A Tale of a small Failure and a big Success

Hi RIP readers,

Today I want to tell you 2 stories. One of them is a story of incredible success and the other one is a story of a miserable failure.

Let’s start with the failure. Yes, you guessed right, the failure story is mine, 100%.

Wait, no, it’s not that I gave up on my journey to Financial Independence! Guys, I said “small” failure… I’m not even talking about giving up on waking up early, even though I didn’t set my alarm at 6am as planned (yet).

The story is the following one: yes, I did wake up early last Friday and – empowered by the fact I don’t work on Friday – I spent an entire day… playing a videogame! One of first hard earned Fridays – that’s costing me roughly 500 EUR of missed earning – wasted playing videogames.

I don’t feel guilty though 🙂

What do I feel? A little bit “is this right?“, a little bit “I’m an asshole, what am I doing?” and then “that’s super cool!“. What scares me is when I go like “Am I sure I want a life like that? I talk about life purpose and then I waste time with such a short term leisure?“. Yes, that scares me. Freedom doesn’t imply happiness, for happiness one has to work hard on themself and results are not guaranteed.

They say “the devil will find work for idle hands” and while I don’t like this sentence (I’m not hurting anyone, go away devil!) it is true that we humans are lazy and greedy beasts and we naturally follow the path of least resistance. Defeating our natural default behavior is very hard even considering we all know how much more rewarding it would be.

Anyway, I enjoyed the experience and, as I’ve previously stated, at the beginning of this 80% experience I’ll use my free Fridays to decompress and try to relax. The real problem is that I’m not done with this videogame! I just started, I want to play more!

RIP, you’re a loser, we all know that. What’s the second story? Wanna brag about a success of yours. And btw, what videogame is this? Is it really that good?

Yeah, let’s move to the second story. I’m sorry to disappoint you, but no, it’s not a success of mine. The success story is all about the videogame itself.

If you’re following me since the beginning (or if you read my story) you know I moved from Rome to Milan in 2007 to follow one of my dreams: become a Videogame Developer. I’ve always loved videogames since I was a child and apparently it’s not something that’s going away with age. I’ve spent so many nights awake playing 2D strategic PC games of any kind: TBSs, RTSs, RPGs. I never bought the 3D graphics story, the console wars, the mobile whatever… I still consider myself an hardcore PC gamer even though I almost don’t play that much anymore (till last Friday).

Yeah RIP, you nerd with your SCUMMy Day of the Tentacle. Shame on you. Cmon, what’s this new game name? Candy something? What-the-hell Birds? Is it at least a MOBA?

No no no, it’s an Indie game 🙂 Developed by a single guy in the good old fashioned way. Here’s the game name: Stardew Valley (wikipedia, game site)!

RIP, a farming game? In 2017? Are you joking? Wait, is this advertising??

No advertising, I don’t get a Rappen for this post. I’m serious about this game, let me explain: the game is about you inheriting a farm from grandpa, quitting your cubicle and becoming a farmer. You get to your land – which is in a very bad shape – and are supposed to try to fix problems and grow crops, breed animals, get to know your rural new friends and see what happens!

RIP. It’s a farming game. A f*cking farming game. A boring game for kids, c’mon…

No, it’s not! It’s the perfect game for me! Listen to me, here’s what I love about this game:

First, I like this genre. Managerial game where you need to plan what to do with your resources, better if the pace is not too fast, I’m too old for action games.

Second, I love the style. 2D games are terrific. I don’t care about cutting edge graphics or other bullsheets. The game is graphically perfect, tons of 2D sprites, animations, a lot of care on details. You should see autumn leaves…

Third, I love the gameplay. I love the game mechanics: how you perform actions and how you get rewards out of them. It’s a never-ending game.

Next, I love the game complexity and level of details: you plant seeds that become crops, than you harvest vegetables and fruits then you can process them and create other ingredients that you can use in advanced recipes so that you can eat or give them as present to other villagers… then there are animals, you need to feed them, pet them, protect them and harvest their products… and that’s just the surface. The game has skills that level up, quests, maps, monsters and combats, mines and caves, desert and mountains, minerals (tons of them), fishing (hundreds of fish types), foraging plants, fruits, shells. There’s a village, with NPCs – 40 of them, local shops, a community center with… ok no spoiler, a quarry, a SPA, a Bar, a calendar with birthdays and social gatherings, weather conditions, time of the day, seasons (fish, crops and fruits are season dependent), an enemy corporation, ghosts, mummies, a dwarf, a wizard and an adventurer guild where you can buy swords and go fighting. Did I mention a gender respectful way to build relationships and family and kids? It’s just about farming eh? Each aspect of the game is extremely curated and deep. Nothing is poorly executed.


Next, this is an indie game, meaning a videogame developed by a small team, with a small budget. A game you could have made! In an era dominated by few huge companies with billionaire budgets, making every year the same game with more graphics (EA, I’m looking at you) indie games are romantic resistance. Like in the game itself the villagers with their local shops are romantic resistance against the mega corporations who wants to “corporatize” our lovely Pelican Town.

Finally, we’re not talking about “a small indie company“. This game was developed by a single guy. Everything: code, game design, character design, level design, graphics, musics. There are tons of assets in the game: 2D sprites, animations, items of any kind. hundreds of items, check the official wiki. Take a look at the crops! There are 40 different types, each one with 5-8 hand made, pixel art sprites! What about NPCs design? Quests? Minerals? I don’t know if you ever worked in the videogame industry (I did) but trust me: that’s an unbelievable amount of work for a single person, and the quality is excellent on every aspect.

