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Got my backpacking permit!

I'm going to overnight at Lake Stuart in the Enchantments in October. All the Colchuck permits were gone, and I see trip reports on WTA.org that say Stuart's also very beautiful, plus probably a little easier (slightly less elevation gain). And I found an article about the larches turning color in the Enchantments in October. I'm going to do some day-hiking with increasing weight in my backpack, and I'm doing some kettlebell workouts to build general strength. But I think that since plenty of people seem to do Lake Stuart as a day hike, I should be able to manage it in two days without too much trouble. I'm signed up for an REI class on backpacking basics for women in a couple weeks. I'm looking forward to it!


Gold rush data mining

Since I now have a 2+ hour commute, I've been listening to podcasts on business, especially bootstrapping an online business. I've been noticing some themes.

The first one is Who You Know:

  • Patrick McKenzie was a technical translator and then a developer; he got his first two business ideas from a mailing list he was on (teachers asking for software to make bingo cards) and his masseuse (she had a problem with no-shows).

  • Keith Perhac was a developer/designer/marketer at an advertising startup, and then with Patrick McKenzie's help he started contracting for Ramit Sethi doing split-testing and analytics. From there he started consulting (for multiple clients) doing UX/UI design, ad copy, optimizing sales funnels. And now he has a SaaS product, Summit Evergreen, which allows people to create online courses. (Mixergy interview) This one's Who You Know, with a bit of Sell Pickaxes in a Gold Rush.

  • This guy, whose blog post I randomly found, got a $5,000 consulting gig in a week by using his mom's network and knowledge in the insurance business.

The second category is Teach What You Know:

  • Amy Hoy's teaches classes on JavaScript (having been a developer for years) and how to start a product business (having run a couple of product businesses, the main one being a time-tracking SaaS, Freckle). (Mixergy interview)

  • Brennan Dunn was a developer, then a consultant, and now he has a project-management SaaS and teaches freelancers how to position themselves as high-priced consultants. (Blog post)

  • Nathan Barry was a UX designer who did some consulting and now sells a couple of ebooks about how to design software. (Blog post on Gumroad)

  • Ramit Sethi started trying to teach his college friends about personal finance, then created a blog, and then a series of online classes and a membership site (with the focus on professional/entrepreneurial success).

Then there's the combination of Who You Know and Teach What You Know:

  • Pat Flynn, of the Smart Passive Income podcast, lost his job as an architect and created an ebook on passing the LEED exam. Somewhat later, he created a niche site on security guard training because his mother is a security guard. (Forbes article)

  • Dane Maxwell got his first business idea from his uncle, who was in real estate. The uncle also agreed to finance the development of the SaaS product in exchange for getting a lifetime free account. Maxwell went on to start half a dozen SaaS products, I think all in real estate. Now he sells online training in how to start SaaS companies.

Last, we have the Flipper:

  • Rob Walling built his first SaaS himself (feedshot.com), then he switched to buying online businesses: ChitChat.net, floggs.com, and .NET Invoice. The last one turned out to be buggy as hell but he was able to fix it and raise the price. Sometime after that he started a drop-shipping business for beach towels. Then he bought another business, CMSthemer.com, and outsourced the development. He sold each one of those. Sometime after that, he wrote a book, started his online training/membership site (Micropreneur Academy), and started a conference for bootstrappers (Microconf). He continues to buy online businesses like ApprenticeLinemanTraining.com and HitTail. (Mixergy interview)

Weird news day

Yesterday, we had the Chinese stock market crashing, the continuing Greek debt crisis, NYSE going down, United having to ground planes, a local power outage (power was off in our office from 2 p.m. until we gave up and left)... it all felt a bit weird. Here's hoping today is more normal.

Survey question

What do you do to keep your financial information safe, and why?

Examples: never pay with physical checks because bank account number is in plaintext, not use online banking because of fear of hacking, shred all financial statements because of dumpster-divers, etc.

Possibly the best conversation with K. so far

K.: I like all the fairies. I like Rosetta because she can make flowers open. Can she do that for reals?
Me: Well, she does it in the stories and the movies.
K.: Uh-huh.
Me: If you see something in a story or movie, does that mean it's for reals?
K.: No.

I can't tell you all how happy it makes me to see my kid engaging in critical thinking. I feel like often we parents don't discuss TV and movies with their kids enough -- it's sometimes shocking what they think is real or what they don't understand. Anyway, this conversation with K. came after The Man showed them scenes from John Carpenter's "The Thing" in slow-mo and explained how effects were done. "Okay, now they just replaced Blair with another guy wearing a Blair mask. And the other guy has no arms, so they put some fake arms on him..."

Question for my outdoorsy friends

This year, I wanted to hike a leg of the Wonderland trail to celebrate turning 40. Then I got a 9-to-5 job, and have been spending time working and commuting instead of training. I'd still like to do a hike in September for my birthday; I'm thinking of scaling back to an easy weekend backpacking trip, and then take a day off work to rest my feet. :) Can anyone recommend a good hike at that difficulty level, where I still stand a chance of getting a campsite permit?


Freelancing links

Recently a friend posted a freelancing question on Google+, and I realized, hey, I did that from late 2011 to late 2014. I wasn't terribly serious about it -- if I'd pursued it hard I probably could have made a lot more money -- but then, it turns out I actually loathe working solo. (If I have to freelance again, I'll need to budget $250-500/mo for a desk at a coworking space.)

Anyway, I found these resources had concrete how-to info about freelancing:

  • Ramit Sethi's website has a lot of info on getting started with freelancing. I've never purchased the Earn1K product; being a cheapass, instead I read all of Sethi's free material (some publically available on the website and some from his mailing list) and then bought his CreativeLive class on money for creative professionals, while it was airing. (The course used to rerun on CL pretty frequently; if you buy it while it's airing, it's cheaper by I think $100.)

  • CreativeLive's raison d'être is creative professionals who are often freelancers such as photographers and graphic artists; so if you're in that niche, it's a good site to hit. You can watch the live streaming classes without paying a dollar, and if you see something that seems worth a couple hundred dollars, then you can buy.

  • Patrick McKenzie has stopped consulting (aka freelancing), but he used to do it quite a bit; an old newsletter talks about some key lessons from consulting, as do some early podcasts (Getting Your First Consulting Client, Charging More, and Growing Your Consulting Practice). McKenzie is a developer, but he and his co-hosts talk about lessons that are broadly applicable to all freelancers/consultants.

Fixing the pipeline problem

Interesting trend in software: screening candidates by skill rather than keywords on a resume or ability to BS.

DevDraft: one-day programming challenge events, described on their "about" page as "Many talented people are being overlooked, and many just need a little push to get connected with the right opportunities. This is why we built DevDraft, a platform that organically identifies talent, regardless of their past history."

Starfighter: a company to publish games that will teach and evaluate coding skills, described by @patio11 as "The technology industry structurally excludes many qualified candidates from their hiring funnels and then is shocked when those hiring funnels disproportionately select for candidates who are not structurally excluded. Traditional tech interviews are terrible ways to identify, qualify, and evaluate top programming talent. Filtering by education level or university is unreliable. Keyword searches are applied by people who don’t understand the underlying technology. The tech industry excludes perfectly viable candidates for no reason at all."


I meant to say in the TV post that I am also enjoying Rob Thomas' foray into the world of a smart, sassy, petite blonde who solves crimes with an African-American male partner when she's not musing about the abrupt loss of her high-status life. With voiceovers.

However, Deadboy and the Elephantmen's "Stop, I'm Already Dead" is not as catchy as the Dandy Warhols' "We Used to Be Friends".