? Big life decision update. ?
After almost 8 years at Code School and Pluralsight, I’ve decided to part ways. It’s been one hell of a ride from a small group that could fit in a hot tub (or a ping pong room) to a 1,400 person publicly-traded company.
I honestly can’t put into words how amazing the experience has been. I’ve been fortunate enough to work on things I’m interested in with passionate, caring, growth-minded friends. The amount I’ve grown in this time has been character-defining for the type of person I want to be in this life.
Just look at these two heartfelt write-ups from the experience from earlier this year for what I mean:
- How I Ended Up (And Stayed) at Code School
- Twitter Thread Detailing Courses I’ve worked on over the last 8 years
There would be too many people to mention to list everyone who’s contributed to making this experience awesome. 8 years means a lot of people – many that have moved on to other amazing things, others I see every day.
I’ll still be around at my current job for another 2 weeks before my last day on December 14th. I’ve been working to transition my role to someone new with my manager for the last 3 months, so hopefully, everything can go smoothly.
I gave 3 months notice for leaving my position. I did this because I genuinely do like where I work, and want the best for my coworkers. It hasn’t all been public knowledge, so I haven’t shared it here (although I might’ve spilled the beans to a few people in person at FinCon).
When I made up my mind to leave, I spent a lot of time thinking about how to do it. Should I give 2 weeks notice? Should I try to get a severance or payout of some kind? What does the handoff look like for projects I’ve invested so much of myself in?
I read through all of Financial Samurai’s book, How to Engineer Your Layoff (although I didn’t add that one to my Goodreads list right away). It helped frame the conversation and open up some ideas on how to approach a job transition in a way that’s more win-win for both the employee and the employer. There were some tactics discussed there which might have made me more money, but at the cost of relationships.
To preempt the same few questions, here are some answers for you:
Why Are You Leaving?
There’s no “one thing”. People are great, the company is great, money is great. The biggest difference is I’ve struggled to wake up every morning feeling as excited as I used to be. I want to find something else where I can feel that way again. I don’t think I’ll ever find something quite the same, but I do want to try looking and see.
Over the last few years, I’ve been in a lot of roles. I was an engineer (full-stack web), Engineering Manager, Engineering Director, Course Author, Technical Director, Course Director, Product Director and a Product Manager. All of them were chosen out of necessity for what work needed to be done – and I’d happily fill the role to try something new. In that time I got a ton of exposure to many different areas of a growing business and learned what parts I enjoy the most.
The roles I enjoy the most are at the intersection of programming, content and product creation. I love doing all 3 of those. Having the ability to ping back and forth between them when I’m tired of one area and need a break helps them all stay fresh.
Working at a small company you wear a lot of hats. Working across all three of these areas isn’t uncommon – especially in the ed tech sector. The larger a company grows, the more narrow roles often become, with experts in each. Those like me who want to be deep in the creation have trouble – as we don’t scale as well. Ultimately this is good – as it means things will live on with the right people in the right roles. Unfortunately it means some people who eschew mastery are left looking for other challenges.
The Financial Side of Leaving
We’ll obviously have a big shift in cash flow thanks to this change. It’s going to be… difficult.. seeing my account balances go down rather than up as we draw from them.
Part of leaving on this schedule is due to the stock grants I have. With roughly $1 million in stock, there’s a question of what I do with it. It’s a high enough amount that just selling it outright doesn’t make sense for tax purposes. Holding onto it while continuing to be employed leaves me at the mercy of blackout dates for when I can buy or sell company stock too.
This put me in a bind. Either I could stay and only sell during active trading windows, or leave and have more options open to me. Being an employee also restricts some protective measures that aren’t available if you’re an employee of a public company (like protective puts).
All of this to say that by leaving now I might make more money than if I stay. Time will tell.
I’ll be writing much more about this in the coming weeks. Why not join my mailing list to be notified?
What will you be doing next?
I’m not leaving for another job – or looking for one. I’ve been extremely fortunate with finances (which I overshare here on my blog, so you might know already), and am in a position where I don’t need to work (maybe forever? Markets and time will tell on that). For now, I’m aiming to pursue other passions and see where they take me.
No, but what will you actually be doing?
Well, it’s December so that’s obvious:
- Finishing Red Dead Redemption 2
- Rewatching LotR
- Rewatch all of the HP movies
- Realizing skiing is really just a day of cardio in the cold
- Repeat in January
But really, I’m not sure long-term. I’ve been thinking a lot about what my perfect week would look like. This exercise helped highlight what I want to do and put them in very realistic terms. Time is finite – even if you’re not working. Even if there are a ton of things I want to do, it comes down to what do I want to do first. For me now, that includes some time unwinding, followed by time creating things.
I want to try growing Minafi into a business. I want to program more. I want to cook more. I want to hike more.
I’m hoping to slow down a little and be able to do this while also being present more and spending more time with friends. I want to play more board games.
