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My 2023 Year in Review

This year, I'm starting a new tradition of my year in review, drawing inspiration from notable figures in the ADHD and productivity communities.


My intention with sharing this publicly is for you to see that I have skin in the game, just like you. We are all working on enhancing our executive function skills, myself included. 


Honest reflection is a skill that I place in high regard. When I was little, one of the most consistent things I remember adults saying to me was, “Sean, you need to reflect more and stop being so impulsive.”


For the longest time, this really bugged me because I didn’t know what that meant and it is probably the reason why I have filled dozens of journals with my ideas.


Now, I want to share some of those reflections with you and in this post I aim to reflect on three key questions:


  1. What went well this year in the context of supporting parents, educators, and students to develop enhanced executive function skills?

  2. What didn't go so well?

  3. What are my goals and visions for this work moving forward?


I hope this inspires you to invest some time in reflecting on your past year and setting a vision to make the upcoming year your best yet.


What Went Well


Team and business growth

The team at Executive Function Specialists continued to evolve this year. I was continuously impressed and grateful for individuals who stepped up to lead different initiatives such as:


  • The roll out of our subscription model

  • Supporting students and families during urgent struggles

  • And helping with challenging transition points


My focus has been on training and developing people from within, although we did look outward to hire a key role, HR and Operations manager, which has been a huge relief to our hard working team.


Here are some updates on our team growth:


Retention:

  • 5 team members have stayed with us since our first year in 2021 (shout out to Jan, Morgan, Stephanie, Kinyatta and Courtney!)

  • 3 team members have stayed with us since 2022 (thank you Gal, Seanessy, and Amy!)


New hires

  • We hired some incredible, vibrant new staff members with deep expertise including Kelly, Ismael, Kelsey, Liora, Jen, and Hannah.

  • We hired an experienced and strategic Operations and HR director, Jen, to support our growing team.


Sustainability

  • Reaching a long-time goal, we began to provide staff members with salaries this year.

  • We added in a health care stipend for staff members working 20+ hours a week on average, to complement our 401k with match, to further entice team members to stick around for the long haul.

  • We transitioned to a subscription-based model for coaching services after determining that consistent meetings were beneficial for students, employees, and the sustainability of the business.


New adult executive function coaching business

I co-founded UpSkill Specialists, an adult executive function coaching business, this year, with business partner, Eric Kaufmann. For a long time I felt that working with adults requires a very different approach and mindset than working with students and I wanted to help create something that could truly serve this audience.


Since launching in September of 2023, we have already started work with our first clients and are excited about the process of working with California based clients who are looking for a valuable way to use their Self-Determination Funding.


Speaking

I enjoyed speaking about our work at EFS and the methods we use many times in 2023, including a few highlights:



If you are interested in me speaking to your school, organization, or group, please complete the relevant form on this page.


School partnerships

After being certified as a Non-Public Agency in late 2023, our school partnerships have steadily grown.


While many of these partnerships have come through the demands of parents, advocates, and attorneys, we did have our first partnership established through the proactive leadership of one school district who discovered our content through online research.



More website visitors

Content creation and marketing was a top priority for me in 2023 and I invested a HUGE amount of time in building out our content through the blog.


The larger goal of this content was two-fold:


One, I wanted to attract more customers to bring in sustainable revenue for our growing team.


Second, our mission is to ensure all students have access to high-quality executive function supports, and by creating free content, students and educators can utilize our expertise at no-cost.



  • 57,597 site sessions (up 448% from 2022)

  • 37,733 unique visitors (up 464% from 2022)

  • A peak average of 192 visitors a day on both Tuesday and Monday


Engagement with content

Writing a weekly article really paid off in 2023. Check out some of the numbers:



How we did on Google

According to Google, some of our articles did incredibly well this year. The top articles according to Google Search Console by number of clicks were:


I am going to start tracking the number of posts going forward, so at the time of this writing (December 20, 2023), we have 121 total posts on the blog. My goal for 2024 is to double this to get to 245 blog posts.


The weekly newsletter

For the first time in my life, I sent a newsletter consistently, every week, except for a couple of technical hiccups that occurred. With that in mind, I am very proud of the slow and consistent growth that occurred based on that habit:


  • 4,415 new subscribers this year


YouTube

I invested more time in my YouTube channel this year, hiring a videographer and editor to film and edit my videos, rather than just recording a screen share and uploading content like I had in 2022. This had great results in terms of engagement with the content:


  • 445.9 hours of watch, which was 999% more than 2022

  • +224 subscribers, which was 540% more than 2022

  • An average view duration of 3:39 in 2023, compared to 1:01 in 2022.


My top video of 2023 was Executive Function Coaching: Everything You Need To Know (2023) which has 2,113 views.


Courses

The Executive Function Coaching Academy blossomed this year and the coaching certification program took new shape when I began to offer it as a live course in the summer of 2023.


Some key metrics from this venture are:


  • 1,986 enrollments across courses

  • 1,114 unique students

  • 3 live certification programs ran


This was easily the most successful year in EFS history for the many reasons above and more.


