Friday, November 30, 2007

Courthouse Update

So I pulled myself out of bed early today and headed to the distant county to pick up some leads. I found a closer parking garage, but it turned out to be for a hospital next door, so the price ended up being higher than the $12 normal. I did manage to snag about 10 leads or so for the zip code my investor wanted me to look in. The housing may be below his normal price range, so we'll see how he responds. The other issue is that I couldn't find the court dates, only the dates the information was filed, so I don't know how happy he'll be about that.

I've been really frustrated recently. I feel like I've put a lot of time and effort into learning about business, stocks, real estate and various other fields. But then when I actually try to put my knowledge into practice I get nowhere. I can't tell if I'm just young and ignorant, if I'm not trying hard enough, if I'm working in the wrong direction or whatever else could be the problem.

I'd like to find a mentor of some kind to steer me in the right direction. I don't know anyone who is successful in all of those fields though, so it seems the only compass point I have is the information I read. The problem though, is that most of the stuff seems theoretical or introductory, so it doesn't help me to determine what I'm doing wrong in my specific situation, only more of an overall outlook or philosophy. I guess that's where the lack of experience comes in, I make mistakes because I don't know and haven't done things before, so I have no way of telling if what I'm doing is correct or not.

After reading Made to Stick, I feel like I run into a lot of situations where I want to get information or learn from someone, but the "curse of knowledge" stands in the way. They know what they're talking about but can't articulate it to me in ways that I can understand. So it seems all I can keep doing is plugging along.

The other thing I've been thinking about is at what point do I reach that big goal. It's like people say about making the first million is the hardest and once you've reached that point it's all downhill. I don't know if it's still the first million now or not, but if I just go by salary it's going to be a long way off before I reach that point. I'm hoping that all my efforts to move my money into less taxable but still profit making vehicles will start to pay large dividends in the future.

I guess I just put too many expectations on myself. A lot of people my age have much less than I do and very little goals or direction. I've only been working for almost two years and I basically started with zero. Most people my age probably have student loans and car payments that eat away at their earning potential, so I should be gratefully that I'm already in the position I'm in, instead of impatient at not being farther.

Regardless, I hope everyone has a good weekend as we slide into the final month of 2007.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Busy Busy

I haven't been posting much because things are shifting and picking up at work. Also, I'm trying to add some activities so I get more done, develop new skills and start working towards the future I want. Plus, I'd like to have more actual experience to write about because I feel it brings more value.

Currently, the biggest thing going on is that I'm coaching a basketball team. It's an all boy 5-6th grader team. It's a little unstructured but I enjoy coaching and seeing the changes in the players throughout the season. Our first game is coming up next Friday so I'm hoping that what we've done in the practices will make an impact on their play.

I started reading Having it All since I couldn't find anything at the bookstore and I happened upon it after reading a review of it on GeniusTypes (link). I'm not too far in yet, but I've seen a lot of the "big perspectives" promoted so far in other books. The most noticeable was the goal visualization, which is practically word for word from The Science of Getting Rich. The idea of the formless intelligence is also pretty much word for word. So we'll see if he comes up with anything original. Worst case scenario, he seems to include enough stores of his life that I might be able to learn from or get some better perspective.

On Monday I'm going to try and go to a meeting of the local Toastmaster's club. I don't really have a problem with public speaking, but I figure getting some practice might lead to more opportunities to use my skills, and being able to discuss your ideas in a large crowd is always a positive. The larger the crowd you can speak to, the more you are worth in the speaking world.

Before I picked up Having it All, I finished reading Made to Stick. I highly recommend this book. It helps to illustrate what really matters to another person when you are trying to get a message across. The idea they talk about that I really loved was "The Curse of Knowledge", essentially the idea that once you know something it's hard to imagine not knowing it, which makes it hard to teach someone else. The way they described it as moving from small, concrete examples to more abstract concepts, felt dead on to me.

I'm going to try to make a courthouse run tomorrow. Hopefully there will be some new listings in the right zip code and I'll have something to send out to my client. I want to get some feedback from him because that would help me get an idea of where I stand and if the information I'm obtaining and providing is valuable. So we'll see how that goes tomorrow.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Black Friday Sales Attempt

I enjoyed this experience, so I figured I'd share it.

