It’ll be two years this spring since I last worked in an office. There’s been some good times with 23 weeks worth of travel and some down times with periods of boredom. But if boredom is the worst of it, then time away from work isn’t so bad. I was able to write a book, spend lots more time with family, get SCUBA certified, and work on my online business to name a few things. It felt wonderful not having to answer to anybody.
But over the past six months I’ve been feeling this void, partially because I’ve got my online work routine efficiently locked down to under four hours a day. The Financial Samurai post queue is over 30 posts deep and there’s no longer a sense of urgency to keep up with an intense writing schedule. Furthermore, going from physically interacting with at least 30 people a day at my old job to only speaking with a couple of folks to nobody a day is a let down that takes time getting used to.
With “Filling The Void In Early Retirement With Part-Time Work,” I hinted at my desire to take on a new challenge, especially since I don’t expect my online business to grow much this year due to a normalization in search traffic. It’s shown promise this January so far, but trees don’t grow to the sky forever. The three year revenue target was reached after a couple years and once again I find myself twiddling my thumbs, wondering if I peaked too early with my endeavors. Maybe I just didn’t set high enough goals. As I’ve said before, the journey is almost always more rewarding than the destination.
THE DECISION TO GO BACK TO WORK PART-TIME
There’s no way I would take any job just to fill the spare 25 hours a week of time I currently have. That would be completely counter productive to the purpose of financial freedom. The job would need to fill most or all of the following criteria:
* A startup in the tech, internet, finance, or social media space.
* A role that utilizes my skills in finance and online media.
* A startup that shows tremendous promise for growth.
* A startup located in San Francisco for easier commuting.
* A startup with enthusiastic and smart people.
* A startup where I can add value.
* A startup that will allow for flexible hours at a competitive salary.
Now that I list out all my criteria, I must say that finding such a company to work for looks very difficult. The main hurdle is probably allowing someone to work part-time when it’s always pedal to the metal in the startup world. Fortunately I found a role which fits perfectly.
MY NEW PART-TIME CONSULTING ROLE
I recently joined Personal Capital, a 3.5 year old financial tech startup leveraging the internet to bring wealth advisory to those with over $100,000 in investable assets instead of just those with millions of dollars. My role is to help build their online content and brand awareness.
I’ve been using their free financial tools since 2012 and have met many of their employees before as part of my due diligence process. Joseph Fahr, Director of Marketing Analytics and fellow Cal alumn was one of those employees I developed a good relationship with. He referred me as a potential candidate when the content manager role opened up. Thanks Joe! The contract is for about 25 hours a week, two to three days in the office, for three months with an option to renew and renegotiate if both sides see fit at the end.
As a reader of Financial Samurai, I think you would agree that having a blog is a great way to build a community, grow a brand, learn from each other, and broaden our perspectives. I’m tasked to organically grow Daily Capital, Personal Capital’s blog by managing the editorial calendar, work with a team of writers to produce new content, write the occasional post, collaborate with other departments to market their work, and engage Personal Capital’s ~450,000 users. Hopefully some of the 450,000 subscribers are some of you.
I don’t think I could have found a more perfect role due to my experience building Financial Samurai since 2009, my background working in finance since 1999, and my role as a Personal Capital user and partner since 2012. Talk about congruency. My role at Personal Capital is very similar to my role at Financial Samurai. The only difference is I’ve now got cool people to interact with, an enormous subscriber base to engage, and a marketing budget larger than the ten bucks in my wallet!
As I wrote in my Personal Capital review after sitting down with CEO Bill Harris for 1.5 hours, I think the business model of leveraging technology to gather and manage assets is a no brainer. They currently manage around $350 million with AUM estimated to reach $1 billion by early 2015. I want to be a part of no brainers.
I’m certain I can help grow Daily Capital with unique content and widen the Personal Capital brand online. The big question is in regards to time. Things take time to percolate online, but I believe through consistent publication of value-added content, the internet will eventually take notice of Daily Capital through social media and organic search. Daily Capital will be a great showcase and platform for existing and new clientele.
Finally, I’m excited about this opportunity because I’m working with a company whose product can positively make a difference in people’s lives. Helping fund managers and their shareholders make money on Wall St. is OK. But Personal Capital goes directly to the end user and empowers individuals to manage their own finances with technology. It’s the old “teach a man how to fish” approach where a more knowledgeable investor is a better investor. If further advice is needed, a user can have their money professionally managed by one of the advisors.
WHAT MY ROLE MEANS FOR YOU
As for where I can add value to readers with my new role, I see three main areas:
1) I’ll integrate some relevant Daily Capital posts in my writing that add value to the subject. We’ve got a great team of writers with PhDs, MBAs, and relevant financial experience to share their insights. It’ll be up to me and the team to make sure the content is both professional and entertaining since we all know how dry personal finance subjects can get.
2) I’ll keep you updated with new value-added Personal Capital features to help existing users better manage their wealth. I speak with the CEO and Chief Product Officer on a weekly basis so I should have good real-time insights for users of Personal Capital’s software.
3) I’ll share interesting insights into startup life. I’ve gone from a very structured workplace dynamic to extreme freedom with entrepreneurship. My new role should land somewhere in the middle. I think you’ll enjoy following along the journey, especially if you’re considering working for a startup as well.
Some questions on the top of my mind include:
Is working at a startup all it’s cracked up to be? – There’s been a huge shift in college and MBA graduates moving away from traditional industries such as consulting and banking towards internet startups. I’d like to discover firsthand why this is given most graduates will likely get wealthier going the traditional route.
Why do people move around so much in startup land? – The average startup employment duration is around 2.5 years, which is foreign to me since I worked at my last job for 11 years in a row. If you just stayed at Google for the past 10 years you’d be incredibly well-to-do. I’m not sure whether the hopping around is a function of more opportunities, a younger demographic, or startup culture in general. I’m loyal to a fault and am looking to gain new perspective.
Is part-time work feasible to maintain? – Startup culture is very focused on growth. As a result, there is an endless amount of work to do. Given I tend to be a workaholic when there is a goal at hand, I’m not sure whether I’ll be able to stay within the original agreement of roughly three days a week for 25 hours.
Will anybody take my advice if I’m just part-time? – Sometimes it’s hard to change the status quo because of corporate inertia. Consultants are often brought in to shake things up to make things work better. As a result, consultants are often looked upon with a weary eye because who really wants to take the time to do something differently? It’s up to me as the new kid in school not to step on anyone’s toes, take a balanced approach, offer suggestions, and be an overall good team player.
It’s important I write my posts from experience and not from pontification. Such experience will provide another unique perspective for Financial Samurai readers. Who else out there has the relevant experience and is willing to candidly document such an adventure? I’m excited to beef up my Career & Employment category this year.
I’ll continue to post at least three times a week on Financial Samurai despite my added duties. Don’t worry about my productivity slipping here given my existing free time. Financial Samurai and the Yakezie Network are my babies that I’ll never abandon. But I think my babies have grown up to be relatively self-sufficient teenagers now.
I’d appreciate if everybody can go visit Daily Capital to lend some support to my new endeavor. I promise there will be some insightful content that seeks to educate and entertain. If you have any suggestions for areas of improvement, no matter how small, I’d love to hear them!
Any retirees or entrepreneurs out there go back to work part-time to fill their spare time? What did you learn from the experience? What didn’t you like from the experience? What did you do with the extra money you earned? Would you ever consider going back to work full-time if you really enjoyed your work or do you enjoy your freedom too much?