Hello Ripsters, Giorgio here.
I’m not dead, and the blog isn’t dead as well.
It’s been over a year since I’ve published my last post. And that “post” was essentially just a link to a video. Like the previous one. The last “written” post dates back to July 5th 2021, and it was a MLJ.
Well, if you were a reader of mine you probably forgot about me by now.
Anyway, today I decided to block a full day on my calendar to just write, with no distractions and no other commitments. Just a scary blank page. I’m going to write a global all-encompassing update on my life, work, finances, health, family, etc.
This had to be done by the end of the year. It’s December 20th, I got so close.
Mind that it won’t be a clean, edited post. I’m going to publish this blob at the end of the day, whatever I have produced, no matter the quality. Please be gentle, I’m not writing too much these days, my written English skills are degrading, and I’ve already canceled and rewritten this sentence
10 11 37 times. But who cares. If you’re here you’re probably not interested in poetry (you should though, while it’s still produced by humans).
Ok, let’s get started.
2022-12-20 – Where I am
It’s been a crazy year. The most intense of my life by a huge margin. I had not enough time to handle all the things life threw at me. I’m the least “retired” I’ve ever been, and I don’t fully like it. Six and a half years ago I picked “Retire in Progress” (actually Mr. RIP) as nickname, but I tripled my workload since then. Not good? Well, it depends.
I used to journal a lot in the past. On a daily basis. Every once in a while I’d write an entry called “Where I Am”, preceded by the date in a sortable format. Previous entry dates back to July 4th 2022 and it’s a short rant. It’s the only entry in 2022. Again, not good.
Let’s use this time to make a public “Where I am” entry.
I usually start from the “here and now” (where am I, physically? What am I doing?) and then expand from there.
It’s Tuesday, December 20th, 10:43 am. I’m sitting on my consumed office chair in my home studio, a place that (spoiler alert!) if you follow me on YT/Twitch should sound familiar to you. Today I cleaned my calendar to just write. It’s been a fight, because a shitload of things would have required my attention, but I assume the world won’t end if I take a working day off.
My desk is polluted with bureaucracy “to be handled soon”, and my phone has a few dozen notifications demanding my attention.
I’m not well rested, but I can’t complain. I slept almost 6 hours tonight, I think it’s been one of the best nights of this Autumn 2022. We’ve all been mildly sick (coughing, running nose, light fever, ear pain, sore throat, laryngitis voice, and so on) since the beginning of October. Almost 3 months in this “half sickness” status for the five of us.
Actually four of us, my wife seems to be immune to everything. Or maybe she knows she can’t afford to be sick. I told you I’m very busy (I’m not bragging, I’m actually asking for help), but my wife is 10x busier than me. I can take small stretches of time off from family to walk, work, and even occasionally play… but she can’t. She’s taking care of our 3 daughters 24/7, with some support from a baby sitter and Kindergarten (and Kinderort 2 days per week). On some days she can’t find the time to take a shower, let alone sleeping more than 5 hours in a row She’s the real hero.
We still live in Switzerland. In the flat we moved in back in November 2019. It’s a 4.5 rooms, and it used to be enormous for the three of us.
You got me 🙂 I said “the three of us” in the sentence above, but I’ve previously said “the five of us”.
As I announced back in one of my last post, in October 2021 two twin sisters joined the RIP Family!
My amazing little angels are now 14 months old, and they are learning how to walk. And how not to get killed a thousand times per day.
The eldest sister is 4.5 years old, she started Kindergarten in August, and she’s desperately in love with his father (who am I to complain?) demanding his (mine) attention all of the time. She’s currently learning how to read. And how not to kill her sisters a thousand times per day.
And that’s my main job. Being a father for these three little criminals <3
It’s an impossible 24/7 job, time consuming, neurons destroying, underpaid (actually you have to pay for it) that you can’t retire from.
We expect a couple of more years of “very tough life” before it would eventually slowly get better. But we really have no idea where to find the required energy to keep going on for another couple of years at this intensity. We’re “old parents”. I’m 45 years old, the age difference between me and my twins is smaller than the age difference between me and my (now dead) paternal grandmother. I physically feel more like a grandfather than a father. It’s not fun.
