mathowie on "Quit!" podcast with Dan Benjamin. June 3, 2013 9:29 AM   Subscribe

Quit! #26: This Is Not My Beautiful Life
Dan is joined by Matt Haughey, founder of MetaFilter and briefly Glenn Fleishman to discuss what it truly means to run a business.

Ever quit a job? Ever redefined yourself within one? Ever started something and won big ... or failed? QUIT! is a call-in show helping people sort out their lives, reevaluate their options, kick their crummy jobs, and start something awesome.
posted by helicomatic to MetaFilter-Related at 9:29 AM (39 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

Yeah, it was a fun little podcast to do. I kind of wished we talked more about Dan's core concepts for the show, namely that he asserts you can't half-ass a day job and run a side project successfully, that you should go all in and quit your dayjob to focus on the side project full-time. I'm pretty conservative about those kinds of leaps and would have liked to argue more for having side projects while working on other stuff.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:10 AM on June 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


Great interview and somehow serendipitous in regards to where I'm at now.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:12 AM on June 3, 2013


"Wasting time was a half-time job, and it could have been a full-time job easily"
posted by KokuRyu at 10:16 AM on June 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


you can't half-ass a day job

Since that is clearly not true, I'm not sure why the second part of that statement would follow from it.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:49 PM on June 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


You can half-ass a day job, but why would you want to? In an ideal world (and that's what the topic of the podcast is) we should all be spending our time doing something meaningful.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:10 PM on June 3, 2013


You can half-ass a day job, but why would you want to?

Because we do not live in an ideal world.
posted by Aizkolari at 1:24 PM on June 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


My day job is fully-assed.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:46 PM on June 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


briefly Glenn Fleishman

Temporarily Humboldt County.
posted by tommasz at 1:56 PM on June 3, 2013


#1: Obtain citizenship in a country with unemployment, education, medical and housing benefits.
#2: Quit day job and follow dream.
#3: If successful goto happily ever after.
#4: If unsuccessful and tired of living on benefits, get a job and repeat.

I saw this happen with friends in Sweden, Holland, Norway and in a lesser degree England. A couple of these friends are now full time artists, another one owns a small hotel in Portugal, one is a travel photographer and a few more own web businesses. The rest, about half of them, went back to a day job, got a family, a car and a job, and seem the be doing OK. I met all these people when they had normal day jobs that they did not like so much.

Here in the US I have manged to save enough money for maybe 6 months. I can not afford to quit my day job, so I keep getting better and better with my side projects, hoping for the day they become viable as a full time job. I hope to live to be 120 years old, I will have enough saved and the free time to do what I really want to do.
posted by Doroteo Arango II at 2:10 PM on June 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


I spent about a year and a half-assing my day job while working for Metafilter, though to be fair I was also half-assing it before I started working here.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:22 PM on June 3, 2013


#1: Obtain citizenship in a country with unemployment, education, medical and housing benefits.
#2: Quit day job and follow dream.
#3: If successful goto happily ever after.
#4: If unsuccessful and tired of living on benefits, get a job and repeat.


Still, don't benefits sort of only give you 'survival and not go bankrupt from medical issues' kind of living conditions? I'm thinking of moving to one of these nations and I'm pretty sure it's going to be expensive and that I am going to have to whole-assedly be working. (for less money than here!).
posted by bquarters at 2:29 PM on June 3, 2013


Also, cortex you may need to specify the exact amount you were 'assing' your day job since I think 'a year and a half-assing' might be some kind of compound term!
posted by bquarters at 2:31 PM on June 3, 2013


Sorry, I was typing quick and sort of fifteen-seconds-assed that.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:35 PM on June 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Ahh YES someone on facebook sent this yesterday saying to me, "Hey don't you like this guy?"
(sometimes my twitter gets in my facebook)
I was going to post this myself if someone hadn't.
Who doesn't enjoy a good internet lottery story?

I learned what pb stands for!
Matt hardly mentioned his bikes/biking :P
The interviewer was okay, but needed to do less talking and more listening for an INTERVIEW.

Could not help but overhear that Matt had to head out to record another podcast ... hmmm.
The Metafilter podcast is overdue .....
AND MORE THAN 30 OF US [OverZealous MeFites] LISTEN.
posted by TangerineGurl at 2:35 PM on June 3, 2013


Most people these days are 1.5 assing their day jobs, and are being expected to do even more. So just one ass is probably a good direction to move in for mental health reasons. And if you end up deciding to work on a side project with your new ass-space, then great, but keeping it as a fantasy while you give away free labour to your employer is a pretty sad state to be in for very long.
posted by Space Coyote at 2:35 PM on June 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Maybe it's because I'm the same age as Matt, but you look at work a lot differently once battles have been won or lost, goals achieved or not achieved.

