Category Archives: General

Arbitrage your Basement/Garage/Life

Hey Friend:

If there’s one thing I took away from the movie Fight Club, it was when Tyler Durden said:

The things you own end up owning you

It’s a simplistic but profound statement considering our American culture and society today. We all have become consumers. We’re working for dollars that are quickly spent on services and products that we rarely need to survive. Only about 30% of Americans have more than $1,000 dollars saved in their bank account. I find this utterly disturbing. Maybe you’re in the 69%. If you are, you really should take this post to heart and make a change today.

It all started with a cleaning day

I recently started playing golf and so I wanted to make room in the basement for a new putting green to practice and hopefully improve my skills during the off-season. During the basement clean-up process I came across an overwhelming stack of boxes and items I had quickly shuttled down to the basement during our move-in day a few years back.

I must have been carrying around this large heap of “clutter-ibles” (things I think are collectible) for a couple of decades. Sadly, a bunch of baseball cards that have been coming along for the ride for years are now pretty much worth the weight of paper they’re printed on. But I found a lot of stuff that may actually be useful to someone else. This all triggered a moment for me… so I sat down the broom and got to work on a plan.

Sell baby Sell!

The catalyst here really was the Fight Club movie quote. These things that I’ve been carrying around, that I’ve been telling myself are valuable or will be used again at a future date, were holding me back from extracting their true value today. What good does an inanimate object do for you if it simply sits in the basement or garage collecting dust? Clothes in your closet you haven’t worn since the last decade? Shoes? That appliance you swore you would fix? Nintendo 8-bit console and games? These items all have some intrinsic value to someone, so let that someone buy these items from you and remove the burden. Release yourself from the bonds of housing these things you supposedly own, because right now they’re getting free rent and lying to you. If they were really an investment, would you have them in your garage or basement? Wouldn’t they be giving you some sort of value? That’s when you know you’ve invested in something.

I follow Gary Vaynerchuk and saw a while back he gave a challenge to his social media followers to sell their junk and/or buy and sell items to make a $20,000 profit in 2017. Although I didn’t accept the challenge then, however this pile of stuff in my basement triggered a moment where I thought, I could at least get $1,000 for this stuff. So I dusted off the old e-bay account (talegenllc) and started taking photos of the items and posting them up for sale.

After two weeks I had sold almost $1,000 in stuff! I was stoked! This was so much fun I thought! The endorphin rush was legit and as I freed myself from these items for cold hard cash, I felt a weight starting to lift.

After 2 weeks, I had sold almost $1,000 in stuff.

Selling Junk leads to Inspiration

So after getting a boost in entrepreneurial spirit from selling on e-bay I wanted to take the idea a step further and explore a simple side-hustle that could potentially bring in $1,000 or more a month for my family. Arbitrage simply stated is to buy and sell goods for profit. Over the long term, the junk in the basement was a loss, but the idea of being able to strategically buy something to sell at a profit is intriguing. It inspired additional discussions with my wife (who has never really been entrepreneurial) about starting a side-business with several different streams of revenue. One thing lead to another, and we’ve got Talegen, LLC formed with our brand: First & Will.

I’m so excited at this point it’s really hard to contain myself. I have a wife who’s on board with the idea of working a small business to make additional income for us all. The potential for growth is really in the sweat equity we both put into the business. Just working a few extra hours a week, I’ve already sold $936.43 worth of items from our basement. I can’t wait to see what unfolds for us this year.

Hope you all are doing well and take something from this post.

Best,

-Rob

Be The Butterfly

Be The Butterfly

I was privileged to be asked to give a small five minute speech at the local Pennsylvania Gigabit Revolution meeting held April 22nd, 2016 at the Yorktowne Hotel.

The Gigabit Revolution is Pennsylvania-funded study conducted by United Fiber & Data to determine the feasibility, need, and cost for high-speed gigabit access in the commonwealth. Studies show Pennsylvania businesses pay 10,000%+ per megabit of bandwidth more than other competing cities with gigabit access. Shocking!

York, PA is central to UFD’s mission to run a high-strand fiber optic line from New York City to Washington D.C. York however has traditionally been a blue collar manufacturing county and as that industry has faded over the past several decades so too has the forward momentum of the city. Because of this stagnation and the need for voices to be heard, I was asked to give some perspective on the challenges I face as a hiring manager of a technology company within York. I also took some liberty to fire up the crowd on my personal belief that we need more than data. We need a Renaissance of learning and fundamental shift in business focus within the county to make a gigabit revolution a reality.