And I haven’ told you everything yet.
Back when my wife was 5th month pregnant, we discovered that one of the twins had some congenital problem. I’m not going to talk about the details here, but I can share part of the process. First diagnosis was horrible. Something like 30% chances of not making it, and high chances of having to go thru surgery right after birth. We were lacerated. It’s been a shitty last trimester.
Luckily the diagnosis changed over time. We ruled out the worst hypotheses, but still on the birth day we knew there was a chance of losing our princess. The birth was planned 4 weeks before due date, which is normal in case of Monochorionic twins. Everything went well on that day.
She still has several problems though. Some of them will get better with age, some will stay. Anyway, she should be able to live a normal life (with some minor limitations though).
Problems that… let’s say… required us to go to the hospital every time she got a virus until June 2022. And she got ALL OF THEM. Adenovirus, Rhinovirus, Covid-19 (of course!)… the worst of all was the RSV, also called Respiratory Syncytial Virus. 10 days in intensive care, with a lot of oxygen support. On the 6th or 7th day doctor faces were not reassuring. She got an inch close to get a pipe into her lungs, which is last resort in terms of artificial oxygenation. I won’t forget that night. Luckily she survived, and things started to get better over time.
We’ve been practically living half of our lives in the hospital from mid January until the end of June (plus a few sporadic visits to the Kinderspital in July, and only one in August while on vacation). With minimal support from our families (our parents live far and are a bit old) we had to handle everything in house.
My routine for the first half of 2022 has been the following: wake up in the hospital, go back home (usually without even taking a shower), bring baby#1 to child care (she only started Kindergarten in August), then work until 5pm, then grab baby#1 from childcare and go to the hospital. Hand over baby#1 to my wife, and stay in the hospital with baby#3 for the night. My wife would wake up at home with baby#1 and baby#2 (in case she was able to sleep), prep baby#1 for school and wait for my coming home from the hospital. once I grabbed baby#1 she’d go to the hospital with baby#2, and stay there during the day with both baby#2 and baby#3 (the sick one). At roughly 6pm I’d arrive to the hospital and she’d go back home with baby#1 and baby#2.
A hell of a life for both of us.
Of course during weekends and days in which baby#1 didn’t go to child care things were way less manageable. We increased baby#1 child care frequency from 3 days per week to 4 days per week (2k CHF/month).
This hell of a first half of 2022 brought a lot of tensions. I had a couple of unpleasant moments with baby#1, where she wouldn’t want to accept reality (and rightfully so) and we both behaved badly. She probably suffered the most from the situation. The arrival of a sibling is in itself a stressful event. I can’t imagine having not just one but two new siblings at the same time, one of which requires a lot of extra care and parents time.
While baby#3 was handling Covid-19, and my wife (with Covid as well) was quarantined in the hospital with her, baby#1 passed out. The worst 30, maybe 40 seconds of my life. Screaming with my eldest daughter unresponsive in my hands, while my wife and my other daughters were in the hospital. She awoke after what I perceived as an infinite amount of time, and we went to the hospital to monitor her. We stayed 3 days the whole family in the hospital. Two patients and three “kind of healthy”. Two of them in isolation (Covid). After a ridiculous day of not being able to swap rooms and say hello to each other, we got a “family room” and got “isolated together” (we all got Covid anyway).
You can take a breath now. It’s a lot to process.
Wait, did I mention that baby#3 (the problematic one) had troubles gaining weight? We had to feed her via a nasogastric tube starting in March, until October 2nd, the real “independence day” for our family. Feeding her via a tube meant repeating a procedure 4-5 times per day, which involved preparing the formula milk, mounting the bottle into a flebo-like machine that would slowly send the milk into her stomach, then clean the machine. Total duration: 1 hour. 4-5 times a day. Wait, did I say formula milk? Wrong, my wife wanted to give her breast milk, so she pumped her milk 3-4 times a day with a machine. 30 minutes each time.
I downloaded the percentile tables from WHO website to track the weights of my daughters. I did it already for baby#1 because “she was a bit too small”. Compared to baby#2 and baby#3 she’s a giant of course.
