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👨‍🔧 Aubrey Johnson. How to stress-test your business, and why homeschooling in the way of the future.

Rad Dad, hosted by Kirill Zubovsky podcast.

Aubrey is a full-time designer living in Charleston, South Carolina. He was named one of Business Insider's Top 75 Designers in Technology and has worked for companies like Twilio, Authy, Science Inc., Color, Scoutzie and many others. While most people would consider running a business a full-time job in itself, Aubrey does all of this in a comfort of his own home. Listen and find out how this rad dad gets the most out of life!

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Hello and welcome to the ride that show. This is your host, Carol's Lebowski. Today. My guest on the show is over. Johnson Breeze, a designer living in Charleston, South Carolina. He works remotely for a company out of Austin, while human, his wife raising their family and home schooling them as well. Over has got a very interesting past, where, before becoming a designer, he was a mechanic and air force. But then he transitioned and became a digital designer and eventually ran a business of his own, where for a couple of years she was a full time designer,

doing everything from sales to actual work. Today on the show over and I going to talk about freelancing, remote work, home schooling and what parenting is like in his situation to start. Let's find out why. While so many designers live in Silicon Valley, Oh, bring this family decided to move to the East Coast.


The real reason we refuse to buy a house and to be close to family we're real close to family and would like to be my son. His name is Jet. He's 77 and 1/2 and my daughter her name is Sydney and she's born half the Southeast. I mean, it's definitely it's got its quirks, for sure. Um, but you know, no place is perfect and we like we like that aspect of it being close to family, having those memories. That means a lot to us. So it's worth, uh, couple of the caveats that come with


being here. Do you miss the weather?


Oh, man, that's the biggest one. It's but after you know, after a few months, you get you get more used to it. But I don't think once you know about like, West Coast weather, you never you never can be content with it here like you were before you knew about with West Coast. Whether if that makes any sense,


Oh, yeah, that totally makes sense.


Yeah, once you've had West Coast, whether it's like it's it's like the promised Land of whether it's like, Oh, but it's so good there all the time. So perfect. And we were. Before we moved back east, we were in Orange County, which I would argue, is maybe the best weather in America. So in California,


I think real estate prices in Orange County would agree with you.


Uh, that's part of the reason why we left. Were, like, Well, a 1,000,000 bucks for this dump. No way. Let's get out of here.


1,000,000 books. Where did you find such a cheap house in the


rich? Can I know, right? I think it was a condo or something. Yeah, we, uh yeah, it's It's got its pros and cons, you know? But that weather was you. You don't need to be in your house that much. Really? If you go nice weather all the time.


I didn't know you were in Air Force. Wasn't before kids.


It was before kids. Um, it was in between First try, rookie rookie, attempt at college, and, um, and then going back to college and actually getting decent grades. Uh, yeah, I didn't I didn't really know what to do. I wasn't doing very good in school. I didn't really have that figured out. I wasn't I didn't know how to be a student. And so I needed some discipline. And I felt like I'd live this kind of Ah, pretty relaxed and e.

I felt like I lived in a place in a country that things were pretty pretty easy. compared to others. And I felt a little bit of a sense of of debt to that. And so I wanted to. I wanted to serve and and that was a way to do it, and it and it had some other that had some other real tangible benefits to like, I'm getting some discipline and maybe having money to go back to college. If that was what I wanted to do one day and to learn, learn some skills that I didn't I wasn't gonna learn anywhere else I


wanted to take.


So I was in for six years total. Um, I was, ah, diesel engine mechanic on the flight line. So I worked on the support equipment for the aircraft, and I was two years in the active duty, and I got in really great after 9 11 and, um, shortly after 9 11 year, they, uh I think the government realized they had they had a little bit too many people in the military when they realized we weren't gonna do World War three or whatever they were planning for. And, um and so they had this program where you could switch to the reserve and I thought that looked great, cause I I was Well, I appreciate my time I was here. I was ready to not be a mechanic anymore.

How side every day and having, you know, dirt under my fingernails every night. I think I was I was like, This isn't this is an honest living, but it's not really what I want to do longer. And, yeah, I


switched to the reserve. Doesn't mean you otherwise can't leave or Ah,


yeah. I mean,


when you get to retain benefits,


well, when you when you join the military, you signed a contract either sign. And in most cases you signed a four or a six year contract and you you can't leave you, you have to finish. I mean, you could quit, but it's not good. It's not good. If he quit, it's bad. It's really bad for your long term. Uh, you know, that stuff goes on, follows you around with your credit score is hard to get a home loan. I think there's a lot of stuff that comes along with just quitting that job.