On Thanksgiving I came up with what I thought would be a brilliant idea. I had a bunch of energy drinks left over from my time spent in Quixtar, and I figured if there was ever going to be a time to sell them, it would be Black Friday. And the target, captive audience would be the holiday shoppers who are lined up waiting for stores to open. If anyone needs an energy drink, it's people getting up early to spend a day out shopping.

I got together some preparations on Thursday night, a bag of quarters to make change and all the boxes of drinks that I had. I convinced my brother to help me for a cut of the profits. Then I set my alarm for 4:15 and went to sleep.

When the alarm went off, I distinctly remember thinking that I had two choices. I could either just forget about this idea and go back to sleep, or force myself out of the warm bed and into the cold, dark night. After about five minutes of debate, I managed to convince myself that I'd have to wait a full year to get this opportunity again, and that it would be worth getting up. So I got myself up and dressed and then woke up my brother and we ducked out of the house.

On the way to the local Best Buy we saw lots of people forming lines at various other stores, so we figured we'd have a good shot. Cruising for a parking space, we saw that the line went all the way down the block and started around the end of the last building. A good sign for success. I had set the price at three dollars, since the cost was about two without including shipping.

The first few attempts started poorly. My brother led in with an unenthusiastic "Do you want this?" sales pitch. This of course led to solid rejections. We discussed the approach some and he started to adapt. I had thought of the phrase "shopping fuel" as a gimmick approach to getting people interested, but it didn't seem to create any stir. He started reading the label on the cans some, talking about the 0 sugar, 0 fat and only 8 calories. This peeked some curiosity, but still no one wanted to buy.

After facing rejection across the whole side of a building, we were pretty discouraged. So at this point we decided to just give it away instead of trying to charge for it. The sad thing was that, even without charging anything, people didn't want it.

After a few attempts, my brother kept pushing past the first few nos, and a girl in line was willing to give it a try. After a few sips, she admitted that it was pretty good, although sweet tasting. Then she asked if we had poisoned it. We didn't, and never had any intention to, but I thought it was funny that she asked after the point where she would probably have been dead if we had.

Once people started to see someone take it and drink it, they jumped on board. That first group took a box together, and with that our confidence in getting rid of the stuff started to grow. My brother had more success after that, he ignored the first few nos and kept pressing forward with the information he had read off the can. Eventually people were coming from different parts of the line to grab one, and we had almost gotten rid of all of the supply. When we were down to the last one, my brother picked out a guy in line and talked him into taking it, not taking no for an answer.

So while we didn't sell anything, we did learn a lot from the experience. First of all, people will pretty much say no to anything at first, so you have to keep going though their objections. Second, the people at the front of the line would have probably been the most receptive since they had been in out the longest and were probably the most dedicated. Third, you have to give the people something to identify with. If we had said something like, the kick of a red bull with the sweet taste of root beer - and it's good for you, people would have identified with it better and even been curious for more information. Fourth, if you don't have any confidence going in, people are going to react to your body language and reject whatever you're selling.

So in the future we'll now have this experience to draw from. It was worth the initial down payment as well as the struggle to convince myself to get out of bed.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


I was going to write an angry post about how some of this conventional financial wisdom on different sites is extremely lacking, but I decided against it. I guess it applies to some people, but I think the idea of having to lie to yourself in order to not spend all your money and go into debt is ridiculous.

Anyway, I hope everyone has a good holiday, and for everyone outside the US, I hope you have a good Thursday.

I'm going to spend the time off doing some reflecting about where I am in various areas of my life (my job, my living situation, my business, my current financial approach) and where I want to be. Then I'm going to brainstorm about how to get the different areas where I want them to be. I've been in a holding pattern with some things for about a year or so, but I will have reached a lot of goals starting 12/1, and therefore it'll be a good time to implement changes.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Out Done

So I happened to stumble upon this today in my Reader queue:

Foreclose Market Picking Up

It seems people have caught on quick. While I'm not concerned with her class, I am concerned about her website. It seems to cover all of the US market down to each state's individual counties. When I check against my list from the courthouse, it doesn't seem to match up exactly. Upon further review, her list is extremely accurate, but I'm not sure why it does not seem to be as inclusive. The only thing I can think of is that she is filtering her list better than I am and only putting up ones that are definitely going to court. Regardless, this is trouble.

