2021 year in review


My 2021 year in review

Every year, around New Year’s Eve, I spend some time reflecting on the past year and thinking about the one to come. This year, I’m trying something different, sharing some of these reflections in public with you.

As 2022 is beginning, we’re still very much living in a COVID world. The 5th wave is much more terrible than anticipated, with new contamination records and high pressure on hospitals. On the one hand, I feel fortunate that COVID has spared my wife, daughter and me, but I also feel sad for everyone who lost friends and family members this year. Two of my mom’s uncles passed away this year because of COVID. As a result, I’m still committed to working from home and practising social distancing until the situation (hopefully) calms down.

While I only had 2 or 3 in-person meetings this year, I was fortunate enough to keep growing my business and all the initiatives I launched last year. In a nutshell:

👩‍💻 More than 150 leaders trusted me this to help them acquire new skills, change their mindset and become better managers.

📩 There are now over 1,000 subscribers to this newsletter with a 45% average open rate.

☕️ The virtual coffee community now counts almost 100 members from over ten countries, getting introduced to each other monthly.

🦄 I successfully launched The Unicorn CTO program last November, enrolling thirteen amazing European CTOs and engineering leaders.

🎓 I’ve received the green light from EPITA school of engineering to start a Tech Entrepreneurship MSc in 2022, on top of the Startup Lab I already managed.

I also feel very grateful that I’ve been able to do all this while spending 5 to 6 hours per day with my now 19-months old daughter. My wife and I didn’t really plan to keep her at home and work at the same time for the whole year, but that’s what ended up happening 😅 I definitely do not recommend it, but it was bliss to spend so much time with her every day ❤️

As you can imagine, I also had my share of failures and missteps along the way:

📝 My writing pace dropped dramatically as I only published 16 posts in 2021 (instead of my objective of 40 and over 30 published in 2020 😓).

🗓 I had a lot of scheduling conflicts at the end of the year, making me reschedule a lot of sessions, often at the last minute, and losing a lot of time for everyone doing so.

🌱 None of my EPITA Startup Lab students decided to launch a startup this year, my worst result since I re-launched the lab in 2019.

Apart from the Startup Lab fiasco, most of my failures resulted from my poor time management. If we’ve already worked together, you know that I’m obsessed with time management, but I still got overwhelmed on multiple occasions during the year.

I’ve also completely neglected taking care of myself, quitting exercise and meditation, and picking up bad eating habits. I’m thus ending this year exhausted.


Based on the above review, I’m planning to implement the following changes in 2022:

👨🏻‍💻 Over the past two years, I’ve started multiple initiatives in the same scope, but with different names. Even though I’m still one guy behind it, I must admit the branding could be better. That’s why I will bring together all my engineering leadership activities under one brand: The Unicorn CTO.

More specifically:

  • This blog will change URL in the coming weeks from tlt21.com to unicorn-cto.com. I will announce the URL change so you can make sure the new emails don’t end up in spam;
  • Apart from The Unicorn CTO flagship program, my coaching and engineering management training services and the virtual coffee community will now be under the Unicorn CTO brand.

📝 I will go back to a weekly writing schedule. On top of the two existing categories (engineering management concepts and cases), I plan to write about mental models for engineering leaders and share summaries of leadership and engineering management books.

🎙 I will start a Unicorn CTO podcast, asking CTOs of unicorns and public tech startups to share their knowledge on growth, leadership, and management once a month. More on that in the coming months.

🧘🏻‍♂️ I will prioritise energy generation. Like Naval Ravikant said, I truly believe that modern knowledge workers are like athletes. It’s not about how much I work, but now I can balance performance moments (writing, teaching) with training/resting/thinking moments. That’s why I will:

  • Block 1 hour per day of alone time in my calendar to read, exercise and meditate;
  • Take four complete breaks during the year to recharge and spend quality time with my family;
  • Stick to a diet low in carbohydrates and alcohol and high in fat and polyphenols.

As you can see, I’ve tried to formulate my objectives in terms of process (daily/weekly/monthly practices) instead of results (e.g. the number of customers/subscribers), as I can only control my process.

If you’re still reading this and you’re interested in exchanging about one of the topics above, do let me know. I’d be happy to chat (virtually) 😉

In any case, I wish you a wonderful new year 🎉 May it be beaming and healthy for you and your loved ones!