It's it's not easy to quit. You really have to finish what you start there. Um but they had a transition program where you could join the reserve and you would react, retain, retain your benefits. And, you know, being been favorable Standing with the with the government military and And I took, I took that.


That's pretty convenient.


It were Cal. Pretty awesome. Yeah. Okay,


wait. So what I want to know really is, you know, life of ovary and how you became a dad. I'm kind of all the cool things you learned and what you can teach other parents about parenting, but also, uh, while we here. So how did you go from being in the military mechanic to a designer in California?


That's a good question. So, like I knew I didn't want to be a flight line diesel engine mechanic for 20 years. And when I was able to transition to the reserve, I went back to school, and I was I started that I was gonna go to law school. That was my plan. Um, I thought that seems like a pretty good profession, and, uh, and it looked interesting. But then when I dug into it, I thought, Why don't really I think I actually don't want to be a lawyer, and around that same time, and that was that was going on.

I was taking some electives in, um, interface design. And and I think it was like an introduction to Web programming course as electives. And I had done that stuff as a as a middle schooler just tinkering around, Um, nothing serious. And, uh, and I was doing pretty well in the classes, and I really liked it. And I found out you could You could do well in that profession, you know, if you if you committed yourself to it. And so I got a degree in graphic design, and then I got another degree in another ground and weapon interactive media design,

and and, ah, and then after that, are joined to Leo. And so I had, you know, kind of started going to school to be a designer, and, um, a multi disciplinary designer, and, uh, and then I got some gigs that just it kind of kept going. Thanks. Things kept going and getting getting better and better. And and I really liked it. Didn't feel like work.


Yeah, well, special after fixing airplanes?


Yeah. Being outside and doing like a I guess it's like a hard labor job. Almost in some cases, you know, it's it's it's intense labor at certain times. Yeah, switching from that to a desk job. Ah, yeah, it's pretty cushy in comparison for sure.


So you mentioned Tulio, and I remember that was kind of Ah, Blip with its phileo that happened to you. Did you want to talk about that?


What happened with Julia?


Well, remember how like family was really important to you? And so instead of staying in Tulia


for Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. So, yeah, I'll talk about that. So I was actually, I left Atlanta to go to Tulio. I was, uh I was actually dating a different gallop in my life, and I I got homesick. I really wanted to go back to Atlanta while I was a true Leo. And And this at this point, there are only five people a Giulio. I was the second employee there,

and the three founders, founders and then ah, Danielle Merrill was there before me. Um and, uh, who's a great company? Everybody there was super nice. I learned so so much, but I just couldn't shake that homesickness. And so I went back to Atlanta and ah, the gala stating that fizzled out pretty quick. And then, um and then I met my wife, and I guess this doesn't have too much to do with with being a dad or anything the Tulio thing. But I think it was my beginning of prioritizing relationships over, um,

financial gain or, ah, you know, positions and companies or things like that. And Ah, and I think really, that was the start of that. That sort of thinking and those sort of decisions. So that's right with that? Yeah.


But also for, you know, all the designers and freelancers and people thinking about startups listening to this in the end of the day, you know, it took twilio what, Over 10 years? Oh, yeah. Oh, eso I mean, if you stayed there, is that 5th 2nd employee or a one of the five people? It's that you would have made some money, but it would have taken a really, really long time. So, in hindsight,

like, how do you feel about this? You know, would you would you advise people to maybe considering hangout for longer or like, how did it work out in the longer, huh?


Well, some money and a lot of money, in my opinion, are two different things. And it was a lot of money. I think the total number of shares for my initial and this is so long ago. I don't care who knows about this stuff now, but I think it was like 150,000 shares with a strength price of like, you know, a fraction of a penny. So, um, we're talking at Julio's Peak. Emit millions of dollars of value in equity, and that's not, you know, there's delusion and stuff.

