Cache Rules Everything Around Me

My Journey Into DeFi

But neither a bull nor a noble-spirited man comes to be what he is all at once; he must undertake hard winter training, and prepare himself, and not propel himself rashly into what is not appropriate to him.

-Epitectus

Hi, Happy New Year!

According to historical benchmarks, most new years resolutions have been abandoned by now, but not us, we’re stronger and more deliberate than that. Right! Right?

As Epictetus alludes to above, it took a lifetime for you to become who you are and will require hard work to change.

So how do you change? In Atomic Habits, James Clear says the answer is habit-building. I haven’t read the book, but this summary and this episode of Capital Allocators featuring James were a delightful combo.


2020 Review

In 2020 I stepped my New Years Resolutions game by creating this spreadsheet and quantifying all inputs to end the year with a score out of 100. Happy to report that I achieved ~72% of what I set out to accomplish with many twists and turns along the way.

2021 Planning

Almost a month into 2021 and while I haven’t duplicated my spreadsheet, I have thought through the tweaks I’d like to make. 2021’s approach will be a double-down on those actions that gave me the most energy and the removal of any fluff. I don’t plan on sharing this year’s spreadsheet but will report back on overall progress come 2022.

Some consistent themes that have served me well:

  • 50 net fewer possessions — fewer things = fewer things to worry about

  • 10% less alcohol than last year — this is so much easier with all the great non-alcoholic beer available these days, my favorite being Clausthauler Dry Hopped

  • 10% less added sugar than last year — more fruit, fewer cookies

  • 10% more overall net worth — CREAM


🤑 My Journey Into DeFi

DeFi (Decentralized Finance) is the creation of standard financial instruments (loans, high-yield savings, margin, options, etc) into the world of cryptocurrency and specifically without a centralized controller.

It’s fascinating because, on one hand, we have a large crop of neo-banks competing with the large incumbent institutions, on the other hand, we have non-banking companies starting to offer financial services (big tech, Walmart, etc), and completely unrelated to both we have an entirely new system being created by open-source makers from all walks of life.

In fact, over the past year, the total value locked in DeFi rose from less than $1B to $25B+. Of course, much of that has to do with the crypto bull run, but despite price fluctuations, people are choosing to keep their money in these portals.

Why?

I’m still new here, but thus far there are three reasons why I’m excited:

  1. Ease of signup, many portals only need one piece of information from you, your crypto wallet address - this replaces the plethora of questions and additional passwords to remember (side note: it’s 2021, you NEED a password manager).

  2. High APY, how much are you currently earning? At best 0.5% from Marcus/ Ally or 0.35% from Wealthfront? That’s nothing! Within DeFi, you can conservatively earn 5% and if you’re more risk-tolerant you can earn upwards of 30% APY!

  3. Transparency, each of these portals is extremely transparent in their code, their governance, and their fee structure. Having dealt with financial institutions that try to sneak in fees for the silliest of reasons, this is inspiring and refreshing.

How can you get started?

It all starts with research, but one thing I want to make perfectly clear is that DeFi isn’t inextricably connected with Bitcoin or Ethereum. So even if you’re anti-BTC or ETH, you can still participate. In fact, the best yields are often from coins that are pegged to the fiat US Dollar. Meaning the coin is worth $1 today and anytime in the future when you would like to convert it back to a fiat dollar.

Once you’ve watched X hours of YouTube and listened to Y hours of podcasts, then it’s time to create a wallet and make a test deposit.

While I’m not a professional, and this isn’t investment advice, I felt most comfortable starting with Nexo.io, while it’s not hardcore DeFi (if that makes any sense), their homepage trust triptych combined with a deep-dive into content featuring their founder, Antoni Trenchev, gave me all the confidence I needed to get started. After seeing the interest earned on my measly “toe in the water” allocation, I was hooked. 5% APY on BTC, 5% APY on ETH & 8% APY on USD Coins!