While there is always some market for the small guy that's local, this website seems to have seen the lack of information in the market place and dived right in to fill the hole. I'm extremely impressed and not really sure where to go from here. I do have an investor lined up at this point, so I can start working specifically on leads he will want starting Friday, but I'm not sure how this will effect future growth.

Along with this development, my stocks are now in the red as of today. In mid August, when there was a market correction, my stocks plummeted to the lows I'm seeing now and they temporarily bounced back afterwards. I'm not confident I'll see that happen again in the near term. While I'm going to stick with the value approach and continue to follow the instructions, it still leaves me a little disheartened.

I'm not sure if any failures get to me and I remember them more than successes, or if it's just that I haven't had many successes. Right now is definitely a low point one way or the other.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Knock Out

I lined up another investor to work with today. He was one of the numbers I found earlier in the week. It seems his company is pretty substantial because they can handle deals up to 3.5 million dollars and are even licensed mortgage brokers as well. They only work in one zip code primarily, but at this point anything is better than nothing. I'll have to keep calling a few more numbers and see if I can get more investors on board so that the other leads don't end up going to waste. It's good to have something to focus on and potential to generate some income again.

The courthouse trip this morning only produced six leads, but that's all in other zip codes anyway. Next week I'll have to make the trip up to county number two again, and then see how much information I can put together to ship out to them. I imagine the first set of leads is the most important because it starts to establish the flow of how the relationship is going to go. You don't want to put in a poor performance and then lose potential business.

I'm also planning on going back to the car dealership tonight. I called the guy up and the car is still there. I asked him about the selling price and he gave me some line about how "their computers are down" and he can't check it, but to check the website. I think he's just stalling giving me some hard numbers before I'm actually on site. This is probably going to be a hard buy to get the price I want. My plan is to start at a low offer of 5K and then make a big concession up to 5.3K. After that I'm going to be as rigid as I can and only let him work me up to 5.5K. I want that to be the off the lot price, none of this before all the extra fees stuff. If he gives me a hard time about it I'm just going to walk away and forget about him. It's been a week and a half since I test drove the car and I doubt anyone else has come to look at it, so they might be itching to unload it. This is what these guys do though, so I'm gonna have to be firm and not be afraid to walk away.

Things are getting back on track now, just gotta keep this good momentum up.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Bogged Down

So things have picked up at work as of late. My manager dropped by a few days back and almost apologized for not having anything for me to do for so long. Now it seems she is trying to make up for it by dumping everything she can on me for the upcoming release. I've plowed through a couple of the issues so far, but I still have a lot of stuff to do that I'm not sure how to do. Usually the hardest part is figuring out what exactly they want me to do and where it actually takes place in the code. The actual writing of the code to fix the problem and doing some preliminary testing goes quick.

On the business front very little progress has been made. I found a couple of potential investor numbers in the paper a few days back but haven't had the chance to call them yet. They may or may not pan out, but it's good to have any kind of hope that tomorrow's leads could actually be used towards something instead of just going to waste like the last few weeks.

I'm coming to the end of my car hunt. I've pretty much determined that I'm going to get a Chevy Malibu and probably get this '02 model that I test drove. The '08 has a new design and I think the '04 introduced a design that's different as well, but I feel like the '02 model actual looks and feels the best of the three. The newer designs feel cheap and rigid, while the older design is a little rounder and better proportioned. Plus the older model has pretty low mileage and seems to be a steal for the price it's being offered at.

The stock market has been very choppy recently. The US economy seems to be slowing down with company growth into foreign markets propping it up some. I think everything is just going to have to take the dip and then slowly start to rebound as we start to rebalance. Sadly, that means my stocks will take a big hit for a while, but I'm looking long term anyway so things should pan out. Once I purchase a car, my next objective will be a house anyway, so I'll focus on that and try and jump on some purchases when I see large dips in the market.

