2021, just like 2020, was a year filled with uncertainty, COVID scares, and Zoom meetings… so… many… Zoom meetings. Through it all, there were still plenty of moments to celebrate, including perhaps the biggest of all: having a baby (represented by the “rosa mexicano” banner color). Here’s a look back at my 2021, check out my previous yearly reviews here.
Best Achievement: Having a baby!
While I’m pretty proud of the work we accomplished at Humor That Works, there’s nothing that can top the fact that my wife and brought a new person into the world! Granted this is slightly more my wife’s accomplishment than my own. After all, she built, nourished, and shipped (aka delivered) a brand new human being in less than 9 months. That’s some Ama-mom Prime delivery time. But I was there! And I’ve learned all about the joys of fatherhood that have finally helped me earn the right to make dad jokes.
Runner-Up: Simon Sinek Classroom
Best Personal Development: Becoming a father!
Building off my best achievement, my best personal development is how I’ve changed since our little one has arrived. I’m more patient (turns out babies don’t really give a damn about what you had scheduled), more socially aware (what type of society will Pina grow up in?), more environmentally conscious (will there be much of a world left for her to enjoy?), and more emotionally connected to Pina and my wife (I didn’t know it was possible to love something so much that wasn’t ice cream). All of these changes, and many more, started when our 1+1 became three.
Runner-Up: Duolingo Lessons
Best Business Decision: Building the Humor Persona Content
I’m very passionate about two things: milkshakes and humor in the workplace. And I think I do a good job of explaining why it’s important for people to care (about humor in the workplace, it’s obvious why you should care about milkshakes). While it’s easy to make the case for why humor is important, it’s much harder to teach someone how they can effectively use it. Which is why I’m so excited about the Humor Persona content and believe it’s some of the best work Humor That Works has ever created. It’s already proving to help everyday people unlock their own sense of humor to get better results and have more fun.
Runner-Up: Setting Up Zoho CRM
Best Personal Decision: Taking 6-weeks of Paternity Leave
There is nothing quite like the uncertainty, excitement, anxiety, joy, and sleeplessness that comes from the first few weeks of becoming a parent. Sabrina and I look back and laugh now at some of the things we did… like in the first week when we took night shifts so that one of us was always awake 24/7, even while Pina was sleeping. It was like we were D&D characters taking a long rest in a spooky forest but without elven Darkvision (and yes I realize this is one of the nerdiest analogies I’ve made). As a speaker/entrepreneur, it can be tough to take time away, either out of necessity or habit, but I’m so happy I was able to take 6-weeks completely off just to spend with Pina and Sabrina, building our family unit together. (Shout out to the Humor That Works team for helping make that possible).
Runner-Up: Monthly “Explore Panama” Trips
Favorite Speaking Engagement: IBEX Conference
I must admit that I absolutely love doing virtual events. You can Zoom around the world (pun intended) and deliver incredibly impactful experiences all without leaving your house. Not to mention, the logistics are a bit simpler, the travel is nearly non-existent, the carbon footprint is drastically lower, AND I can have lunch with my wife as soon as the event ends. All of that said, as a humorist, there is something special about delivering an in-person event and hearing that in-person laughter. Of the 97 programs Humor That Works did in 2021, only five were delivered in-person. And that first IRL presentation for IBEX was such a great reminder of what speaking can feel like.
Runner-Up: Simon Sinek Team
Favorite Travel: Babymoon
Considering we were still in the throes of the pandemic, I was still able to travel a decent amount in 2021. Sabrina and I started the year in Germany for the holidays, we both went to NY/OH in April for family and vaccinations, we tried to do monthly trips to places within Panama, and I traveled to Aspen, Phoenix, Charleston, DC, and Brussels for events. But the one trip that surpasses them all was our “babymoon”–a term people made up for the last trip you take before your baby comes. It’s like a honeymoon but instead of ending up with a “honey,” you end up with a baby. Over the course of a week, Sabrina and I traveled through a few spots in Panama, spending time at the Pacific, in the mountains of Anton, and at the Caribbean. We dedicated time to relax with each other, go swimming, hiking, golfing, tennis-ing, and mostly just be the two of us. It was a great way to celebrate going into a new phase of life together.