Once the glamour of those numbers fades away, you’re ready for the harder stuff:

For now, I’ll continue testing and report back, until then, share this with someone who’d like 8% APY on their USD holdings :)

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🧪 Other Experiments

While I’ve spoken about the importance of experiments previously, I haven’t documented them. In January, I’m trying three other things:

  1. Working from Miami, settled into Coconut Grove and loving it!

  2. Networking via Upstream, which started as a way to find intros to the Miami tech scene, but it’s so much more valuable than that. Particularly love the office hours video chats with a timed countdown and auto-hangup.

  3. Networking via Clubhouse, which I was hesitant to join and frankly still have my reservations. I’m such a big podcasting fan, that’s it’s difficult to see the value in unedited long-form speech versus thoughtful editing from a podcast. That said, the community aspect has been interesting to peruse and this week I had a chance to sit in as a co-host on a startup pitch practice session.


This newsletter is my attempt at (a) sharing learnings with friends and family (b) becoming more vulnerable through transparency and (c) improving my writing. Thanks for reading, and please reply with your thoughts.

❤️ Armand

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A Birthday Gift to You

My 3G Annual Self-Assessment

Hi and Happy Friday, before we get into it, let’s start with a reminder:

Stay strong out there! That said, I’m very much looking forward to:

  • A hatchet (my neighbor bought a fire pit and I’m not sure if I’m more excited about the fires or the wood-splitting)

  • Fresh pair of my new favorite sneakers (Asics)

  • Lastly, a hat to go with my hatchet.


“How did it get so late so soon? Its night before its afternoon. December is here before its June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?”

-Dr. Seuss

Another year, another Thanksgiving, and another birthday. Sometimes it all happens so fast that it’s difficult to remember what we have accomplished, learned, and how that will help us for the year ahead.

While we still over a month before the end of the year, I’ve made a habit of using December as a trial period for any resolutions I intend to keep for the year ahead. Once the new year arrives, my aggressive yet cute habit tracker (see here) is refreshed and it’s off to the races. That’s all fine and dandy, but as a counter-balance to the quantitative, I tend to journal on my birthday for the more qualitative.

This journaling is done in my proprietary 3G framework:

  • Gratitude, what I’m thankful for…

  • Goals, what I’ve accomplished…

  • Good Riddance! (fka Goodbye), what I’ve let go of…

Each G gets a Win, Learn & Plan:

  • Win, celebrate an achievement from the past year

  • Learn, something I could have done better or spent more time on

  • Plan (of Action), for the year ahead, typically connected to the “Learn”

Ok, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, let’s go through a sample of each for Gratitude:

GRATITUDE

  • Win, self-gratitude. This year I’ve given myself more space to reflect on accomplishments through mentorship groups and this newsletter. So thank you for being a part of that!

  • Learn, immediate family, and friends. My inner circle is always there for me at my best and my worst and while I’d like to also think that I’m always there for them too, I’m cognizant that I can be more generous in my praise and gratitude towards them. For those reading, thank you!

  • Plan, work small moments of gratitude into the everyday. Instead of only celebrating the big moments, try to go beyond muttering the words “thank you” for the small things that make life that much more pleasant day-to-day.

As you can see, this is freeform and doesn’t have to be elaborate. Instead, think of it as a note-to-self for your past year, whether you do this on your birthday (like me) or at the start of the new year, or today because you have a few moments.

If you need help getting started, I recommend scrolling through the following:

  • Calendar app

  • Camera roll

  • Personal emails you sent

  • Lastly, social feeds, but don’t get too distracted 😒

Once you’ve added all your Gratitudes, Goals, and Good Riddances, copy and paste them into FutureMe.org and schedule the future email to be delivered to yourself a year from now. From there, you can easily keep track of your self-review year over year and see how life changes. Further, it’s so fun to receive an email from yourself!

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🤳 Personal Updates

  • 🌴 Miami, I’m planning to spend some (or all) of January in the sweet sunshine of Miami, if you’ll be there or know someone I should connect with, let me know.