This guy, named Eric Barone a.k.a. ConcernedApe, started all of this alone 5 years ago, at age 22, right after his graduation in Computer Science. Being pissed off of sending CVs around he accepted a minimum wage job as a usher at a Theatre. In the meantime he decided to start this pet project “using the opportunity as an exercise to improve his own programming and game design skills“. He loved and played a lot a similar, older game named Harvest Moon. That game had some shortcomings he didn’t like so he designed the perfect game he would like to play. Applause. Be the change you want to see in the world!

After 4 years of hard work, in February 2016, the game launched on Steam and Gog. The game sold more than a million copies two months after launch and is now way above two millions just on Steam. The game’s price is 15 CHF per copy (I guess it’s 10 EUR / 10 USD outside the rich Switzerland) so the game earned north of 20M, just on Steam.

And we’re not talking about those super simple random mobile games that inexplicably become successful out of nothing, we’re talking about a game whose metacritic score is 88/100.

It took 4 years of very hard work, working 60-80 hours per week without a boss giving you priorities and keeping you focused. He had to find motivations inside himself and the strength to keep up when, inevitably, morale went down. For 4 years. His story is in my opinion a great lesson for anyone who wants to achieve anything so let’s dig a little bit deep here.

Lesson 1: Passion, Hard Work, Commitment and Integrity are more important than Talent

I don’t have any doubt that this guy has a lot of talent too, but I’m pretty sure that the base ingredients for Barone’s success are:

  • Passion: he loves video games, specifically this kind of games.
  • Hard work: he put 60-80 hours per week on this project, doing and redoing stuff several times.
  • Commitment: 4 years. As a solo developer. It takes a lot of consistency and faith to keep up and not quit.
  • Integrity: He delayed the release date even when publishers and marketplace wanted it out because he was not satisfied and the game was not feature complete according to his plan. He didn’t succumb to business rules. And he won. Amazing! But there’s more: Barone wanted to create an immersive farming experience, with the ambition “to have real-world messages” (that probably weren’t very business friendly) like cubicle sucks, you should pet and not butcher farm animals, love has no gender limitation and dwarves, wizards and mummies are real things and live in caves and mines… ahem, ok.

Talent is overrated.

Lesson 2: Emotional Intelligence is more important than Rational Intelligence

Why am I mentioning Barone’s EI skills? I don’t know him and he’s probably an introvert anti-social geek (just watch some of his rare interviews). What I know though is that his game is a collective story begun 5 years ago with an announcement and it’s not ended yed. Barone leveraged the power of internet and social networks, sitting on the shoulder of the giants.

How? Barone made the development of his game completely public, releasing previews and test versions of the early game, listening to feedback and engaging in discussions on reddit and twitter.

Roughly 1 year after his announcement a producer jumped him and offered to help and raise Eric from any non-development responsibility.

Engaging with the community and being present generated an immense hype around the game and a growing fan base that showed an unprecedented respect and love for the game and his creator. Listen to this story: the game is completely an offline game and you can easily find it on torrent, download it illegally and play it for free – I stil remember the time when software companies went broke thanks to piracy. This game could have easily been a similar story. But I read that some of those who pirated the game, after playing it for a while, planned to get an actual copy and pay for it. I’ve read stories of fans that offered to help paying the game for those that can’t afford it. Things never seen before! These stories (unconfirmed, but they are on wikipedia) show a tremendous amount of respect and love for Barone’s hard work, social attitude and devotion to the community. The community’s involvement is greater than this, though: take a look at the modding community!

I’ve been into videogame development. A month before a game launches it’s already dead from a development point of view. You’re already working on the next game. Yeah, a patch here and there, if we didn’t delete the entire codebase from the repository yet… What about this game? It was launched a year ago and Barone recently said he’s spending more time than before on the game – not coding anymore – replying to fans and being present in the community. And, I guess, playing his beloved game!

Given sales numbers I assume the publisher hired a team to keep the development alive. They ported the game on all consoles and announced a cooperative multiplayer experience sooner or later. FIRE seekers out there, I can’t wait to play together on our minimalist & frugal farm 🙂

Lesson3 : In the risks vs rewards spectrum, investing in yourself is the best choice

Now… this guy knew nothing (I suppose) about publishing, contracts, money, marketing… so maybe he got a very bad deal, we don’t know. But let’s assume he negotiated his life changing deal so badly that he’s earning only 1$ per copy sold. That’s more than 2 Million dollars in his pockets! He reached Financial Independence at age 26. If you’re brave enough and choose yourself you may get 1000% return and more on your investments, not just that miserable expected 7% long term with stocks!

That’s the success story that inspired me the most in last few years! Thanks Eric for this incredible game and for inspiring me and so many others!

That’s more or less me at work on Monday…


But let’s talk a little bit about my gaming experience, so maybe we’ll transform my failure in something else. At least a funny story that will gladly crack a smile out of your face!

The game starts with main character design. You can customize your aspect, name, gender and other things. Here’s Mr RIP, the spreadsheets lover from Hooli land 🙂

The game starts with an intro where you receive a letter for your dying grandpa accompanied with those wise words

I’m ready grandpa, I surely am!

Then you’re teleported into your current cubicle life at Joja (which is the evil company in the game) and you can experience how miserable it is.

Your environment is sparkling energy in every directions! A lot of fun! Yeah, someone has been terminated and your colleague on the extreme right is apparently not feeling very good today, but life goes on, doesn’t it?

Then one day, luckily, you get fired!

… or you reach FI 🙂

Anyway, you find the guts to read that letter:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Oooh, I’m totally bought in grandpa…

And here I started, in Hooli Land! Cleaning up the land and getting started with seeds, plants, vegetables, animals: I have a dog named ETF and few chickens named S&P500, STOXX600 and SmallCap and my farm is doing great!

Joking aside, I’m learning which plants grow in which season, funny real new vegetables names (what the hell is a Parsnip?) and most important of all: I felt like being there, in a smaller community, living a simpler life (with wizards and skeletons, though). That’s my dimension, in my future ecovillage, a day hopefully not too far from now.

