2023 year in review
This is a look back on some of the highlights and lowlights of my 2023. I’ve written these yearly in private for 9 years, but as I reached the end of 2023, I decided to share what has happened during the year with whoever is interested, and because I know this will be fun to review in a decade.
In previous years, I’ve written about what we’ve done at Stacc X (2021, 2020). A lot has happened since we were 3 persons in a group of 3 companies with 15 persons. Stacc now consists of over 230 employees in 3 countries, and the companies work more like different departments. As Stacc expands, I find it hard to write about just the yearly accomplishments of one department in Stacc, so instead, I’m going to write about what I’ve been up to this year:
Morrow Bank came to us when they were still known as Komplett Bank with a proposal for a complete rebrand of their public pages. They had previously worked with another firm to establish the brand identity but needed help with expanding the visual profile for the web and developing their new website. With a small team from Stacc, I helped design and develop brand-new web pages, a visual style guide, and a design system that will be used in years to come. I sure learned a lot about gradients on the web.
For the last year, one of my main projects has been Kassa, a digital and automated end-to-end mortgage solution that streamlines the mortgage process at every stage. The solution automatically gathers information about the loan customer from various sources within seconds and helps to ensure that the loan applicant can receive a response to their application within a few minutes. I have been the lead UX designer on the solution and worked a lot on streamlining the customer journey for borrowers and co-borrowers and the daily work of caseworkers and financial advisors.
Sensor Bachelor students in design
In May, I was privileged to serve as an external sensor for the Visual Communication students taking a bachelor at the University of Bergen. Reviewing various projects, from speculative design and AI as a design tool to board games, was inspiring and intense.
I’ve also held a few presentations. Among others, I presented Norwegian Fintech trends for Vest Studio (and friends) in Ålesund and held a talk for students about how to build a career and why Fintech is an exciting industry to bet on. A highlight of the year was touring Scandinavia in together with my good friend Ivan Hjelmeland from Shortcut. We delivered a talk on a report we (and some of our colleagues) had created where we analyzed all the banking apps in Scandinavia. You can read the report here.
Feasibility studies and POCs
Much of my time is spent on feasibility studies, creating Proof of Concepts, and sales, and unfortunately, this is not something I can share more about. If you want to read more about my regular work-day you can read this interview from when I was Designer of the Week at UX Norway.
Over the last two years, I’ve built several side projects on evenings and weekends.
I’ve slowly built a following on Twitter by sharing hidden features on iOS and macOS, but in 2023, it grew and stabilized at around 145k followers. My most absurd moment last year was when I woke up and saw that Elon Musk had replied to one of my Tweets. I wrote about some of my learnings in this blog post. My tweets were viewed by someone over 98 million times last year! (Strangely, it was down from 171 million in 2022, so it might be safe to say that the algorithm changed in 2023).
Over time, I’ve added these tips to a daily email called iSecrets. It consists of an automation with over 100 emails that are automatically sent out ever weekday. Over 8 000 have subscribed! You can subscribe below to check it out:
Blog and newsletter
My main side project for the last year has been a productivity macOS app I’m creating with a contractor. I’m looking forward to releasing it at the start of this year! You can subscribe here if you want to be notified when it launches. This might be one of the reasons why my blog have stagnated a bit lately.
The Good Parts
Day-to-day is hectic with a 6-year-old (Just started at school!) and a 3-year-old. Next year will be even more hectic as we welcome another family member in May!
Kristiansand zoo and amusement park
In 2023, we started something I’m sure will be a staple in our year: a precation. A shorter vacation before our summer vacation. I highly recommend it! This year, we visited Kristiansand Zoo and Amusement Park with my parents-in-law, and everyone from 3 to 60 had a great time!
Our real vacation was spent in the south of England. We first had a lovely week in Greatstone with my parents (A bit bummed about the tides and extremely shallow depth of the beach), and then a week on the Isle of Wight. We fell in love with the Isle of Wight, the ease of cycling around, and the fun amusement parks. Highly recommended!
Weekly ice bath
A weekly staple for the last two years has been a bath in the ocean before work (or during lunch) with a couple of colleagues. It is incredible what people do just because we have a leaderboard. The average temperature of all the baths last year was 8,3 degrees celcius.
Styrkeprøven rett Vest
Last year, one of my most memorable experiences was when my wife and I “ran” Styrkeprøven Rett Vest. It is a 45km trail (feels like 50) over 3 100 m in height and 8 mountains. We were pretty nervous about whether we would actually be able to finish, but after finishing 7-fjellsturen earlier in the spring and training fairly structured during the summer, we believed it was doable.
