52 Good Things from 2022

The 16th year of my annual gratitude practice, now spanning 834 good things.

Tony Stubblebine
10 min readDec 27, 2023

Per usual, I’m late on finishing this gratitude practice. What happens is that I keep a draft over the course of the year and then it takes me awhile to finalize.

I’d started doing these in 2007 as a check against the stress I was feeling as a dirt-poor first-time entrepreneur. I was worried about the opportunity cost of leaving my job and thought that if I couldn’t find at least 52 highlights from the year then I was making a career mistake. This year, all the sacrifices (mainly uncertainty and pay cuts) suddenly came together as me being the perfect candidate for my dream job. It only took 15.5 years!

Here are my prior lists:
2021, 2020, 2015–2019, 2013–15, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, and 2007.

This was a wild year, work wise. I had gotten it into my head that I was going to enter a stage of half-retired solo-creator and spend the rest of my days researching and writing an encyclopedia of wisdom, taking the Codex Vitae concept and just making it a way of life. This idea was fueled in a big way from Michael Bungay Stanier’s concept of worthy goals from his book How to Begin. I wanted to work less, but still work on something big.

But then I found out the top job at Medium was available, started lobbying hard for it, and got it. It has a stark side effect: I went from half-employed to extremely over employed.

The Before Medium Time

I’m sure I worked on a lot of things early in the year because I had a coaching business, a coach training business, and three publications. But I was also looking to transition and so the work that stood out as good things were related to that.

1. Started organizing my writing into a Codex (now offline).

2. Wrote 132 newsletters. Focused my daily newsletter as a way to research my Codex. Honestly, this would have been a nice life: research and publish, and build up an encyclopedia of knowledge that would at least be useful to me. All while traveling and being free of management hassles. Alas.

The Journey to Medium

Here is, basically, how I got the top job at Medium.

3. The Conversation. I sniffed out that something was up with Medium on, I think, a Thursday. So I got Ev on the phone and got to the root of the problem. People were feeling like the execution required for Medium to succeed was overwhelming. I disagreed, and asked for an opportunity to make the argument that it could be done and that I was the person to do it.

4. Fly to Puerto Rico. The only caveat to pitching is that I’d promised Sarah a work-free, do-nothing-but-read, sit-by-the-pool vacation. We had that vacation, in a resort in San Juan, and I did sit by the pool. But even if I didn’t have my laptop, I spent a lot of time working out my argument in my head.

5. The Memo. I actually wrote a bunch of memos, but the first was about how distribution and payment incentives needed to change and why. That Memo was published, unlisted, on Medium on May 2nd. After getting the job, we changed distribution on Febuary 21st, 2023 and incentives on August 1st, 2023. Saying they needed to change is one thing, making the change was actually a lot of work.

6. The Interviews. Once I got Ev (Medium’s founding CEO) on board with the idea of stepping down, he started a real interview process with a bunch of candidates, including me. My favorite interview moment was a board member asking what big ideas I had to save the company and how firmly I told him that his question represented everything wrong with the company. Medium is great, it just needed focus. (And in hindsight a small pivot and some innovation)

7. The Drive. There was a small window between accepting the job and starting. The thing I did with that time was drive my RV to Arizona and then park it in long term storage. So the journey to Medium was literally a journey of 2,400 miles.

8. Kansas. On the drive, somehow multiple people that I was trying to visit came down with COVID (or don’t like me). So I ended up doing a detour to Kansas and having a really spectacularly straight and flat bike ride down a rail trail. It was everything I expected of Kansas (as someone who spent a lot of time in Iowa).

9. The Eisenhower Library. This was the best stop in Kansas and I’m still blown away by the scale of technological change during Eisenhower’s life. His career spanned dirt roads to high ways to nuclear power to the space race. It’s like how I was born in a time of only network TV and lived to see NFTs and TikToks.

10. Herzog. He had been head of design at Medium, but before that was a Lift/Coach.me person of interest. He’s one of my favorite people ever and just happened to be passing through Flagstaff at the same time as me. We had brunch at the Toasted Owl. He was part of a huge group of friends who helped me before I started.

11. On July 12th, I was announced as the CEO of Medium. Here is my Introductory post.

The Turnaround.

Medium was wasting money and losing money (those are related, but different), was well off its mission of deepening people’s understanding of the world, and was losing subscribers. The community was demoralized, and it seems like a lot of the staff was too. Most of the turnaround work happened in 2022, although most of the results came in 2023.

12. Medium Leadership Retreat. I gathered a pretty big group of people for a retreat in San Francisco and that has now become a happy memory because it represents how far we’ve come. We were all strangers to each other and now we’ve been through a really interesting journey together.

13. Greg Pass. Part of the turnaround was getting people to embrace the reality of incrementalism. We’d flailed for a bit chasing big ideas that were never completed or mattered. Our reality was that we needed to start delivering results and we had too many problems to fix at once, so that article and concept helped get us on the same page of leveling up things that were broken, even if we couldn’t take them to the highest level. TLDR; turning a D into a C is better than halting the whole company to turn that D into an A.

14. Company Offsite. There’s a book about taking over a new leadership role called The First 90 Days that talks about finding allies. The turnaround at Medium worked because people here like the mission and each other. That was clear when we gathered the company together at an offsite in the Catskills and saw how excited they were see each other, many for the first time. In other words, the company was already filled with allies of what needed to happen.