Maybe it would be maybe be considerably less, but But I would have a lot of a lot more about me than act today for sure if I had stuck around for that. So, um, I guess that's the first part of that. But ultimately, by leaving Tulio, I was able to meet my wife. And then we started our family and all that's worth way more than a few $1,000,000. You know, 23 I wouldn't I wouldn't do it any differently, even if I could see if I could see the path the path is in front of me. I take the family round


whether I'm glad you're enjoying this episode of the ride that show while you're listening. If you can take a moment and share this episode with your friends or leave us a review in iTunes that would really help. The link is in the episode details. Thanks. Let's get back to the show. I knew you was about 2012. You were a freelance, and you stayed as a freelancer for quite a long time. All right, I use another Lansing right now, are you?


No. In fact, I just stopped releasing in March on, but I wasn't doing it like I wasn't doing it the way Well, yeah, I did it for, like, three. I did it for for rial for like, three years. When when we met, I was I was a color, and I was definitely doing things on the side When I had time, I was working for a lot of white. See, cos I think around the time we know it was when I was doing offthe E. And then I did some work with Andrew Mason with B tour.

Um, the old Bob was another one. They ended up getting acquired. S oh, I had a good relationship with companies that were going through. I see. I think through through knowing Gary or somebody there was saying nice stuff about me, which, if you're listening this now, like, Thanks, I really, really appreciate that. On goes those relationships really formative. The, um But I wasn't doing full time freelance until till after science.

Um, and you mentioned what I might say toe started folks or or freelancers thinking about, Sort of. I guess we'll talk. We could talk a bunch about different things. I've learned over time, but the after after science I joined a couple of companies. I wasn't there very long. I really liked that variety of being the D i r a ts sci Well, I worked on about maybe 36 to 38 different company. Something like that.


Firefight. That's designer in residence.


That's right. Yeah. So I was Ah, yeah, I was Ah, science. I was part of the team that science, but that helped helped the portfolio companies and and my investment into them was usually through, like, design, capital, sweat, sweat equity, for the most part, um, to contribute to those companies successes. And I was doing all kinds of stuff.

Prom, foreign product work. Um, helping them hire designers, mediating relationships between engineers and designers, doing promise internally for size all you name it whole bunch of stuff that it really was like, such a great variety of work climate science, and probably spoiled me a little bit, too. And so when I left science, I I went and I worked another startup in, um in L. A and great great teams called a company called Work Pop. And they do like Lincoln for for For I guess, lack of a better term, like blue collar workers,

a lot of retail and food and beverage. Folks don't really have Ah, wait, a document. Their work history. Um, and they have kind of an inverse job market versus technology. They do have one job with a lot of applicants Vs, um, you know, a few applicants for many jobs and starters. And so, uh, so I worked there for, like, an embarrassingly short amount of time.

It was, too. It was only one thing I was like, This is these folks are great. It's a great company, but I just want that variety. I'm gonna join an agency. I didn't do that for very long. That was that was a whoopsie. And then, uh then I started my own thing, and I thought, I'll go to an agency. They get variety. That was not a


variety of. You got to pick the color of the buttons. So you, uh, you could


put on the screen. I mean, barely even that, you know, I think they're good folks at that agency. But, um but it was not the kind of work that I was seeking. And they were again really nice. It was It wasn't anything like, you know, what bad relationship or anything personal was more. That's like this nature. This work isn't for me. And when I saw the billable tze and how many people were working on projects, I thought, um, from business side,

I thought, Well, why am I I'm doing you know, I'm doing 90% of this work and taken about 15% maybe 10% of this this income. So that seems like a little weird. And I was doing some of the pitch is too. So I knew I could pull the business. And so that's when I decided to start my own thing. And I did that for about three years and my wife was really sketched out. She was like, What are we gonna like? What if What if you don't get clients? And I said, I don't know. And she said we were gonna do for health care. We're gonna buy it And she said,

Isn't it really expensive? And I said, Yeah, it's awfully expensive on asleep, but we're gonna do it and we're going to take some risks and see how it goes. And it turned out to be one of the best, uh, best decisions I could have made for for a lot of reasons.


While we hear, uh, does your wife work or is she home with kids most of the time,


So my wife, she does work. She works extremely hard. I would say she works harder than I do. Um, she's a stay at home mom and she also home schools. Our son, who's in first grade a being of being second grade after the summer. So, um, I know Auntie Balances. My daughter is not in school yet. Keeps her, you know, her mind active and doing things, too, and I don't know how she does it. She's she's awesome. I couldn't do. I couldn't do what she does. Her Johns hard to burn.


