3 Startups Innovating in Primary Care Experiences

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Helpfully’s consulting teams have engaged the healthcare system from multiple client vantage points — from researching hospital patient flows, design for doctor’s office IT systems, consulting on peer-to-peer support networks for people suffering from serious conditions and working with organizations to influence health policy experts.

But no matter our health, we all share one experience: getting checkups and care at a primary care doctor’s office.

We all face it, so everyone — including VCs — knows the frustrating and disjointed and poorly designed experience from the consumer’s perspective. And when you ask doctors, they wholeheartedly agree running a doctor’s office today is full of challenges: patient volumes are high, insurance companies can be a bear to deal with, and there’s considerable IT and operational “administrivia” gumming up the works.

The trends driving change are easy to spot. First, consumer choice and consumer expectations are rising fast, even in health. People want to be in charge. People value carefully designed and delightful experiences. Second, the tech is ready, with things like video visits, text based answers, or predictive care paths. Lastly, changes to how insurance works and care gets paid for. The US system is hungry for a move from insurers paying for the service — a procedure — to paying for the outcome we all seek — good health.

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Helpfully is tracking many companies innovating inside clinical care settings and each has a slightly different perspective on what’s broken and how to fix it. So this article will dig into the following startups:

  • Forward

  • 98point6

  • HIPnation

(A quick note of disclosure: Helpfully has personal and professional friends at each of these companies.)

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Forward is a startup based in San Francisco (SF) and they’re building the care a somewhat SF-centric on primary care. Forward’s team has created an experience that is tightly orchestrated and beautifully designed.

The first visit is 2-3 hours (yes, really!) and consists of the patient and doctor taking 60+ minutes to get to know one another and explore every medical and lifestyle attribute. Genetic testing and blood work is done on-site so results can be immediately brought to bear. The Forward experience focuses on a spa-like environment, some high tech elements (including a custom-designed stethoscope!), and gorgeous apps.

Forward’s business model is ‘concierge medicine,’ so their clinics have far fewer patients, but patients pay a membership fee ($149/ month) on top of their monthly insurance premiums.

Biggest differentiator: Amazing experience!

Some details:


98point6 is a primary care clinic where most of the care experience is ‘in the cloud’ and delivered anywhere a member is via their web and mobile apps. They have their own clinic locations and all of the staff are employees of 98point6 (so it’s not a franchise). The team did research with consumers and the service follows a research insight into Millennial and generation Z consumers. Younger people prefer messaging and chat interactions for solving problems, even in health. They like it even more than video messaging.

Compared to some concierge medical concepts, 98point6 seems to skew towards the episodic users. It’s great for when you’re sick with something relatively minor or things for which a patient already has a hunch and they just need a professional decision and treatment course. They market the service as an urgent care replacement. Also note that they’re now shifting their marketing focus towards corporate / enterprise partners. Surely, adding members by the thousands will in some cases be easier than adding members one at a time.

Biggest differentiator: Text-based messaging (with photos and video as needed) and AI make the magic.

Some details:

  • Founded in 2015, Seattle HQ

  • Total clinics open: NA, since care is virtual (but available in all 50 states + DC!)

  • Cost is $20 for the year and then a per-visit fee.

  • More information on the experience: Inc profile

  • 98point6’s official site


HIPnation is a primary care health clinic experience that uses membership to change the operations of providing care. HIPnation does a great job of balancing consumer desires with doctor / clinician wish lists and finding a win-win between the two. It’s a membership service that includes unlimited visits and referrals to well-regarded specialists in a kind of custom ‘narrow network.’ HIPnation takes health insurance totally out of each patient’s  primary care visit. “Right now, insurance is in every aspect of healthcare, but it should be used for low frequency, high cost things,” Hall said. “You need it for a heart attack, but not for poison ivy.” HIPnation is more like car insurance — a consumer uses it for major accidents, not an oil change.