What are you waiting for?

Eleven Gems on the Net #4 – White Mirror

Hi dreamers,

Welcome back to another episode of Eleven Gems on the Net (EGN, for friends), where i share few inspiring links I’ve found on the web.

This episode is a special edition of EGN!

berlutrumpThey say 2016 has been a sheetty year: Brexit, ISIS, Syrian refugees crysis, the death of so many famous&cool persons (David Bowie, Prince, Gene Wilder, Muhammed Ali,…), the election of Silvio Berlusconi as US President

but I’m a Futuristic by heart (backed by Gallup Strengthsfinder) and I’m still utterly optimistic about our future! I’ve also seen so many promising endeavours all around me that I still think the bright side will win. This edition of EGN is all about our future and how bright it could be. I’m going to dig into eleven technologic fields that are arising and that may be dominating our lives tomorrow, hopefully in joyful ways.

I named this special episode White Mirror as a joke, in contrast with the amazing series Black Mirror. While the series focuses on the dystopian aspects of current/future technologies, I’ll show here why I’m so inspired by them!

Hey RIP, why the hell are you annoying us with this stuff? I’m here to find awesome-money stuff, ultra-saving tips, cool-investing hints, earning-more tricks, wealth-building prompts…

Welcome to EGN my dear imaginary friend! First time here, isn’t it? Well, this series is about inspiration. What’s more inspiring than our future? Btw, I see a lot of connections between what’s presented here and personal finance, macro-economy, lifestyle and meaning of time, money, work and life.

  • Want tips to earn more? Invest time and resources into these fields!
  • Scared about the limits of economic growth? As uncle Buzz says “Get your ass to Mars“, colonise it, colonise the rest of the solar system and the rest of the galaxy! Still scared for your index fund potential growth?
  • Scared of Artificial Intelligence? It may make you FI tomorrow even with a NW of zero!

My guess is that technology will change future society waaaaay more than politics do. So yes, this post has to do with your money, your plans, your (and our) future.



1) Artificial Intelligence / Machine learning

Trying to keep the list sorted by potential impact on our lives, first on the list is ML or AI or Deep Learning or whatever else you want to call it. AI will seriously revolutionise everything within this century. The most inspiring resource about AI and its future is WaitButWhy post series, dated 2 years ago. Check it out: Part 1, Part 2. Let’s admit that 2016 has been quite a silent year for AI, just not as inspiring as the amazing 2015, where AlphaGo defeated Lee Sedol.

Ok, want to be impressed with a video? Watching Westworld isn’t enough? Take a look at this TED

2) Space Exploration

Second place for space exploration! I think I’ve already told you I’m a big fan of astronomy, astrophysics, big history and space exploration. And Elon Musk. What? A million times? Ok, got it.

I strongly believe that visiting space is what makes me angry the most of having to die somewhere in this century. We’ve not yet really started doing cool things, what could happen is unimaginable. The sky is the limit… wait, it isn’t anymore!

I don’t want to repost the Musk’s video about Mars colonisation plan, go there NOW if you missed it. Here let’s get inspired by what human species did in last 70 years, and by projection what we could achieve in next 70!

3) Genetics

Genetics completes the top 3, given its potential impact. We all know the genome project and the very recent CRISPR / CAS system don’t we? We’re going to be able to edit our DNA. It’s something that scares me a little bit, I’m more on the black mirror side of this (strangely there’s not been a genetic exploiting episode in Black Mirror yet) since I’m not in the field, but it’s hard to admit that it won’t have impact in our lives. Genetic diseases could be completely eradicated and that’s a good thing.

If you want to watch more, take a look at this video by Bozeman Science or the two amazing videos by Kurzgesagt (first, second) or this nice TED talk. But ok, let’s get inspired here 🙂

4) Energy

Future is… energy of course! We all nerd know about the Dyson sphere, right? A level 1, 2 and 3 civilization, right? No? Ok, let’s put it simple: despite what the newly elected most powerful man in the world thinks, fossil fuel energy won’t last and we shouldn’t rely on it. The environment doesn’t like it too, ’cause “burning shits pollutes me“. Energy revolution is here and things are going to change drastically this century.

Again, one of the main driver of this revolution is Elon Musk. What a man! Take a look at Powerwall, Gigafactory and Solarcity.

But the latest inspiring video I’ve seen about energy is SolarRoof presentation!

Don’t believe it’s real? Don’t believe it’s doable? Want to keep up with oil wars and exporting democracy? What about… electric cars? They are already here and growing a lot! Take a look at Tesla Model 3 presentation! I don’t like cars, but if I will ever have to own one, I’d go electric.

But I’d rather go for…

5) Autonomous Vehicles

If you asked me to sort this list a couple of years ago I’ve put Autonomous Vehicles on top for sure. I’ve been amazed by Google Driverless Car since day one. Just imagine what this could mean for our lives. No more parking lots, no more accidents, no need for traffic lights and, actually no more traffic at all!

And it’s not only driverless cars. Someone is building driverless jets, driverless trucks (which will kill the job in the US that employs the highest number of people) and even self driving bicycles (ok, joking)!

But let’s get inspired by a TED talk:

6) Fast ground transportation

Hyperloop! Elon, again. Yes, sorry guys. When I think about the future, Elon always pops up. We need more Elons.

Hyperloop is a revolutionary idea of mass fast ground transportation in vacuum tunnels. You’ll reach easily 1000-1200 km/h, same as today’s airplanes. If you didn’t hear about it, here’s a project for Dubai – Abu Dhabi. Check it out.

7) Augmented reality

What is AR? Thanks to Wikipedia:

Augmented reality (AR) is a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented (or supplemented) by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data.