We'll circle back to freelancing in a second. But I'm curious how you guys deeply religious. Is that why you're homeschooling, or is that just a different different? Joyce,


I don't know. I mean, I guess we know a lot of homeschool people who are deeply religious. I mean, we we we have a belief we have beliefs, you know? But part of that part of the reason a big reason for us to home school is because one because we can, um it's nice to be able to, um, focus. You know, from a financial standpoint, we make some sacrifices so that we can we can do that. My wife, it really likes to do it. She feels very fulfilled when she does this. And so,

um, because she likes to do it. You know, I I like to be ableto support that from the financial side, and I do what I do and she does what she does. But one of the things that we found that's a cool benefit of homeschool is that if our son is having a hard time on a certain aspect of his, uh, Scholastics, my wife can spend more time on it. She doesn't have to kind of push along, you know, to make make the quota or whatever goes on. You know, in a in a larger school system where you've got to make sure kind everyone's getting everything they need. And then when he breezes through something, it's done and on to the next thing.

And so, um, we do it for for a lot of different reasons, but I wouldn't say that like our main choice was. Oh, because we, you know, have a belief system, and we don't We don't want to put our kid and squat. I mean, I don't I don't think that's Ah, I think that's silly. When people do. I think that's the wrong reason to do home school. If you ask me


right well, that's Ah, I mean, it was like a physician's when I asked it right, but I was curious because we were considering it at some point. I mean, our oldest is still only three years old, so Maybe it'll zeroes you think about it. But a lot of people have this attitude to home schools like, Oh, well, don't do it. You know, your kids are gonna be weird. Like they're like, Hey, you have anyone to play with?


But we hate, but we went to Did you goto you go to like a public or private school


grown up? I went to public school, so I went to probably


still, too. Hey, there's some weird kids in public school. So, like you escaped weird kids, Um, bye bye Doing on school. But I think that that's kind of a long standing challenge with homeschoolers, the socialization aspects. And, um and that's actually so you bring up a good point if we're gonna talk about philosophies. I think there's some stuff going on in schools today. That's a little cookie. Um, with the way that kids treat each other and kind of bully each other and are rough on one another, psychologically,

more so than maybe when we were younger, Maybe. I mean, I don't know I'm not in school right now, but it seems different to me. And when you think about the workplace in this and the school environment. That's those aren't That's not really how it works. If I were to bully someone at work, I'm nuked, man. I'm out, you know, and, um, and if someone on my team was doing it to someone they'd be skipping down the street on their butts, I'd kick him out so fast.

But in school, that doesn't it doesn't really go that way. You know, kind of like kids have to endure these things, and some of them are pretty like It's not something that I think people would want their kids to endure. It's not like a character building thing. It's more like tortures. And so it's kind of nice to skirt that now. That doesn't happen at every school. Not everybody can do home school on that. I don't think I'm some better parent or something, cause we have this this set up for ourselves. It's just what works for our family. Some families probably couldn't be together all the kind, like where I work from home, so we're kind of like on the homestead, you know, like a pre Industrial Revolution family in a post industrial revolution era


way, said this house, you guys bought. Is it like a really cool farm somewhere?


No, no, it's It's just in a regular neighborhood. It's it's kind of close to. It's a few blocks from the, you know, we're kind of close to the coast here. It's near, like the salt marches and stuff so we can go fishing and things down the street. But overall know we live in just a basic neighborhood. I think you don't have an office. Ah, section off office. And then there's a room in our house that's like a school room. It looks like a school, and my wife does your thing in there. Oh,

and you know, what I didn't mention is my son goes to a co op for one day a week, and, um, it's basically like a place for him to meet up with other kids. There's a there's a formal teacher. It's kind of like school, but it's a lot less structured and rigid, like uh like a public school would be, if that makes us


Are you guys planning on doing this throughout kind of his whole education or is just for younger years,


man, Actually, when my way first suggested I was like Hell, no, you're not doing that. And you have no experience. You're crazy. And that was my life. You know,


in this shop, I'm sure exactly how you


said that. I think I did say it like that. She got mad at me. So you know, we're way have healthy debate like any couple does. And ah, she we had them. He had some more longer conversations about it and talked. Talked through it more logically. But my initial reaction was No way. You don't have any teaching experience you and this is really important. So I'm not I'm not aboard this. And, um And then I said, Okay, you know what? It's kindergarden.

