If you’re new to Bradonomics, welcome. I hope you’ll stick around and find some value in what I’m doing.
So what am I doing?
Well, in 2009 I moved to Thailand with dreams of starting my own business. And as far as I can tell being an entrepreneur is pretty shitty. Long days, a lot of stress, very little money. I’ve seen many counter examples. Lots of people becoming rich and from all accounts also happy. But when they tell the story, they skip the struggle. You read their blog and they say “once upon a time I was broke. I worked really hard and now I’m successful.” But those stories have always left me with two questions.
- Successful how? and;
- What did “work really hard” look like?
I think most people are scared to show their failures—at least before they become successful. And from my very small sample size it looks like most people fail. It doesn’t seem that way since the media only wants to cover the success stories. So I intend to write about the struggles. Maybe one day I can profile some others’ failures, but for now I’ll just chronicle my own.
I don’t know if I’ll end up failing and returning to a 9-to-5 with my tail between my legs or if there really is a pot of gold at the end of this struggle. In either case I intend to document the process. I’ll try to write about my background enough so you’ll know where I came from, what skills I brought to the table, things I thought and tried along the way. Some things at this point are retrospect. You can never be sure in that case if you’re remembering exactly what happened or if time has tainted your memory.
In any case …these are my stories.
About Brad (The Long Version)
I grew up in Alabama. My formative years in the south of the state, my highschool years in the north. Both places were rural. The town where I went to highschool was about 30,000 people. I lived about fifteen minutes outside that town. I could see my neighbors house, but it was far enough I couldn’t hear them. It’s weird to write about this in the past tense. My parents still live there and it’s still where I think of as “home” since I’ve yet to buy my own place, but I haven’t lived there since 1998.
After highschool I joined the military and was trained as a computer tech. I was very bad at it in the early days. I didn’t have a computer growing up so I didn’t know anything about them. It was a fluke I was even given that job. I’d requested to be an electrician. Ultimately I’m glad things worked out how they did. At my first duty station I was lucky to be mentored by a guy, who at the time seemed to have magical powers.
I was offered a job with a government contractor after I left the military and spent a few years working on the military’s messaging systems. Even though it paid well I didn’t particularly like the work. Computer systems support is a thankless job. Either the computers work …and their supposed to work, or they don’t and it’s all your fault.
I found Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in 2002 and started dreaming of professional fighting. I left the military computer support job and started doing desktop support as I thought it would be less demanding and allow me more time to train. In 2005 I had my first (and to date, only) MMA fight. I won the fight (rear-naked choke in the second round), but reflecting afterward I didn’t think professional fighting was how I wanted to spend my life. The training leading up to the fight was grueling. I thought there was no way I’d ever get tired, but when I went back to my corner at the end of the first round I was so tired I could barely stand. I was so tired couldn’t even hear my corner. I realized even as hard as training had been, it wasn’t enough. Being a professional fighter would mean getting beat-on everyday in the gym and being tired for the next 10 years or more if I was …lucky?
About a year later I started looking for a different path. I moved to California, spent the summer taking classes at a community college, and spent a lot of time thinking about business. I didn’t grow up with examples of entrepreneurship. Everyone in my family had jobs so I had to look to the internet and books for examples and ideas. I had quite a few ideas, as most people do, but no understanding about how to execute them.
A friend call me at the end of the summer and said he knew about a job. This was the way it had been for years. I’d get feed-up with computer work and decide to quit; go back to school, change fields, something …but then I’d get a call. It was always more money so I’d say yes. This time the job was in San Diego and the money was more than double what I’d made in years. I was at that job for about a year and a half before being laid-off. Also, I hated that job. I was almost relieved to be let go. I decided this time it was for good.
I moved back to Alabama thinking things would be cheaper and I could go to university and pay my rent using the GI Bill—but I couldn’t. Alabama is cheaper than California, but not enough. I started looking for other options. Turns out you can use your GI Bill outside the US. With some completely illogical mental math, I decided Thailand was my place. There were half a dozen schools approved for the GI Bill and I sent all of them an email requesting information. Only one emailed back. That’s how I ended up in Chiang Mai.
I was running from computers for about five years, hoping to move into some other industry, some other profession. Finally I decided it might be a good idea not to throw all those years away. Maybe I should do something with computers—but not support. Perhaps software.
I’d got a job with a local software company doing project management and marketing. I was broke but the thought of returning to the States was distasteful. My GI Bill had run out and I was desperate. It turned out to be a good thing. I wasn’t happy doing the work I was hired for and circumstances allowed me to start developing WordPress sites for the company. From the beginning I had negotiated six-hour work days knowing I’d want as much time to work on my own projects as I could get. Now that I’d had the idea of pursuing something with software, I was coming to the office early everyday to learn. I worked for them as a web developer for about a year and a half. Unfortunately that company didn’t have a culture of craft so I was on my own to learn. Thankfully there are many resources on the internet.
After two years of working there I was let go, but by then I had enough skills to do something myself. That’s when I started hustling to start my own web services company serving the Thai market.