Costa Rica dreaming

I finally got a bank account setup for the LLC today, and put out the first application for an institutional crypto account with Gemini. More paperwork to fill out. I also rolled my covered calls on $MARA, up from $40 to $55, and out from June to September. This was the only way I could do it without paying the premium back at a loss. We’ll see how long I can kick this can down the road. More on that another day.

Having a checkbook control IRA means I can buy real estate, and the tweet above got me thinking about Costa Rica again. I’ve been telling myself that if everything goes well this year, with bitcoin and with vaccines, I want to get our passports updated and take a trip to Costa Rica. So I spent some time looking into it today.

They have several ways to gain residency. The most relevant to me is what they call inversionista, which requires a $50,000 investment in tourism, or $100,000 investment in reforestation. After two years of this I can apply for permanent residency, assuming I spend half the year in CR. There’s also a way to do if if one deposits $60,000 cash in a qualifying CR bank. Seems easy enough.

I even started looking at land for sale, since I can technically purchase it through my IRA, so long as it isn’t used for personal use. And who wouldn’t want to live here?

I showed this vid to the whole fam earlier and they go really excited. I’m really looking forward to getting my COVID vaccine and taking a trip this year. With the last three years of bear market, plus the last year of pandemic, I think we’re about overdue!

Checkbook control crypto retirement accounts

man opening his arms wide open on snow covered cliff with view of mountains during daytime

TL;DR: Fund an AltoIRA Checkbook+ LLC, and buy, trade, or sell bitcoin and other cryptoassets within a tax advantaged retirement account. Reduce your taxable income AND eliminate capital gains taxes!

I am so excited I’m almost giddy.

Background: I’ve been investing in equities since the early 2000’s and had employer 401Ks that I rolled over into a IRA brokerage account in 2017, a few years after I started getting involved in crypto. In 2019 I started buying Grayscale Bitcoin Trust ($GBTC) as a way to gain exposure to bitcoin. It currently makes up the majority of my total portfolio, about forty percent, and another forty percent are in crypto mining and exchange positions, and Grayscale’s Ethereum Trust. I’ve been looking for a way to reduce exposure to Grayscale’s products which trade at a premium, and put funds in BTC directly, while retaining my tax advantaged status. One of the benefits of trading within these accounts is that I can enter and exit a position without having to pay taxes on any gains.

Alto came to my attention while reading a post about the DeFi Pulse index. Alto was just kinda dropped in there as a side note, and after after a bit of back and forth with the CEO, and I went ahead and scheduled a call with one of his associates, James O’Brien.

I was a bit deflated going into the call, because the fees that I were told given were a bit off-putting, one percent a year as a maintenance fee, plus one point five percent per trade. That might be ok for someone starting out, but there’s no way I would go for that. James explained that the crypto product that Alto offers is basically a vehicle for Coinbase custody, which is geared at institutional investors. The fees are what Coinbase charges, and covers insurance on the funds. Of course, you’re limited to what tokens Coinbase offers, and you can’t move anything off to a private wallet. Fair enough, but it’s not for me.

So what really got me excited was when O’Brien told me about the checkbook LLC which is a self-directed IRA plan. You have checkbook control over your funds.

“Checkbook Control” is the term used when a self-directed IRA owner has complete signing authority over an account that gives access to his/her retirement funds. This strategy is achieved through the establishment of a Self-Directed IRA LLC. Since the LLC established is a business entity, it can establish a checking account. The LLC is funded by using retirement assets like an IRA which then funds the LLC’s checking account. This offers greater investment freedom, allowing you the IRA holder to meet your investing goals and manage your assets with ease.

What is Checkbook Control?

These type of entities can be used to purchase practically any asset, including real estate or cryptocurrencies. And the cost that Alto charges to do the necessary paperwork is only $750 dollars, that’s five hundred to setup the LLC and necessary documents, plus two fifty a year for what I assume are the required tax documents and so forth. That’s much better. I can use whatever exchange I want, park the tokens in a cold wallet, liquidity pool or lending provider, and sell them without a care in the world. My keys, my coins.