Sarah & Tony Visit the Paris Office

Medium has an office in Paris. Sarah and I turned it into a vacation, visiting my French teammates, renting a car, and then doing a road trip to Belgium and Amsterdam.

15. Sarah’s willpower to defeat jetlag. She insisted that we stay awake through the first day, dragging us on a walk all over Paris. It worked and I wouldn’t have been able to do it without her.

16. Best croissants in Paris: Du Pains Et Des Idees, founded in 1875.

17. Drive to Amsterdam. We really love backroads exploration.

18. The Pulitzer cribbage tournament. Great hotel in Amsterdam. I am currently leading the tournament.


Compared to the prior pandemic years, we really stepped up our activities. So I guess 2022 was the year where the pandemic ended for us. (I still haven’t had COVID, knock on wood)

19. Van Gogh Museum. Great museum in Amsterdam. I think I understand his psychology a bit more.

20. Louvre. Heard of it?

21. Amsterdam graffiti museum. This was also great and I’ve got a pic at the end of this post.

22. Opus 40. The Hudson Valley has a lot of interesting outdoor sculpture, including this one.

23. Amanda’s rituals at Lincoln Center. A friend of ours made an art installation showing the power of ritual. Very effective.

24. Old man and the Pool. Aging humor from Mike Birbiglia.

25. Memphis Jookin with Lil Buck. Fun, also made a good point about what we consider fine art.

26. A Strange Loop. It won the Tony and also this Tony liked it.


27. Met my new niece, Arden! She’s perfect.

28. Hosted Christmas for my Mom. Gives me chills to think back to the first pandemic xmas, where she set the tree up in her garage, rolled the garage door up and sat inside while we sat in the driveway. Glad to be past that.

29. Hosted New Years’. Love having a full house. I learned to play Gin Rummy.

30. Hosted Thanksgiving. Also a full house.

31. Hosted the Patels and stumbled onto an epic car show. This led to the painting “Eloise and his (sic) family,” now hanging in our living room.

32. Empire State Building. My California family came out to visit NYC, got the coldest, rainiest weather possible, but I think they liked the Empire State Building. That was one of the attractions that blew my mind when I first visited NYC in 1989.

33. Fiascon. Sarah’s part of a group of grizzled tech veterans that call themselves Fiasco and mostly tell their grizzly stories over Slack. This year they also gathered in person by renting out a place near Catskill. Eloise and I went, and Eloise stole the show.


34. RV/MTB Durango. Got a long weekend just after starting at Medium to test out having an RV stashed in the mountain west. Drove it to Durango for some MTB.

35. New hardtail MTB. Also, got a simple hardtail for riding back at home since my main MTB is stashed with my RV.

36. Kayaking Jackson. Met up with my college buddies for our now-annual outdoor trip. We went Kayak camping around Jackson Lake in Wyoming.

37. Hetch Hetchy. I’ve spent a lot of time in the Yosemite area, but this was the first time here. Great views, great hike.

38. Canyon de Chelly. One of the benefits of road trips is running into the second tier (or worse) points of interest around the US, like National Monuments and State Parks. This is one that I pulled into just because I was driving by. Loved it.


39. Warriors Championship. Biggest moment for me was watching their body language change mid-Finals as it became clear they felt they had figured out how to defend the Celtics.

40. Cooperstown. First time. IMO, Bonds and Rose should be in.

41. Harlem Crit. I’d become a fan of YouTube videos of an LA cycling team, Legion. So I got to watch them in person doing a criterium around Harlem. In person, cycling is nuts to watch.

42. Wembanyama. Part of our Paris trip involved getting tickets to see him play for the local Paris basketball team. He’s 7'4 with an 8' wingspan and he can shoot. Wild to watch him shoot over people at will and throw passes while reaching around multiple defenders at once.


43. Zwift: road 2035

44. Upgraded my bike computer to a Garmin Edge 830. Nice.

Favorite Books, TV & Movies

45. Murderbot. For me, I read this through the lens of an autistic cousin who also struggles at work.

46. Fall. Timely book by Neil Stephenson that included a relevant background plot about rich people paying for curation. The wealthiest had the most curated Internet experiences as a competitive advantage in life. The poorest had dopamine driven, attention optimized algorithmic curation that drove them crazy. This factored into why Medium now has human curators.

47. Loved this TV: Couples Therapy, Murderville, 1899, Succession, Slow Horses

48. Get Back (beatles). I’m a sucker for behind the scenes about how people actually manufacture excellence.

48. Loved these movies: Top Gun in drive thru, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, Everything Everywhere All at Once.

Home upgrades

Notable that this year didn’t include any construction.

49. Added more Wemos and pool lights

50. Chlorine. Cigar in the pool.


51. Food & Drink: Had a Negroni period. Realized Cornish game hens turn out great on the smoker. Smoked my first brisket, which is sort of a right of passage for BBQers.

52. Chess. Took the time to learn the basics of Chess.

Flying to Paris with style.
Graffiti Museum in Amsterdam
Selfies at Opus 40
View from the Empire State Building
Canyon de Chelly
Kayak camping at Jackson Lake
Derek admiring the Tetons
Kansas Rail Trail
Rituals at Lincoln Center
Eloise with her cousin in Boston
Hech Hechy
Family photo