Patient loads at a traditional practice that takes insurance can be 2000 individuals or more. HIPnation clinics get by on 500-600 patients. That’s mostly because without the burden of insurance, the practice can be run with far fewer staff (no big teams doing claims, coding, billing, appealing denials, collections, etc. etc.). Which means patient appointments are 30+ minutes instead of less than 10.

Biggest differentiator: Business model innovation to deliver full health plan with a membership model for primary care, but still getting access to specialists and hospital or large-scale treatments (via a health insurance product).  

Some details:


How Do You Innovate?

When we think about what it means to be innovative, the one thing that is certain is that anything is possible. So, when everything can be done, there can be a paradox of choice for the products you have, the experiences you deliver and the business models you have.  The real issue is how to make decisions.

The Paradox of Choice

Because there are so many options, how do you decide what to do? When you move an idea one more level, one more step towards tangible realization, you must decide everything about that idea.  What does it touch? What business model is it part of? How can it actually be used in the lives of customers and clients it touches? You’ve got to have more voices in the room to actually help you make those decisions. You can’t innovate in a vacuum.  


That’s why there is so much value in getting outside of the four walls and moving the conversation about innovation out into the world.

That doesn’t have to be expensive or require a Ph.D. in Anthropology or Ethnographic Research. At the most simple, It requires having a better set of eyes. You just a better perspective and the deeper inputs to your innovation process both from the idea side as well as from the constraints side.  Those good perspective moments or nuggets, those influences, aren’t going to automatically give you better ideas, but they will give you better sets of constraints to apply to your problems.

Research with Low-Cost Ethnographic Tools

One thing that can be especially valuable in today’s world is to find some Gorilla digitally-centric or digital ethnographic tools.  Gigwalk and Fiverr are two really nice little platforms or little communities where people can post jobs to do.  You can pay a nominal fee to help you do research. Fiverr has a $5 model and Gigwalk is between $5 and $20. You are able to use those platforms as virtual ethnographic research ‘shopalongs’ which will give you access into people’s real lives. Your team can say “Hey, take me with you to your corner convenience store...” Or “Let me tag along during the day...” Or “I’d like to see the inside of your dishwasher. Let me see your pantry where you put your groceries. Show me your refrigerator.” Can you tell Helpfully has done research for a large grocery chain?!

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Gathering Inexpensive Customer Insights

Try this: “Show me the five apps that you use the most.”  Take screenshots of them on the customer’s or user’s phone. Then ask “Show me how you use them / why you use them…”.  Take more screenshots. Take a picture of the home screen on their phone. For research, I’ll pay you a dollar for that. There are a lot of insights  that we can glean from a soccer’s mom’s phone and from an executive’s phone. There will be a lot of differences. They will be very telling for your business model.

Pick an Idea to Investigate

An innovation funnel is always being fed so there is always a big stream of ideas.  What we like to do is to turn the funnel on its head and pick the single product, the single idea that is at the top of the funnel and really investigate it.  We call it the innovation rocket.

We take the single idea and ideate inside and then use some of the evaluation criteria sets. Some will be quantitative or financial. Others need to be much more focused on the human need or the desire of people to accomplish some tasks.  We flesh these ideas out. We often make low or high-fidelity prototypes to better understand the core needs.

Test Early and Often

The ability to test your innovations out on the world is a critical component of a well functioning innovation program.  

For us, this is a way to distinguish innovation work from R&D work. If it’s innovation, it has to get in the hands of a customer or user. If it’s R&D, the full benefit might be in the lab, the proof-of-concept, or the technology. Innovation requires business viability and customer desireability, in addition to tech feasibility.

Ideal Team Structure — Forming Teams

New problems require us to develop new modes of working together.

Startups and innovators of all kinds attempt to solve problems that span disciplines and require teammates to collaborate across disciplinary boundaries.