Ah, here's my opinion on it. And then let's let's talk about that. The is what I said to my wife. I said, It's kindergarten. Um, you know, it's not like junior year of high school or something that's as critically important in my opinion, um, so let's let's give it a shot and at the end of the year will have him independently and privately evaluated. And if he's on point with his peers, then we can go another year. And she said that's a good deal. Let's do that. And so that's kind of been our Our operation is if he's at or above, his peers will go another year, and we just take a year by year. Right now,


that's a really beautiful way of doing it than the you introduced some accountability and there is no you just winging it. You're actually measuring it, which is yeah, kind of odd, but awesome. It's like you're doing a little start up at home, which is called your kid.


Yeah, yeah, and you know, they're Some of this stuff is new, Like, I think in certain states, parents can get away with being pretty lame at this and my wife's talk to some other parents and she'll come back and tell me what they're doing for their curriculum and stuff. And it's like, Man, you're not doing your kid any favors by this, like, kind of lazy way you're doing this. And, um so you know, people. Some people do this, and it's not a good choice.

It's not a wise choice, and they have a really weird approach, and we're not perfect either. But we tried it like you said, we try to do it pretty, pretty pragmatically and with a lot off accountability and biases removed as much as we can.


What? You'll probably have biases, but there be like intellectual bias is introduced into the education right rather than removed out of it, I would suspect. But honestly, we know some folks out here in Seattle who home school, their kids and their kids are not just on par, but probably better behavior more intelligent and able to sustain conversations better than their peers from normal schools. And you mentioned financially, too. I mean, if you compare it to public schools, maybe it's more expensive because basically have one parent staying at home. But if you compare it to private schools, all right, they were cost of tuition for years, like 20 plus $1000. Then well, maybe you're even saving money.


Maybe, Yeah, I think I'm still paying for public school through my taxes, but I'm just not using it, Um, and that's fine with us. What, You know, we're just We're just doing what we think is good for our family and, um is going to make people, but we're tryingto put people in a society that are better than ourselves. That better than my wife and I are. That's our goal.


Yeah, And I guess when your son's older, he can teach your daughter because you he would have gone through the curriculum


fan. She already knows a lot of stuff that a lot of four year olds don't know, which is pretty cool, cause she's in in there kind of getting bits and pieces of it through osmosis. And, uh, yeah, that's that's an interesting, um, unintended happy accident of things that have happened. She's kind of done kindergarten and first grade to some degree already for whatever you know, her for three and four year old mind King can, um, can comprehend.


Yeah, And I think the probably can comprehend a lot better than we think they could.


Yeah, but, oh, they're out. Kids. Air is making kids are so sophisticated and their complex emotional people just like adults.


Yeah, my wife and I like to joke that they're basically what we treat them as adults with constraints.


Yeah, that's good. That Look, I like that.


Yeah. So you mentioned how you freelance from home and well, now you work for ah, for the company, but you're still doing it from home. And you This is how you've been doing this for a while. And I want to focus a little bit more about it because remote work as sort of becoming more important again. Two people but back. You know, when I met you, we were hoping it the very popular, and everybody would just switch and work from home, which didn't happen. But


yeah, it's hard.


Yeah, and that's the thing, right? We saw that a lot of even the best. The best designers, the best freelancers were still taking jobs in the end of the day because of things like health care's expensive. Right. And And you kind of think that if you're freelancing, well, that's great. You're gonna, like, work in the morning for a couple hours, then jump in the car, go to the beach and go surfing. But in reality,


uh huh, I wish it was like that. I think there I have a couple of a handful of times where you know, I woke up with one time we were in Southern California. My wife said, I want to go to the San Diego Zoo today and I had a legend, a foreclosed. I was like, Let's do it. Let's just go to the Sandy was there. They have to ask. Anyone went to the zoo all day, I came home and it didn't affect my work. But I mean, these are few and far between, right? You know,

I think if you're doing it right, you're not going to the beach every day or even pseudo frequently. It's It's hard, it's It's not easy work, in my opinion,


right? So can you expand on that? I just wantto know what it felt like for the last couple of years, as you were doing all these different work, right? And like, Well, how how difficult it is to be freelancer, where the family versus having a job where a lot of things are taking care for you. And what were the benefits of


both? Yeah, So I think the first thing, the most important thing that outline is that my wife is an insanely awesome teammate, and I'm super thankful for her in my life because, um, so many of the things that that that have happened over the past few years, especially the freelancer, were because she's understanding or she we kind of come together and divide and conquer our responsibilities. So expanding more on that, I think. Yeah. Well, what What? What can I tell you about it? About the three year journey. Where's running my own business? What are some things that you want to know?


