Tiger & Lemon Sharks

6x6x6 Project #1: An Experiment & A Challenge

(update October 2014: 6x6x6 got stalled out a bit at project #4 when I took on a teaching role in addition to my consulting work, but I’m about to relaunch so stay tuned!)

My wife recently shared an article with me called “10 Reasons Why You Have to Quit Your Job This Year” by James Altucher, a blogger/entrepreneur whose brash and honest style I’ve got a kick out of since discovering him last year. Having been an (often struggling) entrepreneur for the past 7+ years, the article really struck a chord: I’m probably not the only one who, during the downward slope of the entrepreneurial roller coaster, has wished for the perceived  security of a full-time job, and beyond encouraging me that I’m on the right path, it also reinforced many of the values that, as entrepreneurs (and humans) we should probably think about more often.

(get the above image and 5 others as a Retina resolution wallpaper: Bahamas Sharks)

“…[surrender] yourself to an idea that you want to create something of value to other human beings.”

With my current startup, Storied, I do feel like I’m creating something of value: a way for families to collect, share, and preserve family stories. The idea grew out of my experiences with my father-in-law, who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease 3 years ago. My sister-in-law Kathy put together a photo memoir for Don, and the benefits from it were huge, both for Don and for the family. Don was able to sit down with the book and reminisce about people and events that he would have trouble recalling in conversation; the family was able to capture stories from Don’s younger years that would otherwise have been lost as his dementia progressed.

I thought that creating a digital platform to make this easier for people, specifically an iPad app that uses the bundled technology to scan, annotate, and  create mini-documentaries from these stories, easily & intuitively, would be very compelling. Whether people are willing to pay for this, or whether we can figure out a way to create a sustainable business, is an entirely different question, which we are hoping to answer as we release the product and prototype a few business model ideas. As a father and a husband, these unknowns definitely add to my anxiety levels, and James’ next piece of advice lit a proverbial fire under my ass: 

“…diversify the things you are working on so no one person or customer or boss or client can make a decision that could make you rich or destroy you or fulfill your life’s dreams or crush them.”

Ok, so running a startup eats up a lot of time. Add to that a wonderful two-year-old daughter, exercise, sleep, and a healthy amount of time with my also wonderful (and very understanding) wife, and the slice of available time begins to feel very thin. So how to diversify? 


(get the above image and 5 others as a Retina resolution wallpaper: SF via Kayak)

Here is where the experiment comes in: over the next six months, I’m going to create six small side projects that can generate revenue. As my advisor and coach Corey Ford likes to say, constraints drive innovation, so:

  1. Setting up each project/business can’t take more than 6 hours; this won’t count time used to create content, much of which will be pulled from pre-created stock (and I’m certain that I can sneak in 6 hours over the course of the month, though my pre-bedtime reading of books like Game of Throneswill probably suffer).
  2. Each project has to have the ability to generate revenue as soon as it is launched (even if it’s just a dollar).
  3. I’ll give myself a budget of $60.00 total for all 6 projects. With any luck, I’ll break even by the time the whole project is over.

For each project, I’ll list the tools that I used (not counting the standard tools in my arsenal as a designer & photog, including Adobe Creative Suite), how time was allotted, and money spent. I don’t expect these projects to bring in much (if any!) revenue, but they will definitely help me to learn a bit more about where I can create value for other human beings, and perhaps help other entrepreneurs, or would-be entrepreneurs, get excited about doing their own side projects.

And here is where the challenge comes in: I challenge you to do something similar! Maybe it’s one side project in 6 months, or 6 side projects in one month, but do something to diversify, to learn, and to get the courage to make the entrepreneurial leap if you haven’t already done so!

So without further ado, here is:

Side Project #1: Retina Wallpaper


(get the above image and 5 others as a Retina resolution wallpaper: Ubuntu Garden)

In a previous life I was a professional photographer, shooting everything from food & wine, to weddings, to fashion (and even a short lived stint in the beginning as a baby-photographer; this was well before my own daughter came into the picture, and I lacked the necessary patience to deal with babies and anxious moms). I also co-founded an underwater photography magazine called Wetpixel Quarterly, and got to travel a bit and take pictures of big swimming things with pointy teeth. In the course of all of this, I shot tens of thousands of images, most of which just sit idle on my hard drives.

I’ve been told that some of these images are quite nice. I’ve also noticed a lot of folks out there with the new Retina Display macbooks that seem to have default images as their desktop wallpaper. So why not a snazzy, high-res shot to really show off what your hardware is capable of? (note: these images will still work perfectly well for the poor souls like me who have yet to own a retina display).

I’ve created three collections, each with 5 images, to begin with: Bahamas Sharks, Ubuntu Garden, and San Francisco via Kayak. You can purchase them at the links below (and above); name your own price or at the minimum price of $5, that’s 1 buck per image, vhat a schteal! (update: 50% of the money paid towards the underwater images will go to Sharksavers.org, to help protect sharks and mantas from destructive practices like finning).

The first collection, Bahamas Sharks, contains images from my Wetpixel trip to the Bahamas; lot’s of impressive toothy creatures including tiger sharks & lemon sharks.


Get the Retina resolution wallpapers here: Bahamas Sharks

(Update: Buy this wallpaper with Bitcoin here)

The second collection comes from work I did for Ubuntu, a Michelin-starred vegetarian restaurant in Napa. These images are from their beautiful biodynamic garden.


Get the Retina resolution wallpapers here: Ubuntu Garden

Finally, a series of images I took from my kayak when we used to live in Sausalito (ok, one is not taken from a kayak, and you can probably guess which one). Several of them show the SF skyline from a unique perspective.


Get the Retina resolution wallpapers here: SF via Kayak

I’ll probably be posting more collections soon, so if you’re interested or just want to keep up with the overall project please sign up for my newsletter here.

Ok, so what are the tools, and totals for time & money, used to create this project? See below the break for more.

Well, I needed a blog to launch this project, , and use an easy to set up platform that I could later embed in a custom WordPress platform, so I chose Tumblr (although this is now moved over to the new custom WordPress blog you’re reading here, and syndicated on Medium & Quora):

  • Set up time: 0.25 hr
  • Cost: free

I also needed a way to sell the wallpaper collections, so I chose Gumroad, which is by far the easiest commerce platform I know of for setting up sales of digital or physical goods. For instance, if the product is digital, the customer doesn’t need to enter a shipping address (hallelujah!).

  • Set up time (including adding 3 products to my store): 1.5 hr
  • Cost: free

And that’s about it! Less than 2 hours and no money, and I’ve got my first side project launched (well, I said in the rules I wouldn’t count content, but it did take me around 2.5 hours to write and edit this blog post, and about and hour to set up all of the images…but I still come in under 6!).

So what are you waiting for, get out there and launch your first side project! And feel free to contact me if you have any questions, or if I can help in any way.

Next Up: 6x6x6 #2: Overused Startup Buzzwords

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