I've been working on essays for grad school applications as well. There are only three of them and they are two pages, one page and one page. It's difficult to write towards an unknown audience, so I'm just trying to focus on points that make me look like a better candidate for admission. Sometimes it amazes me how, with the right wording, the stuff I've done since I graduated can actually seem worthwhile and productive. I guess when you're cramming two years worth of information into two or one page it shouldn't be hard to make it look good.

Well, tomorrow kicks off with another courthouse visit and then I'll go from there.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Long Weekend

So the long weekend has come to an end. I knocked off a number of things on my "To Do" list including participating in the Buy One get One program for One Laptop Per Child. Also, I was able to test drive a few cars and focus in on what exactly I'm looking for in the one I end up buying. To top it off, the updated x-rays from the chiropractor looked good so I only need to go in every two weeks for maintenance. So, just like that a lot of my weekly routine is suddenly gone.

Disappointingly, I did not manage to get to the Real Estate Investor meeting I wanted to attend yesterday. I ended up with some schedule conflicts and difficulty finding the location the event was held. Next time I'm going to have to bring my A game and make sure to get everything inline before the date, potentially even making a dry run to the location.

I recently started reading Made to Stick, which is starting to feel like the next Never Eat Alone. It contains some solid advice about clarifying your message and saying something with meaning. I'm still early on in the book, but I like everything I've read so far. It seems to build off of part of The Tipping Point, where the idea of stickiness is introduced as part of process of viral marketing. I still have a few other books in my queue like The Art of the Start and True Professionalism, but currently they are checked out at my local library so they are pending.

The stock market has been choppy at best recently. I've taken huge hits the last three market days with a small rebound today. This market dip is actually a good thing, since a lot of stocks are dropping to under priced values. I wish I had planned to have more money outside of the market right now to move in, but since I'm still building a base I haven't reached that point yet. If I do come up with some extra funds, I'll probably jump in near the end of November when another big dip should hit, and then hang on as some resurgence comes from December sales.

I'm going to go through some local newspapers again today in an attempt to find new investors. I'm staying away from the major local paper since that seems to have little returns. Hopefully I'll have some prospects to send this weeks leads out to.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Weekend Plans

Another trip to the courthouse today. Rounded up 10 leads for my basic location. That's about average, and from what I've read the foreclosure rate is only going to continue to go up. The greater problem of nothing actually being done with the leads still exists, but hopefully I will make some new contacts on Monday that I can funnel the leads out to.

I've been rereading The E-Myth Revisited, and I hope that once I get a steady amount of investors who are producing sales, then I can really put a system around my business. The training that I read for how to be a Jobber was essentially all the system I need, but I hope to automate the process more and eventually move myself to more of a supervisor role. Eventually I should be able to get jobbers underneath me to go to the courthouse or be doing driving trips to find leads. Also, I plan to setup a website. Then I could have jobbers log in and input the data online, only to have the system then send emails out to the investors based on some rules that I setup. But that's all in the future for now.

Stocks are having a terrible day for the second or third day in a row. It just reemphasizes how important getting my business to a productive level is. With the business I actually have some control over what happens rather than playing the role of the middle man, hoping that the unruly mob that is the market continues to push up in my favor. Stocks are a great and extremely passive source of income, but when you're trying to get to a substantial amount of wealth, they are very slow and unhelpful. Getting a strong business cash flow is really the best fuel for filling up your asset portfolio.

The car hunt is continuing this weekend. I may just settle and buy the car I test drove on Wednesday. It seems the most powerful tools available for negotiating the purchase of a used car are the ability to walk away and the ability to buy the car outright on the spot. I'm hoping to use them to knock $500-1000 off the price tag. I figure if I can get the car for about $5K, then it's really a steal. So we'll see how it works out.

I've begun filling out some business school applications. The essay seems to be the hardest part because it's hard to write to a target audience that you know nothing about. Write now I have some basic framework for the content and a mild attempt to string it together, but nothing that would amount to a full first draft. If I don't finish the applications before the spring semester deadline then I'm not really going to worry about it. Usually bigger classes start in the fall which might play better into my favor.