Well, let's just start with. Do you recommend it?


Um, I recommend it for a certain type of person. Uh, if you are the kind of person who has an enormous amount of self discipline and you have natural sales ability and you're organized, then this this work could be could be for you If you don't. If you feel like well, I'm okay. It's some of that, but maybe not so great at the other. And you really have a sober self assessment on that. And you think maybe I'm not so good at some of those things? I have a hard time. You're gonna get into this, you're gonna quote you might quit your great job that pays you and has all your setup looked up for you. And you're gonna get into this and think, what have I done? Or it's gonna stop working and It's gonna be a financially tough one.

And that that's tricky. One, too. You really don't. You should think long. Hard, I'll tell you. I'll tell you how I transition. Though. This was helpful. I basically started full time freelancing as I was as I was full time doing my other job and leaving my other job and with and, you know, for me, uh, I have a sense of accountability to whomever is paying me a paycheck. I wasn't gonna short them,

you know. They paid for their full week, their work, and they got it. And the rest of the time was was my time. And so that was time of family time where I didn't eat at where I, you know, I ate at my desk or I stayed up till, you know, I sleep through four hours a night or something like that. I'm doing Cem Cem somewhat unhealthy stuff in the beginning to kind of test the water. And then when it was when my full time job was starting toe, get in the way of this where I ran out of time, I wanted to work more on my freelance business and financially, my my well paying full time job was like was like a loss leader for me, And that's when I knew it was time to shut that off in transition to full time.

Freelance. So maybe for some folks out there, if that's helpful for you, if you if you got the grit and you can pull to 40 hour a week jobs and you've got a teammate in a in a spouse, that that's ah, or a partner, or maybe you're single or whatever and you can pull this off, maybe then it's for you. Maybe then


I like what you said about 2 40 hour weeks because I think freelancing isn't many way entrepreneurship because you are becoming a business, right? And so it's no longer just doing the design work that you enjoy. If, say, your designer and this is the type of work you enjoy, it's now we're doing the sales. The pitching refer like whatever it takes, right And, uh, somebody else mentioned on the podcast how, as an entrepreneur you get Ah, the great thing is, you get to pick which 80 hours a week you want to work. Yeah, yeah, yeah, so but that's That's a great point that you can transition, actually, by loading yourself with this extra work and then trying to see if you can do and you interested in doing everything that it takes to do for your own business.


Do you know the thing? Now that I'm talking about this, it reminds me back to the the really the last couple weeks of when I had a full time job, I had a friend in Southern California who said he also was gonna go full time freelance, and we were gonna do this as a partnership and we hadn't done anything legally, you're, you know, bonded ourselves with paperwork or anything like that, but on. But I had a pipeline of clients that were coming in, and it was more work than I could do. And so he said he was gonna join. So I'm I'm pretty much out there selling, you know, to People's Time and, um, invention bails out.

He says, I I don't think it's the right time for me. I'm feeling nervous about this, and I talked with my wife and I don't want to do it. And so I said, okay, and then so I I, you know, went back home, and I thought long and hard. Should I? Which plans should I tell? Beat it, You know, and I can't do the work. And what what eventually happened was I thought,

I'm not gonna tell anyone Thio to be it. I'm gonna do all this work that I signed it for two people for and I'm just gonna grind through this and hustle this out and do a fantastic job that he's become. My client's going forward, and that's what I did. And, dude, it was the hardest thing ever. It was so tough not sleeping and presenting all this work and being on point being sharp and being I was trying to deliver the work that I would pay for that with that amount of money out of my own pocket. And that's heart. That that was hard to do. Um, and thanks to my friend who bailed out on me, he really said he really hooked me up. It was ultimately it was Ah, it was a gift. More than a curse.


You guys still friends?


Oh, yeah. We're great friends. I love this guy. Uh, he's he's also and, ah, and it wasn't. It just wasn't right for him. I'm glad he didn't do it when he knew it wasn't right for him, because it would have probably been, you know, really problematic. Have someone working with someone who wasn't all in and in that same way.


