Several weeks, a few dozen photos and four thousand words later, we’ve finally made it—the Casey Palmer, Canadian Dad 2017 wrap-up, filled with stories aplenty of 365 days spent in my not-so-orthodox life.
After wrapping the year up on a quiet note (because two sick children under five will do that to you), I still felt it necessary to do this. These year-to-year changeovers offer a lot of perspective for me—with so much happening all the time, I often forget what I had for breakfast, so I write everything down. And if the height of the pile on my desk is any sign, 2017 was quite the year. But it’s also the time where I’m the most transparent, looking back objectively at everything I’ve done and celebrating successes, owning up to failures, hoping all the while that I’m somehow growing from the process.
But yeah—let’s do this as we did in 2016: look at the year in excruciating detail, figuring out what’s worth taking with me into 2018 versus what just don’t feel part of my world anymore.
Ladies and gentlemen, let me present—the 31 things I did well in 2017! Let’s get it!
The 2017 100 — My 31 Successes.
3) Build the Casey Palmer business.
So like I said, this was the most significant year for my brand yet. Stellar new partnerships with the likes of Scotiabank and Graco. Big wins from the Tales from the 2.9 series and my Christmas gift guides. We’re bigger and better in 2017, and I’m not slowing down from here! In 2018, I need to learn from 2017’s stumbling blocks, like remembering to give myself time to prepare for the busy seasons. Or doing better at clearing out the clutter, so I’m not so distracted. I’m hoping for a year with the utmost clarity so I can thrive with my newfound success—not crumble under the weight of it.
It’s time to work smarter—not harder.
4) Design a new business card for myself.
This year saw me attend my first formal blogger conference and take a major step with a heavily promoted trip to Mexico to cover Scotiabank’s CONCACAF football tourney. As opportunities developed, I needed an image reflecting my growth, and my old one touting me as a “social media maven” just wasn’t cutting it anymore. So I went back to my roots and hit the gang up at Moo to help me develop a business card better representing the Casey Palmer I am today.
Perfect it’s not, but it’s a colourful step in the right direction!
6) Get my finances in check.
2017 was the year I got my act together.
With several vital campaigns and opportunities pushing my year forward, I’m ending 2017 in a far better place than I’d started. You take for granted how limited your options are when you have debt and other obligations hanging overhead. 2017’s allowed me to pursue some other interests, and no matter what comes next, I don’t see myself going back to the man I used to be.
9 & 10) Learn to write a killer press release… because I’m putting out the second round of posts for Tales from the 2.9, bigger and better than before!
I enlisted the help of both my Cision Newswire partnership and my lovely communications specialist wife to put this together, getting a news release out to signal the second year for Tales from the 2.9—my daily series through February to help fill the void of digital content we see around Black History Month. I don’t know for sure what came from it, but aside from Metro Morning and CTV interviews partly coming from who I knew, the story made the Metro newspaper, several CBC channels and some digital channels as well. So who knows? In any case, it’s something I’ll be repeating next year—Canada’s Black population is growing—our stories should grow with us.
13) Spend more time seeing people and not just following their lives on Facebook.
I didn’t see everyone I wanted to see in 2017—a running roster on Wunderlist’s testament to that—but I still made time for people. And making time for people took me out of my comfort zone:
- It had me speak during Financial Literacy Month
- It had me contribute to a PhD dissertation on Dad Bloggers…
The ripples it made in my world are ones I expect to become waves in the years ahead, and I hope to find even more chances to both meet new people and build deeper roots with the ones I already know.
I’ll see you in 2018! (Hopefully.)
14) Get a Brookhaven Computer Cabinet.
I spent a few years working at a crumbling computer desk to make it happen, but we finally splurged and got a Brookhaven Computer Cabinet, vastly improving our dining room space! There’s still plenty I need to do to maximize my new desk (see #5—getting rid of the endless amounts of paper in my life), but a place to keep it all organised is a mighty good start.
15) Find more time to keep my fashion game on point—refresh my wardrobe with more bespoke pieces.
