Favorites of 2021
I’ve been doing this post for 8 years now, and this year I was finally smart enough to keep a running list right from the beginning of the year. And I’m glad I did, because for some of my picks, I forgot they came out this year!
As a refresher, at the end of the year, I like to list my favorite technology pics (gadget, app, and thing I learned), as well as media pics (book, movie, music, TV show, and podcast). This year was especially good!
Gadget: iPad Mini
This one was a no-brainer. As soon as Apple announced the new iPad Mini, I picked one up. It’s the perfect size for reading, watching videos, research, sketching, and note-taking. I wrote all about in back in October.
Since then, I’ve also created a great workflow for reading and taking notes with Quick Notes. It’s been by my side since the moment I got it, and love doing my morning routine and triage on it. It was also a great companion in the hospital after my daughter was born.
Honorable Mentions: Honestly nothing even comes close to the iPad Mini for me this year, but I did pick up some other cool gadgets. I’m enjoying my M1 MacBook Air, my Stream Deck continues to impress, and I love my Lutron Dimmer Switch; I plan to get more soon.
As Federico Viticci mentioned on AppStories, 2021 was a bit of a renaissance for note taking apps. It’s also the year I switched away from Evernote for all but one very frustrating thing. I also moved away from Bear Notes, which has been my favorite notes app for a few years.
Craft has been the perfect way for me to capture ideas, do long form writing, and work out content and plans. It’s perfect for me and the way I think. My only request: Zapier integration. Then I could leave Evernote forever.
Honorable Mentions: Todoist and Parcel. Both of these apps replaced what I thought were irreplaceable apps. Todoist is the final result in my multi-year sojourn for a task manager I actually use. Omnifocus was great but got too crowded. Things was fine, but too focused. Todoist is just right. The ability to add projects but only surface what I want to see, create sections and tagging, view Kanban boards, AND it has Zapier and Shortcuts integration.
Parcel is a delivery tracking app; it replaced Deliveries, an app I loved, and for one reason. Parcel automatically pulls in Amazon deliveries.
Thing I Learned: You can’t send too many emails.
To be honest, this topic is getting a little stretched these days. I came up with it when I was in my mid-late 20s, at a new job, constantly learning a new programming language or coding process. Now I’m learning in the open, and it’s mostly around running my business. Nothing felt concrete all year…until Black Friday. And it’s only loosely technology-based.
Over Black Friday I learned something every business owner needs to learn: you can’t send too many emails. I elaborate on this in my Black Friday Wrap podcast episode, but every email I sent (9 over a 5 day span, 10 over a 2 week span) lead to at least one sale.
Emailing your list is the best way to make money. So build it, and don’t be afraid to email them.
Honorable Mention: Skip the Grind and everything I learned there. From micro segments to product ladders, I gained a ton of actionable advice that changed the direction of several of my offering, as well as my podcast.
Book: Stop Asking Questions by Andrew Warner
This book is definitely helpful, and came at the right time: as I was working to update my podcast. Back in July, I released an updated trailer to better reflect the show’s mission. For 2022, I wanted to make big improvements to the format and the interviews.
Stop Asking Questions got me thinking differently not only about how I approach guests, but research, membership benefits, and more. If you do any interviews for your podcast, this book is a must.
Honorable Mentions: Honestly, I read a lot of great books this year, all of which you can find on my Goodreads profile. Some I’d recommend:
- The Spy and the Traitor, a true story about a Cold War KGB agent who was instrumental in assisting US intelligence.
- Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
- Soundtracks by Jon Acuff
TV Show: Wandavision
The first TV show I watched in 2021 set the bar so high that even in TV’s new golden age, nothing dethroned it.
At first I thought it was weird and didn’t really get it. But after my brother Robby told me to get to episode 3, I was hooked. Like drop everything and watch as soon as I could hooked.
WandaVision set an incredible tone for Phase 4 of the MCU and and the mind-bending topics it’s going to tackle. The show was beautifully shot, and incredibly performed. I have not a bad thing to say about it.
Honorable Mention: Loki was a very close second. Tom Hiddleston is one of my favorite actors and Loki is such a great character that I was psyched to see him get his own series.
I also just finished my first viewing of Newsroom, and let me tell you: it’s better than West Wing, which I didn’t think was possible…especially watching it in 2021. The parallels are haunting.
Music: Lifeforms by Angels and Airwaves
As a guy who grew up in the 90s, and whose musical coming of age was 1999-2001, 2021 seemed like a resurgence of old school pop punk that saw people like Avril Lavigne make a big come back, and Machine Gun Kelly release a successful rock album1.
But as a huge fan of Blink 182 and early Angels and Airwaves, Lifeforms is a return to…well, form…for them. I love the album and basically had it on repeat for the month of October.
Aside: No honorable mentions here, but I switched away from Spotify for Apple Music this year, and I really miss Spotify Wrapped. The best thing I can say about Apple’s “Replay” is it exists.
Movie: Spiderman: No Way Home, Probably.
Look I’m just going to be straight up with you here: I intended to see No Way Home before the arrival of our 3rd child, but she came a few days early so I haven’t seen it yet.
But like…it’s going to be my favorite, right? How can it not be?
Honorable Mention: Otherwise, thanks to direct to streaming2, I got to watch several movies I probably otherwise wouldn’t have: In the Heights, Encanto, Luca, etc. As I write this, next up is Matrix: Resurrection.
Zooming out, I’m excited and hopeful to see this trend continue into 2022 and beyond. I’d be happy to pay a little extra for the ability to watch movies from home…especially now that we have a family of 5. The theater experience is a nice one for certain movies3, but the comforts of home, especially with small (and very small) children, are great.
I listened to a lot of new podcasts this year, but my favorite is a show that was spun of from my favorite Upgrade segment. It’s called Downstream, and in it, media data analyst Julia Alexander and media enthusiast and podcaster Jason Snell talk about streaming and TV trends, and I love it.
Honorable Mentions: Continuing my motif of Russian Spy stories, Spy Affair is a short run podcast about a Russian woman named Maria Butina, who wants to improve US-Russia relations and ends up being accused of spying on the US. SUPER interesting. Bad Blood: The Final Chapter recaps the Theranos story. As a member, you also get weekly coverage of the trial, which I was all about.
That’s a Wrap on 2021!
I definitely consumed more in 2021 than I did in recent years, and it shows. I’m happy with that pace and plan to continue it for 2022. Though hopefully I’ll actually get to a movie theater.
What were your favorites? Let me know in the comments!