Happy New Year from the Starks.

People send Christmas letters.  I think we sent a Christmas letter once.  And year after year I mention doing a New Year’s themed letter instead (in the form of a blog post, of course), but I never truly have.  At least, not in the way I imagine it.

So, let’s give it a try.

Let’s recap.

Moving to Sydney

In September 2014, my Stark and I moved to Sydney, Australia where he became the consulting manager over APAC.  I was lucky enough to keep my job with Boostability, based in Utah, despite only being an employee of the company for 6 weeks before this random, unsought opportunity fell into our laps as a sure thing.

2015 Highs & Lows

Being so far away has a way of making your own day to day successes feel less significant while amplifying the changes occurring in the lives of everyone you know (or knew) once.  That sounds depressing, and sometimes it is.  Let me explain.

Since December of last year, we have lost many people in our lives – all unexpectedly.  We have lost a dear friend and mentor of Starks, my stepmother, and my cousin in law, only to name a few.  Losing others from so far away can be difficult for no greater reason than the inability to be there for those that have no choice but to be tragically close to the situation. Of course, 2015 wasn’t all bad.

In 2015, we had some major highlights as well.

Travel

This year, we together to Melbourne for the Australian Cup (tennis) and back again for the Melbourne Formula 1 Grand Prix (vroom vroom).

We traveled together to Bangkok, Thailand for work and for play.  We enjoyed relaxing at the hotel, walking the late night streets of a busy and lustful city, and taking a private river cruise in a traditional, handmade boat.  During this trip we also spent a long pause at the Erwin Shrine, giving gifts of flowers and incense to Buddha for the positive intent and wishes we held in our hearts for everyone we love.  Later that year, this special part of Bangkok was bombed, injuring these innocent and happy people of Thailand.  To hear that news was tragic, and just another one of those moments that feels so far away from you when you live at the bottom of the world.

That was not the end of our great adventures, however.

In September, we traveled with some very dear friends of mine – DH and Jaimal – to Singapore for the Singapore Formula 1 Grand Prix night race (vroom vroom, again).  Stark spoiled us with a prime view from the balcony of a hotel there in Singapore.  Together, my friends and I tried a delicious chili crab for this first time and tried our first Singapore Slings.  We visited many malls, ate many foods, and visited the coveted, indoor gardens.  The trip was truly amazing and one of the most memorable in our fast-going history.  In fact, it may be as memorable for all of those around Jaimal and myself during the last night Bon Jovi concert.  On previous nights, we watched Pharrel and Maroon 5 from our balcony, listening to the crowd sing along.  On the last night, we braved the crowds (which were surprisingly less than the two previous days) for the post race party.  Needless to say, Jaimal and I were those people – singing so loud and jumping up and down that we cleared our own little circle around us where no one wanted to stand near us.  I mean… that’s the best way to party, right?

In October, we took it down a notch and visited New Zealand for a long, relaxing trip with Stark’s parents.  We spent most of the time there in Queenstown – enjoying the views from atop Ben Lomond, hanging out in the city, or walking alongside the lake there in front of our hotel.  We took a long road trip to Milford Sound.  I think above everything else, we enjoyed feeling cold for once. Sydney did not produce a Winter worth wincing at. 🙂

Visitors

When we first moved to Sydney, scoring a four-bedroom home on the water seemed more like a good deal than something we truly needed at the time.  But in hindsight, we are surely glad to have had space.

Throughout this year, we had 15 visits from friends.  With each visit we perfected ways of getting around the city, and I had my tour guide routes down to an art.  We now have typical routines and secret best spots we take nearly all our visitors to while still maintaining an entirely new schedule for each new visit.

I haven’t felt the need to spend much time exploring New South Wales on my own knowing that friends and family members would be coming often enough that anything we discovered for our own to-do list could easily be taken advantage of with visitors.

With visitors we have:

  • Gone to the top of the Westfield Tower 4 times
  • Bondi-to-Coogee walk
  • Northead to Bondi walk
  • Northead walk at least a dozen times
  • Baranjoey Lighthouse walk
  • Nearly every ferry ride possible
  • Taronga Zoo
  • Featherdale Zoo 2 or 3 times
  • Bondi Beach
  • Manly Beach
  • All Northern Beaches
  • Hunter Valley
  • Blue Mountains / Katoomba

You name it!  I’ve been a tourist of my own new city by volunteering to be a tour guide to our visitors.  It has been well worth it!

