From my high horse of self employment, I have stepped into the mud to play with the employed commonfolk. I mentioned a couple times earlier that I was considering getting a real job, but I didn't want to get into details until it actually happened.
Quitting gambling came abruptly, so I didn't have a solid backup plan in place. There's the ebook I wrote and this blog, but neither makes close to enough to constitute a living. For a few months I wandered, considering different options, but didn't find anything I love.
Actually, I take that back. I am working on a TV show that I am extremely excited about (casting soon!), but it's not likely to put any Jeffersons in my pocket for months if not years. And a boy's gotta eat.
A few weeks back a friend of mine (there's an awful picture of me somewhere on that site) came into town for SXSW. I wasn't particularly interested in going downtown, but I hadn't seen him in at least a year, so I was glad to be able to meet up with him. During the course of a rather amusing evening, bouncing from one emo concert to the next, he introduced me to one of his friends named Steve. Steve is an impressive entrepreneur, who recently moved his latest company, Smiley Media, to Austin.
Later that week Steve and I had dinner and discussed business. Certain parts of the conversation felt like I was being interviewed, so I wasn't surprised at the end when he suggested that I come to work for him. At first I didn't seriously expect that I would take him up on his offer, but I was interested to listen anyway.
We had dinner again the next week and after digesting the idea a bit, I aired some of my concerns. I didn't want to become a slave to the machine and have to be there at 9am every morning. I didn't want to have to skip my trips to visit my family in the summer and winter, or have to give up my cruises. That isn't to say that I don't want to work hard - on my own projects I've worked basically 24 hours in a row before. Even today in the office I worked for at least 10 hours. I just don't want to have to deal with a rigid framework.
Also, I don't want to be limited by a salary. I've never had an income that wasn't directly and proportionally tied to my results. Time counts for something, but results are what ultimately matter. Also, I want to make a lot of money. My goal isn't to become upper class, it's to be mega rich and buy a submarine, laser guns, and have endangered animals as pets. The truth is that if I had a job that wouldn't make me rich, I'd just quit and start my own business again.
Steve listened to my concerns. I knew that I was bordering unreasonable, but that's what I needed to be excited about working at his company. If I wasn't excited about working there, I wouldn't consider hiring me to be a good decision no matter what the price.
He had all the right answers, though. He works from home and rarely comes in before noon. I can work whatever hours I want, from wherever I want, as long as things are getting done properly. Good. That's what matters.
What we ultimately decided on is that I would work for two months for a fixed salary. I don't understand enough about the company to reasonably negotiate a commission or percentage yet. I'm not getting paid enough to buy my pet panda bear, but it's enough for me to take the job seriously and to feel like spending the two months isn't wasted.
After two months we will negotiate longer term compensation that will include performance based pay as well as free laser guns if I hit certain goals (right, Steve?). At that point Steve will have a good idea of what I will bring to the company, and how well I can work with the other employees, and I'll have a good idea of what my role will be in the company and how well it's doing. Further down the line I will probably become involved with an even more exciting venture in a bigger way.
So, Jeffersons and Jacksons aside, how is it? It's pretty great, actually. Besides one guy who I plan on personally destroying, all of the other employees are really cool people. They all seem to like what they're doing, are good at it, and they work hard. At the same time, they're fun to have lunch with and joke around with as we pass in the hall. And actually there isn't one guy I want to destroy - I just wrote that to freak them out if they happen to read the site. They're all cool. Except Dan. Watch your back, buddy.
The office is downtown, directly over one of my favorite clubs from back when I was going out all the time. It's fun to be able to walk to different places to eat. Actually, it's just fun to walk outside. There's really no reason to do that up in my area - you drive everywhere. Also, it's cool having a parking spot downtown so I never have to deal with that hassle. Being downtown is a totally different experience than being in the suburbs of Austin. If I do keep working after two months, and I believe I will, I'm going to look into moving into a cool loft downtown.
