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Letter to My 2 Year Ago Self (or, 7 Things I wish I had known)

John Doherty —  September 28, 2011
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Dear John circa 2009 -

This is John from September 2011 writing to you. It’s been an interesting past couple of years to be sure, but you’ve come a long ways and learned a whole lot. Two years ago you were a bit lost in your direction in life, having just left a good paying job at a software company where you could move up fast. You had just taken the chance to quit your job and move to Switzerland for an unknown amount of time, to run a company in a market you had little knowledge of.

For comparison’s sake, here is a picture of you two years ago beside a picture of you now:

Living the dream as a hippie in Switzerland

Living the dream as an SEO consultant at Distilled in New York City


Here are some things you will learn in the next two years:

1) Not everything works out the way you want it to, but things end up better than you could have imagined. You’re going to go through a lot of questioning, a lot of self doubt, and some very real heartache, but don’t worry because you’ll come through it stronger and be in a really good place in two years.

2) Your penchant for looking ahead and setting goals will serve you well. Don’t be afraid to take risks like you always have. They’ll pay off, I promise.

3) Own up to your mistakes and allow others to see that you’re not perfect. I know that’s hard for you to accept, but it’s true and people need to see your real side. Let them in and you’ll go far.

4) Hustle and keep hustling. When you stop working hard, that’s when you fail and life doesn’t work out like you thought it would.

5) Facebook is a waste of time. Google Plus is going to be much better.

6) Listen to your parents. You may be an adult, but they know you better than almost anyone.

7) Start reading the SEOmoz and Distilled blogs now. In 2 years you’ll be a lot further along, but don’t worry, where you end up is pretty great.

These are all lessons that that you should have done, or that you did and are now reaping the benefits. Remember: stay true to yourself, work hard, and listen to your mother.

You’ll come a long way in the next two years, and the two after that are shaping up to be the most transformative of your life.

Good luck.

John Doherty

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I'm the new (as of October 2013) Online Marketing Manager of Hotpads.com, soon to be based in San Francisco. Previous to Hotpads I worked at Distilled for 2 years as an online marketing consultant. In my spare time I shoot lifestyle photography, explore new and interesting food in New York, ski, rock climb, and update my Twitter and Google+ accounts.

3 responses to Letter to My 2 Year Ago Self (or, 7 Things I wish I had known)

  1. Bet it felt good to write this down. My corollary would be my 6-yr ago self and I’d have very similar things to say. Although, whereas you looked like a hippy, I resembled something closer to a bum/serial murderer. Thanks for the peek into a different side of you, pal :-)

    • Sure did man. It felt great to reflect back and see what I’ve learned. I like the 2 year mark because much more happens in 2 years than we think ever could.

      I appreciate the comment and your friendship, Dave!

  2. Hi John

    I absolutely love this post, it offers something different from most SEO posts.

    It’s a great example thinking outside the box.