Sunday, December 23, 2007

Why this blog? Important Background Information...

Hello to anyone visiting this blog, if there is anyone out there reading! The purpose of this LONG post is to provide some adequate background information as to the rhyme and reason for this blog.

So....

At the end of November, I found myself on a mini-vacation / business trip. With a few drinks in belly, I found myself engaged with another vacationer. Note: This was the first vacation I had been on in a few years and the only reason it was possible is because my employer sent me to this lovely place for business and I extended it by a few days and flew my significant other on a free ticket from accumulated airline miles.

This person inquired about my profession. I told him I work in the software industry and have had a few different roles within it. This peaked his interest. For he had an idea and wondered if such an idea was possible to implement. The idea fascinated me - it is a GREAT idea that I think will be quite useful to a large audience. We exchanged numbers and continued to hang out a bit over the course of the next few days. I thought for sure we would become business partners as we had discussed. Sadly, I have called this gentleman four times since that vacation, sent him a couple of text messages and my efforts to make contact have been for not. I cannot figure out why he will not return my messages, other than perhaps his wife is upset that he so openly shared with me his idea. It's really rather quite puzzling.

With that in mind, I have a few choices:

1) Let a wonderful idea be left in the hands of a person that may / may not ever do anything with it.

2) Continue to try to reach this person and hopefully become engaged in a business partnership from which we both benefit.

3) Proceed down the path of bringing this idea to market without him. If he should respond early enough in the process then I'll be happy to include him because it was clearly his idea that got me all excited.

Since a month has passed to no avail, I'm choosing option three from above. I sincerely hope that he will make contact with me or return my voicemails so that he can be appropriately included.

I have had many ideas in the past that I have failed to implement. I even have a patent pending (for over four years now) and have done nothing with it, except pay nearly 5K in attorney fees. I desire to not sit on my laurels again and let a great idea pass me by.

This is how the journey began. I spent minimal time prototyping what I thought would be the most difficult aspect of this project from a software design point of view. After successfully finding a workable solution, I began to play in my mind with various add-on ideas, etc... that would make this idea even more valuable. Other than that...nothing else was done up until December 19, 2007 (only a few days ago).

I have no clue how to launch a product. Otherwise, I would have done it with many of my past ideas. I have no clue how to do much other than be a very hard working person with a lot of perseverence. Marketing? No way. You name it, I can come up with a million excuses as to why I have done nothing to scale beyond my hourly, individual contributions. Enough! I have to break past this barrier.

This led me to a google search for a list of the top Entrepreneurial books. I don't recall the source of the list that I finally used, but I wrote down the names of five books and ranked them in my order of preference. My significant other was going to the bookstore that day for some Christmas shopping and I asked her to get two of the books. If the store didn't have my top pick, then move down the list until one is located.

As luck would have it, the store had "The 4-Hour Workweek", by Timothy Ferriss. That's the only book she came home with because she had a 20% off coupon and figured she would just go get one of the other books the next day - after all, I can only read one at a time, right?

I sat down that night and started to read this book with great interest. It took two other sittings to complete it. I must admit that I read it word for word, but rather quickly. I did not do the excercises or any of the additional reading. My goal was to get the concept of the book into my head and then go back for reference and exercises later.

I completed the book on Friday, December 21st. Within the book, Mr. Ferriss had some additional recommended reading. I took that list with me on Saturday to the book store and came out with "The Magic of Thinking Big" by David Schwartz. That was last night. Currently, I'm at page 75, the beginning of Chapter 4.

Why am I writing about all of this? A few reasons, really:


  • At the time I decided to put "The 4-Hour Workweek" on my list of books to consider there were roughly 510 amazon reviews, most of them positive in nature. I didn't find anyone with actual testimonials (though I didn't read the entire list of reviews). I found people who said it works, but failed to back it up with any substance. Perhaps they are just false-promoters??? This leaves me skeptical. There may be information out there, but I haven't taken the time to search that hard. It doesn't matter for my purpose anyway. If I write about my adventure then the outcome will be the outcome. Good, bad or otherwise. It will be for everyone to see on a step by step basis - from the very beginning. Note: I am NOT affiliated with the author of this book in any way, shape or form. I never even heard of the guy until reading about this book. This will be able to be independently verified by anyone so inclined to know when I decide to reveal my identity and my product.

  • If I blog about it then it will ADD to my motivation to actually do something - i.e. Action. I'm typically more concerned about what other people think of me then what I actually think of myself! Sad, huh? However, it's true, so I'll leverage my weakness.

  • The added benefit of blogging my experience is so that other people can benefit from it; either positively or not. My success or failure in this adventure should not be used as the sole reason for purchasing (or not) the book, but it will at least explain my journey. Many of the reviews on Amazon say that he skips important details, that it's harder said than done, etc... My journey will be well documented and if important things have been missed then you will see them as I encounter them.

  • I may actually get good feedback from anyone viewing this blog. I may have hurdles to get over, advice needed, etc... and would appreciate any useful information to posts I make that may help keep me motivated or keep my product on target.

As Mr. Ferriss suggests in his book, I am using the brain-vommit (I think that was his term) approach to writing this blog. This serves a couple of purposes: 1) It gives me an out for not being an expert writer. I'm a software engineer, not an author of reading material. Therefore, I openly accept any criticism for my writing inability. 2) Most of my posts (including this one) will not be proof-read by me prior to posting. I'll type and what ends up here stays here. That will save me huge amounts of time and allow me to actually complete my goal of writing on a very regular basis (once per day is my objective). There may be days where I write almost nothing at all. If I force myself into perfection mode then I'll tire of trying to do this and I will spend too much time on it. Besides, I can always go back when I'm done with my experiment and edit or clarify necessary bits and pieces.


