Project Kingpin


The last three years have been a rush. The Power of Habit inspired me to quit smoking. The Passionate Programmer inspired me to start taking my professional life more seriously. 4 Hour Body inspired me to lose weight. It's not all sunshine and roses; some days still seriously suck. But most days, I feel like I found cheat codes for life.

What's Next?

Last week, I hit a personal milestone: a 405-pound deadlift. While not an especially significant weight in the world of powerlifting, it represents a year of consistent effort. A year ago, I couldn't deadlift the bar (45 pounds). Today, I know I can do nine times that amount.

The oddest thing was that I often didn't notice the progression. With the exception of a couple very heavy-hitting months, it was largely very subtle, very gradual—an additional 0-10 lbs. added week after week. But, over the course of a year, that added up.

This is the theme of a book I'm currently reading, The Compound Effect. In the book, Darren Hardy argues a very obvious, intuitive, but rarely-acknowledged fact: that small changes can have dramatic (and often compound—feeding back into themselves in a virtuous/virtuous cycle) effects over a long period of time; and that we should take advantage of that fact to introduce life-altering change in manageable, bite-sized ways. (In many ways, The Compound Effect is a more real-talk/tough-love version of The Power of Habit, with less science, and more anecdotes and specific instructions. Still, good read so far.)

The combination of hitting a weightlifting milestone and reading this book got me excited about choosing a new #fatmanX project. Both #fatmanruns and #fatmanlifts have been a wonderful way for me to stay motivated in achieving my goals while letting me share my journey in a way that hopefully didn't annoy my friends and family. I've received many messages/emails/notes/texts from friends letting me know that they enjoy following along. It's even inspired a few people to become more active, something which pleases me to no end.

After a few weeks of thought, I've found a new project.

It's Business Time

Over the past few years, I've watched my friend Orion and his business partner Falcon grow Logical Increments from nothing to a healthy six-figure business employing a half dozen people around the world. It's been inspiring and humbling to watch.

As a software engineer, I use my technical skills to help other people make money—hopefully more than it costs to employ me. But rarely have I used my technical skills to help myself do the same. Employment provides a safety barrier. I get paid whether the product ends up succeeding or not. In exchange for providing this barrier of stable employment, the company gets to keep any potential upside as profit. That's the essential nature of business.

And that's about where my understanding of business (particularly online business) stops. As a software engineer, I've seen all sorts of people make money online. I've helped a fair share of them do it. But I don't know how to do it myself. I've always been a specialist, operating within a very specific band of the overall business process.

Sounds like a learning opportunity!

Project Kingpin

Project Kingpin is an effort to start an online business which makes money with minimal ongoing involvement. Since it's not related to physical health, I decided the #fatmanX moniker wasn't entirely appropriate. However, I still wanted to work it in somehow.

Here's the gist:

  1. By the end of January 2016, I will make at least $50 in revenue through some online endeavor.
  2. Each month in 2016, I will increase the amount of monthly revenue by $50 (on average).
  3. By no later than March 2016, I will be making a profit each month.
  4. By December 2016, I will be making $600 in recurring monthly revenue, at a profit of at least 20% ($120 per month).
  5. Each week, I will post a summary of my activities in the previous week: what I did, why, and any reportable results.
  6. Each month, I will post a complete financial summary of the previous month.
  7. Over the course of the year, I will not spend more than 15 hours per week working on Project Kingpin (on average). The purpose of this exercise is to make a net-positive business that requires minimal ongoing attention.

Note, these are not extreme goals by any means. Making $600 per month at a profit of $120 per month at the end of a year is a pretty reasonable bar for success.

Spending no more than 15 hours per week ensures that I can do this in my spare timeout without impacting my ability to perform at work, at home, or at the gym. It also helps ensure I'm building the kind of business that I can replicate.

Focusing primarily on revenue over profit is an arguably questionable decision... but I want to make sure I'm not shying away from potential business or methods because the margins aren't good enough, simply because I don't know what "good enough" really is! I think as long as it's not costing me money to run the property, it's worth the learning experience.

The gradual revenue growth goal is meant to mirror the gradual gains I experienced in my powerlifting efforts: small, achievable gains month over month, eventually growing into something substantial.

That's it. Pretty simple.

Follow Along

Since this is such a departure from my #fatmanX series, I've decided to start a new mailing list, separate from my regular blog updates. I'll use this list for all updates relating to Project Kingpin, including weekly and monthly summary notifications. Sign up below.

This is kind of a terrifying project for me. I've never done anything quite like it, and I'm nervous/excited.

Here we go!