You would think that nine months of challenge would be enough to think about, practice and prepare for writing my Yakezie membership post, right? So did I but we would both be wrong! I have been agonising over it for three day now, writing and re-writing. Why?
Because I really want to integrate in the Yakezie and this means two things: 1) I have to try to impress the existing members; and 2) the existing members have to be impressed, or be able to appreciate me, the Money Principle and the value we can contribute. And don’t even think of asking how I know this; I do!
After a number of drafts, I decided that nothing impresses like honesty. So here is our story in two and a bit chapters. But first…
… The main characters
There two people behind The Money Principle: John and me (Maria). We are not only partners in blogging but also have been married for over twenty years now – we both chose well and build on complementarities in life and blogging. I write; though it took me sometime to realise researching, analysis, thinking and writing is what I do. When it comes to the technical side of blogging I’m a bit of a luddite. And that is where John takes over – he happens to have a fascination with all things geeky.
Have to say though, that being married doesn’t make it any easier – we debate, we argue and occasionally I have a tantrum. But it all works out in the end; and if it doesn’t work out it only means that it is not the end.
Occasionally, supporting actors enter the action; we are very grateful to Jai Catalano for designing our logo – it is testament to Jai’s talent and to the fact that knowing a blog well can bring about visually stunning results.
Prologue: The crisis
It was the summer of 2009 and I had the uneasy feeling that not all was well with our finances. I had noticed that John had not had much consultancy work for sometime; I was also not entirely oblivious to the fact that he could not sleep, that worry lines were marking his face and the distance between us was increasing.
Until one day, the inevitable confrontation occurred; one where John could not hide things from himself or from me and I could not exist in my ‘carefully chosen area of ignorance’. What transpired was that we were in debt; about a ton of it. I am not ‑going to bother you with a detailed account of my feelings – suffices to say that it was a bit like the stages of acceptance of death (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance). I went through all of those but thankfully with acceptance reason returned.
By the end of 2009, I had decided that the way out is to stop moping take charge and start learning. Once I started reading on personal finance, finance and economics it was clear that this was ‘made for me’ (or I was made for it) – I had always had deep interest in money; it just needed a crisis to blossom.
Chapter 1: The Money Principle is born
‘John, what is a blog?’
Not a joke – I asked this question in March 2010 and John had really hard time explaining. It was all very confusing: it is a website but it is different; and it can have different formats; it can be done for pleasure but many people monetise blogs. How can you do that? What do you write and how do you write?
In brief, I was not ready. Writing has always been ‘my thing’ – I remember being about seven years old, sitting behind my little desk and trying to write a story. Not much happened then but later…I wrote everything, for myself. The thought that anybody may see what I have written filled me with cold dread. Later I got into academic writing – and this is not much help, really. If you are a talented writer you just end up writing more formulaic stuff – after all, you want it published, your career and the livelihood of your family depend on it.
So, my first task was to learn how to write for ‘normal’ people and not for five academics around the world. This was achieved in the relatively ‘safe’ environment of a large online forum – I wrote a ‘diary’ there for close to a year. By early 2011 my writing had changed – though I still knew little about blogging and writing blog posts the dice had been cast!
After some research and brainstorming, The Money Principle posted for the first time on 24 March 2011. My first post is not much to read but I keep it; because it reminds me how much learning we have done and how far we have travelled.
Chapter 2: The Money Principle starts the Yakezie challenge
I am a researcher, right? Soon after starting The Money Principle, by using snowballing techniques, I was reading and commenting on a number of blogs. And a ‑square logo mentioning a network with outlandish (but not unfamiliar) name caught my attention. The Yakezie Network!
Curiosity won (btw, I have never believed that ‘curiosity killed the cat’). Soon I was on the Yakezie website reading Sam’s article about the network, how it contributes value and why it is a good thing to have an Alexa rank below 200K.
I liked the philosophy of the group and I saw the potential for learning. But was this enough to make me start the challenge? No. What tipped the scales was Sam’s claim, made in passing of course, that having a blog with Alexa rank below 200K makes one more interesting and attractive.
‘Right’ – I thought – ‘there are many reasons for a woman to become invisible when she is over 40. Having a blog that is not in the top 1% is not going to be one of them.’
I joined the Yakezie challenge.
Now, people ask me ‘what do you do’ and first I say:
‘I teach philosophy of science and sociology of science to PhD and Masters’ students in a Business School.’
When my companions’ eyes start glazing from boredom and/or incomprehension, I say:
‘I run marathons.’
When they laugh and say that this is my mid-life crisis, I add:
‘And I have a blog ranked in the top 1% of websites worldwide.’
‘Oh, really’ – they say.
Then I tell them I have read War and Peace in original: this is such a great conversation stopper. And it is true!
Sam, with some people you just can’t win. I am still very glad I did the challenge and honoured to have written my Yakezie membership post today. Glad for the friendships, grateful for the support and honoured by the opportunity to give back!