I was skeptical about AR since a couple of months ago. I mean, skeptical of AR being impactful for a significant portion of the population. The Google Glass failed. We all were betting on it, weren’t we? It’s a failure for the whole AR world? Well, take a look at Magic Leap and their whale demo. Take a look at Microsoft Hololens. But let’s get inspired by Hiddencreative!

Even though I’m not buying it completely, I think it’s pretty obvious that this is going to dominate our lives in the very near future. It’s not a coincidence that at least 4 Black Mirror episodes revolves around AR (Nosedive, Men against fire, Playtest, The entire history of you). Be ready!

8) Virtual Reality.

Even though I’m so old that I had an account on secondlife (holy sheet how much it sucked!) and I devoured Ready Player One twice, I still believe VR will just be an entertainment thing only (and I don’t mean “just porn”), but on a very large scale. Things like 360 videos, VR devices (headsets/visors, suits, omni directional treadmills), VR games are coming to the mass. I already shared the facebook demo that opened my eyes. Let’s get inspired here by a TED talk about the future of VR!

More TEDs here, here and a very cool one here. VR is a very hot topic on TED talks!

9) Robotics.

I’d never though I’d put “robotics” so low in a future technology ranking! I went all in on robotics 15 years ago and even though I quit the field I kept being an enthusiast supporter. Three years ago robotics promised yet-another-time to be ready to go. 2013-2014 Google acquired a dozen robotics companies and we all thought the robotic revolution was (finally) going to happen! It didn’t happen (yet).

But they’re always around the corner

10) Voice.

By voice I mean several things: voice recognition, voice HCI, natural language understanding. Ok, it’s AI, I know. I should have mentioned in the AI chapter. But let’s focus on the HCI (Human Computer interaction) here. Things are going to be voice operated. Amazon launched Echo, Google launched Home (and the Smart Assistant) which one is the coolest? The future will be voice operated. You won’t use your hands to “type” a command. Mouse and Keyboard are dying, touchscreens will die too (well, not sure…). Voice is the future.

11) Drones.

I’m not a big fan of drones. They are boring. They are for voyeurism. What can you do with drones? Ok, I’ll take a look at your video… whaaaat???

I hope you dreamed a little bit 🙂


NOTE: I’m going to Mexico for 2 weeks to build a wall and pay for it on vacation. Don’t expect updates for a while 🙂

Eleven Gems on the Net #3

Hi readers,

Welcome back to another episode of Eleven Gems on the Net (EGN, for friends), where i share few interesting links I’ve found on the web. More information about the series can be found in the first post.

It’s been quite a long time since last episode, but I have been busier with writing and traveling and I’ve been slightly behind with reading. My feed reader is about to explode.

I was wandering what’s the future of EGN. Would it make sense to make thematic episodes? Would it make sense to move the series on facebook? Would it make sense to try to avoid repeating same sources? In the end I’d like to share things I liked and hopefully make you aware of pieces of the internet you weren’t aware of. Like blogs, video channel, tools, websites, books,…

Anyway, not for now. I like the format as it is, i.e. formatless.



1) Income Thinking vs Expense Thinking by BNL.

We all know the basic math behind money-time conversion right? We know, as FIRE wannabe, that each recurrent yearly/monthly cost can be translated into a delta Nest Egg roughly 25x yearly cost or 300x monthly cost (assuming 4% WR), right? We all then measure in how many extra years of work we need to force ourselves into to accumulate the extra ‘stash. In this mindset, a richer person will always say “ok, sure, it’s an extra 3 months of work to allow myself that latte every day… let’s do it!”. I’ve always felt that something was wrong in this philosophy but I couldn’t find the right words. Well, in this article BNL puts on paper what I wasn’t able to articulate. What matters is not your actual hourly wage, but your actual hourly cost!

2) How to Eradicate Malaria by Kurzgesagt.

Yes, I know, I kind of signed off on having at most a single video on each EGN edition… wait… I never said that, did I? Ok cool! I love Kurzgesagt and their videos! I watched all of them, several times each. The one before this last one was really game changing but I just realized it now. We have genetic engineering capabilities to kill the top causes to human death. What else should we be discussing about, Brad & Angelina?? Take your time to watch this video (and at least the previous one)

3) Risks of Retiring Early by 1500days.

On their deathbed, has anyone ever uttered these words?

I wish I spent more time in a cube.

Enough said.

4) Normal Sucks by 1500days.

Yes, I know, I know, I know. I kind of signed off on not having more than a single link to the same source on each EGN edition too… wait… I never said that too, did I?

What? who claims this is just a way to be forgiven by Mr.1500 for the interview thing? You’re wrong!

I’m not like that, I’m a normal person.

Wait, did I say normal? Ouch, that’s exactly what the linked post is all about: how to NOT be normal.

5) Poker Odds by Datagenetics.

Love Datagenetics. If you love math and puzzles (and deeply/nerdy investigations of useless fields) that’s the blog you should follow.

This post is about poker odds and it starts as “ok, normal stuff”. Then, as usual, they drift into weird generalizations like different number of suits or numbers and get generic formulas. Don’t lose the followup post: poker odds with wild cards.

It’s a brain work-out.

6) Elon Musk on Making Humans a Multiplanetary Species.

Oops another video 😛

Should I say something about it? Is everyone booking their spot on the first ship? Isn’t it what FU Money are good for? 🙂

Btw, how much would you need to be FI on Mars? Food for thought 🙂

P.S. don’t miss WBW followup post, WBW dinner table about “how should we govern Mars?” and the amazing WBW prequel: “how and why SpaceX will colonize Mars“.

Did I tell you I’m a space exploration enthusiast?

7) Animated Book Review: The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey – Animated by FightMediocrity.

I’ve recently found this Youtube Channel that’s great!