So speaking of commitment, So you said that it really helped that your wife and you can, uh, split responsibilities. Can you tell us a little bit? How would that work?


Yeah, So there would be times where I would have, you know, heavier workload. And I would before I would take the clients on, or I would, you know, kind of start on the word. I would talk with her explicitly about what it meant. I said, Okay. It's gonna be this app, this amount of work. This is what my asked him. It is on this and time it's gonna take. And so that means. You know,

we just basically went through the calendar and the schedule together. And I said these weekends I'm gonna be I'm gonna work through the weekends, or I'm gonna work late at night. I'm gonna come down for dinner 45 minutes and then I'm gonna go back to the office, and I kind of got her sign off on it. And we look through it together and say, Is this financially good for us? Does this? You know, we had some goals. We want Boone by hospital, were aggressively saving for home. And so we looked at that, and sometimes a client come through in the financials just weren't there in our opinions, Like as we consulted on it together. And so it was like Nat couldn't take Not gonna think about project right now.

Just gonna let it go and keep the workload small, or it's like, Well, this is this is good, but it's a lot of hard work. So she would take on this responsibility is like bath and bedtime. Um, just just being really president, not quite single mom in it, But, you know, she was she was putting in a lot of hours and doing a lot of work on her side and and also keeping me in a positive light with the kids, which is really cool, because I'm sure wasn't always easy to do


so There have been days where you probably weren't there for most of the day. So what you're saying?


Yeah, yeah, there'll be days where, you know, I would have an ultrafast breakfast with the kids and then start working and maybe they'd seen you for 45 minutes a dinner, and then and then that was that. But, you know, that was a short period of time. I knew that wasn't sustainable, and we didn't. That's not how it is today. It's It's changed kind of drastically since then. Now it's more it's a much more balanced. But when we go back to like, Is this for you, this freelance life you might be?

You might have to do that hustle. And you have to think about, do you? Do you want to do that? Do you have? Yeah. Do you want her missile on some of that? But as things got more stable on DME or understandable from the business side, it was easier to say, You know, okay, I'm running my own business. I can play trains with my son for an hour. Today, at 11 a.m. There's no calls, there's no expectations.

No one. Here's where I am. They just care about the work. And so then things started getting pretty cool when that was going on, you know? And the clients were still doing great work. Well, for there they they said it was good, so that that made me feel good. I don't want to blow my own head up, but yeah,


so then why go back to working for the man


working for the man? So, uh, I was working for a venture capital firm, uh, who who needed some? Some software that they were building some software internally for their portfolio companies, and it looked like a really great opportunity. And I really wanted to work with, uh, these veces they were in the Bay area. Uh, one of one of the guys. Uh, his name is Chie. And he led Facebook's around and twitters, and he was a partner at Kleiner.

And so he, um I thought it would be a great opportunity to work this guy. I've been negative, meet him, and he's just really awesome to not just agreed. Agreed venture capitalists, but also a really cool person. And so I started with them and engine every now and then, uh, he would send me like clients or projects to help portfolio companies out that we're in the firm. And so he sent me this one app and it was it was pretty messed up and didn't need a lot of work. And he said, You know, can I introduce you to the CEO? And so I started working on this product and I worked on it, um,

as a freelancer for about a year, and they kept making me offers. They were, like, Come join full time. I said, No, I like no thanks. I like being able to control my time and my my pretty much every aspect of my life. And, um and the company started Thio. I've worked. It started eating up more and more of my billable hours until it was really kind of like an anchor client, and, uh and they didn't want They didn't ask me to move. They didn't want me to move just occasional travel to their office in Austin,

Texas, and I like Austin Austin school play and, um and so they finally made me an offer that just looked really cool. And I thought this this could be an opportunity to to do something different. So I think limit and I'll let me elaborate on that. When you're full time freelancer, you're essentially like, you know, well, maybe you're well paid or hopefully you're well paid individual contributor to a company, and you're really like a jukebox. You know, the coins go in, the something's come out. And as Faras Wealth Building is concerned, it's It's a long game to do that.