The big problems startups endeavor to solve today span field. You want to solve a problem today? Great, just hop into business / design / technology / psychology / sociology / brand / marketing / management science. No big deal, right?! Many of today’s projects even grow to include elements of the broader social implications beyond the stakeholders of “company” and “customer,” things like the ethical implications of your invention, adversarial users, and  product end-of-life.

But how should we handle the rise of multidisciplinary teams solving today’s complex problems?

What’s the right way to structure teams to collaborate better and solve these problems more fully?

Quickly, let’s define some terms around disciplines, the depth skills that team members study and hone. A project can be:

  • Disciplinary — A project that is directed inside of a single discipline. If two disciplines are needed, they’re added as components (making a project multidisciplinary).

  • Interdisciplinary — A project that blends perspectives and methods from two or more fields. The back and forth creates learning about each discipline’s underlying assumptions. The project team’s work starts to develop concepts that cross boundaries.

  • Transdisciplinary — A project which strongly overlaps each contributor’s perspectives to create a new discipline (or at least explore creating one). Transdisciplinary teams also often consider the impact of the project on broad stakeholders and “the public.”

I’ve been searching the space, and I wanted to look beyond the usual teamwork and team design bookshelf — Creativity, Inc., Designing Together, Redesigning Leadership (and this new one which is coming out at the end of October, Turning People into Teams).

But then I found something super interesting buried in a student’s unattributed presentation. Scarlet Atkins (a student of some sort - ?) created a guide to ‘mechatronic product development’. What?! Uh, okay. Mechatronics concerns the design of household or industry-specific electronics, such as computers, phones, appliances, and hospital systems like MRI machines and heart-rate monitors.

In this kind of a project, the team will create a product. But doing so requires deep engineering skills to make the product work, UX design for the controls, industrial design for the enclosure, and mechanical perspectives for manufacturing the item. So companies in this space have spent a lot of time designing — and managing and evaluating — teams. And using each team member’s unique perspectives to harmoniously collaborate, navigate constraints and not just your discipline’s constraints), and ultimately delivering amazing solutions.

Here are three models for interactive product development.

  • Cooperative Specialists
    Each person on a team works as a trained specialist, with deep but narrow knowledge. The team members desire to cooperate and collaborate and so they establish a zone of cooperation between their areas. The project at hand is in the middle, between the designers and so it will include a bit of each disciplinary specialty, but with limited interdisciplinary work to blend the team’s perspectives.

  • ‘T-type’ Generalists - Japanese Model
    The Japanese model is quite different. Teammates are selected for their “T” shapes. They are all a team of generalists. While each team member has her own skills, disciplinary background, and department affiliation “developer,” she at the very least possesses passing knowledge of the vocabulary and methods from other domains. Others might have relatively deep skills in other domains, and their titles can be built to match —  companies sometimes explicitly name a “creative technologist” Other companies use the “slash,” where a single team member might be the “ux-slash-dev” or “ux-slash-designer” player on a team.

    Because of the influence of IDEO in design thinking — and perhaps the 1990s management buzzword for cross-training — the T-type generalist model is popular at many companies and agencies today.

  • Generalist Facilitator - The Finnish Model
    This hybrid teaming model was popularized by Finnish companies, especially Nokia, during heyday in the 1990s, but might be less popular in U.S. companies. The model anoints an interdisciplinary facilitator, who usually also serves as the team leader, as the single team member with the broadest and most overlapping skills. This facilitator servers as the orchestrator of the collaborative project, having deep skills and knowledge in many domains. He or she works with specialists who don’t have as much interdisciplinary knowledge.

    Pushing leaders to have a firm grasp of all of the domains used in the project might be somewhat simpler than hiring a full team of generalists. The idea that one person owns the “magic moment” — the insightful moment of synthesis where it all comes together — could appear undemocratic. But in some of the best product design work we’ve been a part of, this accurately captures how the team functions.

What model do you use? Is it explicitly designed did it implicitly evolve from the team dynamics? Who leads your product team — and what perspective does she have?

