I love making lists at the end of a year. I love reading end-of-year lists, too. (Here are my favorite lists about books, movies, music, and games.)

This year was especially fun because it marked the end of a decade. So not only did I get to indulge in “Best of 2019” lists, but there were also tons of “Best of the 2010s.” I won’t be going that far back with this list — sheesh, I can hardly remember what life was like ten years ago. Instead, this list is simply the things I enjoyed most from the previous year.

You can also look back at what I loved in 2017 and 2018.


1. Best books

I wrote about each of these five books in my year-end book review, which also lists the 60-something books I read in 2019.

Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage.

Rilke, quoted in The Friend

2. Best business books

I didn’t read a ton of business books this year, something I hope to change with a business book reading challenge in 2020. That being said, these were a few that did cross my path:

3. Best podcasts

My favorite podcasts: Song Exploder, Longform, Breaking Brand, Catch and Kill
  • Longform — Weekly conversation with a non-fiction writer or journalist on how they tell stories
  • Song Exploder — A podcast where musicians take apart their songs, and piece by piece, tell the story of how they were made
  • Catch and Kill — Stories behind Ronan Farrow’s investigative journalism into the abuses of Harvey Weinstein and the efforts to keep them under wraps
  • Breaking Brand — An original series from Buffer all about how a new DTC brand gets built from the ground up

4. Best podcast episode

This Y Combinator podcast episode features an interview with two of the top growth consultants working in tech. It’s a great story of how to organize growth within a company and the lessons learned along the way.

5. Best articles

Reflecting on My Failure to Build a Billion-Dollar Company by Sahil Lavingia

“I thought Gumroad would become a billion-dollar company, with hundreds of employees. It would IPO, and I would work on it until I died. Something like that. Needless to say, that didn’t happen.”

The Information Diet by Angus Harvey

“For me, the biggest change happened when I decided to actually start thinking about information as food, and make my diet healthier and more diverse. The effect has been transformative.”

The Sweetgreen-ification of Society by Ranjan Roy

“There has always been prevalent class stratification and social signaling. But we’re in this weird space where a confluence of user data, targeted marketing, labor trends and even supply chain innovation all work together to create an almost weaponized quinoa bowl. A company with the technical chops, branding resources, and a low interest rate influx of private capital can simply steamroll us with any retail concept. We’re no longer constrained to the Banana Republic-Gap-Old Navy trichotomy. Every facet of our daily consumer lives can now be hyper-segmented.”

The Modern Trap of Turning Hobbies Into Hustles by Molly Conway

“It’s okay to love a hobby the same way you’d love a pet; for its ability to enrich your life without any expectation that it will help you pay the rent.”

6. Best marketing idea

Slow journalism

Ok, so technically this is a journalism idea, but it just seems so appropriate for marketing, too. The idea is similar to a number of minimalist philosophies, perhaps the most famous of which is:

Less, but better

Greg McKeown, Essentialism

It’s also related to the article I linked above about the information diet. There is SO much stuff being created these days. As marketers, we can stand out from the pack if our stuff is different, high-quality, and unique, and if we resist the urge to be first, fast, and immediate.

7. Best management idea

B.I.C.E.P.S.

BICEPS is an acronym for the six core needs that researchers found are most important for people at work. Not everyone feels the need for all six in equal parts. Your teammates’ mileage may vary. Here are the six:

  • Belonging
  • Improvement / Progress
  • Choice
  • Equality / Fairness
  • Predictability
  • Significance

8. Best newsletters

Sample email from Lean Luxe

9. Product of the year

Substack

The Substack homepage, featuring a highlighted newsletter and most-upvoted issues.

Substack is an email newsletter service that allows writers to set up easy paid subscriptions. It’s a model that caught a lot of attention in 2019: Creators getting paid for the stuff they create. Think: Patreon mixed with a magazine subscription.

10. Other great products

11. Best blogs

12. The “ship it” award for product innovation

Figma

The online design tool had a big year with a ton of new feature releases and a continuation of becoming the go-to design tool for teams. In particular what I found interesting was the Figma plugins — a veritable Figma app store for a huge number of extensions and ideas built by the community.

13. Best iOS game

Sniks

14. Best songs

These ones:

15. Best movie

Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse


What did you enjoy most in 2018?


Posted by:Kevan Lee

VP of marketing currently living in Boise, Idaho. I work with the lovely folks at Buffer. You can join my email list to get an inside look at marketing and branding and team-building in tech.