They handed me a pink envelope, which means it is time to raise a glass. I also suspect someone is popping champagne corks while others are at least hoisting a beer. It has been a good day, and feels like a prelude to more frequent and larger celebrations.
Let’s start with stocks. MicroVision announced a new $10M contract. That’s not enough for profitability, but it eases some of their money worries, which eases some of the shareholders’ investing anxieties. The $10M is a licensing contract with the usual waffle words that attempt to convey the significance of the situation without revealing the actual customer, product, or terms. But, at least this time there’s a specific number and a specific time: $10M in 2018. They followed that with the quarterly earnings report and conference call suggested better financial reports are coming. Good news now, better news later. Of course, long term MVIS shareholders have heard similar stories before, but the numbers continue to climb. They may not be rocketing upwards, but after years on the launch pad, it is nice to see evidence that the fire may finally be lit. That’s a beer celebration, not champagne.
That pink envelope has nothing to do with pink slips. At least in my real estate office (Coldwell Banker Tara Properties in Bayview – which I spell out as much for legal disclosure as well as marketing reasons) the pink envelope delivers the news that a deal was closed and the money distributed. It’s my first, and is likely to be quickly followed by others that are larger. (Some are already in work as Whidbey’s market gets busy. Give me a call if you want or need some help with such things.) The first deal is definitely welcome and well-timed. It arrived on my six-month anniversary of receiving my license. That means I’m also a quarter of the way through my critical first two years. One friend found a good way to give it perspective. He didn’t want to know the specifics, but he wanted to know if this first check paid for the expenses it took to get here. Yep. So, another beer celebration. But not much more, hence the beer and not the champagne. With my engineering background and familiarity with the island, I’ve been able to parse the data to understand how well things could be. At this point, encouraging – especially thanks to the other brokers who have supported me (as they were supported when they started) and the realization that having left and right brain skills is handy in real estate.
Those champagne corks should be popping for several of my project management clients. These folks are artists working on projects that are nearing completion. For the last month or three I’ve been busier with clients than in a long time. The fun part is that five of them are working on self-publishing books, all of which are either available or about to be available. Some are working incognito, so I won’t get into details about their works but the projects include a cookbook, book of poetry, inspirational/environmental/spiritual novella, a parenting guide, and a novel of ancient Greece set in the homes and the battlefields. I congratulate any writer who writes. Any writer who completes their manuscript has cleared a higher hurdle, and deserves recognition. Those writers who become authors take the largest step from the solitary, introspective work of writing to the gregarious, extroverted activity that is publishing, marketing, and selling a book. Even if the books aren’t profitable, pop those corks. If the books are profitable, pop another one or two – then get back to writing to meet that demand. (By the way, we’re conducting a workshop for those writers who want to become authors by self-publishing. Whidbey is a great escape for writers. The community is supportive, and not surprised to see someone scribbling notes on paper or typing at a laptop almost anywhere. Whidbey also has enough distractions for the partners of writers. Partners may love the writer but would rather spend their time doing something else. Whidbey may provide. One of my other blogs, AboutWhidbey.com is a place to start.)
This November will be the tenth anniversary of the book that inspired this blog, Dream. Invest. Live. The unofficial subtitle is “personal finance for frugal folk”. Books are static. Personal finance is and isn’t. Some aspects of personal finance persist: “Spend less than you make. Invest the rest.” Some aspects of personal finance change every day: stock prices, housing prices, income, expenses, interest rates, etc. The book covers the persistent bits. The blog gets to cover the rest, or at least the rest that I decide to write about. Regular readers know that the dynamic aspects of my personal finances were swung far off-center by (as several finance professionals have commented) a perfect storm of bad luck. In America we generally ignore the role of luck, but I no longer do. The last ten years have been a roller coaster ride through America’s wealth classes that inspired me to pursue whatever opportunity I thought could help me recover. Today feels like a major milestone in that effort.
There’s a 10,000 Hour Rule, which isn’t really a rule, but an interesting guideline. Check out the book, Outliers, for a better description. The short version is that a study about success discerned a pattern. People frequently succeed after they’ve devoted 10,000 hours to their effort. It may be 10,000 hours crammed into the fewest years possible (see Bill Gates’ childhood), or stretched out over decades (see late-bloomers and overnight successes that took years to get there. MVIS eventually?) Take that 10,000 rule and apply it to people who work several jobs without taking days off and become part of a great debate about whether 2,000 hours spent on 5 jobs is just as good as 10,000 hours spent on one project. There are no guarantees, and luck does play a role, but considering the number of overworked Americans, I wonder if we’re going to use them up, or if they are about to ignite a necessary renaissance.
A few of my friends have suggested that my workload, typical 4-7 job active schedule, and over 2,000,000 publicly available words might just mean I will finally succeed in many ways at the same time. They wonder if I will swing from trying to find something that will sustain my frugal lifestyle by saying “yes” to almost anything, then swing to having to say “no” to too many opportunities. Check back to find out. I certainly don’t know.
I do know that, the more today’s style of celebration is repeated and escalated, the more likely I’ll get around to using this blog to create the sequel to Dream. Invest. Live. From Middle Class to Millionaire to Muddling By is the working title for what will probably be a book about that roller coaster ride that is as much about emotion and community as it is about logic and conventional wisdom. With days like this it is easy to imagine stocks, houses, and books all contributing to doing more than simply sustaining my simple lifestyle.
Until then, it is time to consider making my celebration just a little bit bigger. It has been years since I’ve had a party at my house: good people, good conversations, and usually eventually good dancing. Stay tuned.