Jan 3, 2020

A Wedding and 2 Funerals - Xeo's 2019 Year in Review


My 2019 reminds me of the 1994 hit comedy "4 Weddings and a Funeral". In my case, its "1 Wedding and 2 Funerals", all involving my closest family members. It's a year of change and moving on to a new phase of life with a hundred million small things to sort out, leaving me with little energy, time and motivation to write. Now that things have cooled down somewhat at the end of the, it is time for me to pick up my pen (or keyboard) again and take a look back at 2019.

Death of Grandma and Dad

Two of my closest family member, grandma and dad, passed away this year. I have been living with them since the time I am born and my house suddenly became too big and empty without their presence. Grandma died of lung infection after years of stroke induced dementia, while Dad died of cancer, all within 2 months of each other. While grandma has been struggling against her illness for the past few years, my dad was diagnosed of stage 4 cancer, quite out of the blue. From the time he was diagnosed to the time of his death was a quick 3 months, leaving us in a state of shock. The pressure of making life and death decisions for both my grandma and dad have driven the family into the hell of mental exhaustion.



Putting the Family Finance in Order

The immediate task on my Dad's passing is to secure all the utility bills that are on a monthly giro across 10 bank accounts and a dozen credit cards. Dad is a prudent man and he often splits the bills on accounts where he gets the best rebates. Of course, this poses a huge task for us to figure out where is what and a mad rush began to get the bills redirected so that we will not cut off from key utilities. Another problem we encountered is that we are unable to locate his will despite digging through his folders of 20 years of chaotic record keeping of every type of utility bills. After a month of turning the house upside down, we finally found the will tucked in an obscure corner of grandma's cupboard and we only managed to find it because we are also clearing out grandma's stuff. How it ended up there, is a mystery which will remain unsolved, while we have other more pressing issues including settling various local and overseas investments owned by dad. At the same time I took over the problematic execution of my grandma's estate, which my dad, who was the sole executor is now deceased. We are only halfway done cleaning up all the family issues and there's more to come for 2020.

Getting Engaged and Planning for a Wedding

Shortly before the death of my grandma, I brought my proposal ring to the hospital, and held it in the hands of my unconscious grandma. The next day, she passed on. I would like to think that she got the message that her greatest wish of getting me married off is finally achieved, with such a big diamond ring pressed into her palm! After we learnt that our dad had at most 1 or 2 years left to live, me and my sister made plans to bring him back to China to visit his ancestral village. I was also hoping that I would be able to hold my wedding in time, for my dad to see me settle down at last, but Fate has dictated that he is unable to witness my wedding.. At least he knows that I have found my Special One before he left!

After we completed all the funerals, we started doing our wedding planning. Wedding planning also requires lots of planning, from a pre-wedding shoot in Kyoto to the big day itself, with lots of small details to plan along the way.



Money and Investing

My investment portfolio did well for 2019 despite navigating the challenges of a trade war and an unpredictable Donald Trump returning an astounding ROI of 18%. The strategy of staying fully invested in US while looking for opportunities in Emerging Markets that are recovering from recessions such as Russia and Brazil paid off handsomely.

Big Strides in Boardgame Publishing

The fortune of the board game business has also seen lots of ups and downs in 2019. One of the biggest development is that CGS has found a permanent office at One North after years of wandering around the cafes. We also had Jaslyn joining us as the CFO and distributor director, which she made tremendous development in our finance and distribution side. Our games also expanded their distribution reach this year in 3 more new countries in China, Japan and Indonesia. Our 2 games launched in 2019, Debtzilla and Cryptocurrency, also won awards in the Serious Games International. While we didn't launch any new financial boardgame titles in 2019, we have been busy with a new Serious Game division which we set up to help institutions and individuals design and publish educational games. We worked on quite a number of serious games projects, helping clients like MOE and Interpol publish board games. Some of these games are expected to go retail in 2020 and watch out for them!

As the company grows, our classic cash flow/growth struggle faced by all SME increased tremendously, especially now that we have rental and staff to pay. The company is growing fast, but the expenses are growing faster than revenue, with the entire team having to double up and triple up in various roles as we try to meet the growing demand for board games. Our failure to fund for our Kaiju Exchange Kickstarter also forced us to re-examine some of the assumptions how we run our crowdfunding campaign and drives home the message that we have still lots to go in learning how to market our products and building a strong community. Despite these obstacles, we are optimistic for 2020 and is looking for another year of growth for CGS! 



Hobbies and Health

2019 was not a good year for my hobbies as I barely have time to write or do creative stuff. Even my regular running routine has been disrupted as I often return home, tired and drained. In the midst of all the chaos, I encountered regular burnt-out and some early signs of depression. Two things kept my sanity in check: A supportive fiancee who regularly pats my head with words of encouragement and a regular dose of anime and music.

Thank you Rei for staying with me and making 2019 a bearable year for me.

Love you lots!



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