I love the topics Stephen touches, I love the way he draws the stories associated to each topic, I like the pace he speaks and finally I like his humour!

The book review list is amazing and I’ve found them to be the best tl;dr version of my favourite books available on the net.

8) The choice is ours by Venus Project.

Ok, you got it. This is a video edition 🙂

The Venus Project is a kind of utopian community, a spinoff of the Zeitgeist movement, that revolves around resource-based economy. Their ideas (mainly the idea of his founder, Jacque Fresco) are fascinating and are based on “sending robots to work for us” and around the fact that we already have technology advanced enough that could allow us to not work or work very little.

Yeah, Utopia as I said, but still fascinating.

9) Pete Adeney (MrMoneyMustache) at World Domination Summit 2016.

If you didn’t watch it before this recommendation, please unsubscribe from this blog and don’t come back never ever.

Still here? Ok, see you in 28 minutes.

How was it? The part I loved the most is the part 3: “work is better when you don’t need money”. Best way to explain the concept of Retirement for those who aim at early retirement. Enlightening.

10) Zuckerberg Virtual reality video

I’m not a fan of Virtual Reality.

I’ve been on top of things so far, following latest news and development (but almost never purchasing) in the tech world. I start loosing terrain though. No smartwatches, no VR, no Google Glasses.

VR is something that makes me feel old. It’s the first thing I will never understand and I know I’ll grow old using good old 2D screens while everyone around me has a visor. I’ll be seen like I see my grandpa today: “look, that guy never had an email address, how could he be alive??”. Is this the first step to become an old fart?

Few days ago a friend told me to watch this video. “hey, look. VR is for kids. It’s useless. Yes, I loved Ready Player One, but that’s another thing. Our VR sucks and makes me sick. I tried a cardboard and a visor and I don’t like them. I really hope that VR will die like 3D films.

Then I watched the video.

11) [Special] Generation of spoiled idiots by Louis CK.

A nice reminder, by one of the best stand up comedian of all time, of how this is the best time ever to be alive but nobody seems happy.

i love the passage starting at 4’16”. Internet on a plane. It doesn’t work and the passenger complained. Lois says “how quickly the world owes him something he knew existed only 10 seconds ago?”. Love it!

Eleven Gems on the Net #2

Hi readers,

Welcome back to another episode of eleven gems on the net, where i share few interesting links I’ve found on the web. More information about the series can be found in the first post.

There’s not a common theme among these links, which is “work as intended”. I’m thinking that since my curiosity flies in thematic waves I may orient the series to revolve around a central theme per post, allowing few links to diverge from it. Dunno yet. We’ll see.

Anyway… yes, it’s not been a very long time since last episode in this series. Just a week, actually. I expected a lower frequency. I’ve been travelling quite a bit recently so I had more time to read than to write. So… enjoy!


1) Stuff Cloud.

Last time I shared the Buy Nothing Project. Interesting project based on the fact that you’re probably going to thrash something that would be valuable for others. The Stuff Cloud idea (it’s not a concrete project yet) differs slightly because it’s not about transferring an object possession, but it’s about freely renting it from someone willing to let others use it for free. Both projects are about true sharing economy, a project any frugal person like me can’t help but love them. Anyway, it’s not a project yet. None is jealous of their idea here. You’re more than welcome to take initiative and implement it 🙂

2) Millennial Revolution retrospective about not buying a house.

Is it worth to buy a house? In Italy everyone will tell you you’re crazy and should be sent to doctors if you don’t buy but rent. But in the worlds of FI this is a valid question and the opinions varies a lot. Jim Collins and James Altucher say “never buy a house!”, while almost all the others are ok with owning their primary residence. A lot reached FI via rental properties, so for them it’s a no-brainer.

This couple from Toronto (Millennial Revolution) centered their blog around the rejection of the “you must buy a house” commandment (take a look at their welcome video and their guest post on Financial Samurai about why cash is better than a house).

Well, after 4 years they wrote this article analyzing in retrospective how would have been their life in case they purchased the house back in 2012, when the didn’t. Amazing detailed analysis (even though, as I pointed out in comments, in my opinion they adapted the math to make their message).

They also wrote a follow up post, analyzing the impact of the mortgage leverage effect and still no, it still would have been worse to have bought the house. Even considering that the house market did great in these 4 years!

3) Rewirement by John Bowman.

Yes, we’ve finally found the missing word! We all agree that the word “retirement” is ugly, old and unrepresentative of what we aim to once FI.

This John Bowman solved the problem: not retirement, but rewirement:

Rather than retire, my generation would rather rewire. That is, prepare our minds, our bodies, and our plans for years of continued growth ahead.

Inherently optimistic, this new life-stage begins with deeply understanding who you are and where you’re going, determined by knowing fundamental personal and communal values that drive you.

This guy is a CEO of a certain age, so he’s probably just trying to feel young while retiring at a traditional age. But what he doesn’t know is that he found the missing word!

I’m actually thinking about renaming my blog in Rewire in Progress. Not joking.

Anyway, I found this while reading the MrFireStation blog. Why not go back to school again – to rewire – when retired? Amazing idea!

4) Scared of retiring early once your FI? What about our Super Asset? By LeisureFreak.

You want to be FI right? You know how to save, how to spend less than you earn, how to be frugal. You run retirement calculators, crunch numbers, calculate your FU Number and your WR. You are cautious, you don’t want to fail. You set safety margins to play even safer. Once you reach FI you work One More Year, just to be safe…

But come on guys, what are we scared of? We know we have a secret weapon. The supersafe plan we’re drawing is overshooting 99% of cases. LF says our secret weapon is knowledge. I loved the article, it put on paper (well, on screen) my disorganized thoughts. But I think the secret weapon(s), more than knowledge is resilience. Plus creativity. Plus curiosity. Plus problem solving.

