101) The Strangest Yet Most Interesting Assignment of my Career

Welcome to my autobiography.

I am so glad you are here!

In the previous post, I shared some experiences from my first home business (a disaster)  we operated in Fort Collins, Colorado in 2004. In this post you will read what goes through the mind of someone who was not satisfied with just failing in a home business, but continues to raise the stakes. You will see how I raised the stakes by laying the groundwork for two more very big bets with our money – a large, custom-built home and another home business – both based on temporary contracting assignments!

Locking Down Another Lucrative Contract

“Hi, I’m Oliver,” I said, as I walked through the secured entrance to another IBM design center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

“This is it,” Kenneth said, leading me into a medium-sized office on the 12th floor of The Wells Fargo Tower, the tallest building in “The Springs,” as the locals called it.

“Yes, I’m pretty confident I can help you guys out,” I said, ending my interview.

I had absolutely blown  them away, I believed, during the interview for the contract.

Luckily for me, my recent experience with Intel and IBM in Rochester, Minnesota won me the job, and I began work within two weeks.

Although most unusual in the world of semiconductor hardware design, a technology complex located in a downtown setting offered a very interesting venue for a mask design contract. While others wore suits and drove into work from the suburbs of Colorado Springs, I took an inexpensive room in a nearby hotel and arrived to work wearing t-shirts and shorts. Riding up the elevator to IBM technology center – we shared the office with an IBM enterprise software support group – I was again the outsider, getting an eyeful of the inner circle of a relatively large number of financial service workers who worked, lunched and moved about in the granite-floored, brass-ornamented skyscraper.

If designing computer chips in a tall financial services building wasn’t strange enough, the designers sat next to each other – each row facing the other – in two long rows of tables, with a just a small, low privacy wall separating each work station. The standard office for work like this is a 8 x 8 cube,  or sometimes larger. So this arrangement would have been totally unacceptable for any other senior designers on the planet, except for our small team on the 12th floor overlooking the sparkling clean horizons of Colorado Springs, Colorado. Our quarters were cramped, but each of us considered ourselves the luckiest workers at IBM.

Still in the Zone of Supreme Confidence

I felt a remarkable sense of confidence during the next few weeks of the contract. Now about 22 years into my career, I had mastered the craft of integrated circuit layout, was very comfortable with my small group and was given the responsibility to conduct some training for a less experienced designer in the office. The others on my team were IBM employees, so except for one other, I was the lone contractor. I was working on an interesting project, having lunch at the local Vietnamese restaurant and driving home to Fort Collins on most week-ends to be with Nadine, Jenna and Stevie.

The Set Up

I wish I was able to say – earning my contracting rate of between $55 and $70 per hour – we were able to save money, but we weren’t, since my living expenses were not outlandish but significant. Yet, we were about to sell our house and buy a much bigger one and invest in another home based business.

All of these risks came very naturally to me. I guess I was so confident in my ability to find and secure a contract, that I was blind to risks that others worked at jobs they hated their whole life, just to avoid the kind of personal financial risks that we were about to plunge into.

As I recall telling Nadine, “Whatever I learned about financial literacy, I had to learn reading books and attending seminars (a lot of them). There are no courses in high school or college that prepare a person to make good financial decision.”

“Let’s buy the biggest house we can afford,” I told Nadine.

So in 2005, with the economy rolling along, Nadine and I put our little house in Fort Collins up for sale. We intended to go big, and that is what we did. During the next few month we waited anxiously for our house to be built. It was the biggest house Nadine or I had ever lived in.

My rationale for this was that at the end of 5 years, a more expensive house would appreciate more (holding the rate of real estate appreciation constant) than a cheaper one.

After the construction was completed we moved to our new lakeside home development in Loveland, Colorado.

We couldn’t have been happier!

Next – Stevie’s Chronic Pancreatitis and Pain Med Addiction Roars Out of Control

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