Podcast Interview on AI and Human Intelligence - Tech Done Right

What does AI mean for the future of design, development? Can I be replaced by an AI algorithm?

Recently on Tech Done Right, I got a chance to talk with Noel Rappin about what's coming and what it means.

From the description: "Zach thinks a lot about artificial intelligence and how it might impact the future of different knowledge work. It's impossible to talk about AI without talking about the ethics of AI projects and how AI might affect society and culture.

We'll talk about why AI started with chess and moved to facial recognition, what AI might and might not be able to do in the future, how we might deal with it, and how that will change the way you work.

Embed episode and download links below.

Perspectives on Dig South 2018

A couple times a year, Helpfully offers scholarships to deserving young professionals who want to attend industry events like DIG SOUTH. This spring, a panel of esteemed women judges reviewed several dozen applications and selected Farah Rohman and Megan Landau for the DIG SOUTH scholarship. Here’s a peek into their experience.


Farah hails from Birmingham, Alabama where she works in web strategy and implementation at Influence Health. Her work involves building intuitive digital experiences for the healthcare world. Farah tells us that she was inspired by sessions from DIG SOUTH that were about this critical intersection between technology and humans. Specifically, the Anthrotech presentation by Kit Hughes really spoke to her.

Like many DIG SOUTH attendees, Farah took away the feeling that anything is possible in our future.

“I have met an abundance of incredible people with flourishing ideas and motivation who I hope to constantly stay in touch with. I hope to also do a talk someday that will encourage dreamers to push their ideas to the limits of what we know,” she says. 

Farah also told Helpfully that DIG SOUTH definitely sharpened her awareness of the need for ethical boundaries around data collection in the digital age. A very astute observation in this season of GDPR, of course, and this recent news about Amazon’s Echo sharing a couple’s private conversation.

“Throughout the DIG SOUTH conference, lots of diverse ideas were brought up and a wide array of topics were explored ... DIG SOUTH encouraged me to be proactive about pursuing ideas, the importance of keeping updated on innovation, and to strive to continually improve your skills or learning something every day.

Farah Rohman, Helpfully Scholarship Winner

Lisa Wang of SheWorx presents at Dig South on Enoughness.

Lisa Wang of SheWorx presents at Dig South on Enoughness.


Megan Landau recently graduated from the College of Charleston with a B.S. in Computer Science. Over the last few years in school, Megan was very active in computer science clubs, as well as an internship with Blackbaud. She is passionate about her field and has gained a great amount of experience in a short time. After DIG SOUTH, she jetted straight to Los Angeles to start her new role as a software engineer for Disney ABC Television Group. (Congrats, Megan!)

Megan was especially inspired by the Dig South session called “Cracking the Gender Code: How to Stack the Odds in Your Favor”. She recognized the importance of having discussions where women talk about their struggles as an underrepresented group in their workplace, regardless of industry. Megan also felt a strong emotional connection to Lisa Wang’s talk on Enoughness – focusing on how leaders must practice ‘antifragility’ or the ability to bounce back after hardships. For Megan, conferences like Dig South are a perfect opportunity to challenge both personal and societal limitations so that we can reach our best potential.

Both ladies also shared with Helpfully that Jason Feifer’s keynote on Think Like A Journalist was both fascinating and relevant to them. This message about putting yourself into the shoes of the media (and the reader consuming the media) was something they’d carry with them in their respective career paths. 

Scholarship winner Megan Landau with Helpfully's Zach Pousman

Scholarship winner Megan Landau with Helpfully's Zach Pousman

Understanding People


Series: Understanding Human Behavior

People are complex.

People are the puzzle that you need to solve in order to make a dent in the universe. You need to seek out and collect insights about people and their behaviors if you want to build stuff that people need and want.

Humans aren’t entirely predictable. But they’re not entirely unpredictable either.

Let me give you an example.

