Year in Review – 2018

I started the year in Kansas City, Missouri and ended it in Brazil, two very different places. I moved to Brazil after visiting several times in the last 15 years and living here for most of 2016. Of all the places I’ve traveled, it holds the high score for the factors I want in life at this moment.  I spent the year focused on growth primarily in my personal, professional and financial areas of life, and made sure to have a few adventures along the way. This year what surprised me the most was how much my business grew, despite moving my main home twice (once within Kansas City and once to Brazil).

In 2018 I…

Traveled to three countries and lived in two.

Created and posted over 100 videos on YouTube and many more inside my courses.

Ran two races, hiked in Mexico and Brazil, and learned to rock climb.

Donated a final total of $10,000 to Pencils of Promise over the last three years.

Was the recipient of a $10,000 Digital Sandbox small business grant (unrelated to the 10k donated, but it’s interesting to see what goes around comes around).

Experienced a 3x increase in my business revenue and in my personal net worth from last year.

Set up two rental properties and sold one house.

Spoke at four events and presented for the first time entirely in a foreign language without notes — Portuguese.

Got recognized on the street from my YouTube channel many, many times.


Personal and Professional Highlights


(1) Finally figuring out what’s making me sick. For half of my life, every single day, I’ve suffered from digestive issues that completely deplete my energy. I’ve done everything I could to try to resolve the problems, but no matter what they kept coming back. Finally, it seems I’m understanding what’s going on. I’m highly allergic to preservatives, some dyes and garlic, and have about a dozen other food intolerances. Just understanding this is a huge step forward. Now the next hurdle is to actually create a lifestyle conducive to staying healthy. You don’t realize how hard it is to eat simple whole foods until you have to do it! Side note: This is a major reason why I’m so grateful to be running my own online business (Go Natural English, if you didn’t know already) — it has offered me the flexibility to really work on and improve my health!

(2) Ran the Samba Run 5k race and the São Silvestre 15k race in Brazil. Running has never been fun for me but I think it’s closer to fun now than ever. I have a great running partner, and training for specific events is fun for me because I love to plan, set goals, and carry them out. It’s super important for health and fitness to stay active, especially since I spend a lot of time sitting in front of a computer. I love seeing the results — more endurance, energy and strength.

(3) Hiked up Nevado de Toluca volcano near Mexico City and up the iconic Two Brothers Mountain in Rio de Janeiro for the third time.


(1) Speaking at events in Kansas City DCxMexico City, KiaiLive in Coimbra, Portugal (100% in Portuguese) and at YouTube in Los Angeles and was sponsored to attend VidCon. Most of my speaking opportunities this year came unexpectedly to me. This year I only attended events where I was either speaking or was sponsored to attend.

(2) 1 million subscribers on YouTube (1,100,000 by the end of the year). For the past 3 years, my YouTube channel has doubled in size each year. I am so grateful that I took the leap and started my channel in 2011.

(3) Digital Sandbox Grant Recipient. I was honored to receive a $10,000 tech startup grant this year, as well as mentoring and speaking opportunities. With that, I was able to implement significant improvements to the Go Natural English website and course area, including an on-site community forum instead of using Facebook groups.


Top Travel Experiences

(1) Japan for the fourth time. Hitchhiked for the second time. Explored Kiyomizudera for the 7th(?) time, this time in early morning tranquility. Naoshima and Teshima for the second time.

(2) Portugal for the second time. Coimbra. Lisbon. Lagos.

(3) Mexico City for the first time. Hiked up a volcano and saw pyramids for the first time.


Courses Published

(1) Fluent Communication 2.0 – In January I launched an updated, more comprehensive version of my main English course on my website.

(2) The English Power Pack – In July I organized the EPP for the 5th time, a collaborative week-long sale of several different digital ESL courses created by other online teachers. After 3 years and 5 times organizing the sale, I was able to donate $10,000 to Pencils of Promise by earmarking a percent of the sale proceeds for charity.

(3) English Course for Brazilians / Curso de Inglês para Brasileiros – Due to the popularity of my main course with Brazilians, and my move to Brazil, I decided to launch a specialized course for Brazilian learners on my website.


Partnerships & Collaborations

(1) Corporate partners: Tubebuddy, italki, Lingoda, HiNative, Skillshare

(2) English Power Pack contributors: Hadar Shemesh, Christina Rebuffet, Shayna from Espresso English, Benny from Fluent in 3 Months, Idahosa from the Mimic Method

(3) Collaboration: Videos with Emma from MmmEnglish

It’s been a great year for partnerships and collaborations with many companies even outside of the language learning space.



I was thrilled I got to interview one of my travel author heroes on my YouTube channel — Rolf Potts, author of Vagabonding and Souvenir. He was such a good conversationalist! This was also a way to try out a new type of content on my YouTube channel.



Wrap up

In 2018 I traveled less than in previous years — by choice. I realized that it’s better for me to put my health first, and it’s really hard to do that while traveling non-stop like I have in past years.

One of the biggest breakthroughs was something I never talk about — figuring out why I get sick literally every single day. Now I am starting to have days when I don’t get sick and that is awesome. I am recovering. The challenge is to follow a strict diet that keeps me healthy.

Focusing on my physical health and happiness is my #1 goal. In 2019 I am planning to do the 70.3 Kohala Coast Ironman for the second time.

Focusing on Go Natural English in 2018 had great results, and I am excited to continue with it in 2019.

I realized that I enjoy speaking and I’m really good at it. Presenting at events is another good way besides YouTube to bring my message to an engaged audience. I’m excited for more opportunities in the new year.

There are many more places in the world that I’d certainly like to travel to and I have a short list of cities I’d like to live in, but for now in 2019 I’m looking forward to making the most of living in Rio de Janeiro.

I am envisioning 2019 as a year of even greater health, happiness, discoveries, and abundance.

Related to this: Check out my list of 100+ questions for a year-end review! I like to ask myself many of these at the end of the year.