And, um, it's harder to do that, and it's it's hard to have. I've seen a lot of other freelancers who look like they're doing pretty well, but then they have to buy a lot of toys or it looks like they're not thinking about the long game. From the outside. You never know what people have gone financially under the hood. Maybe it's fantastic and they get the toys and have it all right. But But it's it's a harder game to play. I think long term towards retirement, towards being able to take care of your family in different financial ways than just providing for their day to day when you're when you're doing freelance. Was was my discovery and so I thought joining company and taking some equity on that company might be it's ah it's a risk, but it's one that's that could pay off in the long run.


Just don't leave before the 12 months are or


don't do the twilio thing and leave before your vest and miss out on millions of bucks. Yeah, I learned I learned that. Yeah.


Although house you would have had to maintain, um, the taxes on on those shares. And unless twilio had the good plan in place, which they probably did that did not back in the day, you know, you would eventually lost it all anyway.


Yeah, if I didn't busy 80 through the election and all that, I could have it. Wood. It's time sites always 2020. And I think again, the the transaction waas in retrospect, give away millions of dollars and get a family. And to me, that was a sweet deal. I made out like a bandit on that deal because my family is worth more than a few $1,000,000 to me.


Yeah, it sounds pretty rat. So knowing everything you know now and giving this ah, fabulous path you took from a mechanic to designer, that's kind of weird, right? And and between freelancing and full time gigs and moving coast to coast. All things considered, if there were a few things you wantto recommend for folks to do differently. You know, if they're thinking about a family of the just started family for somebody who maybe isn't your shoes, like, maybe they're in the Air Force. Or maybe you know their individual contributors somewhere, What would be the top three picks from everything that you've learned?


Yeah, that's a that's a That's a big question. Um,


you're looking at is a music


thing. Um, I think you know so much of the the reasons things have gone well and work out. We're because off my wife and like I said, she's just an incredible teammate and an awesome person to be around. And I think that, uh, the this is this is different than I guess, being a dad. But, um, you know, part of part of my dad responsibilities tying to being being a husband, to my spouse and for us, you know, that's that's our family dynamic. Um,

the the being able to get over those stats are the little here, and there's that get annoying quickly. That's been critical because then things go back to normal, and we get back toe having a good time. And really that has a chain reaction into everything else. Uh, that that goes on, at least from the Freeman. Sad because if your minds consumed with something's going sideways in your relationship or whatever, it's hard to do your best work and then that shows up when you're presenting it or while you're while you're doing it and and then that has a You know, it's kind of a cycle than that goes back into stresses that get introduced into your family, and then the work has been, but by you get you get you see where that goes. So I'd say one thing is figure out howto howto fight fair and forgive fast. You know those air, though that's one big one.

I think that I've learned and it doesn't have anything really to do with work. But, um, that's advice. I'd give my myself in reverse. You know, if I could go back to the beginning of our Of all this, I would say, Hey, this workout maybe, um, don't don't do freelance if you if you don't have those things that I mentioned earlier full time freelance. If you're not really good at those things, being able to do work. Oh, yeah.

Well, say that one. That'll be the last one. Don't you know, don't trumpet a freelance if you're not good at sales and organized and and you don't know how to do your accounting and all that. I mean, you get yourself in a lot of trouble, too. Don't go in that financially. And then maybe the last thing is, if you are gonna do, you know, work for yourself. Be fast at your work because if you're fast at your work than either you you have a ton of optionality. You can either do more work and make more money, which is exciting,

right? Morning. More money is nice. Uh, or you could be done. And you go play trains. We're playing Legos, Barbies or whatever you got to do. And if you're faster your work you get you get your time. That and your time is the only thing you can't. You know, we all get the same amount roughly. You can't buy more it sze precious commodity.


So scale off on a scale of five out of five house parenting


Parenting is awesome. I would give it a A plus. Plus would do again. I like parenting. I I grew up with my dad left when I was really young and my mom was worked all the time to really round S o for me. Uh, there's a huge responsibility personally to be a be a present parent to be a good parent because I know what it looks like to kind of not have that around so much, and hopefully it's not too much of a drag. But the the, uh, you know, it is what it is, but it really does drive a lot of how I how I operate is and Dad and when I don't want to When I'd rather look at my phone Ah, versus, you know, go play a game or something that's, you know,

maybe even seem silly to me is a adult man. Ah, the hit its it's It's the things I wished for when I was a kid that I had, and now I have the opportunity to break that cycle and do the right thing and be present. And so it's Ah, it's it's Ah, that's a five for me all day out of five to be able to do that.


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