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Daniel Vassallo

Daniel Vassallo

6 months ago

Why I quit a $500K job at Amazon to work for myself

I quit my 8-year Amazon job last week. I wasn't motivated to do another year despite promotions, pay, recognition, and praise.

In AWS, I built developer tools. I could have worked in that field forever.

I became an Amazon developer. Within 3.5 years, I was promoted twice to senior engineer and would have been promoted to principal engineer if I stayed. The company said I had great potential.

Over time, I became a reputed expert and leader within the company. I was respected.

First year I made $75K, last year $511K. If I stayed another two years, I could have made $1M.

Despite Amazon's reputation, my work–life balance was good. I no longer needed to prove myself and could do everything in 40 hours a week. My team worked from home once a week, and I rarely opened my laptop nights or weekends.

My coworkers were great. I had three generous, empathetic managers. I’m very grateful to everyone I worked with.

Everything was going well and getting better. My motivation to go to work each morning was declining despite my career and income growth.

Another promotion, pay raise, or big project wouldn't have boosted my motivation. Motivation was also waning. It was my freedom.

Demotivation

My motivation was high in the beginning. I worked with someone on an internal tool with little scrutiny. I had more freedom to choose how and what to work on than in recent years. Me and another person improved it, talked to users, released updates, and tested it. Whatever we wanted, we did. We did our best and were mostly self-directed.

In recent years, things have changed. My department's most important project had many stakeholders and complex goals. What I could do depended on my ability to convince others it was the best way to achieve our goals.

Amazon was always someone else's terms. The terms started out simple (keep fixing it), but became more complex over time (maximize all goals; satisfy all stakeholders). Working in a large organization imposed restrictions on how to do the work, what to do, what goals to set, and what business to pursue. This situation forced me to do things I didn't want to do.

Finding New Motivation

What would I do forever? Not something I did until I reached a milestone (an exit), but something I'd do until I'm 80. What could I do for the next 45 years that would make me excited to wake up and pay my bills? Is that too unambitious? Nope. Because I'm motivated by two things.

One is an external carrot or stick. I'm not forced to file my taxes every April, but I do because I don't want to go to jail. Or I may not like something but do it anyway because I need to pay the bills or want a nice car. Extrinsic motivation

One is internal. When there's no carrot or stick, this motivates me. This fuels hobbies. I wanted a job that was intrinsically motivated.

Is this too low-key? Extrinsic motivation isn't sustainable. Getting promoted felt good for a week, then it was over. When I hit $100K, I admired my W2 for a few days, but then it wore off. Same thing happened at $200K, $300K, $400K, and $500K. Earning $1M or $10M wouldn't change anything. I feel the same about every material reward or possession. Getting them feels good at first, but quickly fades.

Things I've done since I was a kid, when no one forced me to, don't wear off. Coding, selling my creations, charting my own path, and being honest. Why not always use my strengths and motivation? I'm lucky to live in a time when I can work independently in my field without large investments. So that’s what I’m doing.

What’s Next?

I'm going all-in on independence and will make a living from scratch. I won't do only what I like, but on my terms. My goal is to cover my family's expenses before my savings run out while doing something I enjoy. What more could I want from my work?

You can now follow me on Twitter as I continue to document my journey.


This post is a summary. Read full article here

More on Personal Growth

Leah

Leah

4 months ago

The Burnout Recovery Secrets Nobody Is Talking About

Photo by Tangerine Newt on Unsplash

What works and what’s just more toxic positivity

Just keep at it; you’ll get it.

I closed the Zoom call and immediately dropped my head. Open tabs included material on inspiration, burnout, and recovery.

I searched everywhere for ways to avoid burnout.

It wasn't that I needed to keep going, change my routine, employ 8D audio playlists, or come up with fresh ideas. I had several ideas and a schedule. I knew what to do.

I wasn't interested. I kept reading, changing my self-care and mental health routines, and writing even though it was tiring.

Since burnout became a psychiatric illness in 2019, thousands have shared their experiences. It's spreading rapidly among writers.

What is the actual key to recovering from burnout?

Every A-list burnout story emphasizes prevention. Other lists provide repackaged self-care tips. More discuss mental health.

It's like the mid-2000s, when pink quotes about bubble baths saturated social media.

The self-care mania cost us all. Self-care is crucial, but utilizing it to address everything didn't work then or now.

How can you recover from burnout?

Time

Are extended breaks actually good for you? Most people need a break every 62 days or so to avoid burnout.