Don't forget - One Laptop Per Child starts their Buy 1 get 1 program starting 11/12. So enjoy your 11/11 holiday and help some kids on 11/12!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

One Laptop Per Child

First, a quick update:

I test drove the car I'm thinking about buying yesterday. It seemed alright but had a weird smell along with the ugly outside color. Superficial things yes, but still annoying. I do like the idea that I can write a check and own a car that seems good enough that I'd be happy with it for years to come without any additional payments. I'm not 100% sold yet and I'm looking at some other cars on Autotrader as well as this site I heard about yesterday called AutoNation, where apparently you can buy a car directly from the site. I'll probably take another trip up to the lot on Saturday for round two of negotiations, so we'll see how it pans out. In case you are in a similar situation where you are looking to buy a car, I suggest checking out sites like this:

I'm going to blow off the REI meeting tonight and go to a different one on Monday when I have the day off for Veteran's day. From what I've read, most of the mingling is done in the half hour or so before the meeting begins, so trying to fight through rush hour traffic to show up late seems like a poor decision. Instead, I'll take my time on Monday and go prepared. Also, I checked the classifieds today for investors and found the same ad again as yesterday and the day before. No call back yet, but I figure if I am going to get a call it'll most likely be over the weekend.

Ok, the main thing I want to mention today is the One Laptop Per Child program.

Last year I took a "Rich Dad Coaching" course for a substantial sum. While I'm not ready to endorse the program since I have yet to make my money back from the investment, one habit they recommended has stuck firmly with me since. It is the idea of "The Three Piggy Banks".

The Three Piggy Banks

Essentially, each day you are suppose to put a certain amount of money of your choosing into three separate banks. The banks can be of any form from a small paper cup to different bank accounts you have setup. The first one is for saving, the second is for investing and the third is for charity.


The idea behind the saving bank is that this is money that you are going to hold onto. You aren't going to put this money under any kind of substantial risk. Your best bet would be to put this into a money market account or a savings account and let it accumulate 5% interest or so. This is your base, your security fund. Regardless of what else happens you will have this money to rely on for your future.


This is your gambling money. Say you come across a stock you think is going to take off. You pull money out of here and put it in your stock choice. If the stock bottoms out and you lose it all, no big deal because you still have your savings. Regardless, this money gets you thinking about what could get you good returns as well as gives you incentive to learn about different investing vehicles that exist. Eventually, as your knowledge and experience grows, this money will start working for you and getting you bigger and bigger returns, which should lead you to the comfortable level of wealth.


This money you give away. The idea is that you are giving back to the community. Maybe you pick your favorite charity or your church or whatever you like and you give the money away to it. Similar to the idea of tithing, by giving you are getting the feeling of making a difference in the world and actually having the ability to help others. For all the karma believers, this is what will help you to see how much you have, help you to be thankful for what you have and ultimately help you reach more and more people.

My Three Banks

Overtime, you are suppose to keep increasing the amount you put into the banks. I started out very low, at a penny per bank each day. I'm only up to a quarter a day right now, but I also setup my income stream from my job to be split somewhat along the same ratios. I say somewhat because currently I'm at about 60% saving, and 35% investing with very little left for charity. But now I've found a charity that I really support, so that is going to change.

One Laptop Per Child (

This program was setup to help provide a means for those who have none to gain access to education and information that has the potential to make a substantial difference in their lives and the lives of those around them. By giving a child the chance to link into the internet and the human network, you open up the world to them, allowing them to see perspectives of people outside of their family, outside of their country, perspectives of people around the world. I personally believe that this will be a big step towards ending a large amount of conflicts we have in the world today as well as allowing people to break free from the cycle of poverty that has trapped so many throughout the world.

On November 12, the One Laptop Per Child program is going to start up a program where they reward you for rewarding others. By paying $400, you will be paying for a laptop to be supplied to an underprivileged child as well as receiving a laptop for yourself or your child. This is a unique opportunity to really help change someone's life and even directly get something in return. Also, by having one of these laptops you will help to spread the word about what is happening and be a trend setter for change.