In your (western) kitchen, you likely have a lot of disposable and semi-disposable plastic tubs and bins for storing food. You might keep them in a drawer or a cabinet and reach for them to put away leftovers or pack your lunch or a kid’s lunch.

And I’m going to guess that the bins and lids are a mess.

It probably looks something like this…



It’s hard to keep this drawer organized, much less tidy. And this was causing the manufacturers some pain. Because people found this frustrating. As a result, they didn’t buy as many of the bins.

The people who develop and sell these products hired some anthropologists to go into the field, into people’s houses, and got families to open the drawer or cabinet in their home and show and talk about this small, but very real, problem.

You see, humans are somewhat predictable.

And sure enough, the manufacturer could use what they found from the field work. They used the parameters about how many products they have, in what sizes, whether and how they attempted to organize the drawer, who uses the bins and how, and they came up with this…


This is nifty solution to the problem people faced. The team created a stackable lid, which connects the lids together. It’s a partial solution, but it helped grow the category from $900m in 2000 to $5.5 billion in 2015.

Improving how products are stored matters. Products aren't just instrumental — they're also meaningful. A messy drawer means something to a mom's or dad's identity.

The fact that humans are ‘somewhat predictable’ is the source of many frustrating moments, but also the source of great opportunity to build new stuff.

If people were fundamentally predictable, advertising and marketing could be perfected. The world would look different. Businesses would succeed forever. There would only be one religion, and one governmental system to cover all human needs and desires. If humans were predictable, Helpfully wouldn’t need to exist — you don’t need assistance if you can follow what others have tried and proven in the past (and it’ll work again tomorrow).

On the other hand, if people were ultimately unpredictable, advertising wouldn’t work, and businesses wouldn’t last. Institutions like countries, cities, companies and churches wouldn’t survive over time. Conversation would be unsatisfying. Nothing would be funny, since humor is about a shared experience.

You’ll agree that neither of these extremes is correct.

The challenge — and opportunity — of innovation is to create (or improve) your product inside of the messy 'unpredictable predictability' of real life.

Your job as an innovator, a creator, a startup founder or change-agent is to understand people. You need to figure them out — what drives them and what inspires them and what they need in a given moment.

And then you give it to them. And then you win.

Well, that’s probably too simple. But we’ll come back to that in a later discussion.

But understanding people is a tall order, isn’t it.

Yes, yes it is.

It’s only been the entire project of all sciences since the beginning of time. Explaining why people do what they do is hard.

How can we know about people? Here are few of the fields of study we might use...

  • Psychology
  • Anthropology
  • Behavioral Economics
  • Religion/Spirituality
  • Web Analytics

Over the next few weeks, I’ll show you key lessons from each field  and how you can better understand people so you can build the tools and experiences they want.

Without recreating an entire college course or text book, I’ll give you clear ’how to’ guidance on what the field says about people. We'll present key frameworks and methods, and sketch out how to use these methods in your design research.

Get ready, it’s going to be fun!

Artificial intelligence and models of the mind

 “A hospital bed is a parked taxi with the meter running.” — Groucho Marx

Metaphors help us compare a concept from one domain by placing it into another context. They help us explain the essential character of an object or a relationship that is a bit outside of our mental grasp by tying it something more familiar.

We use metaphors automatically in our everyday language. Metaphors are not merely for poetry or to capture the subtle, obscure, or humorous parts of human life.

In fact, we use them so frequently, we often don’t even realize we’re doing it. I didn’t consciously decide to compare myself to an animal, yet I recently called myself an ‘early bird’ and a colleague a ‘night owl.'

We use physical or structural metaphors in our conversations too. We have metaphors in English/Western thought that higher is better and the opposite down is worse. We use natural metaphors like the metaphor ideas are plants (for example, “we need to let this idea germinate”).  We use cultural metaphors like common metaphor to associate arguments with battles. Arguments are war and our language examples include “pick your battles” and “why are you so defensive?". For more on this fascinating exploration, I recommend Lakoff and Johnson’s Metaphors We Live By, which has hundreds of these metaphors and the implications of our metaphorical thinking.

