Day 713: Falling off the wagon

Someone commented that 2 years is too long to plan quitting work. But I wanted to be realistic. Sure, I could quit in 1 year, a month, or even tomorrow. But wouldn’t it feel better to leave all your punk co-workers behind knowing you are off to  better, greener (and by greener, I mean green cash) pastures? Meanwhile, they are stuck in their usual routine.

Like this one guy at work today, I’ll call him Shits (because he hangs out with another jackass, who I call Giggles – therefore Shits & Giggles).  Shits is a totally nice guy, but he’s been at this company for over 10 years, nobody knows what he does, and if you need him to do something for you, it’s like pulling teeth (no, he’s not in IT).

Today I sent him an email asking for help on a project I’m working on. Then I forwarded the email to my buddy Sounding Board that said:

Hey man, I just sent Shits this email asking for help on something. I bet you a Starbucks that he:

a) Won’t answer my email for hours

b) Comes over here and does some stupid excuse so he doesn’t have to work.

Sure enough, Shits comes over 3 hours later and puts on some song and dance routine about how he’s unable to help. I look at him with disgust (I have no poker face) and tell him: “Well, I have no use for you then. Please move along.”

These are the type of sad, predictable, life-long 9-5 characters that make me want to leave this place so bad.

And on that note, I have to admit that nothing was accomplished today towards my “Escape from the Rat Race” plan. Too busy at work, played basketball afterwards, and now here I am. I almost didn’t post a blog again. I’m quickly falling off the wagon.

That’s why I’m proud to say that I’m taking Friday off to work on developing an idea. That’s how serious I am about not falling off track.

Because if something’s gonna happen, it has to happen now:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DjvVzKDzQ1w

Or else in 2 more years, I’ll end up just like Shits & Giggles.

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Day 715, 714: Working while working on your escape plan

I almost didn’t get a chance to write a blog today. It’s just been so busy at work. In fact, I’m writing this at 5:16pm at the office, saving it to a USB key, then posting this now at home…after I came home from at charity event, did the laundry, and finished an hour of P90X workouts (the Kenbo DVD is worthless) http://bit.ly/cTHf19

There simply isn’t enough time in the day to work on your side business. Ironically, my most productive hours working on my “Escape From Work Plan” is at work. The only problem is: your 9-5 office is not exactly the most ideal place for providing a creative and non-intrusive environment for developing your business…especially if you work in an open office.

For instance, the girl who sits in the desk behind me is one of those annoying co-workers that will look at your screen and comment about it. If I’m on facebook stalking an Ex’s Costa Rica vacation pics, she’ll say something like: “Oh, she’s beautiful. Is she your sister?”

Or, if I’m looking at pictures of Vietnam, she’ll look at my screen and say: “My father once owned an island in Vietnam…while he played soccer there.” Everyone in the office calls her Penelope, cause she’s exactly like the SNL character of the same name. http://bit.ly/2a7L3X

Then there’s my boss, Ann Coulter, who will interrupt my work flow every 10 minutes to make me do some work to make her look good.

It’s a wonder I get any professional work done, never mind gravy work. My buddy Sounding Board knows the deal. He’ll walk by my desk every now and then and ask: “Pro or Grav?” If I say Grav, he’ll say: “Oops. Sorry to interrupt dude.” If I say Pro, he’ll say: “Wanna go for a coffee break?”

Man, I can’t wait to quit work so I do start doing some real work. 714 days to go before that happens.

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Day 718, 717: Down time doesn’t mean shut down time

I was wondering if only business days should count as part of the 720 days to quit my job. And then I thought: Of course not! The clock shouldn’t stop clicking just because it’s the weekend.

I’m not suggesting that you hunch over a computer all weekend, plotting and scheming business plans while taking mini-Bejeweled breaks (http://bit.ly/arFRQW). However, even in your spare time, you should always look for opportunities that could benefit your future empire.

For instance, I thought this weekend was a write-off until I realized that I had actually engaged in some valuable networking.

Saturday: I was at a Police/BMO Capital Markets Bike Rodeo for little kids. It was a nice event, 80 bikes worth $400 each were given to little kids. And about 700 BMO Capital Markets execs were on hand, volunteering to put the bikes together. Normally, I’d just be content with helping at a charity event. But I figured: There’s no better time then now to start networking. Whenever I come up with my Big Idea, you never know who could help you.

So I got a chance to just chew the fat with BMO Capital Markets CEO, Tom Milroy (http://bit.ly/9Yl9kX). Good guy. Got some face time. And whatever I do next, if I ever need to call him about something, he can at least say: “Oh yeah, I remember you from…”

Later that evening, I was hosting my buddy’s bachelor party at a restaurant and I found one of the waitresses there to be quite attractive and well-spoken. She lamented about how she waitressing was just to pay for the bills, and she was actually into graphic design. I mentioned that I could be in need of a logo design in the near future for a business idea that I didn’t have. I got her number and if worst comes to worst, she can at least roll over in the morning and say: “Oh yeah, I remember you from…”

Sunday: I was at a multi-cultural gala event that featured over 400 of the city’s top ethnic business and community leaders…and no air conditioning. It was a real melting pot of cultures.

