correctly, results in a one time cost that permanently influences how often your content is viewed. Going from page 2 to 1 on Google should be the goal of every marketing strategy the world over, no matter what business you are in.

Marketing through SEO is evergreen while traditional marketing is transactional.   

Subscribe To My Newsletter – 🗒️ A Curious Worldview!

Every month (or couple of weeks) I write a short, popular email.

In it you will have your worldview expanded upon. It will either challenge your beliefs or open your eyes to something new. Never boring. Sometimes in will include things you don’t want to see. Sometimes it will be exactly what you were looking for.

It is free and the best thing you can do for me. If you are keen, chuck your email in below and then CHECK YOUR SPAM!

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How The Projects Are Going: Old & New

Atlas Geographica

I have turned out a higher rate of published articles than ever before.

I had page speed issues which forced a total redesign of the website including a change of theme (that removed unnecessary javascript) including the smushing of all photos. This was a lengthy task undertaken by both me and Emma and taught me so much about website design from first principles and the technical side of SEO.

The most successful article of the year was my open question to Jordan Peterson. This article was prompted by my discussion with the famous Jungian, James P Dowling. While on that theme, I also published a 6 part look into one of the most interesting thinkers of history, a Swiss genius by the name of Carl Gustav Jung.

There is no need for me to plug everything I have written so far, so rather than leave you with links to the secret sauce of great speeches and how to tell compelling stories I will instead direct your attention to the website. You tell me what you think about the design, whether it is easy to find the relevant articles, and finally whether you find the writing engaging or not.

Writing remains, amongst everything that I am doing, my favourite way to spend time.

What About When – Interview Podcast

7 episodes up so far and about 7 more scheduled for January.

My history cold calling and emailing 1000’s of people trying to flog them some product or service is really starting to come in handy.

I am emailing people who really have no business giving me their hard earned time. But they are nonetheless. Running this podcast is offering me more exposure to serendipity than anything else I am doing online.

It all started with Stephen Hicks back in September and has now accumulated into the following highlights.

  • I befriended James P Dowling – who has a massive online following. We are scheduled to do a further series of chat’s starting in January.
  • I am set to speak with Micheal Joos of Vestergaard, one of the greatest companies in the world. 100’s of millions of people sleep under their mosquito nets every single night saving them from malaria.
  • I am to speak with Pippa Malmgren! One of the most entertaining and insightful people to listen to on Geopolitics.
  • I am to speak with Matthew Tye who runs the second-largest youtube channel offering commentary on China.
  • This is really just the biggest and most notable highlights at the moment that are top of mind. 2021 is going to be a huge year for the podcast. I don’t anticipate that it will be a year of any significant growth, I think that needs to wait for 2022, but I think 2021 will be the year I hone the craft and create a name for myself with the podcasting space.

The Incerto & Nassim Taleb Podcast

This podcast came completely out of nowhere.

I had earlier this year published 6 articles in total on the works on Nassim Taleb and then turned those into youtube videos as well. I was very keen to hear more from Taleb and found through a subsequent search within the podcast platforms that Nassim Taleb and Incerto content was lacking.

I decided that since I had already written about his ideas, made videos about The Incerto, and consumed each one of his books multiple times that it wouldn’t be too audacious of me to go ahead and tackle a podcast surrounding his ideas as well.

This achieves multiple outcomes with one action. A major key of SEO is establishing authority in the eyes of Google. Therefore the more content on Nassim Taleb I make, the more Google recognises my voice as an authority of the subject, and then the more likely all of my content is to be found in search algorithms. By forcing myself to make these podcast episodes I am further engraining into my mind the ideas of Taleb and testing my ability to communicate them against a wet-stone. And finally, by distributing the podcast exclusively as an extension of the popularity of Taleb I am exposing myself to the wonderful serendipity of a high signal audience who are also likely going to be interested in the other stuff I’m putting out there.

The podcast is pushing 10,000 downloads as I write this here. Given the evergreen nature of the work coupled with a lack of competition the sky is really the limit here. My hope is that the podcast is risen by the tide of popularity Taleb sets.

My favourite episode was #13 on Antidepressants & Antifragile. It is an important topic to speak about and hit quite close to home for me.

HFH Digital

I am a CEO.

This is a veryyy unusual thing for me to say, write or admit to. I am still getting over the crippling inferiority complex this title weighs down on me. I couldn’t update my LinkedIn with the tag of CEO so found the less in your face but the nonetheless equally pretentious title of Founder.

It is an SEO Agency. I have several clients so far and see no reason why this company cannot actually scale to the ambitions I have set out for it. I think I have a particularly sharp insight into the world of SEO. It is dominated by charlatans and snake oil salesman and so allows for the type of work I am doing to stand out so starkly.

SEO, when it is practised correctly, has the power to manipulate search algorithms to distil your information to more relevant AND more targeted consumers. Traditional advertising involves paying for spaces of attention (TV, Magazine, Facebook, etc) which then works to convert inefficiently AND typically only one time. Your ROI on traditional advertising is good, but it is nothing compared to good SEO. This is because SEO, when it is practised correctly, results in a one time cost that permanently influences how often your content is viewed. Going from page 2 to 1 on Google should be the goal of every marketing strategy the world over, no matter what business you are in.

Marketing through SEO is evergreen while traditional marketing is transactional.   

Contact ryan@hfhdigital.com for an initial consultation should you be interested in seeing what we can do for you.