One area that’s been of interest to me lately: all the historical analogies that scientists, doctors and scholars have used to describe the brain and the mind.

Let me give you four examples.

Metaphors for the mind date back to the ancient Greeks, who believed that our life essence was centered around fluids. Any imbalance in the brain or the body was a result of improper bodily fluid levels. So, understandably, we find the Greek literature comparing the mind to a hydraulic system of pumps and tubes.


Fast forward to the 1600’s.  This era was focused on mechanics, tools and inventions like the clock. We find writings from this era comparing our brain’s inner workings to gears.  Interesting that we still find the phrase “what makes her tick” common in modern conversation.


Let's keep moving!

Have you ever thought about that stereotypical cartoon where the light bulb appears over someone’s head when they have a great idea? That started in the 1910s. The analogy of comparing the brain to a network of electric signals and impulses was used in the 1900s because it reflected the technology of they day. The electrical metaphor is still popular in phrases like, “well, he’s just wired that way.”


These mind metaphors aren’t just flat words on a page. They shape our contextual understanding of the thing we’re comparing. They impact our beliefs and can even shape our behaviors. Through this combination of technological understanding and helpful linguistic comparisons, we construct the way that we move about this world.

So here we are today, deeply entrenched in the age of computers. Many of us carry powerful supercomputers in our pockets and on our wrists … with computers surrounding us at work and at home (up to and including the ol’ “internet enabled refrigerator” which comes out every year!).

And the metaphor describing the mind and brain as a computer is completely pervasive.

The first metaphorical reference connecting a computer’s operations and the mind’s operations dates back to 1943 but is especially popular today.

The metaphor shapes how technologists and designers explore the concept of artificial intelligence. Pop culture has latched onto this metaphorical concept of the human mind as a computer.

But, given the history of metaphors of mental phenomena, I think it’s probably short-sighted to assume that the human mind IS a computer. Based on today’s knowledge of neurology, the human mind doesn’t work like a digital computer in basically any way. They don’t work the same way, they do not use the same inputs to produce similar outputs, nor do the two domains actually talk the same way about concepts like “understanding,” “recognizing,” “reasoning,” and “planning.” 

When people confuse the mind-as-computer metaphor for the reality of happens in the human mind, they can become very worried that computers are going start acting like people, that AI systems might “take over” a lot of work and life. They start to fear we might end up in a world like Sci-fi films like Ex Machina, Her, or Terminator II.


Do you think that the mind-as-computer metaphor is accurate?  

What does thinking about our brains as a computer do to our experience in the world?  

Do you think there might be anything limiting to comparing ourselves, or at least our minds, to microchips and lines of code?

I think humans are talented in ways computers aren’t, and that the metaphors about computers make rational thought, precise calculation, and speed primary. But humans have mental talents which are not highlighted by the metaphor, including intention, creativity, empathy, and collaboration.

Let me know your thoughts and reactions to this idea. I’m curious if this argument resonates with you. And your deeply and uniquely human mind. 

So, How Was Your Year? (Taking Stock of 2017)

It doesn’t seem like we’re in the habit of asking each other this question around the holidays.  We ask things like “what are your plans for the holiday?” and even get so bold sometimes as to ask our friends about their new year’s resolutions.  But rarely “How was your year?”

Perhaps this question seems too sweeping, or too intrusive. Perhaps we don’t ask others… because we aren’t sure how we would answer it ourselves.

Before we rush into 2018 with fresh goals, I’d like to offer a framework for looking back, to determine what kind of year you actually had. I built this framework as I was scanning through end-of-year emails, sending out some final invoices (and payments to partners) and reflecting on the totality of 2017.