5) Investment analysis: Real Estate vs Blogging by Financial Samurai.

Every article by Financial Samurai deserves to be in this series. He’s so original, deep and productive. I wish I had a thousandth of his thinking and writing skills! Anyway, as to push the “Real Estate vs Stocks” discussion a step further, he analyzed differences between Real Estate and Blogging as investment strategies. Actually, you can substitute blogging with any other kind of startup/freelancing activity. Very deep analysis and interesting conclusions, even though I think the blogging outcome is too optimistic.

What I loved most – food for thought – is that I can connect dots here: there’s a ladder of earning quality. At the bottom there is “9 to 5 till 65”. Then you learn how to send your money to work for you. But at the beginning you’re ok with low bonds returns. Then you invest in something more risky/brave like real estates / stocks. Then you invest in yourself. Higher risks, higher returns.

Blogging, for example, follows this pattern.


6) The Ultimate cheat sheet for investing your money  by James Altucher.

…Yeah, James Altucher goes all in! I love his posts about investing in yourself (he wrote a book about that). In this post you’ll find his unsettled anger toward wall street and the stock market. His advices are interesting and worth reading but I think his goals differs from mine. He states that stocks are boring and those who make money are “the thieves/experts”, so you should run away. Disagree James, sorry. I never liked so much an article with whom I disagree so much!

Anyway, I know one day I will say “James was 100% right”. I both dread and dream about that day.

7) Spend Generation Manifesto.

This post made me angry with myself. I hate when I feel something being so totally wrong but I can’t came up with a couple of sentences explaining why it is wrong. I have skill, but being concise, succinct is not one of them. This post is about a guy who’s proud of spending all his 130K yearly salary while still living with his parents.

I don’t want to spoil more. If you have 10-15 minutes please read it. It’s a long article, but well worth reading.

8) Q&A at Camp Mustache hosted by the Mad Fientist.

Podcast of the Q&A session at Camp Mustache, a meeting between American Mustachian that I dream about joining one day. This podcast is an hour long and there are amazing questions asked by the audience to the four speakers: Pete (MrMoneyMustache), Paula (Afford Anything), Doug (The Military Guide) and the Mad Fientist. They all already reached FI.

Questions were about suggestions to beginners, motivations for those halfway through, investing in the stock markets at the all time high, challenges once FI, what to do after, how to relate with other people…

I learned few things I didn’t know that will help me on my journey:

  • the impact of negativity on a community.
  • the importance of practicing gratitude.
  • the importance of leading by doing and being consistent.

Food for thought, as usual.

9) XKCD on global warming.

Let’s admit that: Randall Munroe is everybody’s imaginary best friend. No? Cool, than he’s all mine! His depth of thoughts and how amazingly he can put things on paper using just stick figures is worth a nobel prize at least. This episode is slightly more complex and puts time into perspective while analyzing global average temperature on earth in last 20,000 years (well, what we know about it, since thermometers weren’t there 20K years ago…).

Essentially we, the human race, survived through a glacial era, when cities like Boston were covered by a miles (A MILES, in height) of ice. Since then the average temperature rose by 4 celsius degrees till 1990 (26 years ago) and another degree till today. Forecasts say we may gain another 3 degrees by 2100.

Denying human effects on global warming after having seen this graphics seems so silly. A picture is worth more than billions of words!

10) Hilariously Accurate Comics About Adulthood And Life By Owlturd.

I Follow the boredpanda on facebook. This page satisfy at least one of my two basic requirements for a social media entity to be worthwhile: being informative or being entertaining. This post were both. It made me discover this owlturd blog and his amazing drawings. The drawings are about adulthood life situations, where emotions are personified a là “Inside Out”. It made me laugh and think, which is the definition of success for me.

11) [Special] Little Boxes by Malvina Reynolds.

The special section is reserved for something that’s not new, and this video definitely isn’t. The song is dated back in 1962, closer to the first world war than to today. But I just discovered less than 24 hours ago, following a deep youtube vortex with at a friend’s house (curious? Last 3 steps were thisthis and this).

I’ve consumed hours of Malvina Reynolds songs while working yesterday at Hooli. I can’t help but keep going. She was (when she died I wasn’t one year old yet) an anti capitalist singer and songwriter of the flower power era. This song is an efficient criticism to conformism, urbanization and capitalism. I perceive my whole body feeling happy when listening songs of this kind, even though I know and accept the apparent contradiction of being anti consumerist (I don’t spend) and capitalist (I invest, i.e. I rely on other people spending).

My hearth belong there, among the flowers!

Eleven gems on the net #1

I’m an avid reader of books, follower of dozens of blogs, consumer of hours of youtube videos.

I love being hit by waves of information on the topics I care or I’m curious about.

I don’t follow the news or the politics too much, topics where people tend to get very hot about. Well, I do love to talk about politics but in the highest form, asking myself and friends questions like: “how would you organize a society?“, “are nations the right-sized entities to face future challenges?” or “should we go to mars?” – yes, I see it as a political question 🙂  I do also like politics at the very local level, where pragmatism is more important than ideologies. I just don’t like to discuss about parties, VIPs, marketers, sloganists, actuality, candidates,…

So I spend a lot of time reading, studying and watching interesting and mentally challenging videos. Whatever stimulates my creativity, satisfies my curiosity, challenges me, makes me smarter or simply makes me laugh I add that to my list. I’ve shared some of these resources in a page on my blog. I’ve set up tools to keep myself up to date on new videos from my subscriptions (thanks, Youtube), new posts from the blogs I follow (thanks, Netvibes) and new books I should read (thanks, Goodreads).