Favorite Activity: Hiking India Dormida
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As part of our Babymoon, we stayed a few days in Valle de Anton, a mountainous region in the middle of Panama. We spent most of our time hiking some of the beautiful trails in the region, despite Sabrina being seven months pregnant (guess who was more winded after each hike…). The height of the experience (pun intended) was hiking India Dormida, a short two-hour loop atop hills that look like the silhouette of a lying woman. To get a sense of what I mean, this is a short video from the top of the mountain. The combination of scenic view with gusting wind and slight drizzle made it a highlight of the trip. Side note: whenever I type the word, “drizzle,” I simultaneously think of Snoop Dog and chocolate syrup.
Runner-Up: Biking Cinta Costera
Favorite Meal: Eating Kix While Sabrina was in Labor
Sometimes a meal is memorable because of how delicious it is (like the cake and champagne of 2019), other times it’s because of the ambiance (like the Dominican Republic wedding in 2018). But the most memorable meal of 2021, and my favorite to reminisce about, is a simple bowl of Kix. While Sabrina was having contractions (but before we went to the hospital), I decided to grab a quick snack in between heated moments. Needless to say, Sabrina caught me with Kix breath and it’s now a meal that we both remember (she was very kind about the whole thing, just surprised).
Runner-Up: Christmas Dinner w/ Sabrina, Mimi, Tio Dave, Omo, and Ena
Favorite Movie (I Saw): Spider-Man No Way Home
As anyone who has followed my previous yearly recaps knows, I’m a bit of a Stan (pun intended) when it comes to the MCU. I’ve seen all of the movies and every episode of the Netflix/Disney+ shows. I haven’t cosplayed as any of the characters (yet), but I will totally try to get Pina into a Marvel costume for a future Halloween (we could even do Hawkeye and Kate Bishop together, Pina would look great with a bow). So, it’s no surprise that in the limited number of movies I did see this year, the newest Spider-Man was one of them. While I wasn’t the biggest fan of how the characters got into the “multiple universes” situation, I was happy what happened once they did. The movie probably won’t win Best Picture, but it does do a great job of honoring the past while also setting up a wide open future.
Runner-Up: Barb and Star Go to Vista del Mar
Favorite TV Show (I Watched): Babies
During our first weeks at home with Pina, Sabrina and I seemingly spent every waking hour either taking care of Pina… or trying to learn how to take care of Pina. You would think that we might spend some time NOT thinking about a baby, but nope, we were reading parenting books, listening to parenting podcasts, and calling up friends for their parenting tips (shout out to Raman for the tip about singing while burping, it makes the whole thing a little less awkward). We also watched a few documentaries, none better Babies on Netflix. Each episode does a deep dive into a part of a baby’s life and shares research and personal experiences about the topic. In one episode, we learned that sleep is incredibly important for memory in babies. After the episode ended, Sabrina turned to me and asked, “You know what this means, right?” I responded, “Of course, whenever she has a big learning day, we need to make sure she gets her rest.” Sabrina responded, “No, it means that if we ever do anything that we want her to forget, we can’t let her sleep.”
Runner-Up: Ted Lasso, Loki
Favorite Stand-up Special: Bo Burnham – Inside
One of the defining traits of stand-up comedy is the reaction from the crowd. That’s why going to a live shows has such a different feeling than watching the special on TV. So when the pandemic hit, it was interesting to see how different comedians reacted. Many (myself included) turned to Zoom shows, where unmuting microphones gave a small (albeit grainy) sound of laughter. Others turned to performing at drive-in movie theaters, laughs replaced by honks. At one point, I considered just performing out the window but felt like it was just for the birds. For Bo Burnham, he turned inward and created an entire special by himself, closed in a room, Inside. Here’s one of the (NSFW) songs from the special.
Runner-Up: James Acaster – Cold Lasagne Hate Myself 1999
Favorite Book (I Read): The Expectant Father
As I mentioned, much of our leisurely consumption this year revolved around babies and how to make sure they get from infant to toddler (helping them get from toddler to child to teen to adult to taking-care-of-us-when-we’re-old comes later). The Expectant Father was one of the most helpful books I read in the parenting space. My friend Josh recommended it to me, noting that there are seemingly endless resources for new mothers with far less resources for new fathers. I mean there’s more to fatherhood than dadjokes, dadbods, and daddling about from lack of sleep. This book covers not only what’s happening during pregnancy, it shares perspective on what the mother may be feeling and how you, as the father, may be reacting. Equal parts resourceful and reassuring, it was a very helpful book as we awaited Pina’s arrival.
Runner-Up: Find Your Red Thread, The Color of Us
Favorite Tweet: Hindsight is 20/20
Despite tweeting less, I still had some fun tweets for 2021. My top one for the year: