Me: Let's talk about you. What is your background? How did you land here?
Jeffrey: Growing up, I chose my own curriculum, and I always had an interest in making games. When I got the idea for the math game four and a half years ago, I started gathering resources to make it possible.
Me: What's your typical day?
Jeffrey: Yesterday, I went to a meeting with some business coaches, and realized that people want curriculum, not games. I spent a few hours trying to work through that. I went to yoga, then spent the rest of the night programming. It seems like the more customer-facing tasks I have, the more programming I do at night.
Me: I want to talk about freelancing. Have you ever had a traditional job?
Jeffrey: I've been with two consultancies and one startup. The closest would be when I was with a startup for 13 months and they were paying me the entire time.
Me: How did you manage to avoid that?
Jeffrey: I had a little bit of money left over from scholarships when I graduated, and I was able to hold out and built my skills. It's been a huge privilege for me to be able to work the way I do, and I know not everyone is in that position. I'm going to take advantage of that, and not settle for something where I'm less effective. There are definitely situations where people need to work in a more traditional job, or work better that way. I don't want to knock them.
Me: I am hoping to show people how to do what you're doing.
Jeffrey: First, if you have any privileges, that's great; take advantage of them. Obviously, society isn't fair - any unfairness you have stacked your way, take advantage of it, and use it to help other people. Live frugally. For a while, my rent was $200. I went a year without a paycheck after graduating. I ate a lot of rice and beans.
Then, I moved to a country that had a low cost of living when I had my first job, in Medellin, Columbia. I could live the high life for not a lot of money. I was working about 25 billable hours, plus educating myself, plus learning Spanish, plus administrative. It was about 55 hours a week to get paid for 25. But I came back from Columbia with more money than I left.
I would say, learn a valuable skill. When I had the idea for making a game, I didn't say, "Let me go find venture capitalists, an artist, and programmers who will make my idea for me." No one will listen to someone with just an idea, and they won't give that person cash or their valuable work time-- especially if that person is 21! Learn a valuable skill, preferably one that will help you follow your dreams and help support you while you create something. For me, it's programming.