I got a lot of choice over which area of the business I got to work on, and I was actually interested in all of the choices. I picked one, and after two days working I've already increased our profits by 15% or so. The truth is that the business is just so solid that even with inefficiencies it is very profitable, but I like optimizing things. I'm working with a guy named Beau who is really easy to get along with and work with and has some great ideas. Maybe it's just the novelty of having a job, but I actually look forward to going to work. Today I worked at home for a couple hours, then stayed at the office until everyone else was gone. If I wasn't waiting on things I probably would have stayed longer.
My plan is to work 7 days a week, since I'm used to doing that anyway, and work every night until I get bored. Then if I want to go on a trip, take a day off, or leave early, I will feel good about doing it. Plus a lot of times when I travel I have a few hours here and there with nothing to do, so I'll fire up the laptop. When there are rules I always try to bend them as much as possible, but when I'm trusted to do something, I usually go overboard in favor of the person trusting me.
Oh, and a funny little tidbit - I found the BEST DEAL EVER for cell service. I'm paying $27/mo for 500 anytime minutes, unlimited nights and weekend (starting at either 6pm or 7pm), free roaming on other networks, free high speed wireless internet, 500 text messages, and unlimited calls within the network. I evangelized the deal at work and I think at least 6 people have switched or are in the process of switching. I will try to post about it tomorrow so that all of you guys can get it too.
So, as I adjust to this new job I will probably not be able to post here as much. I will still try to get AT LEAST 3-5 good posts written per week, and once I get used to the new schedule, I will ramp it back up to the 7-10 it was in the days of yore. The good news is that I will probably have a lot of good fodder for stories. The next big one I have planned is the story of how I almost died exploring the longest cave in the US.
As far as I was concerned, she was perfect. She was at least as smart as I was, was a dancer and had the body to prove it, and had a smile that could disarm the national guard. Let's call her Julie.
So, like an earthworm stalking it's prey, I put my usual game on her. Since my last flowchart was so popular, I've made another one to show you how I dealt with the ladies back then:
Nedless to say, things went slowly. We hung out nearly every day for the last couple months of our Senior year summer vacation. Like many guys, I was totally oblivious to her attraction for me. One morning Julie came over really early while I was still sleeping, and squeezed into my twin bed with me. I woke up, and assumed that she must be tired - it didn't even occur to me that she might like me. Finally on the last week of that vacation she said to me,
Fresh out of Stanford Business School, I started a software company, T/Maker, with my brother Peter. He was the software architect and I was, well, everything else. Our little company was among the first to ship software for the Macintosh, and we developed a positive reputation among the members of the nascent developer community, which led us to expanding our business by publishing software for other independent developers. Two of our developers, Randy Adams and William Parkhurst, went to work for Steve Jobs at his new company, NeXT, and that’s how I ended up head to head with Steve Jobs.
Turns out, Steve had a problem and Randy and William thought I could be the solution. Steve had done an “acquihire” of the developers who had written the Mac word processor MacAuthor. In order to make the deal economics work, Steve had promised to publish MacAuthor and pay royalties to the developers. But now, with the world’s attention on his new startup, how would it look to have NeXT’s first product be a word processor for the Mac? Randy and William suggested to Steve that if I were to be the publisher, the problem would be solved. Steve liked the idea, and invited me in to talk about it.
My first meeting with Steve lasted well over an hour. He grilled me about packaging, channels, distribution, product positioning and the like. I must have passed the test, as he invited me back to negotiate a publishing deal. I spent the next three weeks preparing detailed timelines, package mockups and drafting a very specific contract based on our experience with the other developers we had already published.
On the appointed day, after waiting in the lobby for 45 minutes (this, I would come to learn, was par for the course for meetings with Steve), I was called up to Steve’s cubicle. I remember to this day how completely nervous I felt. But I had my contract in hand and I knew my numbers cold.
Shortly into my pitch, Steve took the contract from me and scanned down to the key term, the royalty rate. I had pitched 15%, our standard. Steve pointed at it and said,