The only real downside is that crypto assets cannot be transferred directly into the IRA. Only cash goes in. So if one has existing crypto holding that one wants to make into a tax-deductible contribution, you’ll have to liquidate to fiat, transfer the funds into the IRA’s cash account, then to your crypto on-ramp to purchase the asset again. This could lead to some slippage if one doesn’t have cash on hand, but that can probably be optimized through some dollar cost averaging process.

There’s another downside to a crypto IRA, and that’s the fact that IRA contribution limits are currently capped at $6000 a year. There are similar vehicles in the 401K space that have much higher limits. I found one company, called Solo401K, that provides this service. I chatted with one of the associates over the web. These plans are available to self-employed individuals, contract employees, but not individuals who are employed by others. The limits are closer to thirty thousand a year, and there’s other advantages, like being able to take a personal loan out against the account. Since I’m not a contract employee or self-employed, the 401K plan isn’t an option for me. Solo401K is by Naber Group, which also has an IRA option, but their setup fee is twice as much as Alto, and they charge an extra hundred a year in fees.

I went ahead and setup my Alto account this morning, the process took about five minutes. The main thing you need to think about is what type of IRA you want to open, whether traditional, Roth, or, if you’re a business owner, a SEP IRA. Other than that, there’s several forms to fill out, and it appears that it will take up to two weeks for the paperwork to come back on the LLC, which is created in Arizona.

https://remnote-user-data.s3.amazonaws.com/cCmChWQ7Swh11-Jdo5ho8C7V8-oJYDz9KbPA3dhgB-HwpYTYdfaLnFdjsb1VMb2ivic31xlYf6k7fdnWIhl7dCvJvez7M-Sjo0E8wGDlWxepqvazPOlLD1uFLXJccRC-.png
Best part of the LLC contract.

Once this is all done, and I’ve opened new bank and exchange accounts, I will begin liquidating my IRA positions in GBTC, rolling over the cash, and buying spot BTC. I’ll probably do the same with my ETHE holdings as well. I’ll also need to liquidate enough of my existing crypto holdings to max my 2020 annual contribution before April 15th, unless I can come up with that kind of cash in the meantime. It might be a wash with capital gains on any crypto sales, but I’ll figure that out.

I’ll also be converting my employment to contractor status. I’ve already had a talk with the bossman, and I should be able to make that happen before the end of the year, and switch my IRA to a SEP or 401k to take advantage of the higher contribution limits. (Alto plans on releasing their 401k product sometime later this year.

Lastly, a warning. There are rules about how you handle funds in these checkbook accounts that you have to be aware of, like no commingling of funds, no double dealing, and nothing that enriches yourself or other family members, like buying real estate or businesses that you or they have a stake in. The IRS also prohibits purchases of collectibles, which may be a problem with NFTs, but other than that, you have complete freedom to buy any token, using lending platforms and leverage, or ape into whatever yield farm you want. As long as all the gains stay within the confines of the LLC, you are golden.


If you’re interested in opening a Checkbook+ IRA, use my referral link to get $75 off the first year’s fees.

Long weekend

[This post contains referral links]

We took a road trip yesterday. My father in law bought several acres out in the country, about two and a half hours from where we live, out in the middle of nowhere. It’s got a large lake, and a wooded lot, and we wanted to get out for the day to check it out and get the kids out of the house. It was good for all of us.

There were Trump signs everywhere. I asked my FIL if he was going to build a house on the lot, and he said that no, the area was too “primitive” for him to build there. Most of the money had fled the area for brick houses on large farms, leaving mostly poor whites and minorities around. He had bought the lot mainly so that we would have a place to camp and fish.

We did a bit of the latter. The pond was stocked, but the few fish that we caught were too small to keep, so we threw them back. The girls played in the pond. It was a beautiful day, in the mid sixties, although the pond — spring fed — was quite crisp. We did some boating around the pond, walked around the woods for a bit, and ate and talked before heading back home. It was a lot of time in the car for a short visit, but it was worth it as a bit of a recon trip. I’m not sure we’ll go back to camp before next spring, but at least we know what we’re dealing with now.