Real-life burnout victims all took breaks. Perhaps not a long hiatus, but breaks nonetheless.

Burnout is slow and gradual. It takes little bits of your motivation and passion at a time. Sometimes it’s so slow that you barely notice or blame it on other things like stress and poor sleep.

Burnout doesn't come overnight; neither will recovery.

I don’t care what anyone else says the cure for burnout is. It has to be time because time is what gave us all burnout in the first place.

NonConformist

NonConformist

1 month ago

Before 6 AM, read these 6 quotations.

These quotes will change your perspective.

I try to reflect on these quotes daily. Reading it in the morning can affect your day, decisions, and priorities. Let's start.

1. Friedrich Nietzsche once said, "He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how."

What's your life goal?

80% of people don't know why they live or what they want to accomplish in life if you ask them randomly.

Even those with answers may not pursue their why. Without a purpose, life can be dull.

Your why can guide you through difficult times.

Create a life goal. Growing may change your goal. Having a purpose in life prevents feeling lost.

2. Seneca said, "He who fears death will never do anything fit for a man in life."

FAILURE STINKS Yes.

This quote is great if you're afraid to try because of failure. What if I'm not made for it? What will they think if I fail?

This wastes most of our lives. Many people prefer not failing over trying something with a better chance of success, according to studies.

Failure stinks in the short term, but it can transform our lives over time.

3. Two men peered through the bars of their cell windows; one saw mud, the other saw stars. — Dale Carnegie

It’s not what you look at that matters; it’s what you see.

The glass-full-or-empty meme is everywhere. It's hard to be positive when facing adversity.

This is a skill. Positive thinking can change our future.

We should stop complaining about our life and how easy success is for others.

Seductive pessimism. Realize this and start from first principles.

4. “Smart people learn from everything and everyone, average people from their experiences, and stupid people already have all the answers.” — Socrates.

Knowing we're ignorant can be helpful.

Every person and situation teaches you something. You can learn from others' experiences so you don't have to. Analyzing your and others' actions and applying what you learn can be beneficial.

Reading (especially non-fiction or biographies) is a good use of time. Walter Issacson wrote Benjamin Franklin's biography. Ben Franklin's early mistakes and successes helped me in some ways.

Knowing everything leads to disaster. Every incident offers lessons.

5. “We must all suffer one of two things: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret or disappointment.“ — James Rohn

My favorite Jim Rohn quote.

Exercise hurts. Healthy eating can be painful. But they're needed to get in shape. Avoiding pain can ruin our lives.

Always choose progress over hopelessness. Myth: overnight success Everyone who has mastered a craft knows that mastery comes from overcoming laziness.

Turn off your inner critic and start working. Try Can't Hurt Me by David Goggins.

6. “A champion is defined not by their wins, but by how they can recover when they fail.“ — Serena Williams

Have you heard of Traf-o-Data?

Gates and Allen founded Traf-O-Data. After some success, it failed. Traf-o-Data's failure led to Microsoft.

Allen said Traf-O-Data's setback was important for Microsoft's first product a few years later. Traf-O-Data was a business failure, but it helped them understand microprocessors, he wrote in 2017.

“The obstacle in the path becomes the path. Never forget, within every obstacle is an opportunity to improve our condition.” — Ryan Holiday.

Bonus Quotes

More helpful quotes:

“Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” — George Bernard Shaw.

“Do something every day that you don’t want to do; this is the golden rule for acquiring the habit of doing your duty without pain.” — Mark Twain.

“Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.” — Earl Nightingale.

“A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.” — George Bernard Shaw.

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” — George Bernard Shaw.

Conclusion

Words are powerful. Utilize it. Reading these inspirational quotes will help you.

Neeramitra Reddy

Neeramitra Reddy

1 month ago

The best life advice I've ever heard could very well come from 50 Cent.

He built a $40M hip-hop empire from street drug dealing.

Free for creative use by PCMag

50 Cent was nearly killed by 9mm bullets.

Before 50 Cent, Curtis Jackson sold drugs.

He sold coke to worried addicts after being orphaned at 8.

Pursuing police. Murderous hustlers and gangs. Unwitting informers.

Despite his hard life, his hip-hop career was a success.

An assassination attempt ended his career at the start.

What sane producer would want to deal with a man entrenched in crime?

Most would have drowned in self-pity and drank themselves to death.

But 50 Cent isn't most people. Life on the streets had given him fearlessness.