Career

Moving to Oz, neither of us changed careers per se, but we have both had many opportunities for growth as managers. I can’t speak for Stark, and if you know him, you know he wouldn’t speak about it anyway.  I can, however, speak for myself.

I started my job as a Marketing Writer that refused to just be a Marketing Writer.  The day I received my work email account, I confidently typed “Marketing Manager” as the title in my email signature, and acted as-if.  The actual Marketing Manager left the company shortly thereafter so the name stuck, and the job naturally grew into managing everything outside of marketing with revenue sharing partners.  That! was always artfully done by my bossman.

At that time, it was my boss, one marketing writer, one graphic designer, and me. (That was June 2014.)

By January 2015, I received my first box of business cards and proudly updated my LinkedIn Profile to Director of Marketing Communications.  The year felt as though it started rolling with me pushing, and I pushed through the entire year to get more done in one year as a team than we had in all the years prior.  Now, I do not advise taking on 5 years worth if top level initiatives all in one season, but I did.  As far as I was concerned, everything need an upgrade, and it was just part of the growing pains of becoming a bigger, internationally recognized company.

In 2015, my entire team turned over in the first few weeks, and today I have a team of four full-time employees (not including myself or my manager), an internal backup team of writers and contributors, and approximately a dozen active contractors.  We have produced books, infographics, videos, social media content, blog content, and linked it all into one lean and mean marketing machine.

My three big initiatives for the year were all related to massive upgrades.  I upgraded our very manual marketing system to a fully comprehensive sales and marketing lead nurturing system.  I personally have designed over 50 email templates and well over 50 landing pages.  The second big initiative was to upgrade the website, which officially went live just before Christmas and seems to already be outperforming our previous site in almost every regard.  Our current site has over 50 pages of which I wrote and edited every single one myself.  My last big initiative was in upgrading our employee advocacy program – something I had started within two weeks of taking the job.  Our new employee advocacy system has more than doubled our blog traffic entirely on its own, and it will always be one of the things I am most proud of creating.

Throughout the year I’ve been interviewed by Sprout Social/Bambu; I’ve been published on Visibility Magazine, LinkedIn, Social Media Week, and of course, our BoostBlog; and I’ve been featured and quoted in local Utah news.

Throughout the year, I have never been happier with the results of my own work, and I have also crashed to frightening low points in how I feel about my work.  Keeping the plate spinning, as my boss puts it, is the main job of a marketing team and one of the hardest jobs there is.  Just the slightest lack of motivation in life can put a deadly risk on the momentum of spinning plates.  I very much look forward to a more focused, less intense 2016.

Home

I suppose last but not least is how amazing it has been to spend a year on the Kirribilli Waterfront, three short steps away from the Sydney Harbour and in direct view of the bridge, the opera house, the boats, the ferries, the trains, and all Sydney has to offer.  There simply is no better place to spend your first year as an expat than here in our front yard, relaxing in our oversized lawn chairs next to our coveted outdoor fireplace.  A lot of good memories have been made here – my favorite, of which, are the ones you can count on the most, like long walks across the bridge or nights watching our favorite television shows with a corner eye view of midnight water taxis and fancy dinner boats.

For 2016, however, we will be moving on for no other reason than a promise to ourselves to take advantage of living here and to see what this part of the world has to offer.  In only a few short days, we will be moving to the other side of Sydney for a new experience and to shake up our comfort zone.

Other Stuff & Things

The not as exciting, but still worth noting parts of this year are:

  • In 2015, I only read 9 (out of a goal of 15) books. :-\Stark busted his foot at the start of the year by dancing.
  • Caz now is battling the emotional world of adult braces.
  • Stark is enjoying Platinum Status with a new airline. 🙂
  • We adopted a stuffed animal puppy we named Arftanian.
  • We found the best sushi restaurant in all of Sydney.
  • We averaged approximately 15,250 steps of walking per day throughout 2015 which translates to approximately 2,789 miles walked in 2015.
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