Today I got a lot of work done on the deck, putting a couple finishing touches on it and cleaning up some of the mess that I’ve left. I’ve got a couple of railings left on the stairs and maybe a few more side pieces, then I’m pretty much done till this summer when it’ll be ready to stain. The hot tub is still dead though. I’ve got to call someone to come look at the pump; the motor is leaking now, and the repair cost will determine whether we fix it or haul it off. I’d rather get rid of it than spend another $600 repairing it, all told.

We watched Playing With Fire today, a documentary about the FIRE movement. Missus and Elder and I watched it this morning, I was surprised Elder paid so much attention to it. I think she gets it. Missus enjoyed it and I thought it was worth the five buck rental. It was good to help keep us focused on the prize.

I also signed up for Lolli today, after I found out that they work with my local grocery store. I’d actually be planning on using them to buy pet food a few weeks ago, but had been procrastinating. So I went ahead and signed up and used them today, earning about a buck and a half worth of bitcoin. Missus was actually impressed by the fact that I could use it and still earn points from my credit card, especially when I stopped to see if any of my cards were offering extra percentages for the store I was using. Alas, no. Still, it should be a good way to earn some extra BTC if I can stay disciplined and order most of my groceries online. It will do me good.

I’m actually considering switching my bank. The one I use has some issue with Plaid, which is used by BlockFi for ACH transfers. Basically, I have to transfer funds from my bank to Gemini, wait five days for it to clear, then send it to BlockFi. It’s too long. So I’m probably going to set up a new checking account with the same company we use for our joint account, and use that instead. I’ve got cash on hand to pay the mortgage and credit cards through the end of the year, and I don’t want to hassle with putting it in a Yearn vault, but BlockFi would be nice if I could just move in and out between my checking account when it’s time to pay the bill. I’m going to sleep on it.

Despite that, I’ve been slacking quite a bit lately, falling off my habits. Epic Games had Elite Dangerous as one of their freebies the other day, and I got sucked right into it the past few days. It looks like quite the time suck, from the looks of it, and I’ve already put in several hours of the past couple days. I’m almost tempted to pull out my VR headset and flight stick and yoke, but that would probably turn out bad for me. When I get obsessed with a video game — I’m looking at you, iRacing! — my life suffers in other respects.

The more time during the day that I spend on crypto, especially the smart contract programming that I’m doing for the Ether auction, the more I wind up taking a break during the evenings. I’ve been taking it real easy lately, especially the more BTC keeps making three year highs. I know Missus is excited about what’s happening, at least the fact that I’m excited about it, although I probably need to temper my expectations a bit. It’s getting to the point where I’m starting to run my mouth a bit much, and I don’t want to look the fool in a year if things haven’t manifested themselves the way I expect.

Still, we’re moving in the right direction, and from the looks of it we’re moving in the right direction. I just gotta keep stacking sats.

FIRE incoming

Woke up to $BTC over $17k.

40 days, 60%.

I’ve completely obsessed lately, keeping TradingView and my IRA up on my laptop while I’m working on my day job, which has been demoted to just a single screen on my dual monitor setup. I check Zapper.Fi daily, and am on Twitter constantly during the day.

I’m still doing my job, taking care of anything urgent or important, delegating as much as I can. Ultimately, nothing is as important as what’s going on in the markets, so I’m constantly reading and trying to figure out what the long term plan is going to be.

This Tweetstorm has a couple good points. One I’ve been thinking about and seen a few times before is that this isn’t going to be like the last couple cycles, with a blow-off top and an eighty percent drawdown. My plan during the past few months was that I would sell a portion of my holdings off and save it for a drawdown. But what if there’s not a drawdown?

My target is dynamic, it’s based off the moving average at the last top, about 3.6x the 200 day moving average. That equates to a price of $39,000. The longer we take to get there, the higher the price will be, so we might now have a huge runup like we saw before. Since we’re seeing institutional players in the market now, they’re more patient, will move slower, and price action might instead be a slow, steady grind up and up.

