Journeys to Iscandar

  • Posted on: 25 May 2014
  • By: Shawn DeWolfe

I’m on my third journey to Iscandar.

As a nerdy 13-year old, I use to race home every day to watch Star Blazers. In this Japanese import sci-fi series, Earth is attacked by Gamilon, a distant planet. The radiation from Gamilon's planet bombs force everyone underground. With no way to remove the radiation, all life on Earth will be wiped out in one year. The Earth receives unexpected help from Queen Starsha of the planet Iscandar, who offers a device called "Cosmo DNA" which will remove the radiation. Problem: Iscandar is 148,000 light years away, Starsha also sends plans for the experimental Wave Motion Engine that, when constructed, will aid whoever can travel to Iscandar. A space veteran, Captain Avatar, helms a rebuilt World War II battleship (the Yamato) that launches as the rechristened Argo, outfitted with the Wave Motion Engine. The mission: travel the immense distance to Iscandar, then return while there is still time.

The idea of an impossible but super-important task stuck with me. I came to dub big impossible tasks as “a journey to Iscandar” as a short-hand for “we’re outgunned, under-resourced, low on time and have to do what cannot be done.”

The first journey to Iscandar was our wedding. I met Cheryl at a transitional time in my life. In 1995, I had three part-time jobs. They usually afforded me a decent amount of money and lots of free time. It was awesome! Then, I was offered a regular job: so-so pay, 6 days a week and early hours. The place was eventually doomed, and I was laid off in 1996. That was okay by me. The night of my last day there, I met Cheryl. Inside of a couple weeks, we went on our first date. I didn’t admit it at the time, but we spend the Friday, Saturday, Sunday together and by Monday morning, I was broke (she didn’t spend me to $0-- it’s just that I started at $20 and carefully executed the emergency landing at $0). My finances improved a little thereafter, but our first couple years were exceptionally financially rocky. In that period, we were trying to save up for a proper wedding and do so with very little income. That seemed impossible. It seemed like a journey to Iscandar. Through a lot of belt tightening and the good graces of friends who volunteered all manner of help. Everything got paid. Everyone got fed at the reception. We came out of the wedding without debt for the event.

The second journey to Iscandar came in the months before Alice’s birth. We got into a house on Quadra St. that was a “rent-to-own” -- it was to be our way to get into a home we owned. When we got to the purchase window we discovered the magical scam that is rent-to-own. The amount of the rent that was to go to the down payment was the same amount that the house’s asking price had climbed by. The landlord was willing to credit us that amount off of the purchase price, and they were unwilling to hand us that cash to roll back in as the home’s down payment. Okay: we were neophytes in this realm and for a lot of reasons the rent-to-own deal was not going to fly. Still, Cheryl was about to pop-out Alice and we were faced with the impossibility of buying a house. Compounding the need, I was self employed (translation: I was the scum of the Earth in the eyes of banks); and Cheryl was about to depart on a year of maternity leave. Closing all of those gaps before Alice emerged and turned us from a young couple to a small family, was looming large. As luck would have it, we read in the Coffee News of this crappy little condo that was being sold under pressure. It turned out that family in there were divorcing and they needed the property sold. With the help of a couple realtors who actually ran their business out of a limo (“For certain legal reasons, we cannot stop the car from moving”). Through some financial robbing of Peter to pay Paul coupled with a diminished requirement for a down payment, we were able to manhandle our way into an exorbitant mortgage but we did it. We got to the Iscandar of housing.

My third journey to Iscandar is my quest to get away from client consulting and convert the business into something that sells products, namely plugins and product add-ons. Beyond that, my goal is to make the venture into something sturdy. If I make something sturdy and abundant, I can reproduce it. I can teach others how I did it. Maybe I can coach them in how they can apply my methodology. This isn’t a new project. A few years ago, I began a series, “The First $10,000". I defined $10,000 as the dividing line between a fluke and a business. If I sell $6000 in e-books, maybe I’m lucky. I had to put an arbitrary dividing line somewhere, and I put it at the five-digit mark. As I get this discovery engine going, I will resume the series and write about what works and what doesn’t. There are lots of people doing products already, but some of them hide the real secrets behind a big sideshow curtain. The garish painting out front shows a half-man-half-lobster wonder of nature. The sad reality behind the curtain is less thrilling. That’s the goal. Like the other journeys to Iscandar, this one is less than 148,000 light-years away from fruition.

Last updated date

Monday, May 13, 2019 - 15:32