So I encourage everyone who can to put forth the money to make a difference. Even if it's just the $200 for a laptop to be sent to a child in need, do it. This isn't like those commercials where they say "for 37 cents a day" or anything like that, this is a one time payment that will make a lifetime difference.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


Unfortunately, the only add in the classifieds today was the same one as yesterday. I can't be sure that the guy won't call me back, so we'll see if anything happens after a week or so.

There is an REI meeting this Thursday at 6:30. I don't think I'll be able to get there right on time, but I may try to make it to it just to get the experience of going to one. At this point I think my normal plans are going to fall through, so I should have the chance to go. I'll see how things stand tomorrow.

The hard drive crash I had over the weekend has pretty much tied up my desktop computer currently. I have to reinstall Office or at least OpenOffice to really get back in the flow with my documents and spread sheets. I'm still holding onto the hope of being able to get to my data, there are a few more things I might be able to try.

I'm planning on going to a dealership in the area tonight after work to test drive a car that I found on Right now I'm looking at getting a 2002 Chevy Malibu LS. It's pretty cheap and the insurance will be between $250-$580 for 6 months based on how much coverage I elect to get. Although very superficial, the main problem I have with the car from what I've seen online is the exterior color. It's some tan derivative that I think is pretty ugly. I guess it doesn't matter since I'll be in the car and not outside looking at it, but it still annoys me. My friend pointed out yesterday that at this point I'm just getting something to get by with, it's not a dream car or anything anyway. It's a good point, and I'm not 100% sold on the car yet anyway. Even if I love it tonight, I'm still going to try and negotiate an even better deal and will most likely not make a purchase for at least another week.

Right now the car is my main focus. Buying a car will be the largest purchase I've ever made. Outside of my stock portfolio and investment accounts, it will be my largest investment. Sadly, it'll only depreciate in value but since I'm buying an older, used car, most of the value loss has already occurred. My hope is that it'll last me 5-10 years, which would be great since the price I'll get it for is probably going to be between $5-6K. That means that it's cost is about $500-1,000 per year, outside of maintenance, gas and insurance, which I would have to pay for any other car anyway.

If anyone has any stories about buying their first car or tips for negotiating with dealers, feel free to leave them in the comments.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


I'm making some small steps now. Today I was able to locate an investor's add in the local paper. I gave them a call at lunch but got the answering machine. I left a message with a brief description of my services and my number, so we'll see if I get a call back. Worst case scenario I don't hear anything from them and move on to looking for another investor's add tomorrow.

Also, I found a car that might be worth buying. I'm going to head directly to the lot to test drive it on Wednesday after work. I almost headed over there yesterday, but the lot closes at 8 and that's when I would have had the chance to get there by, so it didn't work out.

I finished some small things I was working on at work, but the results seem to point to bigger changes being made. I'm not sure exactly how those changes will be made and I can't get a hold of anyone who would have ideas. So right now I'm pending.

I read Orbiting the Giant Hairball over the past couple of days. It's basically a "look outside the box" book. It points the reader into these ideas that all corporations are the same rigid systems and only the author has the right path. This of course is a quiet rebellion, where due to his intervention all this "wonderful creative innovation" occurs and shakes up the business system. I have a feeling that if someone else wrote about his experiences from a perspective outside of his, there would be a completely different flavor to the book.

The problem with books like that are that they try to bring up a lot of questions but don't have any answers. It's nice to think outside of the box, but unless you have some kind of plan before going off the deep end, you're going to end up jaded against the idea of starting your own business or trying to do something different. The reason for this is because you're likely to fail. The statistic "9 out of 10 business fail" is correct. Either you have to be willing to start at least 10 businesses, or you have to have a plan of action going in where you take on the risk in increments that you can handle.

That's all I've got for today.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Stand Still

So I blew off the meeting on Saturday. My plans didn't work out as expected on Friday and I had my first basketball practice for the team I'm coaching on Saturday. So instead of getting up early and passing out poorly made business cards, I staid home and slept in.

Disappointed? Yeah, me too.

