I recently wrote an blog post about my career progression. I’ve done ok!
[This concludes our previous broadcast]
So that covers my LinkedIn page (https://www.linkedin.com/in/joeydean/). Those are the jobs and careers that I talk about (people only talk about their successes…right?!?). But remember when I said I was side-gigging since those high school car washing days? There have been others along the way. What about my failures?!?! Most businesses end up in failure. For me there are plenty:
BudgetForLife (RIP 2008) – I always wanted to be a financial planner. While on vacation in the Summer of 2005 I had the thought…why not build financial planning software on the internet? A programmer I had enjoyed working with at Investment Scorecard would build the system and I’d design it and test it. Mark and I worked on it at night while keeping our day jobs. We built a pretty neat (but much overly complex) system. That’s what we were good at, building complex systems! What we were not good at was selling/marketing those systems. We got our first user in mid-2007. After about a year of banging our heads against a wall, we learned 1) a lot more than we already knew about building software, 2) that we were really good at that (and not really good at other stuff), and 3) that nobody wanted what we were building. Queue the 2008 financial crisis!
Dave (RIP 2010) – In the very late stages of BudgetForLife I met an investment advisor in Franklin named Dave. He initially met with me to talk about our BudgetForLife financial planning tool. We quickly became sidetracked and started talking investing. Dave and I had a lot in common and we built out a toolset to value stocks based on the principles of value investing. We’d pick stocks that he was interested in holding in his client’s portfolios and we’d analyze them. It was the first time I’d pulled together everything I’d learn about investing from all the books I’d read over the years (including my finance degree). The more we built and the more discussions we had the more I learned. It was the first time in my own life that I had any money to invest to speak of (after the sale of Investment Scorecard). We worked together for about 2 ½ years several times a week. We managed stock portfolios through the financial crisis (and after it). I learned a great deal about stock investing during this time. One thing I learned (just like I learned about being a preacher) is that I didn’t want to manage other people’s money for a living. We were making plans to join up full time when Aid & Assist came along and required my full attention.
Miss Emily’s Hot Breast (RIP 2010) – After eating Nashville Hot Chicken with some friends somewhere in 2008 (back before Nashville Hot Chicken was a thing) I had my greatest idea ever! Hot chicken was good but the restaurants were run horribly and took forever. I’d open a food truck and we’d whip out great hot chicken quickly! Not hot chicken…hot chicken breasts! My wife’s hot chicken breasts. My wife’s hot breast! Miss Emily’s hot breast! See what I’m doing?!?! It would have been brilliant! I didn’t want to work in a restaurant (still don’t) so I never actually started this. We did have some good laughs brainstorming it. Now there is a hot chicken restaurant on every corner of NashVegas! I know this could have been a success. I know that my wife’s hot breast would have been popular! What?!?!
Amateur Contractor (RIP 2010) – We moved into our home on Wayland Drive in 2001. It was a Cape Cod Ranch from the mid-50s. It was a great home, on a large lot, in a nice area. We remodeled a lot of the upstairs as soon as we moved in. In early 2006 I decided it was time to finish the unfinished basement! Problem #1 – Money, we needed a lot of it. Problem #2 – Money, we didn’t have a lot of it laying around. What’s so hard?!?! I’ll just do it myself. I had never done construction before. I had never even bought a 2×4 from the local Home Depot before. Whatever! I ordered a dumpster and began ripping stuff out! The basement took a few years to finish for a few reasons: 1) I had no clue what I was doing, 2) a little thing called the 2008 financial crisis (which involved a housing crisis), and 3) four active children and a demanding career don’t leave a lot of time for amateur contracting. Regardless, I eventually did finish the basement and it served us well. Then we sold the house and a guy on a bulldozer rolled over the top of it all. Oh well, it wasn’t that nice anyway and I learned a ton in the process!
FantasyRacingCentral (RIP 2011) – Post BudgetForLife Mark and I developed a thesis: People just want to goof off on the internet (they definitely didn’t want to financial plan). I played fantasy football and fantasy NASCAR (but didn’t like the available sites). Mark convinced me that we could/should build a better one. So, we did. We had learned a lot of lessons in our prior venture and we moved much more quickly this time. I had almost been laid off from the little company that I had helped start that had been absorbed by the giant corporate behemoth from England during the financial crisis. I had a renewed vigor to leave that place…somehow. We started building in late December 2008 and had a system online by mid-February just in time for race season. We’d run all three NASCAR Series, F1, and NHRA Drag Racing fantasy games. We ran the site for a few years. At the end of the 2011 race season, we shut the site down. The only business model we could come up with to continue to grow it and monetize the business was illegal in most states. Since neither Mark nor I wanted to live out our days in prison we opted to fold up. Later a slew of companies came along and were successful by breaking the law…initially…then getting the laws changed so they wouldn’t be breaking it any longer. Why didn’t we try this?!?! Again, we learned that we were great at building and not great at other things. That said, it is a valuable lesson to know what you are good at.
Herder Health Services (RIP 2014) – By 2012 I had moved on to the homecare world. The billing/collection processes at our company was a mess. Our company was not the only company having problems. We were just the biggest company in the state so our problem was the biggest. We built a tool in house that allowed us to find missing/incorrect/uncollected billed items and track them to completion. It transformed our business completely. We decided that it would be a good idea to sell this system/service to our competitors. Well, it turns out we were the biggest for a reason. No one else seemed to mind that they were not billing/collecting all the revenue they could. Company after company told us they didn’t want a system that would pay for itself with ease. “We’ll be fine if we don’t bill/collect all the service we provide…we still make pretty good money”. Huh?!?! No wonder we were kicking everybody’s behinds. In 2014 before we sold the original home care company, we paid ourselves back the investment we put in and shut it down. This was the third time I’d built a really awesome system that no one really wanted. I was beginning to develop a complex! Ha! Once again, however, I learned a ton doing it.