What didn't go so well?

There is always opportunity for growth and I aim to honestly assess our areas of weakness so I can develop new frameworks to address them. With that said, here is my attempt to do so:


Staff turnover

Supporting and managing people is my growth edge and something I am actively working on improving through mentorship, reading, and engaging in tough conversations when the opportunities presents itself.


My goal when starting my own company was to create a safe, positive, and healthy culture where people could thrive. While the majority of people we have hired at EFS have stayed and thrived in this workplace, it has not been a perfect match for everyone.


With this in mind, the metric I am keeping my eye on this:


  • We had 6 employees who were not retained in 2023 (compared to 9 in 2022)


To address this area of growth, we hired an HR Director, revamped our hiring process after I read the book "Who: The A Method for Hiring", and took a proactive stance to seeking employee feedback on how we can do better and retain the right people.


Saying "no" to things

As someone who lives in the realm of possibility, I tend to say "yes" to more meetings, projects, and opportunities than I can fit into my day without stretching myself too thin. I don't have any hard data on this, so I am going to keep an eye on this feeling and see if I can take steps to improve this in 2024.


To improve in this domain, I asked my mentor to help me "prune" my calendar a few times to practice prioritizing the most important projects and meetings. I also revised my goal setting process to focus on no more than 3-5 big initiatives at any time.


Setting professional boundaries

As an executive function coaching company, we work closely with our families outside of school hours and develop close relationships that are transformational and impactful. Often this means going the extra mile in ways that are unique and outside the realm of what can be done in a school district.


At times, however, this can create the illusion that we are individuals who do not need similar boundaries and space that an employee of a more traditional education model needs (no late or super early texts, excessive emails, and/or unrealistic expectations). This illusion can be costly to the mental health of our team members.


My goal is to create a system that allows our coaches to do their best work, while also holding solid professional boundaries that allow them to relax and rejuvenate so they can bring their best selves to work each day.


With the introduction of the subscription model, this has improved as it has features that create space for specialists to do their best work such as:


  • Built-in administrative time for them to write session notes

  • An etiquette clause

  • Requiring Family Team Meetings to problem solve as issues arise


While these are helpful, there is still work needed to ensure specialists feel supported in upholding clear boundaries and expectations when it comes to doing this amazing work.


I hope to get more clear on this area and improve our systems and approach in 2024 to reduce potential burnout and fatigue that can accompany work in the education sector.


What am I working toward?


More courses and school partnerships

One of my big goals for 2024 is to release more coursework that can positively impact students and families and enhance executive function skills on a systemic level.


I am currently finalizing my newest course, The Semester Success Blueprint, which I envision as a tool to help students, parents, and educators improve outcomes for students with ADHD and Autism.


While this course is being offered to proactive parents, I hope that proactive educators and administrators will see this as a tool that can be used to support students with special needs. With this course, I believe students can walk into upcoming semesters feeling confident, prepared, and more capable at advocating for their needs and managing their school work and I look forward to rolling it out and getting feedback from early adopters.


A book

I have always dreamed of writing a book and for the first time I think I am going to make it happen!


Many people have requested I put my thoughts about executive function skills into this format and I would love to carve out the time in 2024 to not only write the book but also create an audio version for people to listen to, as this is my preferred modality for book consumption.


I've consulted with a book coach around this project and laid out an outline; now, I need to put in the time to write it.


Building Sustainable Systems

The goals above require me to delegate responsibilities so I have time to build and create courses, partnerships, and a book. A top priority at EFS is to develop processes that ensure the smooth functioning of our initiatives, even in my absence.


This means empowering team members to grow into new leadership roles, hiring more specialists who are deeply committed to the success of students with ADHD and Autism, and clarifying our strategic vision and action steps to get there.


In 2024, I plan for a short sabbatical to test these systems, while drafting this book, likely during the month of July.


Bottom Line


Wow! That was a lot. Thanks for taking the time to read. In summary, 2023 was one of the best years of my life, for the many reasons, outlined above. Looking at the hard data provides more clarity on the importance of trusting the process and sticking with it.


Thank you to Jesse Anderson, James Clear, and Chris Guillebeau for inspiring this annual review.


Stay engaged


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About the author

Sean G. McCormick is a former public school special education teacher who founded Executive Function Specialists to ensure all students with ADHD and Autism have access to high-quality online executive function coaching services. 


With this mission in mind, he then founded the Executive Function Coaching Academy which trains schools, educators, and individuals to learn the key approaches to improve executive function skills for students.


He is also the co-founder of UpSkill Specialists, a business with a mission to provide adults with ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorder, access to high-quality executive function coaching services that can be accessed through Self-Determination funding.

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Great work Sean! This worlds a better place thanks to the efforts of you and your awesome team. You've inspired me to dedicate this next year in improving my own executive functioning with specific goals to achieve. Looking forward to the webinar on January 19th, thanks for setting it up.

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EFS started with one teacher deciding that kids with ADHD needed better access to quality executive function coaching services. Since then, we have grown to a team of specialists working both private students and public schools to enhance executive function skills for all students. 

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