If you are half-assing you way through a job, it may be time to take a look at your priorities. Change doesn't have to be sudden, it can be incremental, but we all owe it to ourselves to work wholeheartedly during our waking life.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:47 PM on June 3, 2013


Fuck work. If I owe myself anything, it's retirement, but all this whole-hearted working will most assuredly kill me before that happens. And I actually work in a field that I am ideally suited for, good at, enjoy doing well, and am well compensated for. Which makes me one of the luckiest sonofabitches I know. But it consumes most of my life. Work can go fuck itself. In MY ideal world, work would be strictly voluntary. For everyone. But since I don't live in that world, or even in a world where such a thing is even conceivable, I don't look gift horses in the mouth. In my world, a side project is eating lunch away from my desk.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:06 PM on June 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


We probably agree with each other, but I sometimes wonder why MeFites take such great pains to be hard-edged and nasty when there are differing points of view.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:14 PM on June 3, 2013


Still, don't benefits sort of only give you 'survival and not go bankrupt from medical issues' kind of living conditions?

Yes, and that is good enough. Being on benefits while job hunting sucks, being on benefits while you spend 16 hours a day working on a project that you believe in sucks less. Working a job you hate because you need medical insurance, it may suck more or less, I am not sure.
posted by Doroteo Arango II at 3:18 PM on June 3, 2013


You can half-ass a day job, but why would you want to?

Because Matt's got a website to run and I feel like I owe it to him.
posted by octobersurprise at 3:33 PM on June 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I sometimes wonder why MeFites take such great pains to be hard-edged and nasty when there are differing points of view

It's nothing personal. It's probably because I am old and my body is broken down and I just had a two-and-a-half-assed kind of morning here at work because everybody else has been taking vacations while I'm left taking care of business. And yet at my age, I have to be grateful to have a job at all, and have to always be looking to whether I will be able to afford any kind of retirement ever in my life.

Probably because I know a lot of very creative people who chose to go all-in, but not one of them has done better than to just get by for all their very real talent and passion, and now they're getting older, and they can't even afford to go to the damned dentist on a regular basis, and you can almost smell the fear. I didn't have half the talent or passion that the least of them had, so if they couldn't make it work, no way in Hell I was going to.

Working a job you hate because you need medical insurance sucks a lot. Not having that job sucks worse.

Sorry if that seems hard-edged and nasty. It probably is. Sure feels that way from where I'm sitting, anyway.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:42 PM on June 3, 2013 [7 favorites]


I am lucky in that my day job doesn't really ask me to devote more than half my ass to it, at most, except in brief bursts of assertion, so I have ample time most of the year to devote to my projects and entirely too much slack, I do admit. But when I do have work stuff to do -- running or just lecturing in things like 'Global Junior Executive Training' programs and the like -- I enjoy it immensely.

I think if I lived in back in Canada or the states or something, I would long since have found a likeminded few people to launch some of my many business ideas with or work with them on theirs, have been a serial entrepreneur type, but here in Korea, it's just not a thing that seems viable, for a bunch of reasons. Kind of a shame, since I'll clearly never get independently wealthy messing about with my free-time fun projects and doing my semi-assedly Senior Consultanting five days a week, but so it goes.

My long-ago decision to live here had pros and cons and I knew about them up front, so it's on me.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:23 PM on June 3, 2013


About halfway through now, and this is a great discussion. It's nice to get some insight on this stuff, and I love the longform thing that podcasting allows. Thanks for posting it!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:05 PM on June 3, 2013


There really do exist people who are happy to put in their 8 hours of whatever, come home and smooch the wife, tousle the kids hair, have a beer and dinner in front of the screen, then go upstairs... and that's it. That's all they expect out of life; it's all their parents got, and it's good enough. Those are the people that our system has created; they are also the people our system has destroyed.

They're the laughing, happy six year old kids who dreamed of a lifetime of fun and adventure, only it's thirty years later and they are dealing as best as they can with the reality that the world didn't actually have any fun or adventure to offer them, for any of hundreds of reasons.

They've swallowed their dream-crushing disappointment -- it took 12+ years of federally mandated schooling, and probably ten more years of hard knocks, to get it to stick -- and now the forget the dreams (except occasionally when they buy a lottery ticket, or get really high), and just get by.

"It's a living."

I don't have much more than that except that when I was like 20 I created a zine called "The Alert Sheep" and in it I wondered if it was better to wake up, or to just stay asleep.

I still don't have an answer.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:07 PM on June 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


As a stay at home mom I am extra destroyed by the system. I don't even put in my eight hours; it's all hair tousling all the time.
posted by that's how you get ants at 5:18 PM on June 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I tried reading "Oh the places you'll go" a few days ago and almost threw up.
posted by hellojed at 5:40 PM on June 3, 2013


You can half-ass a day job, but why would you want to? In an ideal world (and that's what the topic of the podcast is) we should all be spending our time doing something meaningful.
[Peter, Michael, and Samir are chatting as they hang around the printer]

Peter Gibbons: Our high school guidance counselor used to ask us what you'd do if you had a million dollars and you didn't have to work. And invariably what you'd say was supposed to be your career. So, if you wanted to fix old cars then you're supposed to be an auto mechanic.

Samir: So what did you say?

Peter Gibbons: I never had an answer. I guess that's why I'm working at Initech.

Michael Bolton: No, you're working at Initech because that question is bullshit to begin with. If everyone listened to her, there'd be no janitors, because no one would clean shit up if they had a million dollars.

