Saturday, 22 June 2013

Referrals - How to Make Big Money in IT

"It is often said that hard work is a necessary condition for success. But it is rarely questioned whether it alone is sufficient. Hardwork iff Success?"
-My question to you, reader.

I know, I know, the title looks like a cheap advertisement line straight out of a self help book. And the meaning of big money is different for everyone, to me, a hundred bucks is pretty big money.  This entry will be most interesting to IT professionals who do contracts on the side and have a few good friends who are into the same thing. If you've established a reputation as a craftsman in your area, in real-life and even more importantly - online (e.g. on ODesk) then you'll come to a point when the problem is not getting the work, but having time to do it.

My area of expertise is creating complete (from login, product selection, checkout and all the way to the fulfillment system) e-commerce solutions for small to medium size companies. It is a good niche as existing solutions such as IBM WebSphere Commerce or Magento Commerce cost too much and require very skilled developers to extend and maintain (I can vouch on WebSphere, as I had a chance to work on it. Its great when you know what you're doing, but unless you've been working on it for years and your Dojo and JS (frontend) is in tip-top shape, as well as your understanding of JSP, JSF, EJB, data services, underlying DB (DB2/Oracle and uh oh, throw in OpenLaszlo for Management Center in there as well) is stellar AND you have an idea how this all fits together, its not going to go well. Thats why majority of work on WebSphere Commerce goes back to IBM, companies who buy the solution cannot extend functionality in a way that they need due to such a large knowledge and skill gap of their inhouse developers.

Back to the story - along came a situation where I was already working on a medium sized project ($5000), but was introduced to a client who required a project done in two months max, worth $15000-$20000. I couldn't dump the one I was already working on, yet I would very much like any additional money I could get. The way I went around the situation was referring the client to a friend in the industry who I could vouch for, for an agreed 10% cut of the fee (snooping around I found out that the standard referral fee in the industry is 5% though, so you should adjust your expectations on that). Once the project was done I pocketed $2000-something doing around 2-3 hours of work in total, and established a stronger business link with a colleague. Long story short, everybody profits with referrals, since next time its me who might have free time on his hands. Essentially, becoming a middleman like that is a way of extracting money from your network, and should push us all to expand and strengthen our networks (on effective ways to go about that I recommend you read "Making it Big in Software" by Sam Lightstone...and no I'm not getting any money on advertising Sam's work :)).

Yorkville St - Toronto nightlife doesn't get any more pretentious than this

I know I haven't blogged for a while, been busy with a side project I'm currently working on. The good thing is that after half a year of work I'm finally seeing some returns on it, and if I'm lucky its going to be my path to financial freedom.

As you might know yesterday was the last Friday Night Live at ROM this year. Decided might as well walk out my girl and see whats it about. The line was enormous but eventually we got in. The educational value of ROM to me was nill, but overall, I liked the pseudo-educational experience, rum-and-coke certainly helps absorb the works of the times past. A few people from the 30s crowd, but lots of hot, classy tail as well, just the way I like it (sadly I could only be a passive observer for the night). Mostly white and asian chicks, a few indian girls were present as well. Multiple pairs/triplets of girls, perfect if you know how to work that. Last call was at 11pm, and after that its pretty much time to roll out so we decided to hop to another joint.

Walked up to yorkville st to look for a restaurant/club to spend the rest of the night with my girl, and holy crap I was blown away. First of all, in all my years enjoying Toronto nightlife (since 2007 that is), I've never been on this street. The only reason we went here was because it was walking distance to the ROM. This place has the highest correlation of pretentious douches (its envy talking, I still love you mfkers :)) and sluts in Toronto. The guy in a maserati shouting YOLO to sluts on the sidewalk really took the prize (they actually responded positively...and yours truly can assure you a maserati is not necessary for a positive reaction in that approach, a newish 600 series bimmer can suffice). No holds barred, this place is the biggest collection of ballers (the true ballers, not the budget ones) I've seen, any self respecting and decent looking gold digger needs to add this hood to her map.

Had a glass of wine at Ciao, overall, great place, and not "too" overpriced. This is my drunk self judging so your experience will vary. To conclude - if you don't have a bottom-less wallet, and want less competition party on Bloor between Bathurst and Spadina, or roll to King St West. Younger and more gullible girls means higher chances for you to score.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Boomers' Retirement Plan - its Us Yuppies

The landlady came by the other day to pick up rent. Had a nice long chat with her...asked me if everything is alright and if I plan on buying a place of my own anytime soon. ``Advised`` me that is too early to buy at my age, and I'd better stick to renting from her (not that I would expect any other advice, or have any other course of action). Also told me about her deadbeat 40-something son with a failing business in Saratosa, Florida...I politely inquired about how is he able to live in such an expensive city on the gulf if he's not bringing in any money. Turns out he's living at one of their properties there, so it must be smooth sailing failing business or not. Apart from that, they got 2 more rental condos in Toronto. Living the dream, if they wouldn`t be so close to kicking the bucket.

My writing might have a bitter taste to it, and I do notice it seeping through. Back in 1989 my family bought a townhouse in Edmonton...for a meagre (relatively speaking) price of ~$55k. Thats with my dad bringing in ~$40k/yr at the time. The difference between the landlady and my family is that we didn't have an aim to become landlords or perhaps have not recognized the opportunity at the time. Now I'm wondering how is it possible for any young professional to buy their own 1-2 ($350k-$450k in a good area) bedroom condo in Toronto (not even considering a townhouse/house atm) without being a slave to the bank for the next 10-20 years. If you're interested to see some calculations on the topic, I got some in a previous post. In short, buying my own condo would leave me with savings of $121 left per month, for the next 10 years, which isn't exactly pretty. So of course, I, as countless others, rent from the boomers who were able to capitalize on the opportunities in the 80s and before that. They don`t need to rely on their retirement savings, invest in stocks or bonds, create businesses or do anything at all. They already got their best investment in front of them - its us yuppies.

I consider myself quite well off for my age, I have a nearly new econobox car, can afford to get out, dress well, treat the girls, engage in personal projects, went on a vacation last year. But I can`t help but be disillusioned when I can`t even come ``home`` at night and that I`m not a person but a high yield bond. In feudal system the term would be a serf. Maybe I`m overly ambitious...but is having a place of your own a grand ambition?

If any other yuppies would like to pitch in their thoughts, you`re more than welcome too.