One thing I do know is that I want to write more here on Minafi. I also want to explore more about how I can bring unique value to the investing space that only I can bring. In other words, how can I use my skill set and interest in programming, content, and product to create things that resonate and are memorable?
Minafi Must be Raking it in!
Believe it or not, most FIRE blogs don’t make money – Minafi included. I share how much money Minafi COSTS me each month on my income & expenses page if you’re curious. Right now it’s just an expensive hobby costing a few thousand a year (after hosting, services, travel, education and more).
There has not been a single month where Minafi has been in the black since starting it. Part of that is because I love trying new services, learning what works, and exploring ways to grow a site. All of those things cost money. I’d love to get to the point where income can fund experimentation, education and maybe some of my month-to-month personal spending.
I’ve loved working at a startup – solving problems fast that provide value to people, shipping and iterating. All through my 20s and 30s, I’d come home from work energized about what I was working on. More times than I can count I’d just keep programming once I got home, creating something I could be proud of.
I can’t wait to use that energy to continue creating here on Minafi!
One point to clarify here too: I’m not leaving to work on Minafi. I’m leaving to do many things – with this passion being one of them. I have a feeling some weeks it’ll be my primary focus, while in others I’ll dive deep into another side project or passion.
I have an addictive personality. When I get into something I can’t let it go right away. I see this as a good thing! Coupled with time I’m interested to see what happens.
Does this mean you’re FI or RE?!
Maybe? Yes? No? Let’s take this one term at a time.
Does this mean I’m financially independent?
Here’s how I define FI:
Financial Independence: The point in which you don’t need to make money for the rest of your life.My definition of FI
That seems black and white, but knowing you’re there is hard! Will your spending increase or decrease in the future? What about health concerns? Market returns? Family support? There are a million things that could go wrong that make it unrealistic (in my opinion) to ever confidently say you’re FI without a huge buffer or a solid cash flow.
I’d put my current financial situation as a solid in the maybe, but probably not column for this given our current and future spending.
- Mrs. Minafi is currently continuing to work, so yes.
- Given our yearly spending in 2018 (which may top $100k), absolutely not.
- If we reduce our spending to $80k next year then maybe.
- If we reduce our spending to $65k next year then probably.
- If Minafi actually makes money someday then yes.
- If Mrs. Minafi stops working then maybe.
We have somewhere around $2 million saved up now, but these last 2 years have been a killer on our budgets. Getting married, going on 2 honeymoons, fixing up and selling a house, moving across country and then traveling a bunch more apparently does that. I foresee (and hope!) that our expenses will level out and drop in 2019.
A big part of this is a major windfall recently that I’ll be writing more about in the coming weeks. For those following me on Twitter, it was also the day I lost my sunglasses.
If you were to ask how confident I am that I wouldn’t need to make money for the rest of my life, I’d say nearly 0% – as in I’m not confident in that at all. Sure, we might be sitting close to a 4% withdrawal rate on our savings based on our budget, but there are other things to take into account:
- Stock markets are at a relative high as measured by the Shiller CAPE ratio
- Our spending of $100k is too waaay high for our savings.
- It’s unknown how much we’ll lower our spending in 2019.
- I have some fo the worst timing in history.
As for timing, here’s what I mean:
Sure, my account value was that high, but I knew it was highly dependent on a very volatile company stock. Seeing my account value that high did get me to reflect more on what I want out of my career and my days. If anything that gave me more confidence to make life changes – even after the drop.
The same bad timing hit just as I decided for some reason to write about Bitcoin last year.
All this to say that I suck at timing things. It’s also the reason why I favor minimal investing over trying to time the market.
Does that mean you’re retired?
Everyone seems to have their own definition of what “retired” means. Here’s how I define it:
Retirement: The point at which the vast majority of your time is flexible and in your control.My definition of retirement
You can be retired but not be financially independent. Take this conversation from Office Space:
Peter Gibbons: I’d relax, sit on my ass all day, I would do nothing.Conversation from Office Space
Lawrence: Well you don’t need a million dollars, to do nothing, man. Just take a look at my cousin, he’s broke, don’t do shit.
My definition of retirement matches that. It’s a lack of obligations. It’s the availability to do things.
Everyone has their own definition. Here’s mine:
- If you volunteer at an animal shelter a few days a week are you still retired? Yes
- If you take a part-time job are you retired? No
- If you write on a blog occasionally, are you still retired? Yes (even if it makes money)
- If you’re working to turn a blog into a business, are you retired? No
My definition of retirement has a focus on intent. If you’re doing something for fun without a long-term commitment that sounds more like retirement to me. If you’re actively building something you’re not retired – you’re just living the dream of working on something you love!
And that’s where I (and many others in the FIRE community) fall right now. We’re working towards FI not to RE, but to create something new. I enjoy creating and investing a large amount of my time to build things. I can’t wait to have even more time to do it!
Where all of this goes long-term only time will tell.
What do you think of my plan for the future? Do you have a different definition of FI or RE?