Let me show you what I’m talking about: the above table represents “weight percentiles” and actual weight of my three daughters over time. On the X axis there is “age in days” (sorry for the use of Italian language), while on Y axis there’s the weight. The regular half transparent curves are the so called percentiles. Each curve tells you “p% of the female population of age x weights less than y“, where p depends on the specific curve, and (x,y) is a point on that curve.
The dotted black line is the 50th percentile, or the median weight. 50% of baby females weight more than that at any specific age. Your ideal kid should lie there.
The orange opaque line is (was, back in 2018) baby#1. The light blue line, that baby#1 only touched in her 8th month, is the 15th percentile. It tells you that 5 out of 6 random chosen babies born on the same day as her weight more than her. We had to monitor baby#1 back in 2018 because she went into the danger zone of “below 3rd percentile” (yellow curve, the third one from the bottom). It was not a huge deal, but we were a bit scared nevertheless.
Well… take baby#3’s curve, the pink one. She’s been wandering below the 1st millile for a while. Not percentile, millile. The dashed curve at the bottom. Being on the first millile means that out of a thousand random girls her age, 999 weight more than her, while just one weights less.
A fucking scary place where to be.
She started eating better, without much support, in September, and on October 2nd we got rid of support completely. She’s finally above 1st percentile. Meaning that out of that thousand same aged girls of the example before she surpasses a dozen of them, more or less.
I stopped tracking her weight once I felt confident that we’re not that close anymore to the really dangerous zone.
Let’s not even talk about our summer vacation in a family hotel in Sudtirol where I had to manually put back her nasogastric tube, and we had to go to Bolzano’s hospital one day. We definitely needed some rest in July/August, we got some crumbs of it at a very high price, we moved on.
Anyway, we’re stronger now. Tired as fuck, in desperate need of more rest, but we managed to survive a hell of a 2022 and our family is stronger. I’m so proud of us.
All of this right after I quit my previous job at the end of 2021 to become an entrepreneur (perfect timing!), the stock market went to thrash, and our expenses skyrocketed.
I couldn’t care less about money, and that’s a fucking superpower of having enough money saved that when “shit hits the fan” (or an entire field of cow shit, like our 2022) we don’t have to hurry.
We survived, with minimal scares.
And I incredibly managed to get some work done even while juggling with kids and hospitals (and nightmares about unhandleable worst cases scenarios)
I’m not bragging, nor trying to pity you. I’m just telling you what happened. And also trying to document it. This post is the first time I’ve “journaled” about health conditions of my daughter, and it’s being intense.
Let’s move on, to the irrelevant “everything else”.
Last day at the Academic Institute was December 31st 2021.
I quit my job to try to work on my own projects, mainly around content creation, coaching and who-knows-what.
I had a weak “business plan” with the aim to earn at least 5k CHF net per month working solely on things I love. Total expenses in 2021 was 100k CHF. I forecasted another 100k for 2022 and planned to compensate the difference between income and expenses with some “passive income” from investments. 40k CHF would mean a “less than 3% rule”, which I accepted as ok. At least I could try this semi-retirement regime for a couple of years, and then we’ll review the strategy.
Sure thing I won’t get a “normal” job again. So either we cut expenses, or my entrepreneurship brings more money in, or we’ll move to a LCOL area.
Of course, nothing went as planned. Some in the right direction, like income, entrepreneurship (kind of), still living in Switzerland (wait, is this the “right” direction?), some in the wrong direction like expenses (always up), employment (yeah, let me explain myself), passive income from investments (LOL, welcome to 2022!).
Back to work. I mean… the “work” topic.
During 2021 my content creation side hustle (this blog, my services, my YouTube Channel, my Twitch Channel, a few affiliations like Interactive Brokers, Amazon and a few more) started generating an “Italian salary”. Actually, the growth in November and December was promising. My YT channel grew from 8k subscribers in mid November to 27k by the end of the year. Growth has slowed down, I guess I’ve saturated my niche in Italian language, and the channel has now around 56k subscribers.
In December 2021 alone, ads on YT alone returned more than 3k CHF. Sadly, YT revenue never crossed 2k CHF on a single month again.
Anyway, back in December I felt energized and optimistic about my content creation gig, and wanted to go all in with that.