The first 5 mountains went okay, but then I lost all energy on the 6th mountain. I pushed on, but when I finally had my energy back and filled up my Camelbak with energy drinks, it started pouring down, with thunder and lightning close by. The organizer made the wise decision of canceling the rest of the run because of the risk of being struck by lightning at the mountaintops. We therefore didn’t get to go over the last two mountains, which was a bummer.
A yearly tradition for my wife and I has been running the obstacle course Toughest together in Oslo! It is amusing with a lot of challenging obstacles and about 10km of running. This year, the entire family traveled over and we also ran the family race together.
On race day, I, however, had an accident that has haunted me for the whole autumn. I was on the “spinning wheels” obstacle where you hang by your hands on wheels mounted on a rig. You must gain momentum from one wheel to the next to reach them. At the last wheel, I suddenly felt a jolt in my shoulder and fell. Later, after scanning my shoulder, I learned that I dislocated my shoulder at that moment, and it apparently popped back again immediately. I didn’t know, so I continued the race (and even climbed a rope 5 minutes later)
My shoulder never became better during the autumn, so after finding out it had been dislocated and I had some loose cartilage there, we decided on surgery to remove the cartilage and to suture the labrum in the shoulder to reduce the risk of the shoulder dislocating again. I have, therefore, spent my entire Christmas with my arm in a sling while my shoulder recovered. This whole post has been typed with one arm or with the help of different text-to-speech solutions I’m testing.
Some wonderful things from 2023
Ice bath Yes! I bought an ice bath outside our bedroom this year. Nothing wakes you up like a sub-10-degree bath in the dark. It feels like training without training and gives much energy throughout the day.
Mercedes Benz EQB 300 The most expensive purchase this year was without a doubt a car. Our biking days are not over, but becoming a family of five certainly has its own challenges when it comes to transportation. We, therefore, saw no other option than buying a car. We wanted an electric car with at least 400km reach, 7 seats, and a 4-wheel drive to get to our cabin. We are pleased so far!
Pizza with Apple and Bacon: In 2023, we used our Ooni Koda oven almost weekly. Our go-to staple pizza became Pizza with white sauce, tart apples, and bacon (and sometimes a drizzle of honey).
Dream team practice: I’ve started a habit of reflecting every morning on how I will be my best and move the needle today for work, my health, and my family. It might sound cheesy, but it doesn’t take much time, and I’ve noticed it helps me focus on what is essential that day.
Shutdown ritual: I’ve also started with a shutdown ritual at the end of the workday to unwind and plan the next day. It’s a checklist where I go through what I’ve done, log my hours at work, review the next day’s calendar, and list the top 3 things for tomorrow. It’s simple but helps immensely in controlling things and preparing to end the workday.
The PARA Method I’ve been following Tiago Forte for quite a while, but this way of organizing my digital life really came to fruition after reading this book. Book
Abandon Over the last few years Blake Crouch has become one of my favorite fiction writers. Abandon is a fascinating thriller about an entire Western town that suddenly disappeared along with a large amount of gold and the people trying to find the treasure later on. Book
The Comfort Crisis This is probably the book I have referred most back to, and thought most about, in the last year. Michael Easter argues why comfort might be one of the leading causes of many of our most urgent physical and mental health issues. Book
Laugh Track by The National was my favorite album from last year. Album
Aftermath - EP by Alfonso Peduto is a piano-only album I’ve enjoyed listening to when working. Album
The Art of the Steal What can I say? I’m a sucker for bank robber films and endings with a twist. Movie
Dexter: New Blood Dexter is the TV show I’ve seen most times (I never rewatch stuff), and this sequel did not disappoint. Highly recommended if you’ve seen the previous seasons. TV show
Barry is a dark comedy-drama series about a disillusioned hitman who tries to start a new life as an actor. We quite enjoyed these 4 seasons. TV show
Typing Mind Chat GPT became a staple in my work process last year. Typing Mind is my preferred way to interact with Chat GPT on desktop and mobile. You just add your Open AI API key to use it, and you can add custom instructions and characters very quickly.
Funnel is a way to take quick notes and add them to your preferred apps with speed. It is handy for adding notes to Obsidian without waiting for sync.
Snipd is my new preferred podcast app this year. What separates it from other podcast apps is that you can take snips from the podcast to automatically transcribe and create notes that I can store in Obsidian.
Obsidian has been my most used tool last year. I actually added over 1 400 files to my Obsidian notes this year. On average, it's 13 lines per file, so it's quite a lot of information. But by using the PARA structure I wrote about earlier, I find it reasonably easy to find what I'm looking for at any minute.
Plans and goals for 2024
- New kid in town – this is definitely going to be the theme of the year
- Recovery of my shoulder
- Launch the Mac app
- Write more regularly on the blog