“Having a brush with death, or being reminded in a dramatic way of the shortness of our lives, can have a positive, therapeutic effect. So it is best to make every moment count, to have a sense of urgency about life.” ― 50 Cent, The 50th Law

50 released a series of mixtapes that caught Eminem's attention and earned him a $50 million deal!

50 Cents turned death into life.

Things happen; that is life.

We want problems solved.

Every human has problems, whether it's Jeff Bezos swimming in his billions, Obama in his comfortable retirement home, or Dan Bilzerian with his hired bikini models.

All problems.

Problems churn through life. solve one, another appears.

It's harsh. Life's unfair. We can face reality or run from it.

The latter will worsen your issues.

“The firmer your grasp on reality, the more power you will have to alter it for your purposes.” — 50 Cent, The 50th Law

In a fantasy-obsessed world, 50 Cent loves reality.

Wish for better problem-solving skills rather than problem-free living.

Don't wish, work.

We All Have the True Power of Alchemy

Humans are arrogant enough to think the universe cares about them.

That things happen as if the universe notices our nanosecond existences.

Things simply happen. Period.

By changing our perspective, we can turn good things bad.

The alchemists' search for the philosopher's stone may have symbolized the ability to turn our lead-like perceptions into gold.

Negativity bias tints our perceptions.

Normal sparring broke your elbow? Rest and rethink your training. Fired? You can improve your skills and get a better job.

Consider Curtis if he had fallen into despair.

The legend we call 50 Cent wouldn’t have existed.

The Best Lesson in Life Ever?

Neither avoid nor fear your reality.

That simple sentence contains every self-help tip and life lesson on Earth.

When reality is all there is, why fear it? avoidance?

Or worse, fleeing?

To accept reality, we must eliminate the words should be, could be, wish it were, and hope it will be.

It is. Period.

Only by accepting reality's chaos can you shape your life.

“Behind me is infinite power. Before me is endless possibility, around me is boundless opportunity. My strength is mental, physical and spiritual.” — 50 Cent

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Rick Blyth

Rick Blyth

4 months ago

Looking for a Reliable Micro SaaS Niche

Niches are rich, as the adage goes.

Micro SaaS requires a great micro-niche; otherwise, it's merely plain old SaaS with a large audience.

Instead of targeting broad markets with few identifying qualities, specialise down to a micro-niche. How would you target these users?

Better go tiny. You'll locate and engage new consumers more readily and serve them better with a customized solution.

Imagine you're a real estate lawyer looking for a case management solution. Because it's so specific to you, you'd be lured to this link:

instead of below:

Next, locate mini SaaS niches that could work for you. You're not yet looking at the problems/solutions in these areas, merely shortlisting them.

The market should be growing, not shrinking

We shouldn't design apps for a declining niche. We intend to target stable or growing niches for the next 5 to 10 years.

If it's a developing market, you may be able to claim a stake early. You must balance this strategy with safer, longer-established niches (accountancy, law, health, etc).

First Micro SaaS apps I designed were for Merch By Amazon creators, a burgeoning niche. I found this niche when searching for passive income.

Graphic designers and entrepreneurs post their art to Amazon to sell on clothes. When Amazon sells their design, they get a royalty. Since 2015, this platform and specialty have grown dramatically.

Amazon doesn't publicize the amount of creators on the platform, but it's possible to approximate by looking at Facebook groups, Reddit channels, etc.

I could see the community growing week by week, with new members joining. Merch was an up-and-coming niche, and designers made money when their designs sold. All I had to do was create tools that let designers focus on making bestselling designs.

Look at the Google Trends graph below to see how this niche has evolved and when I released my apps and resigned my job.

Are the users able to afford the tools?

Who's your average user? Consumer or business? Is your solution budgeted?

If they're students, you'll struggle to convince them to subscribe to your study-system app (ahead of video games and beer).

Let's imagine you designed a Shopify plugin that emails customers when a product is restocked. If your plugin just needs 5 product sales a month to justify its cost, everyone wins (just be mindful that one day Shopify could potentially re-create your plugins functionality within its core offering making your app redundant ).

Do specialized users buy tools? If so, that's comforting. If not, you'd better have a compelling value proposition for your end customer if you're the first.

This should include how much time or money your program can save or make the user.

Are you able to understand the Micro SaaS market?

Ideally, you're already familiar about the industry/niche. Maybe you're fixing a challenge from your day job or freelance work.

If not, evaluate how long it would take to learn the niche's users. Health & Fitness is easier to relate to and understand than hedge fund derivatives trading.