Despite some hiccups Sunday night, one FUN thing about the Diversity Advancement Network's Black Business Awards is that I got to rock my @saks bespoke two-piece on the red carpet in style! It's great to be recognised for one's achievements, ESPECIALLY in the company of CEOs, VPs and PhDs whose accomplishments are FAR more storied than my own, but I left feeling like there's plenty of work yet to do so we can reach the point where we finally stand tall on our own two. Step by step, y'all. #me #self #Black #BlackMan #fashion #mensfashion #suit #bespoke #blackisbeautiful
Little did I know when writing The 2017 100 that I’d have the opportunity to work with Sak’s Fifth Avenue and get a hefty discount on bespoke shirts and suits later in the year! After years working as a bureaucrat, I’d forgotten just how good a beautiful suit felt—it was great to be back in fine form again!
Now to just keep my body in shape so I don’t need to keep buying new suits!
(But I want to!)
16) Get my hands on a Microsoft Surface Pro 4 for Sarah—and the Microsoft Surface Studio for myself once all the bugs are worked out.
When it comes to tech, they say never to buy the first one of anything. The Microsoft Surface Studio looks delightful, but I’m going to give it a little time to mature before I invest $6,000 in a powerful new rig.
But the Surface Pro is proven, and with Sarah’s 2012 Asus laptop outclasses and outdated by so much that came out after it, I felt it time to replace it with something spectacular.
Fortunately, the gang at Best Buy Canada saw things like I did and helped me get Sarah a Microsoft Surface Pro 4 in time for Sarahpalooza—the triple threat of her birthday, Mother’s Day and our wedding anniversary we handle every May! It’s a welcome addition to the family—I haven’t heard a complaint about slow load times or blue screens of death since!
23) Clean out the garage while there’s still room to walk through it.
If it isn’t in my Google Calendar, it’s not happening, so Sarah made sure to schedule a time for her brother and me to assemble 16′ of shelving along the garage wall to get it all organised. It seemed gruelling at first, but we eventually found our groove, and now the garage is looking better than ever!
Well, it was—a combination of our hurried lifestyle and winter with its pain-in-the-ass -20 temperatures have created a rush-in, rush-out approach to outdoor storage, so we’ll get back to that pristine state in the spring!
25) Get new headphones and earbuds to keep enjoying new tunes!
If you’ve followed my story at all, you’ll know I’ve had some major problems with ear buds as fragile models fell underfoot, cords frayed, and I just felt I wasn’t getting the value for the hundreds of dollars I’d drop on a headset. So earlier this year, I decided to switch it up and invest in some Sennheiser HD1 Over-Ear Wireless Headphones after featuring it on my 2016 wish list from #52!
And what an investment it was—the sound far excels what I’ve gotten from other earbuds—my only concern is that I didn’t get the longevity I thought I would for the price tag (about nine months), and needed to get a second pair while waiting for the first to get repaired. Their exposed wire can be tricky, so if you’re a daily user like me… just be careful with ’em.
27) Hang up Christmas lights for the first time ever.
I didn’t see myself putting up Christmas lights this year—just like I didn’t do every year before—but when Sarah came home with a pile of NOMA Christmas lights from Canadian Tire… I knew it was “go time!”
And you know what? It’s not all that hard—if you use the right equipment.
Being the only adult around who isn’t afraid of heights, I made sure we invested in a robust ladder this summer for whenever I needed to work on the roof. If anything, the mistake that cost me the most time was using the NOMA EZ Snap Christmas Light Clips and not the NOMA C9 Quick-Clip Light Clips, which I thought were a way easier way to get those lights firmly clipped and looking good.
In any case, it was decent for a first try, and next year will be even easier.
Part of our ever-growing Christmas tradition!
28) Get a new cufflink box, because fishing through a pile of them each morning is just downright annoying.
In the end, I didn’t even need a new cufflink box—I just had to fix what I already had. The Bombay cufflink box I reported broken in 2016 just required some screws and adjustment, and it’s back in service. Well, it was. My kindergartener broke it again, but broke ain’t forever—I’ll get it up and running!
33) Take my toddler out for more adventures.
I never got around to telling this story on the blog, but when Sarah took a trip to Calgary to visit her pregnant sister, the week I spent with my eldest was one of the most emotional I’d ever had. We had our adventures, yes, but man… I wasn’t entirely ready to continually handle everything he’d throw at me, and it was the first time I found myself questioning whether I was a good father or if I was failing my kid.