Clash of Clans – Clan Wars (RIP ???) – Okay…so this is not a business. But…it kind of is?!? Let me explain. 1) Download a game off the app store in 2013 (that mostly only kids play). 2) Play the game to become a beast at it. Become leader of your clan. A clan is a group of up to 50 random people off the internet (many will come…many will go…constantly). 3) When Clan Wars begins in 2014 put your clan in a war against another clan. 4) Win a ton of wars until you are in the top ½% of all clans on earth. 5) Manage entire clan and leadership structure through a chat window. Not as easy as it sounds! I promise! It is now 2019 and we are approaching 600 war wins. We are no longer as competitive as we once were but we survive. I’ve made good friends. Many of my clan friends I’ve never even met in real life (but wouldn’t mind doing so). I’ve also learned all kinds of weird leadership experience/intuition kind of stuff that oddly translate easily into my daily work life. Great game, great fun, and strange practical management experience?!?! It sounds a lot like work to me!
HogRock (RIP ???) – In 2014 I began helping with the “family business”. My father-in-law runs a bike rally twice each year at his farm in Southern Illinois. I help run the front gate and am known by most there as Jake (from State Farm) because I show up to the biker rally wearing khakis (my standard uniform). The working year is short (measured in days) but the working hours during those days are long. The people I work with are fun to work with and the things I see often provide stories for weeks to come. So twice a year I take a vacation from my real job to go on ‘vacation’ and work at HogRock!
MyMoneyTrainer (RIP 2019) – As we were starting Bluebird Homecare, I wanted to learn more about marketing/sales. We were working with a marketing company but I wanted to learn more about what they were doing (and not doing). I decided to invest some time into learning more about this area where I really had no experience at all (social media, advertising, marketing materials, branding, messaging, etc.). I don’t learn by reading a book or taking a class. I learn by doing so I needed a company to start to do my learning. I decided to break out my old financial planning company and update it. I needed to update my financial plan anyway so I rebuilt the software well enough to be able to use it myself. I built a website and spun up all my social media stuff and started “marketing”. I’ve learned about blogging, vlogging, organic search, paid search, keywords, etc., etc., etc. I’ve not gotten a lot of traction from the financial planning business standpoint but I have learned what I set out to learn. I’ve learned some things that work, some that don’t, and ways to use different mediums to your advantage (and which ones are not worth the investment). I can also now talk shop with marketing and salespeople in the organizations where I work. I might pick this effort up again one day. As I said, I’ve always wanted to be a financial planner.
Deanco Investment Group (RIP ???) – While messing around on Twitter with MyMoneyTrainer I rediscovered Twitter and a great community called FinTwit. Preston also got interested in investing and wanted to learn about it. I warned him it was really hard, really time-consuming and almost always a losing game (very hard to beat the market). He was undeterred. So, in late 2017, I dusted off some of the stuff I had worked on with Dave back in 2008-10. I had left it right where it was after Dave and I had hit a particularly tough thing to incorporate (stock buybacks). I spent a few months rebuilding (and finishing) the toolset. I also built another new system to allow me to keep watch over the equity universe in a way that I felt was sustainable. I started using the tool in late October 2017. About a year later I decided that I was reading all these guys on Twitter talk about investing while I was doing a ton of work related to my own investing. I decided to start publishing some of my work on the MyMoneyTrainer blog (and Twitter handle) related to my investing. A couple of hundred people found my little anonymous account worth a follow. Since I’m shutting down MyMoneyTrainer I’m now going to move all this to my personal Twitter account. If you want to talk investing let’s do it on Twitter (or even…gasp…in person)!
If You Aren’t Failing You Aren’t Trying/Learning/Pushing/Growing
I’ve been a part of some successful startup businesses in my life. That said all of these ‘businesses’ (some even had a legal entity setup) have been classified as failures in one respect (the one that matters). They were fun however and the things I learned while working on them were worth more than a Master’s degree (actually several Master degrees). I also got to hang out with my buddies and do what we liked doing…building stuff! No harm, no foul. We all kept our great day jobs and our regular wonderful lives went on. These other “businesses” have each taught me valuable lessons and have been worth the time invested in each of them. I wouldn’t change a thing…well, maybe I’d make one or two wildly successful.
Regardless, I describe myself as The Wolf for your company. In the movie Pulp Fiction when the main characters got into a nasty mess, they called a guy called The Wolf. He came in and made all the problems go away. If I’m at work and that is what I’m working on I am a very happy camper.
I’ve also learned how important ‘work’ is in one’s life. People who hate their jobs are miserable. People who love what they do never work a day in their life. I am lucky to have been successful enough that I can be picky about where I work and who I work with. I take full advantage of this. I work on things that I think are important and worth the time I’m investing in them. My payback is either 1) a successful business, 2) financial reward, or 3) valuable knowledge/experience. I’m a heck of a lot smarter than I was when I started at Ace Hardware at 14 ½. I’ve been working for 31 years. 31 years I’ve traded for income and financial gain and new skills and knowledge. I don’t view any of this as a waste and for this, I’m blessed. I bet I’ll ‘work’ until the day I die. The way I define ‘work’ may change, however, as life goes on!