I'm not making any real strides in my business or in my hunt for a car or a house. I feel like I'm in a rut right now and have been for a while. Part of my thinks it all stems out of my dissatisfaction with my job, but it may be other things as well. This is usually the hardest time of the year for me since I fight against my SAD. Also, my computer crashed over the weekend, corrupting key files for the operating system to boot so I may have lost everything I've done since I upgraded my computer in February. Luckily, I copied my financial information over to my new (old) laptop, so that has remained intact.

I'm hoping that the reason my hard drive isn't being recognized is that the RAID drivers were corrupted and maybe if I reinstall them things will be ok. I've had a lot of problems in the past that ended poorly, so my hopes aren't very high at this point. At least I have a backup hard drive and I was able to access all the data from before February without any problems.

Normally when I run into a rut like I'm currently in, I put together some plan of action and try to push to make some changes. After that I'll get a few things done from the list and nothing big will change. So I guess I"m going to do it again. Here is my current situation:

I need a car.

I have a budget of about $8K setup to buy a new/used car. I'm looking for something mid sized that will get pretty good gas millage, has less than 60K miles and will last me for 5+ years. Right now, the make and model I'm targeting is a Chevy Malibu. I found a few online and I'm going to setup test drives for later in the week.

I need a new job.

While software development was fun to learn, I hate the environment and I don't like the subject matter enough to put outside time into learning more. Instead, I'd be happy to take a job with less pay in the finance field. I'm looking for a place that will pay for me to get an MBA and will give me an opportunity to actual use my skills. I think I'd like to work in a larger company rather than a smaller one.

I need a new place to live.

I have a down payment built up to about $10K, which is not that much. It will only be me living there, so I don't need a very large place, just something that I can exist in and potentially setup a small business operation.

So now I have to find a way to make this stuff happen.

American Gangster

First off, another great movie. After seeing Michael Clayton not too long ago, this has been a good time to see movies as of late.

The most beautiful part about this movie is that Frank Lucas, played by Denzel Washington, never shows his hand. When his mentor dies in the beginning, when he's out in the middle of the jungle in Vietnam, when his car is shot up in a drive-by, and even on his wedding day, never does he seem to break down and show any signs of fear or uncertainty that could be going through his head. Instead, he is always the picture of cool, calm, calculating and collected. My man.

Two main points stuck with me after the movie ended. First is the subtle but beautifully done foreshadowing. At one point he pulls his cousin aside to tell him that his suit makes him look like an idiot. He lays out the advice that the loudest person in the room is usually the most guilty. But like many figures in history, eventually his own advice is forgotten or ignored.

The second point, the impact and effects of the drug trade, was more of a background in the movie. Every so often you see the effects of heroin use throughout Harlem. When you're making a million dollars a day selling drugs, that money is coming from people throughout society who are beating eaten away by addiction. At one point a scene focuses on a baby crying as the assumed parent lies next to them, dead or at least stoned out of their mind from the drug use. The presumed "good guy" in the movie, Richie Roberts, played by Russel Crowe, at one point tells us that at least 100,000 people are employed by the drug trade.

Similar to Catch Me if you Can, this movie is like a cat and mouse game. The bad guys seem to be living large while the good guys suffer with only their feelings of moral superiority to carry them through the day and towards their obsessive end goal. Sadly, you end up rooting for the bad guy beacuse they act out those dark feelings that you never could, but then you ease your guilt with support of the good guy, who seems to exist only to convince you that in the end bad deeds will be punished. Even though this was adapted from a true story, the question still remains of whether this result is the standard or the exception.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Written Off

For some reason, before I even got up this morning, I had written today off. I worked late on Wednesday anticipating going to county two today, but when it came time to make it happen, it didn't. Again I figured not having an investor to send the leads to made it not worth the time and parking money to go. I did go to courthouse one and picked up 15 leads. Pretty solid numbers for that area, but again, no investor to send them to at this point. Plans are still set to go out to a REI meeting tomorrow morning, so I'm hoping that will be productive.