Below is a bulleted list of thoughts I have regarding this book:



  • If anyone could come up with an excuse to NOT follow this book then it is me. I have six children (4 full-time, 2 part-time). I don't wish to travel the world, but I do wish to enjoy my life more and spend more quality time with my children and things I enjoy.

  • I am not sure where middle or upper class lines are drawn these days. I earn a strong income but am still broke. I live literally paycheck to paycheck and for months have not had enough income to make all my ends meet. Divorce, living location, a thousand kids, mass consumer, and many other factors play into this misery I find myself in. It is all self-induced. I have worked like a madman my entire life and have not enough to show for it, despite having earned over 300k for 5 years straight. That's just sick! I don't make that income now, but I once did. Regardless, I have always been the rat running aimlessly on the wheel and I am absolutely finished with it. We'll see how this goes, but some of the reviews suggested that you needed to be middle-class, have savings, etc... to make this work. I don't believe that to be the case, but we'll see what happens as time goes by. All I know is that I'm at that nervous breakdown point and have been there for at least two years. I used to think positively, but following my divorce I have slipped into a very negative mindset. This has affected everything around me, including my income. I look forward to being back in the positive thinking situation again.

  • I will not follow the book religiously, because I feel some things are inapproriate for me personally. The book is filled with great information and suggestions. It also has some things that go against my grain, but not that I fault the author for. For example, I prefer to win by effort, not loopholes (e.g. Kickboxing champion). I will not deceive my current employer even though I follow the logic in the book. I work remotely already and I treasure the freedom involved with that. For as long as I collect paychecks from my employer then I will give them an honest days work. Even if I become more productive, that's for their benefit. I don't have set hours of operation. I travel a lot and I work much more than 40 hour weeks regularly. If I need to perform a task for my project during "normal" work hours then I will do so. This is the trade-off of not having set work hours. My employer will always get out of me what is expected (and more) for as long as I collect a paycheck from them. My goal, therefore, will to get my product launched and enjoy the shortened work week as a result of that. I will not check email only twice a day for now. I cannot realistically do this. That would be like telling a Customer Service Rep or a Sales Rep to only answer calls or check voicemails except once or twice a day. It's not practical for my position. However, I will limit my email addiction to once an hour or once every two hours. This is tremendous progress from where I currently stand on this subject. I get way too much email and my treo checks for it every 10 minutes. It's a huge distraction. If I find that I can get away with doing it less than every two hours then I will make adjustments as necessary. The list could go on, but this is what comes to mind right now.

  • I am of above average IQ. That said, I've made some horrendously stupid decisions in my life. I can mentally grasp all the concepts of this book and I have the capacity to explore and problem-solve. This is an advantage. Intelligence and action don't equate, however. I must stay focused on my goal, not be deterred by failures or negative feedback that is sure to come and I must PUSH through the non-trivial tasks instead of saying "this is too difficult..." As Mr. Schwartz suggests in his book, I cannot fall victim to "excusitis."

  • I have an addictive-compulsive personality and suffer from very little patience. I don't use illegal drugs and I realize my patience issue and am able to work with it. My personality type has created problems for me in my life, but it has also contributed to some of my successes. I'll use this to my advantage for this effort and attempt to curtail my patience issue so that it doesn't set me back.

  • I have a very deep and broad technical background. This will help me where others may struggle. It could also hinder me if I don't let enough of it go to other people. Since my current money resources are very tight, I'll do as much as I can so long as it doesn't hold me back from achieving my goal.

  • Two years ago my significant other and I started a business with absolutely no experience in the field. It's a service business that she still runs. I had to step out temporarily to attempt to stabilize our income. The business, by most accounts, is very successful. However, my overhead is very high so it put us into quite a financial pinch. She continues to run this, but one day we will either shut it down or sell it. If you read this book then you will understand why. Long story short: It's a service business! ;-) We run this out of our home (and it's also setup for remote people, but more on that later). We have five phone lines coming into our home. Our phones turn on at 7:00am and off at 9:00pm. This is crazy. They ring all day. The phones actually create anxiety for me. Some people may think this is a good thing - but our product isn't one with a fixed price and is very difficult to outsource. We have tried in the past with two different companies and it was miserable outcomes. Forget about everything else - this business has to go when we can afford to let it go. The point of this, I guess, is that I have already got some experience in business that should help. Corporation is already established, tools are already in place, etc... I'll go more into detail about this in a later post or category called "Tools" if this blogger account let's me do it.

  • I'm already familiar with PPC marketing. This doesn't mean I'm good at it! I gave it a whirl a few years ago. As I said earlier, I'm not a marketer! I found myself spending more money in adWords costs than I did in click-through commissions. To be fair, I gave up rather quickly and didn't enjoy it very much. I had no passion for it but gained the experience of understanding how the process works.

  • This list may grow as I continue making new posts. At some stage I'll try to consolidate things into categories if it gets too hard to follow. To repeat, I'm not focused so much on form right now, but more on getting thoughts out of my head and into a tangible place where I can review it later and from where others can gain insight from my experience.

This was a long post, I expect future posts to not be of this same length. If you are reading this then thanks for coming and expect this blog to gain more value as time moves forward. Right now, it's not of too much value to anyone. It will be in time.

1 comment:

Rex Reed said...

Thanks for your comment on my blog at http://www.fourhourworkweekdiary.com. I am glad you are also sharing the journey down the 4HWW path, and I am looking to connect with anyone who is likewise journaling their efforts and seeing if the theory makes good practice!

Other practitioners: drop my blog a visit and leave a comment if you are!