Competing in these complex (and profitable) fields might offer you an edge.

B2C, B2M, or B2B?

Consider your user base's demographics. Will you target businesses, consumers, or both? Let's examine the different consumer types:

  • B2B refers to business-to-business transactions where customers are other businesses. UpVoty, Plutio, Slingshot, Salesforce, Atlassian, and Hubspot are a few examples of SaaS, ranging from Micro SaaS to SaaS.

  • Business to Consumer (B2C), in which your clients are people who buy things. For instance, Duolingo, Canva, and Nomad List.

  • For instance, my tool KDP Wizard has a mixed user base of publishing enterprises and also entrepreneurial consumers selling low-content books on Amazon. This is a case of business to many (B2M), where your users are a mixture of businesses and consumers. There is a large SaaS called Dropbox that offers both personal and business plans.

Targeting a B2B vs. B2C niche is very different. The sales cycle differs.

  • A B2B sales staff must make cold calls to potential clients' companies. Long sales, legal, and contractual conversations are typically required for each business to get the go-ahead. The cost of obtaining a new customer is substantially more than it is for B2C, despite the fact that the recurring fees are significantly higher.

  • Since there is typically only one individual making the purchasing decision, B2C signups are virtually always self-service with reduced recurring fees. Since there is typically no outbound sales staff in B2C, acquisition costs are significantly lower than in B2B.

User Characteristics for B2B vs. B2C

Consider where your niche's users congregate if you don't already have a presence there.

B2B users frequent LinkedIn and Twitter. B2C users are on Facebook/Instagram/Reddit/Twitter, etc.

Churn is higher in B2C because consumers haven't gone through all the hoops of a B2B sale. Consumers are more unpredictable than businesses since they let their bank cards exceed limitations or don't update them when they expire.

With a B2B solution, there's a contractual arrangement and the firm will pay the subscription as long as they need it.

Depending on how you feel about the above (sales team vs. income vs. churn vs. targeting), you'll know which niches to pursue.

You ought to respect potential customers.

Would you hang out with customers?

You'll connect with users at conferences (in-person or virtual), webinars, seminars, screenshares, Facebook groups, emails, support calls, support tickets, etc.

If talking to a niche's user base makes you shudder, you're in for a tough road. Whether they're demanding or dull, avoid them if possible.

Merch users are mostly graphic designers, side hustlers, and entrepreneurs. These laid-back users embrace technologies that assist develop their Merch business.

I discovered there was only one annual conference for this specialty, held in Seattle, USA. I decided to organize a conference for UK/European Merch designers, despite never having done so before.

Hosting a conference for over 80 people was stressful, and it turned out to be much bigger than expected, with attendees from the US, Europe, and the UK.

I met many specialized users, built relationships, gained trust, and picked their brains in person. Many of the attendees were already Merch Wizard users, so hearing their feedback and ideas for future features was invaluable.

focused and specific

Instead of building for a generic, hard-to-reach market, target a specific group.

I liken it to fishing in a little, hidden pond. This small pond has only one species of fish, so you learn what bait it likes. Contrast that with trawling for hours to catch as many fish as possible, even if some aren't what you want.

In the case management scenario, it's difficult to target leads because several niches could use the app. Where do your potential customers hang out? Your generic solution: No.

It's easier to join a community of Real Estate Lawyers and see if your software can answer their pain points.

My Success with Micro SaaS

In my case, my Micro SaaS apps have been my chrome extensions. Since I launched them, they've earned me an average $10k MRR, allowing me to quit my lousy full-time job years ago.

I sold my apps after scaling them for a life-changing lump amount. Since then, I've helped unfulfilled software developers escape the 9-5 through Micro SaaS.

Whether it's a profitable side hustle or a liferaft to quit their job and become their own Micro SaaS boss.

Having built my apps to the point where I could quit my job, then scaled and sold them, I feel I can share my skills with software developers worldwide.

Read my free guide on self-funded SaaS to discover more about Micro SaaS, or download your own copy. 12 chapters cover everything from Idea to Exit.

Watch my YouTube video to learn how to construct a Micro SaaS app in 10 steps.

