Getting Fired: 3.5 years later

by Chris on July 17, 2014

Three and a half years ago I was working at TD Securities as an equity analyst. I had been working on Bay Street as an equity analyst covering tech stocks for almost 11 years at that point. I enjoyed it tremendously for most of those years. But when I had my first daughter in 2004 I knew it wasn’t the long term path I’d follow. The hours were not healthy and it went against everything I knew about living a balanced lifestyle.

Then in 2007 I had another daughter. It was also the year that a good friend of mine, who I’ll call “Julio” (only because that’s his actual name) gave me a copy of Tim Ferriss’ book “The Four Hour Work Week”. It was eye opening to read this book and realize there is more to life than just working for someone else.

By January 2011, the day I walked into my boss’ office to ask him to fire me, it was the culmination of 4 years of planning my departure. I was going to either be successful in asking them to fire me, or I was going to quit in the coming months. I already knew my new direction, and I had long gotten over the fear of pulling the trigger.

Luckily for me the Canadian tech sector was not exactly strong at the time. Nortel had sold itself in pieces and Research In Motion was imploding. As a senior tech analyst at a shop that had two such analysts it was obvious that changes would eventually come. They’d consolidate down to one analyst. It probably would have happened later in 2011. I simply pre-empted it by deciding on my own new path years in advance and being a bit lucky with the timing.

I’ve never liked the idea of constraining my behavior to someone else’s idea of what the box looks like. If you don’t like what you’re doing who says you can’t just walk in and ask them to let you go?

No matter what your job, think of yourself as the boss. YOU are the boss of what you do with your time. Sure you have a boss at work … and my last boss was a good guy. I respect him. But you are still, inevitably, the boss of your own life, and it has to be a mutual agreement between you and your employer to continue a relationship. If it isn’t working for you there should be no fear in leaving.

Three and a half years later here’s what is different:

  • I see my kids for breakfast and dinner almost every day.
  • I work for myself with a diversified income stream, not one cheque from one employer.
  • Yes, I still make less money than before, but it’s entirely sufficient to enjoy an awesome life.
  • We take more vacations without needing to excrutiatingly plan the time off. I can just handle small amounts of work while away.
  • We decided to move out of the city (about 75km away) to get more land for less money. We refer to our new home as “paradise” and our friends call it “the resort” (it cost far less than the average home in our old ‘hood)
  • I enjoy sleeping a proper 8 hours every night.
  • I work whenever and wherever I bloody well feel like it.
  • My wife and I get to spend time together during the day practically every day.

Several recruiters have attempted to get me back onto Bay Street since I left. I’ve been up front in telling them I have absolutely no interest at all. In 2007 I had no idea I’d be making this kind of radical change to my life, but now that I’ve done it there is no way I’d ever go back to the old life.

One of my best friends has this expression: “It’s so awesome being ME.”

When I first heard him say it I thought it was vain. At the time I didn’t get the context. It’s not about him claiming victory over anyone else, or being better than anyone else. It’s simply about LOVING your own life and being totally satisfied with how you spend your time. Everyone should be able to say it. Three and a half years ago I couldn’t say it. Today I can.

Never be afraid to fire yourself.




Tesla: The Self-Marketing Car

by Chris on July 4, 2014

Model S at cottage chargingAfter driving the Tesla Model S for about 3 weeks I’ve noticed that it attracts a lot of attention, and mostly when I’m parked. I’ve gotten used to the idea that when I get in or out of the car there are likley to be people staring at it, walking up close to it, commenting on it, and asking questions about it.

These people can be segregated into two categories.  Those in Category A know about the Tesla brand, and have heard of the Model S electric car. Most of them have never seen one and get quite excited, but they understand the basic story.  Those in Category B don’t know who Tesla is, don’t know that the car is electric, and are still just as curious because it’s a funky looking car that makes people very curious.

The magic is when people from Category A and Category B gather together to check out the car in a parking lot. The “A” folks start educating the “B” folks on exactly what they’re looking at. They explain the all-electric nature of the beast, and it’s incredible roller-coaster-like silent acceleration. They explain the embedded technology and supercharging capability that’s coming to Canada. They tell stories about Elon Musk founding PayPal and then going onto build Tesla Motors.

Tesla has accomplished the feat of building a self-marketing car.



Cars are going electric. There is no stopping it.

by Chris June 24, 2014

Last week I picked up my Tesla Model S. I’m the first to admit this is an expensive car, and most people aren’t going to buy one. And I realize that it will be at least a couple of years before their Gen 3 car (expected at $35k) is going to arrive.  In the mean […]

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Is it wrong that Morgan Stanley upgraded Tesla Motors in advance of underwriting their convertible debt offering?

by Chris February 27, 2014

Ever since Tesla Motors announced its $1.6 billion convertible debt offering yesterday afternoon, market watchers have been crying foul. Why?  Because Morgan Stanley is one of the underwriters on the deal. Their analyst, Adam Jonas, put out a very bullish report and raised his target price on Tesla just a few days before the deal […]

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Long Term: Can Microsoft Stay in the Consumer Business?

by Chris January 27, 2014

I admit that I was wrong about Microsoft … at least in the short term. In late 2012 I was very bearish on Microsoft just as I started participating in the Globe and Mail’s “Strategy Lab” project. I wrote a few articles explaining why I preferred to own Google and Apple rather than Microsoft. Turns […]

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Should you bother to read analyst reports?

by Chris January 16, 2014

If you invest in stocks you probably read analyst reports. Or at least you probably read summaries pulled from these reports in the financial press, right? So the question is … should you pay any attention to any of these reports? I answer that question in this week’s Strategy Lab column for the Globe and […]

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Apple is heading to $1000

by Chris December 11, 2013

Yup. That’s what I think. Just don’t ask me when it will happen or what the path will look like as it gets from here ($560ish) to there. This is the subject of the article I published for yesterday, which you can read here. I was a sell side analyst for almost 11 years. […]

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Here’s what people think about the end of the PC

by Chris November 26, 2013

About 6 weeks ago I published one of my weekly columns in the Globe and Mail as part of the Strategy Lab project. The topic was how Apple may turn iOS into a PC replacement. You can read my column here. I firmly believe that PC sales are now in a long term decline. Many […]

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BlackBerry and the so-called “deadline” with Fairfax

by Chris November 1, 2013

Tonight has been a hilarious night of Twitter dialogue. In some cases friendly and in some cases more like a Twitter fight. The topic: BlackBerry.  Too many media outlets are representing Monday November 4th as some kind of looming deadline for Fairfax Financial to firm up their bid to buy BlackBerry.  It isn’t a deadline […]

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My latest article on Monsanto is making people mad at me

by Chris July 30, 2013

As part of the Globe and Mail “Strategy Lab” project, I write a weekly column on growth stocks. This week I took a break from the usual electronic technology area that I focus on. I wrote an article about Monsanto, a giant in the food business. You can read it here. It seems people are […]

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