I don’t know why, but it didn’t take me tell near the end of the evening, when they were handing out awards, that I realized it would probably be a good idea to chat some of these people up.

I eventually introduced myself to Milind Shirke, president of Asian Access (www.asianaccess.ca). Shirke’s firm produces commercials, advertising, and marketing for major firms hoping to appeal to ethnic demographics. So if BMO wants to put together a marketing campaign that can best speak to the Chinese community, Asian Access can offer insight and production services. I’m certain Shirke is someone that will be valuable in my “720 Quest”.

The lesson learned this weekend? There’s no harm on making the extra effort to put yourself out there and network at social events during your down time. Talk is cheap, but it could result in you laughing all the way to the bank.

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Day 719: Turning Gravy into Steak

It’s easy to just say: “I want to quit working”. But then the reality of bills, mortgages, and food set in as soon as you say it. That’s why I’ve given myself 2 years, or 719 days now.

The clocks ticking and I need an idea.

I’ve had some ideas here and there that would produce some gravy, an extra $600 or so a month. But I want sustainable gravy. Better yet, I want to turn that gravy into steak and not even have to worry about a paycheck. The closest I’ve gotten to gravy so far has been to do some freelance writing and play the “Cash for Life” lottery every time I fill up gas.

If you ask people around your office what they’d do if they could just quit their job, a lot of them will tell you they’d write a book. Everyone’s a critic and everyone’s a wannabe writer…me included. One of my first hair-brained ideas to break out of this cubicled prison was to write a best-selling book. Thankfully, actual big-time best selling author Linwood Barclay (No Time for Goodbye and his latest: Never Look Away) (http://bit.ly/1P0cwM) wisely talked me out of that.

Here’s Barclay explaining the moment when he was comfortable enough to leave his 9 to 5 job at the Toronto Star (www.thestar.ca) to pursue greener pastures:

“It was a very hard decision for me to leave the paper, but I only did it once the books were doing very well. I wrote four novels while still doing my column, and had my books continued to sell as those did, I never would have quit the column. But No Time for Goodbye changed things rather dramatically, becoming a bestseller around the world. Good luck with your plan. I always found that it beat working,” says Barclay.

Two key points jumped out for me:

1)      Barclay only quit his job when he was absolutely certain he was a success.

2)      He worked on his gravy while still getting paid for steak.

Mmm…steak.

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Day 720: The first day towards the last day of my 9 to 5 life…hopefully.

I bet the iPod was conceived in a toilet.

Imagine Steve Jobs sitting there in an empty stall, with no noise or distractions to block his thoughts. And he’s thinking: “Man, there should be a better version of the MP3 player to take to the washroom, so I can listen to Coldplay while I do my thing…wait…how about the iPod…yeah boy…that’s the shit!” Plop. Flush.

Next thing you know, at the September 9, 2009 keynote presentation at the Apple Event, Phil Schiller announced total cumulative sales of iPods exceeded 220 million. (http://bit.ly/9xqFqi)

Sometimes our best ideas or life changing moments of revelation come when we’re sitting on the can. Mine came today while taking my regular 30-minute washroom break at work. I’m not unloading one, mind you, I just need to get away from the crap in the office, listen to my iPod and think.

And this is the vision that came to me as I sat there with my pants around my ankles, listening to a remix Biggie Small’s “Juicy” featuring Miley Cyrus (?!!): (http://bit.ly/98tMtD

–          I’m 33 years old

–          Working at a decent job at an investment firm

–          I’m never going to be rich working 9 to 5

 When am I going to stop dreaming about driving Tony Stark’s Audio R8 (http://bit.ly/bH43si) and start shopping for a R8?

 When am I going to finally get the chance to tell off my incompetent, Ann Coulter-look-a-like boss (http://bit.ly/kKQgL)?

 When can I leave this 9-5 rat race and do my own thing, waking up whenever I want and playing NBA 2K10 wherever I want (instead of in the washroom).

 My thoughts were rudely interrupted as my co-worker, Eagle, lumbered into the washroom (I could tell it was him because I could see his fat reflection on the marbled floors), sat himself down in the next stall and promptly let one rip. The smell of fermented mixed curry and seaweed knocked me to my senses.

–          I’m coming up with a business idea

–          I’m going to be my own boss

–          I’m quitting my job in two years (720 days), or get fired trying

 I’ve read business and development blogs from web superstars such as Steve Pavlina (http://bit.ly/ZKN9) so I figured it would be fun and cathartic to write about my prison break from the rat race. Hell, I’ll even take bets as to what day I’ll break out, if at all.

All I needed now was a great idea…to bad the iPod was already plopped out.

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