[Fun Story: That’s the price to pay if you’re a Strategic Thinker, according to Gallup Strengthsfinder. I did the test an year ago in a leadership training (thanks, Hooli) and I discovered that four out of my top five strengths are in the strategic thinking category. This strengthsfinder is a very valuable tool I’m glad to have discovered and I recommend it to you if you don’t know what to do and you think you’re an impostor where you currently work. Anyway, here‘s the list of the 34 classified strengths, here‘s a clustering of them in 4 categories and here’s my top 5 strengths: Input, Learner, Futuristic, Analytical (all in Strategic Thinking cluster) and Woo (Influencing). I must admit I was skeptical but I can’t agree more with the conclusions the came out of the tool. I can’t share them here – they are too much Hooli related – but trust me: I got actionable items to put my strength at work both professionally and in my private life!]

What’s the point in this very long introduction? I want to start a section (actually rebrand the inspiration series) into an (a)periodical series on “what I found interesting on the internet“. The key requirements of something to appear in a post are:

  • It must be a recent discovery of mine: I’m not going to post links to something I have in my bookmarks.
    • Well, I may add related resources and use my bookmarks.
    • Well, I may add some old links if I recently stumbled upon it.
  • It should be Personal Finance related.
    • Well, I consider everything personal finance related, even mars exploration.
    • Well, I can allow a couple of non personal finance related links per post.
    • Well, I can also allow a couple of meaningful “quotes”. I do love quotes. I have a doc with collected quotes. 23 pages of them…
  • You got it: I’ll put whatever I want in these posts.

I don’t want to make the series “weekly” or “monthly” or “whateverly”. I want to have a constant size for each post. As soon as I have N links I’ll publish a post on the series. It may happen I publish a post per day (it means I found N links worth sharing in a day) or maybe I won’t publish for a month, in case I won’t find enough things worth sharing.

The chosen size is 11. Why? I don’t know. The world is filled by 10s and 12s. None cares about the poor Eleven.

Next problem: how to name the series? Random names that I tried:

  • Things worth sharing. Boring.
  • Seen on the internet. Turbo boring.
  • What made me smarter. Bleah.
  • Last week today. It doesn’t look original at all 🙂
  • Elheaven. Ouch, this really sucks!
  • Eleven links that made me smarter. Looong and boring.
  • Eleven gems on the net. Mmh, it’s not that bad. Let’w work on it.
  • Eleven links worth spreading. Plagiarist!
  • Eleven Inspirational Links. Meh.
  • Eleven worthful resources. Not bad…
  • The Elevens. Featuring Bill Cosby?
  • My latest eleven discoveries. Nah.
  • Eleven links found on the web. Produced by National Geographic?

Nope, I’m going nowhere. Today is not the day I name this series. Temporary name is: Eleven gems on the net. Enjoy!


1) The Oatmeal on happiness.

Simple. Beautiful. Clear. I love The Oatmeal comics but this one I had to read three times to let it circulate into my brain. It’s about happiness and the misconcept that one must be either happy or unhappy. We lack words and we’re so used with this dualism that we talk about happiness without knowing what it is. The same happens when we talk about love.

2) Waitbutwhy on marriages.

I told you I’m a strategic thinker. I’m a software engineer, I’m a learner, input driven, INTJ (not sure actually) et cetera. That’s why I love WBW blog and Tim’s very looong posts in general. I feel very inspired by him and I guess I got influenced by his writing style. Anyway, this post of his is about The Decision and how humans come up with that. With special attention to brain-driven people.

3) Trent Hamm’s Manifesto.

It’s no secret I love The Simple Dollar blog. In this post Trent lists his values in a kind of “10 commandments” tone, slightly less “thou shalt not“-y. My hard drives and cloud systems and paper notes are full of small Manifestos of mine. I love listing values, goals, todos, things I own, things I never did, things I care about… Now I can’t help myself but I need to write my own manifesto sooner or later. Items in his list I really loved reading are:

  • I will work toward a day, sooner rather than later, where I no longer have to work to earn an income, and I will achieve it by saving the excess of the fruits of my labor.
  • I will find variety in my life not through opening my wallet, but opening myself to the widest array of experiences that life provides for us without having to exchange money for it.
  • I will enjoy some of the pleasures of life irregularly so that they remain special and feel like a genuine treat, rather than enjoying those pleasures frequently and have them sink into part of the ordinary routine.
  • I will work to maintain and improve my mind every single day as well, as the freedom I desire is best expressed with a healthy mind.” (this is actually the best one!)

4) Financial Samurai on Brand and Blogging.

I like Sam’s blog even though I don’t always agree with him. This post is about building your own brand. It’s centered around blogging but the same rules apply for other fields as well. It’s aligned with the philosophy I found in the book Choose Yourself, by another virtual mentor of mine: James Altucher. What I liked the most in this post is the concept of “Value Proposition“: what’s your brand offering? Which value is your brand adding? By value he doesn’t necessarily mean economic value.

Here some related readings by the simple dollar (1, 2, 3)

5) Buy Nothing Project.

I found this project listed in a recent article on frugalwoods blog. I started years ago as a sharing economy enthusiast and I gradually become more and more disappointed about it. I thought the sharing economy would have killed all the middle men and made us richer, but it turns out to just substitute middle men with even stronger and monopolistic middle men. I supported couchsurfing but then airbnb came and now social lodging costs like hotels. I wanted carpooling and carsharing to be closest to actual operating costs (super cheap) but then uber came and now social driving costs like a taxi. I see this Buy Nothing Project as a last resort for the sharing economy and I will devote time and resources to it.

6) Derek Sivers: Why.

Derek Sivers is one of my virtual mentor. I carefully read all of his updates. Every post is a look at the world by another uncovered angle. This post is about focusing and motivation/purpose. Focusing on the goal with the intent to maximise your impact leads to the best strategy that, as he says, may be counterintuitive:

Like if you have a high paying job, but realize that charitable giving is what matters most to you, then the best strategy is not to quit your job and go hang mosquito nets in Africa, but actually to keep your job and make as much money as you can, while spending it on hiring hundreds of people in Africa to hang thousands of mosquito nets. (Unless your goal is more about looking charitable, instead of actually being charitable. Then admit that to yourself, too.)