Of course, once we see $20k I expect it will be all over the news, possibly triggering another wave of retail FOMO. I’m not sure that it will have as much effect on the market since the market cap is actually a higher due to the block rewards emitted over the last few years. I’m probably completely wrong about this.

There’s also a chance that we’re moving into the next phase in bitcoin adoption: HODL FOMO.

If accurate, it would reduce the chances of a big drawdown, furthering the need to hold on. Still, I expect some sort of pullback. Many in CT are warning that this run up is happening too fast, and are hoping for a bit of a pause here now that we’re at $17,600. Better to let the market take it’s time than have a blow off top later. Still, I’d imagine some sort of resistance at $20k, so I’ve put in a limit order on my recent $GBTC entry that I hope will translate to the $19,800 level. If it hits, I’m hoping to to have another entry before we blast off, otherwise I’ll hold the funds to deploy elsewhere.

Where? Well I have noticed today that many of the crypto industry tickers had double the gains that $GBTC did:

I’ve got some value averaging protocols engaged for several firms, and I’m low on cash, so I’ll either need to liquidate some GBTC to free up some capital, or stop the protocol. I’ve set an expiry on the GBTC sale for Thanksgiving. Hopefully we’ll blow right past $20k while the market is closed and I’ll be able to close my position without selling.

Overally, my IRA was up over 6% today, while the major indexes were down one percent. I nearly had a five-digit day. So close. My point is that it looks like things are moving according to plan. BTC is on a run up, and it seems like every day I’m a bit closer to my goal of financial independence.

On top of this, President-elect Biden signaled that he will absolve up to $70,000 in student debt for everyone, regardless of income. This will wipe by debt completely. There are questions about how fast this will happen. Apparently he can do it via executive order, so we’ll see. One thing is now clear, that I will be making the minimum payment on my loans, of which the first payment is due in January.

What an exciting time!

Another step toward financial freedom

Well, I did it. I sold my car. I’ve knocked three years of payments, almost seven grand at three percent interest, off of my debt board. It’s progress. Next step, seventy grand of student loan debt.

Of course the big news today was Trump’s positive COVID test result. I was a bit hung over this morning and sat down first thing at my desk and pulled up one of my news feeds and saw the headline. I jumped out of my seat and ran upstairs to tell Missus. I spent most of the day on Twitter reading headlines. Simply amazing.

One of my new positions, $EQOS, got stopped out. Good thing it did too. I just opened this yesterday, and only deployed about a tenth of what my risk management calculation limit was. Good thing. So I only lost one tenth of two percent, not two percent.

Strangely enough, my other position Grayscale’s Digital Large Cap fund, $GDLC, was up 25%, in spite of its underlying assets, mainly BTC and ETH, were down. Go figure. It may be time tighten my stop on this position, at least to baseline. I’ll don’t have a hard and fast rule about this.

My BlockFi withdrawal has cleared to my BTC wallet, so it’s time to check the exchange and see what to pick up. There’s so much blood out there right now. PolkaDot looks like it’s at a good level, and given my interest in it, it may be a good time to pick up some tokens and work on building a stake.

It’s almost bedtime for the girls, and Friday night, so I’m going to take off here and get them wound down, then I may spend some time relaxing tonight. Not that I didn’t overindulge last night. Tomorrow I have to get up at a decent hour and work on my deck. I’m hoping I can get the lower patio done and have the hottub ready to put back in place.

Evening pages

macro shot of chronograph watch

Work, and stack sats while I sleep

I wasn’t going to write tonight cause I wanted to do some testing with Docker, but I figured it was best to do it to keep up the habit. I already posted once today as I never actually published the phishing piece that went up on on my professional network yesterday, so that’s live now. I stayed up late last night, not too late, and my my morning routine was interrupted due to a visit to Hangover City and a visit by my dad for breakfast. We didn’t do much today other than cooking a huge breakfast on my new outdoor griddle and cutting the grass. Ordered Chinese takeout and watched half of Attack of the Clones with the kids.