So I created a company to handle income and expenses related to all my online activities (affiliate marketing, royalties, coaching services) and on January 10th Retire In Progress GmbH was born! FYI, GmbH means “limited liability company”.
I gave myself 5k CHF salary per month at the beginning. Earnings were surprisingly higher than that, but I played safe at the beginning.
A few days after RIP GmbH was born, the nightmare due to baby#3 health conditions begun. Nice start.
Anyway, company#1 was born on January 10th, 2022.
“Wait, why you’re calling it company#1? Are there more companies?”
To introduce you my second company we need to go back to March 2021.
A guy booked a Personal Finance service with me. He just wanted to talk about “how to beat the markets”. He had several basic algorithmic ideas like “track all the spread between two stocks in the S&P500 (long on stock X, short on stock Y), if a pair is going in on direction for at least 3 consecutive trading days I bet on the opposite! I’ve backtracked the strategy and it’s profitable!“. My job was playing devil’s advocate and destroy all his strategies with the hammer of the Efficient Market Hypotheses (“how is this different from betting on late numbers? It’s called Gambler’s Fallacy“) and a bit of Occam Razor here and there (“do you think you basic strategy hasn’t already been tried by every single trading firm out there?“).
Anyway, the conversations became progressively more interesting, moving away from financial topics and toward philosophy and meaning of life. I got paid to have interesting conversations, and I was looking forward to our Monday recurring meeting.
Fun fact: I didn’t know his identity, nor I had met this person “in person”. I didn’t even know his face, we only interacted via WhatsApp calls and received money via PayPal. Paying an enormous amount of fees every time:
“Hey dear unnamed customer (ok, I knew his first name, phone number and one of his email at least), PayPal is a bit of an asshole company. I’m paying crazy fees… can’t we move to wire transfers?”
“Too much work, charge me the fees, do not worry 😉”
Being effective, not efficient, was his mantra. A seed to interpret the decision making process of the really wealthy. Effectiveness vs Efficiency. Ok, not today.
By late 2021 I wanted to get more details about my “customer”. He was quickly becoming my main customer and… you know… taxes? Invoices? I need some data. Mind that back in 2021 RIP GmbH didn’t exist yet.
On the same day I wanted to ask him who he really was, he anticipated me:
“Hey RIP, listen: my name is XYZ ZXY. I own several companies, two of which are ZZZ (80 employees) and YYY (40 employees). Plus A, B, C… (list of Companies/Assets that I estimated between two and three orders of magnitude more than mine, closer to three btw). I think you’re very very smart. I’d love to offer you a CTO role in one of my companies. just tell me how much you want”
I felt flattered, but it was still a no:
RIP: “Wow, thanks Mr Billionaire Next Door (lol, Mr. BND), but I didn’t quit Hooli and Academic Institute (actually I was still working there back then) to get another job. No. But thanks, I’m honored”.
BND: “Ok, fair. What about I book several of your hours? You offer a Mock Software Interview Package right? We’re hiring a lot, and finding smart people is hard. Do you want to interview people for us?”
RIP: “Well, sure. My services aren’t really designed for random people though, they’re a bit expensive and they’re better suited for those who wants to apply for FAANG companies and want a feedback on their preparation… but if you want…”
BND: “Effective, not efficient. Cool, deal. Plus, I might want you to join me on some meetings. You might just listen and then tell me what you think about the participants. I want a second heuristic to detect who’s smart and who’s dumb. I meet a lot of people, mostly investors or other business owners. Everything remotely of course and only if you can join”
Well… how to say no? I got a higher-than-Hooli hourly rate to work part time (with a lot of flexibility on my side) on things I like. That’s going to cover the gap to take the leap and quit employment!
And fuck you PayPal
I started interviewing people for BND’s companies. It was fun. I always loved interviewing people, I don’t know why. It has something anthropological in it that I love. I met smart people, less smart people, dumbasses… oh boy, the wild world of people applying for software jobs in late 2021 was an indicator of the crash yet to come.
People demanding to conduct a “google style” coding interview while driving their car (not joking), playing with their kids, showing up topless (luckily only man) or, worse, not even turning their camera on. I caught more than a guy cheating, getting suggestions from a friend in the same room (if you whisper I can still hear you bro).