As I said. Another angle, another point of view. Food for thought.

7) Medium: I got scammed by a silicon valley startup.

I was kidnapped by this very long post. I started reading and I went all the way to the end of it. Long story short: a girl accepted a contract with a company in silicon valley that simply never paid its employees till everything blew up with a fake wire transfer story. Penny (the storyteller) kept CEO, CTO and employee names (and company name) secret, but the story went so viral that everything is public now. Nothing related to my working situation or to the one of someone I know. But the story is a perfect post mortem that can teach you how to recognise bad smells when closing working deals. I had my scammy startup experience during my freelance years, I wish I had this article around at that time. Anyway, the other take away from the story is that behaving badly with one of your employee ruins your reputation, sometimes with devastating PR effects.

8) Goodbye Coworker’s Mail Generator.

In one of my recent deep procrastination session (clicking on links on the internet instead of doing things) I stumbled upon this amazing website named The Cooper Review. I obviously started binge reading all the comics and it suddenly made it through the very selective process of being added to my feed reader. One of the post who made my day was the one about how to send a goodbye mail to your coworker. In that article there’s a link to the mail generator. Working at Hooli I see a lot of these emails from coworkers who are leaving. I always thought that they look so similar. Now I wonder if they were using the generator!! For example they all end with “hey guys, let’s keep in touch! here’s my personal mail”, but then after 3 days none remembers not even the names of those who leave! This is both relieving and sad. Sad because as soon as you stop keeping up you disappear. Relieving because in the end, none cares about what you do or think or are. We overrate what others think about us. Anyway, here’s mine:

Fellow Brogrammers,

It’s with a gentle sad face that I must share with you my decision to leave. This was apparently a very difficult decision to make.

It’s hard to believe that Almost four years ago, I was the frontend engineer in team X… From that time, until when I was Backend engineer in team Y, and all the way to my current role as Senior Software engineer in team Z, I have grown so much. Thank you for teaching and inspiring me, and allowing me to do the same for you.

I am headed off to explore my next chapter enjoining the freedom brought by FU Money.

I’m excited about my future there while I continue to be excited about all the things you’ll continue to accomplish here (except for you Gavin Belson, you will never ever make the world a better place!)

If I could leave you all with just one thought, remember,

“It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.” – Aristotle Onassise

If you ever want to get in touch, my contact info is below. This isn’t goodbye, our paths will cross again. Hopefully at farewell happy hour drinks at 5!


Email: mrrip@retireinprogress.com
Phone: 012 3456789
Twitter: @misterrip
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/misterrip

9) Partial Financial Independence by The Simple Dollar.

I tend to skip TSD posts not written by Trent Hamm, because since after Trent sold his blog you can breathe the “need for money” on other writers’ articles. They usually talk about “best credit cards” or “best student loans”, i.e. referrals and affiliation programs. I can tell if an article is written by Trent by the title, so I clicked on this one sure it was written by my favourite personal finance writer. It was not and I kept reading. Ok, it’s not that deep (sorry Matt Becker) but it touched a topic that is in my mind these days:

While full financial independence is the ultimate goal, it’s not the only goal worth pursuing. Along the way you can attain partial financial independence, which is simply when you have the financial resources to make lifestyle decisions that make you happy, even when they’re not financially optimal.

Which is a nice way to say: if you have enough money to take some risk, well, you may take it already. No reason to be unhappy where you are till you reach FI. Food for thought.

As a plus, the author came up with a nice definition for Financial Independence:

I define financial independence like this:

The ability to make decisions based on what makes you happy instead of what makes you money.

It’s the point at which money stops being the limiting factor and starts enabling you to live the life you want.

Both simple and awesome!

10) James Altucher on Negotiation.

Wow. My knowledge on negotiation as always been limited to “let others speak before you do”. Now I have a dozen new techniques at hand, thanks to James and his friend Chris Voss, former lead hostage negotiator for the FBI. Some of them are intuitive, some are not. Some require acting skills and poker face, which I claim to have. And don’t underestimate the importance of negotiation. Negotiation will happen in your life more often than you think. For example, I ended up on the Silicon Valley scam article thanks to a Financial Samurai post on negotiation. Getting better at diplomacy and negotiations is what makes you stronger as you grow: what you can’t win anymore with a direct fight you can get by plain and simple diplomacy and negotiation.

11) [Special] David Foster Wallace: This is Water.

Yes, the eleventh will always be special. Either “from the past” or something plainly fun or just a quote. This time we have the amazing commencement speech given by Wallace at Kenyon College on May 21, 2005. Here’s the video:

Thanks to this video I discovered D.F. Wallace and like most of the people I recognise as being incredibly wise and aware of the supreme truth, he committed suicide. The video is a compressed version of everything a student should learn from school. The school year could have been easily ended after the speech. One of the top comments on youtube for the video is “I learned more in that 20 minute speech than i did in all of my public schooling…“. You need to listen to it, I can’t summarise it here. If you need help, here‘s the full transcript, here a nice collection of quotes from the speech, and here‘s the post by brave new life that made me fall in love with D.F. Wallace. Enjoy!

Random Inspirations from incidentalcomics

Every once in a while I’ll share inspirational post/picture/quotes, just for fun.

To inaugurate the category here we have a cool picture from one of my favorites artists: Grant Snider. His blog is populated with these single collage pictures with a central topic and a small story around that, which is most of the time both inspirational and philosophical.

The one I want to share is yesterday’s one: about “slowing down“, which fits very well the FIRE Principles.

Enjoy! 🙂