Actually, that’s not quite accurate. I did have a sort of business call with someone who found my short-lived crypto podcast and wanted to talk about some non-profit business venture that he was trying to pitch. I wasn’t terribly impressed cause it’s not really my wheelhouse. I gave them some local resources to check out and told them I’d follow up in a month to see how things were going.

Also, I went ahead and opened up two additional BlockFi accounts for my daughters and moved their BTC over to it. I also started withdrawing cash from their LendingClub accounts so that I can start the process of converting them to USD coins and add that to BlockFi as well. It’s kinda funny, my oldest is only getting three percent return on her LC account, and her little sister is up around seven. It almost isn’t even worth moving her over to BlockFi, but I’m going to have the interest payments paid out in BTC, so I they can stack sats faster. Migrating their funds will take a while, since the loans are up to thirty six months, so it’s just something that I’ll have to add to my quarterly plans.

That’s it for tonight. No games tonight, just another hour until screens off and books in bed. I’m reading Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport, since I’m doing the exercises in Designing Your Life. It reminds me of the Team Human stuff. And given how much time I’ve been spending on Twitter – and the notifications I’ve been getting, I’m about ready to take a detox from it for thirty days. Well see.

Now, to work.

If you would like to try BlockFi, please sign up using my referral code.

Looking forward

cupcake with candle

A review of the past year and goals for the next one.

Yesterday was a mess. The kids stayed up too late the night before and were fussy all day. I probably wasn’t in the best mood myself, and wound up losing my temper several times at them. In and out, in and out of the house they went. Made a huge mess in the garage with a mudpile, and even had the gall to take a delivery off the porch to use as part of their games in the back yard. I spent the morning working in the yard. I repurposed one of our unused flowerbeds as for some pepper plants, and what I assume are pumpkin plants that I salvaged when I dug up a tree stump in the back yard. Then I cut the grass.

The girls spent much of the day doing decorations for my birthday today. The dining room is off limits, and I’ve managed not to peek. Something tells me that they chose a Star Wars theme. We’ll see.

I managed to keep to a regular schedule last night. I quit playing Factorio at ten and spent another forty minutes or so reading in bed before I turned off the lights. I got up at seven, and feel pretty well rested right now, Elder has been up, and I hear the rest of the girls rousing. I hope everyone is in a good mood today. My father is coming over, for the first time since the Lockdown, and Missus has arranged a Zoom part with my mom and who knows who else.

Last week was ok. I give it a ‘C’. I can’t really think of any accomplishments that stand out, although I did manage to write every day, including another two thousand word article that went up on LinkedIn and Substack. Building that will take time. I didn’t spend as much time as I should have working on my consulting gigs, but I ran into some technical issues that set me back. And I didn’t apply to many jobs, other than the long-shot for Invest Like The Best.

Looking back at what I accomplished this past year, it’s hard to imagine that a year ago this time I was still involved in a tense political campaign. I wasn’t writing about it then, and it’s probably a good thing, because I still haven’t talked to my campaign manager since. It was that toxic. Finishing school is no doubt my biggest accomplishment, but I’m not quite sure what I would consider my number two. I’ve learned a lot, and completing classes were their own projects considering, but I don’t feel like I’ve accomplished that much.

I’m in the middle of listening to a podcast interview with a serial entrepreneur who spent several years building a successful company and now runs a firm based on Berkshire’s model. He said he doesn’t have the drive to start a new company these days, but that it happens “accidently” from time to time. He much prefers to leave the day to day operations to others, and prefers to swoop in to which ever firm is having problems and fix them. This allows him to shift his focus every two weeks or so.

At one point he mentioned someone he knows who had an idea and was able to execute it in two or three days, and now makes some fifty thousand a month in revenue. It’s sort of mind boggling. I’ve been toiling away at my day job at Zombie and Boss still hasn’t been able to make it sustainable. I’m still working on my consulting business, but neither of my clients are at the point where they are bringing in any money. We’ll have to change that this year.