We did plenty more adventuring later on in the summer, but was it all good?
The verdict’s still out.
37) Get out and do more public speaking.
The best opportunities come when you’re not seeking them out.
Some of the public speaking experiences I didn’t quite see coming in 2017 include:
- Speaking at the Crescent School about Tales from the 2.9 and the mission of showing Black Canadian stories in an entirely new light
- Being on a Community Economic Action Group panel for Financial Literacy Month, encouraging others to change their money mindsets so they can read themselves for financial success
- And accepting the opportunity to give two keynote speeches for the Parenting 101 conference in Kelowna, BC, looking to give my unique take on what it’s like to raise children in the midst of the digital age
What next? Doing better at it. Refining my craft. Building it all to a point where I’m as good a speaker as I am a blogger. It’s important to me that I don’t find myself pigeonholed, so expect to see more of my efforts on this one!
39) Make the most of my 9-5, taking advantage of everything it has to offer!
One of the things I was really proud of this year was getting back into French. I’d studied it all the way to Grade 12, and the only thing stopping me from continuing to bilingual status in Grade 13 was the fact that no one else in my school wanted to take it. 15 years later, I’m getting back on my path, hoping I’ll be able to communicate with my boys from the beginning of their journey in Grade 4 to whenever their linguistic exploration comes to an end.
My employer offers so much that so few take advantage of—I’m going to keep making sure we’re giving each other what we need so we’re getting the best from one another.
47) Further develop my brand and PR relationships to the point where we’re both getting something awesome and unique from the exchange.
Things have come a long way from the early days of influencer marketing with a bunch of nameless bloggers going to every party possible all the time… and as my brand grows each year, I’m finding the mutual respect and understanding grows along with it.
2017 saw conversations further develop—getting involved in everything from strategy, budgeting and more. Where I’m asked for my rates instead of told how much I’m worth. I’m looking to work with my brand partners to continue creating better content… hopefully others keep seeing things the way I do!
54) Stop trying to make Sarah laugh. It’s either going to happen or it’s not.
No, for real—if she’s gonna laugh, she’s gonna laugh, and it’s usually not at my jokes. If I’m cracking wise, I’m just gonna keep doing it for myself and my kids. You know—until they don’t find me funny anymore.
55) Act on new ideas.
I remember recently reflecting on this influencer journey we’ve taken with my buddy Justin, thinking on how we once had a roster of hundreds we’d regularly interact with only half a decade ago to the three or four people we truly call friends today. Lots of Toronto’s influencer scene had to grow past a fun house of smoke and mirrors pretty quickly, and for those of us that’re left, the onus is on us to work hard to build a world that’ll continue to deliver value for years yet to come.
And that in mind, I’m glad I’m still friends with Zach Bussey, the guy who continually challenges me to push the envelope even at the times where I feel spent.
It’s not that I don’t have friends—there are still those in my circle who’ve hung with me more than 15 years straight, now—but he’s the one guy I know who truly understands not only what it takes to build something of value in this influencer world, but also why I work so hard to try to make that happen every time.
He’ll be up to big things himself with his Creator Hype project in 2018—if you’re at all interested in the influencer marketing world, make sure to tap into it!
58) See more of Ontario.
With more than a third of Canada’s population in its borders, there’s a lot to see in Ontario. But with both the nation’s capital land its biggest city among that, we wind up being pretty bad at seeing everything else. #58 was borne from my realisation that I’d done plenty of travelling outside of Canada lately but could do with seeing more of where I’m from. So in 2017, I wanted to explore more of Ontario and what it had to offer.
And 2017 delivered!
- An overnight work outing in Orillia’s YMCA Geneva Park gave me a new appreciation for the different lifestyles offered across the province, chatting with peers from Sudbury, Guelph and Sault Ste. Marie
- A weekend trip out to Sherkston Shores where we had some family fun despite it being an unseasonably windy weekend
- A wonderful trip to Bala, ON with Ford Canada to explore the Muskokas and test out their new SUV line
- And finally making it to the Kitchener-Waterloo area after all these years and checking out the Lancaster Smokehouse, which to no one’s surprise was delicious. Would do again.
