So This is What a Real Job is Like

From my high horse of self employment, I have stepped into the mud to play with the employed commonfolk. I mentioned a couple times earlier that I was considering getting a real job, but I didn’t want to get into details until it actually happened.

It happened.

Quitting gambling came abruptly, so I didn’t have a solid backup plan in place. There’s the ebook I wrote and this blog, but neither makes close to enough to constitute a living. For a few months I wandered, considering different options, but didn’t find anything I love.

Actually, I take that back. I am working on a TV show that I am extremely excited about (casting soon!), but it’s not likely to put any Jeffersons in my pocket for months if not years. And a boy’s gotta eat.

A few weeks back a friend of mine (there’s an awful picture of me somewhere on that site) came into town for SXSW. I wasn’t particularly interested in going downtown, but I hadn’t seen him in at least a year, so I was glad to be able to meet up with him. During the course of a rather amusing evening, bouncing from one emo concert to the next, he introduced me to one of his friends named Steve. Steve is an impressive entrepreneur, who recently moved his latest company, Smiley Media, to Austin.

Later that week Steve and I had dinner and discussed business. Certain parts of the conversation felt like I was being interviewed, so I wasn’t surprised at the end when he suggested that I come to work for him. At first I didn’t seriously expect that I would take him up on his offer, but I was interested to listen anyway.

We had dinner again the next week and after digesting the idea a bit, I aired some of my concerns. I didn’t want to become a slave to the machine and have to be there at 9am every morning. I didn’t want to have to skip my trips to visit my family in the summer and winter, or have to give up my cruises. That isn’t to say that I don’t want to work hard – on my own projects I’ve worked basically 24 hours in a row before. Even today in the office I worked for at least 10 hours. I just don’t want to have to deal with a rigid framework.

Also, I don’t want to be limited by a salary. I’ve never had an income that wasn’t directly and proportionally tied to my results. Time counts for something, but results are what ultimately matter. Also, I want to make a lot of money. My goal isn’t to become upper class, it’s to be mega rich and buy a submarine, laser guns, and have endangered animals as pets. The truth is that if I had a job that wouldn’t make me rich, I’d just quit and start my own business again.

Steve listened to my concerns. I knew that I was bordering unreasonable, but that’s what I needed to be excited about working at his company. If I wasn’t excited about working there, I wouldn’t consider hiring me to be a good decision no matter what the price.

He had all the right answers, though. He works from home and rarely comes in before noon. I can work whatever hours I want, from wherever I want, as long as things are getting done properly. Good. That’s what matters.

What we ultimately decided on is that I would work for two months for a fixed salary. I don’t understand enough about the company to reasonably negotiate a commission or percentage yet. I’m not getting paid enough to buy my pet panda bear, but it’s enough for me to take the job seriously and to feel like spending the two months isn’t wasted.

After two months we will negotiate longer term compensation that will include performance based pay as well as free laser guns if I hit certain goals (right, Steve?). At that point Steve will have a good idea of what I will bring to the company, and how well I can work with the other employees, and I’ll have a good idea of what my role will be in the company and how well it’s doing. Further down the line I will probably become involved with an even more exciting venture in a bigger way.

So, Jeffersons and Jacksons aside, how is it? It’s pretty great, actually. Besides one guy who I plan on personally destroying, all of the other employees are really cool people. They all seem to like what they’re doing, are good at it, and they work hard. At the same time, they’re fun to have lunch with and joke around with as we pass in the hall. And actually there isn’t one guy I want to destroy – I just wrote that to freak them out if they happen to read the site. They’re all cool. Except Dan. Watch your back, buddy.

The office is downtown, directly over one of my favorite clubs from back when I was going out all the time. It’s fun to be able to walk to different places to eat. Actually, it’s just fun to walk outside. There’s really no reason to do that up in my area – you drive everywhere. Also, it’s cool having a parking spot downtown so I never have to deal with that hassle. Being downtown is a totally different experience than being in the suburbs of Austin. If I do keep working after two months, and I believe I will, I’m going to look into moving into a cool loft downtown.

I got a lot of choice over which area of the business I got to work on, and I was actually interested in all of the choices. I picked one, and after two days working I’ve already increased our profits by 15% or so. The truth is that the business is just so solid that even with inefficiencies it is very profitable, but I like optimizing things. I’m working with a guy named Beau who is really easy to get along with and work with and has some great ideas. Maybe it’s just the novelty of having a job, but I actually look forward to going to work. Today I worked at home for a couple hours, then stayed at the office until everyone else was gone. If I wasn’t waiting on things I probably would have stayed longer.

My plan is to work 7 days a week, since I’m used to doing that anyway, and work every night until I get bored. Then if I want to go on a trip, take a day off, or leave early, I will feel good about doing it. Plus a lot of times when I travel I have a few hours here and there with nothing to do, so I’ll fire up the laptop. When there are rules I always try to bend them as much as possible, but when I’m trusted to do something, I usually go overboard in favor of the person trusting me.

Oh, and a funny little tidbit – I found the BEST DEAL EVER for cell service. I’m paying $27/mo for 500 anytime minutes, unlimited nights and weekend (starting at either 6pm or 7pm), free roaming on other networks, free high speed wireless internet, 500 text messages, and unlimited calls within the network. I evangelized the deal at work and I think at least 6 people have switched or are in the process of switching. I will try to post about it tomorrow so that all of you guys can get it too.

So, as I adjust to this new job I will probably not be able to post here as much. I will still try to get AT LEAST 3-5 good posts written per week, and once I get used to the new schedule, I will ramp it back up to the 7-10 it was in the days of yore. The good news is that I will probably have a lot of good fodder for stories. The next big one I have planned is the story of how I almost died exploring the longest cave in the US.

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9 comments

  1. Interesting… can they generate leads interested in investing in land in the UK? I pay $5/lead if they are well qualified… ie, able to spend £10K or more.

    I doubt if I’ll ever go back to a real job. It’s not the hours, I had flexible hours, it’s not the pay, I was paid a lot. It’s the self-actualisation.

    Good luck though!

  2. That’s a brilliant way of getting paid. I need to talk to my boss! My salary is very good, but I guess some added performance incentive wouldn’t be so bad 🙂

  3. I just had one of my naps at work and thought a bit more about your ways of getting paid.

    It’s absolutely brilliant! I can’t find anything wrong with it unless you want to be a slacker and just survive the workday.

    How did you persuade your new boss to agree on this? And how do you measure your performance? Can’t wait to hear more about your new job and what exactely you are doing.

  4. I think you should write a post about how in less than 2 weeks you dropped everything that you stood for (that sounds mean, but it’s with love):

    1. Raw Food or Die -> Bulk like Bruce Banner watching his Enron Shares
    2. Will Never Have a Job -> “Dude, my boss is awesome!”
    3. Polyphasic Eagle -> Hibernating Bear

    Well, you’ve still got:

    1. Being Gangsta
    2. Wearin’ Bling
    3. Get Rich or Die Tryin’
    4. Crazy Stunts (4 Life)
    5. The Ladies (4 like until Prison Break comes on)

  5. You’re like Tony Montana with a fucking tiger in the yard.

    BTW jobs are for chodes. How are you gonna work out twice a day now?

    -jlaix

  6. um… I just spent all day in a REAL OFFICE… getting water from a cooler. or a cooller. and I ENJOYED it!.. I’m going back tomorrow!

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