Right now I have two goals that I’ve set. FIRE by 2024, and Sixty Days to Six Figures. So far, all we’ve managed to do with the first goal is lose our mortgage insurance, which we’re rolling back into the mortgage. This should shave about four years off the life of our mortgage, which should put us somewhere around 2036. My consulting business has about six months run, but I’ve got to finish the project before I can take on more business. Or, more importantly, before I start another one of my own.

The big question for me in the next year is whether I can build a business, a real business, that can bring in four thousand dollars a month in revenue? I’m not even talking profits, but just revenue. And do so in a way that requires minimal effort on my part? I’m thinking like an ecommerce store or something similar, like selling a book on Amazon. There are lots of questions about how to go about this. Do I build it all myself, or do I use some capital to hire assistants or outsource it on Fiverr or somthing? Do I code it, or do I use a service like Shopify or some of these other no-code platform?

I should correct that. The question is not whether I can, but how fast can I?. There’s no doubt in my mind that I can make it happen, but the real question is how to make it happen amidst everything else happening in my life, at the speed I want. Two hours a week isn’t going to cut it. I have to find a way to work on it every day, to keep pushing things forward faster. To balance being a dad, and a husband, all while working a day job and everything else I got going on.

I feel up to the challenge, so it’s time to work. Here’s to the next trip around the sun.

Tweaking the system

person using macbook pro on white table

Sixty Days to Six Figures, Day 27

Yesterday, the host of one of my favorite podcasts put out the call for a position, someone to take over managing some of the operations of one of the top business and finance podcasts in the country.

I literally stopped everything I was doing and wrote him an email as fast as I could, giving a few details and promising to follow up with him later after I caught up on one of his more recent episodes and could provide some additional input. I was literally giddy when my read receipts pinged back.

I picked an episode with Tobi Lutke, the CEO of Spotify, on Building a Modern Business, listened to it while I took notes, then wrote a five hundred word email to Oshag. I wound working over two hours altogether on it, and wound up getting to bed an hour late. Before I turned off the lights, I spent a few minutes reading Design Your Life, the next book on my reading list. I was somewhat amused by the fact that here I was, reading a book about applying design systems to one’s personal and career path, when I had just inadvertently picked a podcast with a similar subject.

The interview with Lutke, like most Invest Like The Best pods, cover a lot of ground in an hour, and much of the conversation focused on systems design, specifically with the context of business. Lutke is a “card carrying” video game enthusiast, and they talked about the skills that he learned from games like Warcraft and Starcraft, specifically the value of attention, which is rpeople learneally the primary resource in these types of games — and in business. I was quite surprised to hear that Lutke spends so much of his time at Spotify focused on teaching philosophy within the organization, and I found his approach fascinating. They also touched on the idea of a personal blueprint, a document which Lutke wrote that he sends to his new hires and collaborators listing his quirks which incorporates personality typing.

I took my own inneogram. My top matches were challenger, achiever, and investigator. My top personality superpower was futurism. I don’t think it’s as much a reflection of who am so much as who I want to be, but it might be something to incorporate into my business relationships. Lutke seems to think that it speeds up the process of getting to know someone and eliminates some of the awkwardness that a team may encounter on their first project. We shall see.

A lot of what he said mirrored what I had read in Ray Dalio’s Principles, most notably designing systems, and his concept around baseball cards. “You have a system by design, or by defaut”, to paraphrase one of his principles. And the baseball cards are analogous to Lutke’s blueprint. What I find most interesting is how this theme has been stuck in my head lately. I had recently been thinking of what I was going to write about for the next installment of my Substack, and it looks like my subconscious has been working on it for me.

One line from Designing Your Life that made me chuckle last night was a line about how as one begins to put their plan into action, it will almost feel like people are conspiring to help you. You will start to attract opportunities. The whole thing will start to feel like a game, and that you will come to take immense joy in the process. Now, I am the last one to preach any prosperity gospel or quotes from The Secret, but I did feel that it described the day perfectly. I knew as soon as I saw Oshag’s tweet that I wanted it, that it was the exact opportunity that I had been waiting for. And I jumped for it.