Forgive my speech disfluencies but I was up all night preparing for this meeting and had some nerves finding out I was sharing the stage with such distinguished leaders. Needless to say I was able to power through with the help of my notes. Never be afraid to use them if you need them! The message is truly the most important part!

Dedicated to a Lean Holiday

store-crowd-black-friday-blur-615cs112212It’s that time of year again. The Christmas claymation specials are running on TV. The Salvation Army bells are ringing. The lines of early adopters are starting to form outside big-box electronic stores around the country. Recent news reports this week state there’s more anger toward businesses staying open on Thanksgiving this year; likely in hopes to attract shoppers to offset poor sales this year. The anger is primarily directed at the businesses who are “forcing” their employees to work on a holiday. I’m not quite sure why people are angry because the workers are likely volunteers who want to work; but I digress.

This post is about dedicating to a lean holiday in hopes that in doing so we dedicate long-term to a lean lifestyle. I don’t mean going on a food diet; I’m talking about a spending diet. We Americans have been raised in a consumer culture on purpose. We are told what to buy, when to buy it, and are given means to buy a lot of stuff that we might otherwise never be able to afford.

The hype behind “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” as a celebratory spending time is promoted to instigate you to pulling out your money and spending more that you normally would. The consumer culture is programmed to spend, and spend a lot during this time of year. Why? Most likely we’re programmed to spend because in the colder seasons there’s less spending in general. Nobody wants to go out and trudge around in cold weather, snow, etc.

To begin, you should already be on a budget. If not, you need to start with a monthly spending budget by calculating your after-tax income minus bills and expenses. For the Christmas holiday however, we should break down a budget for gifts. Determine how much money you can spend from your savings (that’s right, credit cards are off-limits) and then divide that by the number of people you’re buying gifts for. That will be the individual gift budget you will be aiming for.

A $500 gift budget ÷ 10 people = $50 max per person.

One would think this is a simple concept, but you’ll be surprised just how easy it is to spend more and more and more without tracking individual totals for each person you’re buying for. Simply keeping track of purchases in a spreadsheet on your phone or computer will allow you to maintain control over that tendency to have a holiday spending spree.

Once you successfully keep up a holiday budget, moving forward throughout the rest of the year with similar frugal spending will help you realize new savings you never thought were possible. By buying store brand instead of name brand, going out to eat once a month instead of every night, replacing trips to the movie theater with a book at home, and buying a 4-year old used economy car instead of the latest luxury car will begin to contribute to your positive savings at the end of each month. When you tally up your monthly budget (remember you’re doing one of these) I guarantee you’ll see that the consumer brainwashing we’ve all been indoctrinated with has held your savings and wealth growth back for years.

Let’s all make a commitment to dedicating ourselves to a lean holiday and continue on with a lean new year.

Trials and Tribulations

plant-seedlingA fresh start. That’s what I needed. The old ways weren’t working. Writing what I know brought in maybe one real person a month checking out my website. I grew bored. Writing code examples got me nowhere except deeper into time debt.

Time debt. No, it’s not related to time travel. Time debt is what you get when you know you have to make something happen on a project schedule and instead you do something else. You’ve borrowed time from that project deadline to spend a night watching TV with the significant other, rambling off onto some tangential-laced web-search-session to nowhere, or surfing every department of the Target website just “to see what’s available.”

Well, I’ve given up on the old ways. My time debt is getting too large. It’s time to crunch and in doing so it’s time for a refresh on the personal blog. Gone are the code samples, tyrades on programming, music, and useless stories on technology others have created. I’m a software engineer who’s an entrepreneur.  A left-handed creative who suffers from shiny-object-syndrome. I’ve run businesses in the past. It’s about time I run my business.

This kickoff post is the beginning of a new chapter for this blog. From now on I plan on blogging about business; my business, generalities about business, but more importantly the trials and tribulations of starting and running an IT business. Yeah, it’s been done before. I don’t care. I’m writing this as a weblog of my journey. If you glean anything from my posts then I’ve done my job.

Web analytics be damned! It’s about time.