M.G. Siegler

M.G. Siegler

1 month ago

Apple: Showing Ads on Your iPhone

This report from Mark Gurman has stuck with me:

In the News and Stocks apps, the display ads are no different than what you might get on an ad-supported website. In the App Store, the ads are for actual apps, which are probably more useful for Apple users than mortgage rates. Some people may resent Apple putting ads in the News and Stocks apps. After all, the iPhone is supposed to be a premium device. Let’s say you shelled out $1,000 or more to buy one, do you want to feel like Apple is squeezing more money out of you just to use its standard features? Now, a portion of ad revenue from the News app’s Today tab goes to publishers, but it’s not clear how much. Apple also lets publishers advertise within their stories and keep the vast majority of that money. Surprisingly, Today ads also appear if you subscribe to News+ for $10 per month (though it’s a smaller number).

I use Apple News often. It's a good general news catch-up tool, like Twitter without the BS. Customized notifications are helpful. Fast and lovely. Except for advertisements. I have Apple One, which includes News+, and while I understand why the magazines still have brand ads, it's ridiculous to me that Apple enables web publishers to introduce awful ads into this experience. Apple's junky commercials are ridiculous.

We know publishers want and probably requested this. Let's keep Apple News ad-free for the much smaller percentage of paid users, and here's your portion. (Same with Stocks, which is more sillier.)

Paid app placement in the App Store is a wonderful approach for developers to find new users (though far too many of those ads are trying to trick users, in my opinion).

Apple is also planning to increase ads in its Maps app. This sounds like Google Maps, and I don't like it. I never find these relevant, and they clutter up the user experience. Apple Maps now has a UI advantage (though not a data/search one, which matters more).

Apple is nickel-and-diming its customers. We spend thousands for their products and premium services like Apple One. We all know why: income must rise, and new firms are needed to scale. This will eventually backfire.

Thomas Smith

20 days ago

ChatGPT Is Experiencing a Lightbulb Moment

Why breakthrough technologies must be accessible

ChatGPT has exploded. Over 1 million people have used the app, and coding sites like Stack Overflow have banned its answers. It's huge.

I wouldn't have called that as an AI researcher. ChatGPT uses the same GPT-3 technology that's been around for over two years.

More than impressive technology, ChatGPT 3 shows how access makes breakthroughs usable. OpenAI has finally made people realize the power of AI by packaging GPT-3 for normal users.

We think of Thomas Edison as the inventor of the lightbulb, not because he invented it, but because he popularized it.

Going forward, AI companies that make using AI easy will thrive.

Use-case importance

Most modern AI systems use massive language models. These language models are trained on 6,000+ years of human text.

GPT-3 ate 8 billion pages, almost every book, and Wikipedia. It created an AI that can write sea shanties and solve coding problems.

Nothing new. I began beta testing GPT-3 in 2020, but the system's basics date back further.

Tools like GPT-3 are hidden in many apps. Many of the AI writing assistants on this platform are just wrappers around GPT-3.

Lots of online utilitarian text, like restaurant menu summaries or city guides, is written by AI systems like GPT-3. You've probably read GPT-3 without knowing it.

Accessibility

Why is ChatGPT so popular if the technology is old?

ChatGPT makes the technology accessible. Free to use, people can sign up and text with the chatbot daily. ChatGPT isn't revolutionary. It does it in a way normal people can access and be amazed by.

Accessibility isn't easy. OpenAI's Sam Altman tweeted that opening ChatGPT to the public increased computing costs.

Each chat costs "low-digit cents" to process. OpenAI probably spends several hundred thousand dollars a day to keep ChatGPT running, with no immediate business case.

Academic researchers and others who developed GPT-3 couldn't afford it. Without resources to make technology accessible, it can't be used.

Retrospective

This dynamic is old. In the history of science, a researcher with a breakthrough idea was often overshadowed by an entrepreneur or visionary who made it accessible to the public.

We think of Thomas Edison as the inventor of the lightbulb. But really, Vasilij Petrov, Thomas Wright, and Joseph Swan invented the lightbulb. Edison made technology visible and accessible by electrifying public buildings, building power plants, and wiring.

Edison probably lost a ton of money on stunts like building a power plant to light JP Morgan's home, the NYSE, and several newspaper headquarters.

People wanted electric lights once they saw their benefits. By making the technology accessible and visible, Edison unlocked a hugely profitable market.

Similar things are happening in AI. ChatGPT shows that developing breakthrough technology in the lab or on B2B servers won't change the culture.

AI must engage people's imaginations to become mainstream. Before the tech impacts the world, people must play with it and see its revolutionary power.

As the field evolves, companies that make the technology widely available, even at great cost, will succeed.

OpenAI's compute fees are eye-watering. Revolutions are costly.