Alas, Patrick emailed me earlier this morning that he didn’t feel it was a good fit but thanks anyways, so that’s that. I’m actually pleased with myself that there wasn’t any disappointment on my part. Perhaps I knew it was a long shot, or perhaps it was because I enjoyed the process anyways. I actually took a lot away from it, considering. Just applying and thinking through the possibility of it, the anticipation of waiting for a reply was exhilarating.

So another turn of the wheel, a small adjustment here, a refinement for next time, and we’ll try again tomorrow to bring things into fruition.

Losing The Cornerstone: 60 Days to 6 Figures, Day 22

blue Work Harder neon signage

Yesterday was very productive. I wrote almost two thousand words yesterday, double what I consider a good writing session. It took most all of the morning, since I had to take several breaks, both to take care of the kids and have my regular Zombie. LLC, scrum call. After I published here, I went and created a Substack and reposted there. I also published it as a LinkedIn article and shared with one of my groups there. I think I’m done with long-form on Medium, although I’m not sure.

I think the Substack could prove most interesting. I’ve got a considerable mailing list through my political campaigns and crypto blog that I ran, probably close to seventeen hundred addresses, not to mention the piles of business cards that have been sitting in my organizer for the past year. I think I’ll wait a week to decided, and come up with another article before I do anything. Hopefully I can “build my tribe” as the saying goes, and maybe even earn some subscriptions out of it.

Zombie lost another client yesterday. Our cornerstone client, one of our first. Boss said our runway was very short. I had to press him on how short several times before he wagered a guess. I figured two weeks, he said another month. It’s very unlikely that we’ll be picking up enough new business to make up for what we’ve lost in the last six months. The writing is on the wall. I can’t imagine what’s going through Boss’s head right now.

Losing the cornerstone, beyond the ramifications for Zombie, have affected my plans for picking up the pieces. I was hoping to take the cornerstone and another with me if/when Zombie folds, but the client was basically lost to another firm without even a “chance to compete”. We’ve known there was a change in ownership among the partners at the firm, but it looks like we failed to foster the relationship with the new primary, and they have apparently been talking to this new firm for at least several weeks. Neither Boss nor I know the details yet, hopefully I can find out when I talk to my contact over there on Monday.

I had a call with the CEO of the new firm yesterday. I stalked him on LinkedIn and sent a connect request, which he accepted. Boss had deridingly referred to them as “fly by night” when he broke the news to me in the morning, but their website wasn’t that bad. Looks like a husband and wife team, with two engineers. The CEO even publishes some long-form content to their blog, which I thought was nice. The call was professional, even though we were blindsided.

I’ve got my first call lined up next week. It’s not a formal interview, but the position is very lucrative. I’m not so much interested in the position as I am in getting to know the CEO and figuring out what the company is like to work for. I don’t want to jump at the first thing that comes up, but I’ll consider any offer with a salary over $100,000 to be a successful conclusion to this goal.

I’ve also been sending out my resume, yesterday I managed to send a finely crafted email out to a staffing agency about a six month contract position. I’m not sure it’s going to fit my requirements, but I think it matches what I’m doing now, and I may need something to fall back on. That’s one line that I’m trying to tread, between jobs that I’m qualified for and those with the skills I want to learn. I’m passing on a lot of positions right now because they have high experience requirements on certain software development skills, but I’m pretty much saving everything else for targeting.

Right now most of my targeting has been through LinkedIn jobs, and I’m also going through my wish list of other big tech firms, ones like Gitlab, Square, Stripe, and Coinbase, for example. So far, I’ve been struggling to find positions that fit, since most of the software development or engineering jobs that are available don’t fit my experience. I’ll keep slogging though.

Each day is just another day to keep plodding forward, taking a step here and there to keep moving forward in the direction that I want. Keep building my network, keep working on my projects and making them better, bit by bit, and building the habits that will bring me success. That’s all that I have control over, and I know that success will follow.

