By the time you read, you might have already assumed that I was fake, just a product of Mike’s wild imagination. But in fact when Mike has discussed his partner, he wasn’t kidding, I do exist and I just thought I’d introduce myself. Why now? Because although I’m much more in the shadows on this blog, I do have a major role in M35 Inc and since we are now opening up to a lot of what we’re doing, I thought it would be a good idea to introduce myself.
As Mike has written already, I met him in university when we both were studying at HEC in Montreal. We met in class and eventually got a chance to travel around Europe together which helped us get to know each other in the best and worst of days. Mike was away from his girlfriend (while I was single) and he certainly had his shares of tough times but we also had amazing days that will always be up there in my memories. Since finishing school, as you know, Mike ended up going to work as a financial planner (I must say it’s quite useful to have your best friend as your financial planner!!), while I became more involved in trading, I also work at a bank in equity trading. Last year, I got married and was lucky enough to have Mike as my best man.
Why am I telling you all of this? Because Mike is a friend above anything else and that is probably what has made our business so strong. If we had started off our business before being best friends, I have no doubts that M35 would be nowhere near where it currently is. Why? There are probably a million reasons… but here is one. We trust each other. In what way? In every way.
Trust about financials, about money… but also trust that we are doing our best. We do not and never have counted hours. Why? We each have our different circumstances. In the few years that we’ve done our business together, we’ve managed our work, family and friends, Mike completed an MBA, I got married, we had traveling planned, I got my CFA, etc. As you can imagine, it has been a crazy few years. I don’t have to tell you that when I was doing my CFA or Mike his MBA or financial planning title, we spent less time on M35. That often went on for weeks, and even months. At times, one of us would spend only a few hours per month working while the other busted out evenings…. but we knew it would turn around and it always has. Not having to worry about it, to explain what’s going on, to ask about it… it’s priceless. In the best of times, it also means that we can do our best, concentrate on what each of us does best without worrying about the other person. That is what has helped us grow so fast.
Our VA had a great way to compare our team when she said that Mike was similar to Darth Vader, the powerful and dominant force. To complement that team, I would be Yoda, the “strategic brain” behind the operation. As I have been active on the web for over 10 years (yes, that long!). How did I do it? Actually, for most of the time while in school, I did not need a job, I would simply work on websites and spend most of my summers traveling around the world. That is one of the advantages of working from the web; no set location! All of that experience gave me a good vision of where the web is going, and how our company should adapt… and even Darth Vader wouldn’t argue Yoda on that front:)
It always makes for interesting discussions between the two of us but when Yoda and Darth Vader reunite, there is no stopping us.
-Content: First off, as you know, we have many blogs (this one, The Dividend Guy Blog, Green Panda, IntelligentSpeculator, and others), we have some niche sites, some non finance websites, and many other projects going on. You would never imagine the diversity of our projects. We have opened up quite a bit on our projects, our revenues and traffic and will continue doing so, but there are still some other sides to our business, I usually take care of those.
-Technical: I deal with most technical aspects either myself or with our programmers and designers. This can go from the smallest little thing such as inserting a new ad to websites, transfers, designs for our new projects.
-General M35 direction: Mike and I discuss on a daily basis and also take the time once a year to go for a weekend to discuss general strategy, all of our current and future projects, our costs, employees, etc. It’s an intense but very beneficial weekend for us and we are about to do our second one so I’m sure you’ll hear all about it from Mike.
-Co-CEO: All bigger financial decisions have so far been done on a unanimous decision basis. It’s always quite interesting because we have such different ideas in terms of our attitudes, how aggressive we are, leverage, expansion, etc. There’s nothing better than being challenged and having good constructive discussions and that is what we have. There is no doubt that if the company were run by one of us alone, things would look very very different. But as Mike has mentioned, the synergy between the two of us is many times better than anything we could hope for if we were alone.
You know Mike quite well at this point. What you see on this blog is what you get. He has incredible energy, creativity beyond what any human should normally be allowed to have, tons of ambition and motivation to go along with it. But best of all, he’s the guy you want as your friend and partner, the guy who is always there to help, to understand and to give you his honest opinion. He is also very impulsive and a very good sales guy.
On the other hand, I’m a very passionate guy, and would consider myself as having a very good vision of what the web is and where it’s going. I’m fairly conservative about debt. I also have no problem being honest about an idea, a project. I think that while Mike is unique in how many great ideas he can bring to the table, our brainstorming has been extremely efficient in finding the best ideas and making them come to reality. We have different jobs, different backgrounds and that gives us different perspectives on M35 Inc, where it is and where it should be.
And what makes our friendship so solid after all of these years? One great thing that we have is humor. We don’t take ourselves too seriously (as you’ve seen on TFB for all of these years) and you could never imagine all of the funny inside jokes and that makes all of our discussions only semi-serious. From emails about fictitious animals, flying hams, amongst many other things, it would be very difficult for a third party to join in on most of our conversations!
We actually discussed this in last year’s annual meeting and Mike was more in favor of the idea. I think the main thing was that we started getting so many questions about our business, what we’re doing, why, etc. It kind of happened without us making much of an effort as we simply took TFB to where users wanted it to go.
Honestly, I don’t think I need to spend too long here. Picture a job with your best friend, that pays very well, can be done from anywhere in the world, with flexible hours, no boss, great growth potential and allows us to live our wildest dreams… That is exactly what M35 is becoming for both of us.
The future is very bright no doubt about it. No matter how you look at it (projects, content, employees, traffic, revenues), everything is improving almost on a monthly basis. That is in big part due to the fact that Mike started working one full day per week for the company and now that we have our full time VA, it’s taken things to a whole other level. There will be many challenges ahead including our direction, where we’ll concentrate our energy.
On a higher level, we have refused all proposals regarding selling shares of M35 Inc and have no intention of changing but it’s always a possibility. There will probably be bigger projects ahead for us. We are confident and doing our best while trying to keep our lives balanced. I don’t think Mike ever explained how we found the company’s name but it’s something that he will discuss I’m sure and that is certainly one of our objectives with this company…
I would love to hear any questions you have about myself, Mike, M35 or anything else 🙂
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