RIP: “are you ready for a coding interview? :)”
Interviewee: “Nah, I don’t do these things”
RIP: “well… then I suppose we say goodbye…”
Interviewee: “Yeah, my salary expectations are 200k. Plus equity”
RIP: “ok, noted. Wait a minute: per year or per month?”
You have no idea.
Anyway, fast forward to early January 2022:
BND: “RIP, why don’t we launch a company together? I have an idea in one of my fields of expertise (crypto – wait, let me explain below!), you can drive the development hiring developers and handling them. I put the money. You bill me the hours you work there. And I give you 10% of the company”
Too good to pass.
I never startupped so far, I always dreamed about. I can experiment without risking my money. I can quit whenever I want (though losing equity as a “bad leaver”). I get paid a “Hooli-like” salary and I have the flexibility I want. I’ll hire and manage people. Meanwhile I can keep working on my content creation. It’s actually an asset now, not something I need to hide or work on “secretly”. And in case of a exit I might reach FatFIRE.
Retirement can wait a bit.
The only predictable problem was that this was going to monopolize my brain and capture every available second of my calendar. I decided to only take half of the cake.
RIP: “I can’t say no. I’m actually looking forward! I’d like to share this opportunity with a close friend of mine, ultra smart and a bit more knowledgeable in this field. Are you ok with that?”
BND: “Sure, if you think he’s smart let’s have him onboard!”
I split the 10% equity with this friend of mine (I’ll call him Tchouk Norris), and we co-operate the company since early March 2022, while Mr BND finances it and contributes with ideas and potential business partners.
So now I’m (also) a startup co-founder.
Before we move on: yes, it’s a crypto startup. I won’t tell the name here but you can easily find it elsewhere with a milli-Newton of effort.
I think cryptos are 99% scam, closer to 100% when we talk about them in terms of currencies, defi, etc.
I’ve always been curious about Smart Contracts and NFTs (not the “jpgs of monkeys” type). I can envision a future where we use Digital Objects and we make contracts automatic, though I believe that there’s less than a 10-15% chance that the entire crypto field will still be a thing in 10 years from now.
Our startup operates in the NFT Space. We’re trying to redesign what a Digital Object is, and we’re doing it in a Object Oriented way. Polymorphism, Inheritance, Encapsulation, Modularity.
I think our idea is pretty cool and very innovative, but I’m not sure the technical challenges to make it work on a blockchain are worth the benefits. If we used a database we’d be ready tomorrow, with a solution 100x more powerful.
I don’t know if being skeptical while being a startup cofounder helps, but I must admit I’m the most skeptical among the three cofounders so… I guess a bit fo diversification is healthy for the company.
March-June 2022 we spent our Startup time hiring a team and iterating over the idea. Most of the developers we hired come from my community. My content creation community changed a bit. It’s now way more “Career Development” than “Personal Finance” oriented. Not sure I like it, but that’s what I talk about on my Channels.
I like to joke about the fact I’m the only crypto influencer that offers you a job instead of shilling a shitty token 🙂
Anyway, my employees are extremely talented and they are my fans, and that’s an amazing working environment.
The core team is now 9 people (including the 3 cofounders) and there are another 4-5 between advisors, consultants, and a graphic designer.
We’ve not launched any product yet, but we’ve build an alpha version for a conference in November that received a lot of attention. We plan to launch a playable Beta around March/April 2023, and the public Version 1.0 later in 2023.
We are also hiring!
I’m going to hire 2-3 extra engineers! Check my LinkedIn out in a few days 😉
So, company#2 was officially born on February 2022, with the first employees hired in May (if I remember correctly).
“Are we done with the companies?”
Not yet 🙂
“Come on, I’m waiting…”
You gotta wait a bit longer, it’s 8:30pm and the day is over. I want to publish this post now, so there’s gonna be a part 2 in a few days (hopefully), covering work, finances, physical and mental health, FIRE dreams, future plans, philosophy of life…
“So… there’s going to be a part 2, 3, 4…”
Yeah, more likely 😉
You’re in good company!
“ -.- ”
Enjoy your holiday folks!
P.S. Please mind that I didn’t even re-read what I wrote. Zero editing. Forget some typo. Forget the messiness.