Sixty Days to Six Figures: Day 20

The Hype Cycle

Plowing Through the Trough of Disillusionment

So we’re one-third of the way through our goal. I haven’t been filling out as many job applications that I should have, and my efforts to increase my consultancy are proving more challenging than I anticipated. I am, however, determined to keep increasing my output and leveraging what I can to keep moving forward and making small improvements.

LinkedIn and the Job Search

I still haven’t figured out what to do with LinkedIn. The job search is good enough, and the skill insights which rank me among the other applications is useful, I think. It’s helping me target a bit better, and figure out which skills I’ll need to focus on in the future. There’s still a incongruity between what’s on my profile, and the kind of jobs I’m looking for. I guess that reflects a similar disconnect between what I want and what I need.

My hope was to find just one good job a day, write a quick cover letter during the application process and wait for callbacks. To this point I’ve applied to about six, and nothing back yet. Obviously, this is going to be harder than simply attaching a bachelors’ degree to my name. One thing that was a bit of a surprise to me is that LI’s Fast Apply feature doesn’t allow you to do anything other than attach a resume, which is not ideal from an application standpoint. So it looks like I’ll have to go through the additional step of creating a new PDF for each application. Ideally, I’d be updating my resume for each type of job that I want anyways, one for CTO/management jobs, one for programming and development, and another for data scientist jobs. It seems overwhelming, but all I have to do is take baby steps. One percent in the right direction each day.

What I have not figured out yet, though, is how to use my wall to engage people. I still haven’t posted anything since my graduation announcement, as I’m not sure what direction to take. Choice paralysis, perhaps? I think I’m being overly cautious and worried about Boss taking some action, but that paranoia perhaps. I could share linkbait, posts from others, or I could try my hand at writing long-form content weekly. We shall see.

Day job: Zombie, LLC

Boss sent me a message yesterday. “I’ve got bad news, call me.” He didn’t pick up. I got another message about increasing our seats under management by x. I had some urgent help tickets to deal with, so I didn’t try calling or messaging him back, and he didn’t even try to respond back to me. I can’t wait for this morning’s lead off meeting.

I really should be frank with Boss, but I’m not sure what I should expect out of it. The company is too small for him to furlough anyone on the team, he’d be dead in the water. Our clients are dropping like flies, leads are sparse and competition in the area is dense. I’ve tried to start focusing on business process automation, but my ideas haven’t been received well.

I don’t even know if being able to continue my employment should be perceived as a good thing or a bad one. Obviously getting a salary for the amount of work that I actually do is great, but part of me thinks that having it is a crutch and is holding me back. Boss has told me that we’re in no danger of going under, but there’s an upside if we do: unemployment, for one, plus the possibility of going independent with our larger clients. There’s a lot to unpack for the latter case there and I’ll save that for when the time comes.

Consultancy

A call with a third customer didn’t go quite the way I had hoped. No commitment. They can’t pay me until they can scale, and they can’t scale until they have some improved automation. Instead of developing a Django app, it looks like we’ll be rolling out a hundred dollar WordPress plugin. Que sera.

I told another client about the old saying usually seen in mechanic’s garages: “you can have it done fast, cheap, or good. Pick two.” I told them that we are moving in the cheap and good area right now, and that if they wanted to move faster we’d have to bring in some help. It looks like we may be moving in that direction with one of our projects. I’ve got enough experience to manage several WordPress sites and help with some configuration stuff, but I don’t know anywhere near enough about SEO and theming a site that they’re going to need to move quickly. So I recommended that we engage a marketing firm to help with strategic vision and a laundry list of related to-do items that they came up with. I’m actually looking forward to it, since it will benefit the client and if the vendor is good we may be able to establish a good relationship moving forward.


So we’re one third of the way there, and it seems like no result yet. That’s fine, as I know that it may be a while before we see results. I’m still reading Atomic Habits, and I know that these steps I’m taking will be come habits, and the results will compound. Right now I’m focused on refining my environment to make success inevitable. The results will come.