There are the three lenses I’m using to determine my success and the success of Helpfully this year: Financial (return on investment), Memories (fulfilling moments) and Impact (leaving a dent in the universe).

Financial - This lens isn’t exciting or new.  But it is as important as it is straightforward. Did you meet your financial goals? Are you reviewing your Quickbooks statements now, instead of waiting until tax season?

However you measure the financial health of your business and your personal financial situation — whether by monthly recurring revenue, users, clients, revenue, profit, or portfolio gains — you need a hard number as the foundation of the business. I’m inspired by Profit First, a book by Mike Michalowicz. His view of why and how to measure profits is helping me get clear on what I mean when I say our business is "doing well".

This is also the place where you’ll need to assess your partners and vendors. And the oodles of software subscriptions you have (okay, that’s me projecting... maybe your 2017 wasn’t filled with productivity and operations software. I have a ton of software systems that I use to run Helpfully, so I’m carefully weighing each one this week). Are they working for you from a financial perspective?

Take a moment to figure out if the same things that worked (or didn’t work) for your business in 2017 will continue to work in 2018.  This is an opportunity to challenge your own past assumptions, and enter 2018 better prepared.


Memory - By nature, people reflect on their year through what memories they made, and the personal and/or familial side of their lives. I was reflecting on all of the fun memories I made this year that are invisible in Quickbooks (or Cushion, another planning app I like). It’s easier to measure the dollars and cents of your year, but there’s not an app that shows the emotional ‘bank account.’ When it hit me. There is an app for that. It's your camera.

One of my favorite ways to really gauge my relative level of fulfillment is by opening the photo app on my phone and scroll through it.  Start in January and just roll through the year. When you do this, choose the photos that make you recall truly “epic” days. This year I got to go to Epicurrence and join an amazing community. I got some wonderful surfing days in. I got a lot of time with my family.  I have great photos of all of these.

A sense of meaningful contentment is key to a good year!  Take note of the high-quality events or days when you really felt like you were living your best life and expressing or sharing that best self over the last year.  How many photos did you choose?  If you only notched a few… Does that mean you need to adjust where you’re spending your time? Or, it could just mean you need to take more pictures?

A word of caution: It might be tempting to run through Instagram and build your personal ‘top nine.’ But remember, this activity is taking stock, not the “highlight reel.” Just as you need to review financial losses in addition to profits, you need to view the whole year, not just the very best parts. The leaky pipe or a fender-bender (or worse), the photos of the mundane, those are important too. Sometimes the blurry photos are the best at capturing real life, even if they’ll never be shared on social media.


Impact - This is a separate lens to analyze our time together on this planet and it’s one of my favorite aspects of running Helpfully. We can get overly introspective about ourselves, our goals, our failures, and our feelings. Even financial impacts are, in some real way, internal to your business or job. But to really determine the success of a year, we must consider our outward influence as well.

Through Helpfully, I get to have impact in the world. Alongside a great team and great clients, Helpfully gets to bring new things that should exist into the world.

I asked myself, who did we positively impact this year?  Was there anyone we negatively impacted?  Family members, coworkers, young people who may look up to us, even strangers?  When using this lens, consider what wisdom were you able to share with the world.  Did you spend most of your time fishing, or teaching others to fish?  Personally, this year my impact-meter felt quite high because of this one moment pictured below - feedback from a young student after a classroom presentation I made:


So even though you usually can’t answer the question “How was your year” with a satisfactorily simple “good” or “bad”, it’s my experience that if you had a generally positive year you probably nailed two of the three lenses above.  If you made a lot of money and had positive impact on many people around you, that’s probably a pretty good year, and in 2018 you’ll focus on ways to be more intrinsically fulfilled.  On the other hand, if you ONLY felt fulfilled about your work (for example the paintings that you created in your studio, but never shared them with anyone, or sold any of them), you probably wouldn’t feel like it was a very successful year either.

So that’s my framework. What’s yours? How was your 2017?