While my plans to explore more of Ontario in 2018 are few so far (three camping trip in a few different areas), who knows—I’ve wanted to say “What up?” to Thunder Bay and Sudbury for a while!
64) Write more for outlets other than my own.
A mistake I often see with my peers is trying to hoard great ideas for themselves. When presented with an opportunity to contribute their words on other channels, they’ll often fill in the blanks and meet the needs of the requests, but rarely do they strive to exceed them.
With the opportunities I saw in 2017—like Big Daddy Kreativ’s 11 Questions with… Casey Palmer, or Social Dad’s Interview with Four Fathers—I wanted each one to act as its own standalone insight into my story, but also add value even for those who’ve followed me since day one!
In 2018, I need to ramp that up. Writing for friends and peers is nice, but I’d like to come up with solid series to put out through Huffington Post, The Good Men Project and others.
We’ll see what I come up with!
74) Hold a 10-year reunion for my fellow former interns from the Ontario Internship Program’s class of 2007.
Am I proud of the result? …eh.
A lesson applies here that I’ve learned well from the #BloggerLife—it’s hard to make people give a crap.
After over a decade spent working in the Ontario Public Service, there’s a lot to celebrate. My peers and I have come a long way from our Ontario Internship Program beginnings in 2007, and I felt that deserved celebrating. These former interns have become managers, assistant directors, political movers and shakers and more… I thought it’d be nice to catch up with the 100+ of us still left from the original 150 who joined the program. Which is why I wasn’t discouraged when only 33 of us showed interest in attending when I blocked everyone’s time out months in advance. But when only a quarter of them bothered to show up, most without even bothering to let me know… I guess it took me to a place where I didn’t want to bother anymore.
I guess it’s this—if you don’t keep nurturing those relationships from day one, they’ll eventually get replaced by other things… if they even still exist.
Don’t think I’ll be bothering with the 20-year anniversary.
75) Get my spare battery back from Emma!
Emma’s one of those friends who’s really great, but I don’t get to see nearly as much as I’d like. And it’s not even her fault—family life takes command of my evenings and weekends, and even when I happen to find spare time, I’m often too tired from the rest of my life to leave the house.
That said, because of this, one running joke was us needing to meet so I could reclaim the Canon LP-E6N battery she’d unintentionally taken hostage after I shot a party for her in 2014. We finally made that happen in 2017, and though that snafu’s finally resolved, I still think we’ll need to hang at least once in 2018 😉
76) Replace my Lenovo Moto Z, whose screen got chipped in a freak public transportation accident
A later addition to The 2017 100, ’tis true—my Lenovo Moto Z shot out of my hand one day on the bus and shattered the screen, rendering the device ineffective. But like I said last month, the device already suffered plenty of other issues, so perhaps its demise was already inevitable.
Fortunately, the team at TELUS came to the rescue once more, hooking me up with a Google Pixel 2 XL later into the year, replacing the mid-range models I’d relied on ’til then.
So far, Team Pixel’s been nothing short of a beautiful experience. Let’s hope it stays that way!
79) Have more family experiences to veer away from a mundane life of routine.
How I’d ever imagined our lives are anything close to mundane is beyond me. 2017 saw camping. Living in a mobile home. Aquariums, beaches, apple orchards and more… I don’t think we’ll have any shortage of memories for the boys to look back on when they’re older.
80) Live a life worthier of Toronto Life.
One might ask what this even means. Is it investing in fine art? Rocking Salvatore Ferragamo? Or perhaps being able to hit a benefit dinner, knowing it won’t hurt your bottom line? Whatever it means, I’m in a very different place than when I wrote it, able to achieve so much more now than even a year ago.
And if that’s not worth me writing about, what is?
82) Either submit the blog for some new awards in 2017, or create so well that some awesome people do it for me. & 83) Go to at least one event where I need to get really dressed up.
Despite the fallout that followed after sharing some of my thoughts on the event the morning after, it was indeed an honour to receive a Black Business Award from the Diversity Advancement Network, and yes—Sarah and I made sure to dress our best for the celebratory night.