I was talking to my sister last night, who has an MBA in Finance, about her job. The stuff she does and the people she works with seems so much more interesting than what I do. Plus, with a background in Computer Science and software development, I feel like I could really make some big strides in moving the Finance department of a company to the modern era. Most of the time they use plain Excel spreadsheets to do their calculations. There is very poor UI for what each field is expecting and what it means to the project as a whole. My sister showed me this cool tool she made to replace it, so I'm glad to see that someone is pushing forward and making things happen.

When I talked to her about her job it just reinforced how little I like my own. I want to blame my company because they hired me with false promises, but even so, if I wanted to I could change things. I just feel no desire to do so. I feel like I don't want to do this stuff for the rest of my life and I have no interest in it outside of doing enough to get paid. But the money is only worth so much because once I meet my financial objectives, I won't need a high salary anymore. At that point I could quit and take a lower paying job somewhere else just to get into something that I love doing. If you're doing what you love you end up getting promoted faster and it's worth more than the money. In the long run you end up ahead.

Back at my old job, when I first started working there, we were building up a new department. I spent a large amount of my days in the finance and contracts departments. I learned a lot there and was really into it. I even built a pretty elaborate Quote system that is still in use today. But then I got pulled back to doing testing and customer service and I lost a lot of my motivation. I want to do project management, working with customers, doing analysis of how a project is going and the risks it faces. That kind of thing seems exciting to me.

I do feel like this job could be tolerable if I moved back into development instead of just bug fixing. When I started here and was learning new things I was excited. I designed a security program and a few cool tools. But then I had to be placed somewhere that was billable and the guy who was mentoring me threw me to the sharks. I don't think he's even talked to me in about 2 months. So I go from actually doing and learning something to sitting on the back burner. One of the VPs told me that it was like a right of passage to do bug fixing for 6 months before you really get into anything else. That seems stupid to me though, since I'd learn a lot more if I was developing something worthwhile and interacting with multiple parts of the system. I chalk it up to poor management and bad distribution of resources.

That's enough whining from me for now. I encourage all of you out there in a position like me to not settle either. Find your passion, or make a career out of what you do with your free time. Put the time and effort into making it happen. Otherwise your financial commitments will grow around you, pinning you in. Do it now while you can because it'll only get harder. Good luck and best wishes.

Thursday, November 1, 2007


So this is more of a personal revelation rather than any advice or status update.

Today I was reading the Wikipedia entry for finance ( when I realized, this is what I care about. While writing code has had an appeal to me in some elements, like taking a problem and slowly figuring out how to create the elements of a solution, it does not have the mass appeal that lures me to want to do it in my free time. Finance does. In some ways I'm almost obsessed with money. I keep track of where my money goes, how much I have, how my investments are doing almost fanatically. It's like it is what I was born to do.

At one point, in World without End, one of the characters is looking at the other as he is creating a blue print for something he is planning on building. She analyzes the look on his face of completely being engrossed in visualizing what he wants to build and comes to the conclusion that it's the look a person has when they are doing what they were born to do. I imagine when I'm updating my finances and analyzing numbers I have the same look.

The problem I have is that I lack the formal training to do even more in depth analysis and understanding. I feel like I'm right on the cusp currently, so close to bridging the gap between the reality of everyday monotony and breaking free to the world of wealth and abundance that I know exists. It's like the difference between looking across a landscape from a tall building versus looking down from a plane window. I have a general perspective but I need something to get me to that higher level of abstraction so that I can see the trends before they happen and jump in and ride the wave up. Right now I'm getting there a little too late but luckily, not at the same time as the people who jump in only to hit the downward spiral.

In reading The Pathfinder, it talks about how you should have a job that you truly love. Jobs like that do exist and you can get one. It's just a matter of determining what it is that you are really excited about, what you are already doing in your free time and you just don't know it yet. I always think of the Seinfeld episode where George has quit working as a Realtor and he's talking to Jerry about what he could do next. He lists different things he's interested in and Jerry gives him a little perspective as to why they might not work out (

So now that I feel like I know what I want to do, the question is how to get there. I guess I should start trying to figure out where I could get an entry level position that will pay for me to get an MBA and then start applying or finding connections that can help me. Maybe I was right about my gut feeling that November would bring about some kind of inspirational change.