I write this newsletter to share some of the new ideas I’m thinking about as well as my professional progress. A little about me:
I own and manage an agency in Toronto called August. We design and build digital products. We spend about 80% of our time on client work, and the balance on internal projects. I also invest in real estate with my two brothers.
I bought my first bitcoin in 2012—a long time ago. I bought a bit more after that, sold some, bought some more, and pretty much stopped buying about four or five years ago. And I’m not sure why.
It’s a brain block that I have.
I have very strong conviction that bitcoin will continue to appreciate in (dollar-denominated) value at a faster rate than almost anything else, and yet, because my cost basis is so low, I have a hard time buying any more at recent market prices.
Let me make that more clear.
The first bitcoin (or fraction thereof) I bought cost something like $130 CAD. Today, one bitcoin costs just over $75,000 CAD.
I’m convinced that it will continue to outperform the S&P 500, handily, over the next decade, but I’m not buying. Instead, I’m kicking myself for not buying more nine years ago.
It’s very stupid.
The right move would be to schedule regular purchases, or something like that. Set it and forget it. And maybe I’ll do that. But I also think that I’m clever enough to save that plan for the next bear market, though not clever enough to know that the next bear market might have a higher low than today’s high.
I’m still working on it.
So, what’s the point?
When I was in university, I thought that I needed to learn things like math and economics. When I graduated and started working, I thought that what I really needed to learn were things like sales and bookkeeping.
Now that I’ve been out of school for about a decade, doing my thing, I think that what I really really need to learn, more than anything else, is how to manage my mind—my cognitive biases, emotions, and other weird quirks.
I recently bought Morgan Housel’s The Psychology of Money. It will make an appearance in “stuff I’ve enjoyed” if it ends up being helpful.
This past month has probably been our busiest yet at August. It’s also the second or third month that I’ve felt like we’re operating a real business.
I mentioned in the August newsletter that our largest client wound down most of their business with us earlier this year as they grew their internal product team. That shift lead to a 60-70% hole in our monthly revenue.
Before that change, it didn’t quite feel like August was a real business. It was too dependent, or parasitical even.
The months that followed were rough as, for the first time, we had to really exercise our business development muscles—and they were puny.
But we figured it out, so far, climbed out of that hole, and have been slowly but steadily growing since.
We’re now facing new challenges like hiring and retaining great talent at affordable rates, managing client projects (along with expectations) at a time when we’re starting to feel a little stretched, and thinking about the ideal balance we’d like to strike between quantity and quality of work.
At some point, it’d be nice to have the luxury to be pickier about the clients and projects we agree to take on. I’d like more of those to be either bitcoin or real estate (proptech) related—two areas of interest that are worthy of specialization—and larger in scope, so that we could really dig in and give them our best.
I think we’ll get there by summer 2022. Watch this space.
There’s a bit of progress to report on FH1 (see last month’s newsletter for the naming convention). Most importantly, we’ve updated our drawings to propose an eight unit building instead of a four unit unit building.
If approved, seven of those units will be residential and one will be commercial.
Originally, we wanted to keep our unit count to four, as five unit proposals require Site Plan Control and compliance with Part 3 of the Ontario Building Code, both of which have material cost and time implications.
We’ve discovered over the past month (as we’re going through this process for the first time) that those requirements will already be triggered, as we’ll be building to four storeys. So, four storeys or five units: those are the tipping points.
Given that, it made sense to take another look at our site and drawings to see if we could do a better job at maximizing density. At seven residential and one commercial unit, the project starts to make a bit more economic sense.
We’ll now submit these updated drawings to the City for a Zoning Certificate, which will indicate how many variances we might need to request at a Committee of Adjustments hearing prior to applying for building permits.
Other than that, I’m working with a friend on an offer for a cool public property that’s being sold somewhere in the GTHA. I won’t say any more than that but hope to have some good news for you—or an interesting story, at least—in a month or two.
stuff I’ve enjoyed
This is some of the content I’ve come across over the past month that was especially good.
Article: The bitcoin rabbit hole feels a bit less deep and disorienting if you first come to it with some interest in or familiarity with Austrian economics. Or even as a gold bug, which might be the same thing. Bitcoin is, after all, a critique and a solution to profligate monetary and fiscal policy. That ideological and historical context was very neatly and convincingly summed up in Bitcoin and the U.S Fiscal Reckoning by Avik Roy. Technologists especially would do well to read it.
Book: I read Sahil Lavingia’s The Minimalist Entrepreneur in one sitting. It provides really good, practical advice for the wannabe entrepreneur—a group in which I include myself. Nassim Taleb wrote in Skin In The Game (another great book) that, if you’re a young person (and also if you’re not), “you must start a business.” I think that’s good advice, and that Sahil’s book is as good a blueprint as any for getting started.
Podcast: My wife started a true crime podcast. It’s called Who’s Knocking?—and it’s really good. You should check it out. True crime isn’t really my thing, but this podcast is well produced and very easy to listen to. It’s like sitting in on a fun conversation with two friends who know everything about every serial killer.
Video: I listen to every Peter Thiel talk or interview. He’d probably be my favourite thinker, if I had to choose one. Here’s a new talk on culture, religion, and technology from an event hosted just a few days ago in Miami. Apparently, he also spoke at a conference in Orlando yesterday, so we should all have some new Thiel content to consume whenever it makes its way to Youtube.
And that’s it for now. I hope you have a great November!
Feel free to reply to this email with any comments or questions. I love chatting about everything mentioned above.