Samir: You know what I would do if I had a million dollars? I would invest half of it in low risk mutual funds and then take the other half over to my friend Asadulah who works in securities...

Michael Bolton: Samir, you're missing the point. The point of the exercise is that you're supposed to figure out what you would want to do if...

[printer starts beeping]

Michael Bolton: "PC Load Letter"? What the fuck does that mean?
posted by drjimmy11 at 5:47 PM on June 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Who's Samir?
posted by cjorgensen at 6:29 PM on June 3, 2013


Samir Nagheenanajar
posted by Right On Red at 6:50 PM on June 3, 2013


Matt Haughey, founder of MetaFilter and briefly Glenn Fleishman

Man, I have been on MeFi five years and had no idea he was ever Glenn Fleishman. Ths things you find out about people.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:22 PM on June 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Sorry, I was typing quick and sort of fifteen-seconds-assed that.

Tilda Swinton does not type half-assed.

Tilda Swinton types with all the ass in the aether of creation.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:38 PM on June 3, 2013


Jobs are like pants: most of them are created by other companies and not really tailored to fit individual asses. Some lucky people can comfortably fit their whole ass into an off-the-rack job, others half-ass it. Others are skilled enough to make or seek alterations. Still others can make their own dream jobs from a bolt of cloth. The skilled ass-job tailors often believe this is the ideal path, but they forget to take into account that it takes a lot of time and skill and ruined ill-fitting job-pants before you can create anything good. Some of us just need any pair of pants, and we don't have time to worry about fit and thread count, because we need to buy groceries right now. And some of us just have really weirdly shaped asses.

I have a hard time finding literal pants that fit, so I wear a lot of skirts. If I could figure out where that fits in this tortuously extended metaphor, I'd probably be a happier person.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:59 PM on June 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


You can half-ass a day job, but why would you want to? In an ideal world (and that's what the topic of the podcast is) we should all be spending our time doing something meaningful.

Because the very process of turning something meaningful into something you do every single day can sometimes be the absolute worst thing that happens to you creatively. Sometimes your dream comes true and it's the worst possible thing that happens to you because oh shit now I have to do it for real and it counts. I can tell you when I was a journalist/editor, I thought I was doing pretty meaningful work and even creative, but man, sometimes you go for the fastball and it just doesn't come, you know? And it's a very stark, black terror when you groove one over the metaphorical plate and you realize hey, if it doesn't magically come back, how am I going to continue feeding everyone and supporting myself because this is literally the only thing I know how to do? And, of course, after a workday of doing a thing, sometimes the last thing you want to do is do that thing more in your free time.

By all means, give me something moderately enjoyable that pays the bills and let me do my own thing in my free time. Much less pressure that way. Unless we smash capitalism, obviously, and I am so down for that but it doesn't seem to be going anywhere.

They've swallowed their dream-crushing disappointment -- it took 12+ years of federally mandated schooling, and probably ten more years of hard knocks, to get it to stick -- and now the forget the dreams (except occasionally when they buy a lottery ticket, or get really high), and just get by.

You're making the assumption that they had dreams in the first place. Some people aren't crushed by the wheels of the system into an uncaring paste. They were born that way. They march along doing exactly what everyone tells them they should do and never once question it. They never fight. Seriously, look at any sites where 20-somethings congregate and you'll find a lot of "I've done everything they told me to do. I went to school and got good grades and never drank or did drugs and majored in A Good Program and took A Good Job and got married and had kids and bought a house and yet I am unhappy." And their attitude isn't rage they were strung along or even anger that they haven't gotten theirs. It's the indignant attitude you see at a customer service desk. "Excuse me, I have checked off all the boxes for a happy life and did not get it, is there a manager I could speak to?"
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 9:32 PM on June 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Side projects? Those must be nice.
posted by Brocktoon at 7:36 AM on June 4, 2013


Still, don't benefits sort of only give you 'survival and not go bankrupt from medical issues' kind of living conditions?

Ha ha, "only".
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 7:58 AM on June 4, 2013


A guaranteed minimum income and free decent health care coverage would suit me just fine. I think it would be good for the economy too as it would promote entrepreneurship and volunteerism. I like my job, but I'd be much happier if I could work part-time and have more time to volunteer in my community, to daydream, to make pottery.
posted by mareli at 10:13 AM on June 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Still, don't benefits sort of only give you 'survival and not go bankrupt from medical issues' kind of living conditions?

Ha ha, "only".


Because the original context was 'four steps to follow your dreams' or something similar- hard to follow dreams when still at the bottom of the Maslow scale of things.
posted by bquarters at 2:33 PM on June 4, 2013


Thanks for this - I love hearing about behind-the-scenes MeFi stuff in the context of other blogs/podcasts.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 4:45 PM on June 4, 2013


This reminds me of Occupy Portland, when my sister was taking shit from her friends for not camping out downtown. She's practically a single mother with mouths to feed. She needs to generate an income on a daily basis, and she certainly can't get arrested. Revolutions are for the young and unattached, and so is "living the dream" for people like her.
posted by Brocktoon at 7:20 PM on June 4, 2013


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