Minafi Summer Break, Life & Goals Updates for Q2 2021

You can tell I’m not optimizing this post for SEO by the amazing title. 😂 Instead this is more of a life update. At the beginning of this year (and every year) I decided to set a few goals and themes for 2021. This is an update on how these are going and everything else I’ve been up to lately.

Me waking up to snow during a hike (more on that later)

One of the reasons I write these is to share what a FIRE lifestyle can look like. If you’re new here, we’re an upper-middle class couple (no kids) who retired early at 36 spending roughly $80k a year. We live in an apartment with a lovable pup that just turned 13 years old last month.

With that out of the way, let’s take a look at what I’ve been up to!

Minafi Summer Break

Let’s start with the big one. You may have noticed I haven’t exactly been actively posting lately. Back in late April I decided to take 3 months off from Minafi, planning to come back in August.

Big news: I’m taking a summer break from Minafi! ☀️

I’ve been programming a bunch recently and it’s reminded me how much I love getting pulled into code and completely losing track of time.

As for what I’ll be doing (thread) 👇

— Adam @ Minafi (@minafiblog) April 29, 2021

Because I just can’t help but work on something, this pause was so I could put 100% of my mental energy into a new problem. In this case it was starting a new startup – one that I’d been thinking about for more than a decade.

The startup? Hardcover. An alternative to Goodreads that allows you to track and discover new books that’s not related to Amazon. I read or listen to over 100 books a year (ok, mostly listen), and Goodreads has been essential in tracking, understanding my habits and helping me learn my own preferences. There’s something to looking back and seeing what books I’ve loved that help me more accurately find new favorites.

So in April I posted on Reddit looking for a UI/UX designer to work on this idea with. We formed a team and started researching out the idea! The progress of the site has gone something like this:

  1. Form a team. We started with a team of 5, went down to 4 and are now up to 6 people.
  2. Create a hypothesis. Decide what type of user we’re attempting to connect with.
  3. Talk to those users. We talked to about 15 users to understand how they’re using Goodreads, and if they have issues with it (which most did).
  4. Create a prototype. Based on the common problems users brought up, create a prototype that solves those while taking into account their most common use cases.
  5. Discuss the prototype with users. Go through this prototype with users! This is one of the most fun steps to be honest. It’s sooo nice doing this with a prototype because I’m not attached to the solution. If it doesn’t work, we can still change things before programming it.
  6. Build it. This can be started at the beginning – creating a login system, loading in books, etc – but the building of the individual pages can’t happen until we understand how users interact and respond to our prototype.

This is the process that I followed for years in some way or another as a developer, but then much more dogmatically as a product manager in the last 5 years of my career.

In high school and middle school I was always the quiet, introverted kid. I wasn’t one to start conversations and honestly didn’t have much to say. It was only when I switched to Product Management that I realized I love to talk! It just depends on what we’re talking about. Talking to someone about something I’m passionate about? I can go all day. Books are one topic like that for me, while FIRE and investing are others I can go all day about.

In talking to potential users initially, we found that people tend to use Goodreads foremost for two things – looking up books when someone mentions them and tracking what they want to read. Other features like reading reviews, seeing what their friends are reading and tracking what they read were up there as well. That left about 8,355 other features on Goodreads that weren’t mentioned once.

A Purple Life for being the very first user interviewed both for the voice of customer and the prototype chats!). There’s a lot more we want to do, but I’ve been blogging over on the Hardcover blog with progress along the way.

If you’re a reader or audiobook listener interested in book tracking or discovery, I’d love to talk to you! Whenever we’re looking for people to talk to we first reach out on the Hardcover mailing list. Or if you’d rather reach out I’m adam at hardcover.app.

Vaccinations & Trips!

I can barely believe that it’s only been in the last 3 months that we got vaccinated and began traveling again. We got our shots as soon as we could schedule them here in Utah – even though that meant driving 45 minutes away to a more rural Fresh Market.

COVID Vaccination

I’m still on my 3-month summer break from Minafi (working on @HardcoverApp with a few people during that time), but this bday week has been neither!

We had our first post-vaccination maskless outing – snorkeling in a natural hot springs in a CRATER! I’m constantly amazed w/Utah. pic.twitter.com/aWJhG7TR4G

— Adam @ Minafi (@minafiblog) May 19, 2021

Friends Backpacking Trip

The second outing was a 3-person overnight backpacking trip to Grove Creek and Battle Creek. This is the 3rd time I’ve done this loop with friends, and it remains my favorite backpacking trail on the Wasatch front. As an added bonus, you can even get cell service for most of the hike!

For this hike I was able to try out a new tent (The Two from Gossamer Gear) and a new pack (their Gorilla 50L Ultralight). I’ve been trying to cut weight to make backpacking more fun. I can confirm – the hike is a LOT more fun when carrying 15 lbs compared to carrying 30 lbs.

The Art and Science of Love training with an instructor. With only 4 couples there, it would be an intimate environment where we could also focus on our relationships and make them even stronger. Honestly, being able to do this with other friends and couples was one of the best gifts I can think of. I mean, just look at the view from this place.

Concept at night and watching deer through the dining room window is something I’ll never forget.

Platforms directory as a way to move towards this while providing real value to people who are trying to figure out where to invest. At this point Minafi is making enough money to cover all it’s expenses with some room to spare, which is good enough for me. For the last 3 months it made roughly $200 a month. Not too bad considering it was making $0 last year. I’m most excited that this means that keeping Minafi running doesn’t eat into our savings. I don’t think it’ll reach the level where it’s funding my lifestyle, but I’m OK with that. For now I like the idea that Minafi is a place to write, learn and share more than anything else.

Monthly journaling – I’ve dropped the ball on this. For a while I was doing a weekly journaling exercise. This helped set an intention for the next week and keep me focused. You can see from the chart above that as soon as I stopped doing this I also stopped a bunch of other things (Japanese, tracking spending, etc).

One other way of journaling that I enjoy is writing up detailed reports of trips I’ve been on. I enjoy being able to look back at these and revisit the trip again. I published one for our first trip to Japan a few years ago here on Minafi. I wrote this years ago, but wanted to make sure it lived on.

Happiness >= 8 – June has been a rough month. Lily ended up in the doctors office once and the emergency room once (while we were traveling no less). The rest of the month has been great. The only downside is me being down on myself for not doing more.

What Next?

There’s a lot happening in July. I initially set a goal of 3-months of work on Hardcover and would evaluate how it’s going after that. I’m two months in now and have been absolutely loving it. The downside? It’s going to take a lot more than 3-months. After writing a Hardcover roadmap, it looks like it’ll be closer to 7 months (so 5 more months) to get to a solid release.

One of the big things for me to figure out is how I split my time between Hardcover and Minafi. I no longer plan to write on here every week like I used to, but I do want to keep writing here. That’ll mean finding a new cadence for writing. I’m leaning towards writing once a month – but trying to make it something more impactful and thought out. Let’s face it: a bunch of posts are more filler. I’d rather post less frequently, but better.

We also have two trips planned for the next 3 months – one to Napa Valley/SF to see family (and try some wine) and another one to Las Vegas in September. I’m still concerned about that one if I’m honest. Either way we’ll be mask-on for these trips. It’ll also be the first flight since COVID. More than anything I’m excited to see family and spend more time with friends again.

What about you? Are you open to traveling again? Is there a limit to where you’d feel safe?

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