As for #82, my mentality’s a lot different than it was when I wrote it—awards are something you earn, not something you clamour to get—but I’m glad that I’ve developed my craft to the point where I’m getting some recognition for it. Now, the job’s just to learn from that and strive to create even better—if someone pats me on the back for it, then awesome But if no one’s never around to give me any praise for the work I put my blood, sweat and tears into, that shouldn’t stop me from trying to do my best.
It’s been an important lesson in humility for me.
88) Modernise my home with more smart tech—but not so much that it leaves my home vulnerable.
- Some TP-Link gear:
- a TP-Link Smart WiFi Bulb at the back to keep backyard barbecues lit (#DadJoke)
- a TP-Link Archer C5400 wireless router to keep up with all the hubbub of my #BloggerLife
- and a TP-Link WiFi Range Extender for those times where I don’t quite connect to our router from the backyard
- A number of Apple HomeKit enabled items:
- an Elgato Eve Wireless Motion Sensor and an Elgato Eve Room Sensor that let me monitor my home via my iPad Pro
- a D-Link Omna 180 Cam HD camera, offering 180° of security coverage on my front porch, also viewable from my iPad Pro
- And some gear from NETGEAR:
- the Arlo Baby baby monitor for the times where we’re really concerned about how our kids are sleeping
- the Arlo Pro for outdoor security, a weatherproof HD camera that can save footage to the cloud
- and a NETGEAR Orbi Mesh WiFi system, designed to give you equal coverage all over your home, regardless of how far you are from the router itself.
Now while we’re still in the Wild West of smart tech as we wait for devices that play well with everything regardless of their operating system, it’s good to get an idea of what you’d like to make more intelligent in your home before you invest.
In a perfect world, I’d get myself a smart mortise lock for my ancient front door; a Nest thermostat to heat this place up well before we’re coming in from these ridiculously low temperatures; and fifteen more Philips Hue smart bulbs so I could control every light in this house from the comfort of my phone. But we’re not quite ready for that yet—costs are high and the world’s still not convinced that anything’s safe from the multitude of hackers online. It’ll take a while yet for it all to come into its prime, but at least for now… I can figure out what I like and what I don’t.
89) Play more board games once the boys are in bed.
Before the Age of Parenting, board games were a regular pastime for Sarah and I. After mastering a handful of strategy games—The Settlers of Catan, Race for the Galaxy and Puerto Rico to name a few—we soon found that quicker, lightweight games were what we had the energy for after long days of parenting.
Now our poison’s games like Sequence, Boggle, Isle of Skye and Codenames—whatever’s good for a couple of parents to play while waiting for their kids to grow old enough to join in on the fun.
Who said family game nights needed to start with everyone involved, right???
96) Get more involved in the Facebook groups that’re relevant to me.
Plenty of people have Facebook all wrong. I often hear complaints of how everyone only shows their best selves on their profiles or how intrusive their ads can be, but I find you get the best from it when you engage in their groups.
In the parts of my life where friends, family and peers can’t relate, Facebook Groups fill the gap. I don’t spend much of my days with other bloggers, Dads or even other Black people, but through the communities in my favourite Facebook Groups, I at least get the chance to swap thoughts with others who’ve shared my experiences or spend their time doing the things I do.
I found myself far more involved in a handful of groups this past year, spending more time bolstering my relationships with my peers. That’s meant mentoring newer bloggers and helping them figure out how to reach their goals. Or building better connections with neighbourhood Dads, getting a drink together now and then to learn more about each other.
Facebook proved a solid tool through 2017, and I can only see myself using it more—not less—in the year ahead!
2017 — 31 down, 60 to go! (And 9 I’m not even going to bother with.)
So I’d call it a successful year. 31 items complete is on par with what I’ve done in years before, and it’s not like I have to stop trying with the sixty things I didn’t get done in 2017—2018’s just bubbling with opportunity, and it’s up to me how much… or how little I make of it all.
But for now, a week later, it’s time to say goodbye to 2017 and what it’s done for me. Full of ups, downs and all-arounds, I can only imagine what’s coming in the months ahead!
Thanks for everything in 2017, y’all—let’s make 2018 something to remember!
Until the next,
Disclaimer: Various product and services were given for review in 2017, but I tried where possible to link to source material showing the original disclaimers.