The Graveyard: Buried But Not Dead

Koala Kaffe

As I mentioned earlier. It turns out that for a number of reasons coffee margins are just too razor thin here in Stockholm.

I have an amazing connection in Mexico however, the dream is not dead, just buried.

Wyar Podcast

This is still a great idea to pursue!

Musical podcast that is framed around the brilliant stories of magnificent guests. I am still bullish on this and could perhaps breath more life into it in 2021.

I have a script ready to go for a bio of David Bowie. Let’s see if I can make it happen.

Health & Vanity

Boozing

One of the healthiest consequences of moving to Stockholm has been the semi-removal of friends from my life!

This might sound quite depressing to say, but nee bother, I am perfectly happy. Friends are still there and I will certainly see much of them in the future. I call someone every week and we speak for hours on the phone.

The removal of friends from my immediate context has actually had the positive consequence of less booze infiltrating into my life. Since I have come here I have drunk barely once a week and only had a hangover on one or two occasions.

I love drinking and I love how alcohol can contribute to an evening. I am afraid my boozing of the last few years has been abusive. The relevant damage to my health was an imbalance.

I double checked what I wrote 6 months ago, and am pretty sure it stands the test of time.

I drink more than I should but do I drink too much?

What worries me most about the sweet grape, the golden nectar and the strong water, is not the calories, hangovers or even liver damage, it is that their consumption kills my brain cells.

If I am honest, those initial downsides alone make an easy trade-off for the upside of booze. But drinking kills brain cells and brain cells do not grow back (so they say).

If I propel myself to 75 years old and it turns out my body is going to live longer than my brain, then no trade-off is worth dementia.

Mid-Year Review: 2020

Jiu-Jitsu

By far the most marvellous addition to my life in Stockholm has been my developing relationship with Jiu Jitsu.

Although I did start training at the beginning of this year with SJJA in both Maroubra & the CBD. Training here in Stockholm under Gringo Jiu-Jitsu and Magnus Hanson (10th Planet’s first European black belt) has given me a passion for a sport I haven’t felt since I was a boy playing Cricket.

I am closer to white than blue but training with the boys there at least 5 times a week. 1.5 hours a day 5 times a week makes for a serious hobby. I can see improvements technically but also feel developments physiologically.

I am so thrilled to have found this gym for both the amazing quality of the coach but also the brilliant nature of the boys and girls who attend.

Vanity

As I write this I weigh about 95kg, a little chubby around the face and gut, I have a loose 10kg to lose.

I still battle against the sultry temptations of food on a daily basis. It is without hesitation or doubt that food is my weakest link. I am committed in the New Year to only eating sugar once a week for the duration of January. Let’s see how this develops.

Otherwise, in terms of vanity, my skin is as pale as its ever been, I have had the disgusting ringworm bacteria on my skin for over a month and I am developing more pimples now than I did when I was a teenager. This is despite the removal of alcohol and the addition of working out daily either weights or Jiu-Jitsu. It is the darkness. I have gone months now without good exposure to the sun. My body is not used to this, and so my skin and immune is reacting in kind.

In good news however, my hair seems to be growing back! I am not sure what is the cause of this (I suspect less alcohol) but am stoked to feel a bit of thickness where before all was thin.

My Vision For The Next Year

I received a solid reality check last week.

All the top podcasts, blogs and youtube channels that I aspire to be a part of didn’t make money until they were years into the process. Even at the top, Ali Abdaal, who has >1.3 million subscribers on youtube only made £120,000 on ad revenue in 2020. He also made a further £250,000 in sponsorships as well. Now, don’t get me wrong. £370,000 is amazing money. That is a super annual income. But Ali is at the very very very top of the youtube game. Years of input without reward and absolutely no guarantee of success. Also – to be at the very very very top of any domain, to earn but £370,000 is a pittance of an income.

My ambitions render £370,000 more of a monthly income rather than annual.

What hit me a week ago was the realisation that my writing, podcasting and youtube-ing should never be something I purposefully monetize and more importantly rely on for an income. Even if I realise all of my dreams for the podcast and writing the upside will be more about the serendipitous opportunities and people I meet than the ad revenue I can earn of these channels.

This is quite the reality check coming into 2021 because it has reorientated how I think about work for the new year. Investments remain my biggest income stream, but this is illiquid, and for me to exit positions to pay for the rent does not sound so appealing.

The podcast and writing and everything else I am doing can remain the most important use of my time, but what would be unbelievable would be if these were passions I can pursue in my downtime around some other meaningful work that both pays the bills and furthers my education.

Writing and speaking are to domains that don’t pay well until they do.

My vision for the future is, among other things mentioned in this post, to solidify HFH income and solidify channel growth in 2021.

I am so stoked for the New Year. I am so fucking bullish on life and bursting at the seams.

2021 is going to be unreal.

Subscribe To My Newsletter – 🗒️ A Curious Worldview!

Cheers for reading through to the end you legend!

Every month (or couple of weeks) I write a short, popular email.

In it you will have your worldview expanded upon. It will either challenge your beliefs or open your eyes to something new. Never boring. Sometimes in will include things you don’t want to see. Sometimes it will be exactly what you were looking for.

It is free and the best thing you can do for me. If you are keen, chuck your email in below and then CHECK YOUR SPAM!

MAKE SURE YOU CHECK IF THE EMAIL GOES TO THE WRONG EMAIL FOLDER – PLEASE DRAG EMAIL INTO PRIMARY FOLDER

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