  • 📌 Pinvestors, a few years ago I launched a small networking group of Pinterest colleagues who wanted to learn more about investing. We’re now over 200 members strong and I’d love to help you launch a similar group at your place of work.

  • 🏠 Real Estate Fund, while Westchester real estate is particularly hot right now due to COVID, I’m still searching for off-market deals as a potential starting point for my fund. As a reminder, this won’t likely happen for another few months as I suspect the first deal will come via foreclosure auction. As we get closer, I’ll reach out to those who have expressed interest.

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This newsletter is my attempt at (a) sharing learnings with friends and family (b) becoming more vulnerable through transparency and (c) improving my writing. Thanks for reading, and please reply with your thoughts.

❤️ Armand

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How much does your life cost?

Hard choices, easy life. Easy choices, hard life.

As my mother approaches retirement, everything I know about personal finance (not much, and a great time to remind you that I’m not a financial advisor) is being tested and realized.

The first step towards her retirement is answering a seemingly simple question;
How much does your life cost?

More specifically, how much does your life cost on an annual basis? From there, we can explore so much more, but this is where financial freedom starts. That is, with a solid grasp of your own set of numbers.

It’s a difficult exercise. It’s very easy to forget things we repeatedly or impulsively spend money on. For once, we can take solace in the fact that it’s easier to find an Amazon receipt than a medical record. Before we go any deeper, hat tip to the ChooseFI podcast, as this was inspired by episode 257 available here.

But wait, why are we doing this?

Well, according to the team at ChooseFI, a safe target for retirement is getting your annual expenses to roughly 4% of your total money saved. Said another way, you’ll need $100 saved for every $4 of annual expenses. Of course, you would also factor in any income, dividends, other investments, but like most estimates, this will undoubtedly be tweaked for each individual or family.

Ok, so I want to know my total expenses how do I start?

Perhaps it’s best to start with the essentials and we can move on from there. These can be calculated as an individual or as a family unit, that’s your call. All I ask is that you approach this exercise without judgment, as that’s a sure-fire way to stir up negative emotions and prevent you from actually doing the work.

Let’s start with Essentials

  • Home (debt, taxes, utilities, insurance)

  • Car (debt, lease, insurance, maintenance, gas, etc)

  • Debt (credit cards, student loans, etc)

  • Health care (monthly premium and estimated annual expenses)

  • Schooling & child care

  • Parental care

  • Groceries 

Now, consider any Subscriptions

  • Internet and cell service

  • Shopping memberships (Amazon prime, Costco, etc)

  • Financial (credit card annual fees)

  • Entertainment (Netflix, HBO, etc)

  • Utilities (security system, iCloud, Dropbox, etc)

  • Fitness (Peloton, local gym)

  • Professional and social club dues

  • Recurring donations

Finish with Discretionary

  • Additional homes or vehicles (cars, boats, RVs, etc)

  • Vacations and travel

  • Dining out (also interesting to break out alcohol as a separate line item)

  • Clothing

  • Tech gadgets

  • Other shopping

There you have it, you’re well on your way to calculating your annual expenses. Assuming you’re not paid in cash, the best way to check your estimate is to add together the following:

  • Past 12 months of bank debits and withdrawals

  • Past 12 months of credit card spend

Once you factor in your income for that same period of time, you’ll have a more accurate representation of your annual expenses, but the line item breakout that you just created is going to be most helpful for reconsidering and reprioritizing your spend.

Great, now what?

Consider how and why we started:

  • We’ll all likely retire one day, how long would it take for you to save $100 for every $4 of annual spending?

  • The world has changed quite a bit due to COVID, how has your spending and saving changed?

  • Lastly, if microeconomics was correct, we spend the most money on the things that deliver the most utility to our lives. When you look through your spending habits, is that actually the case?


🤳 Personal Updates

With the election being moments away, it’s been difficult to avoid wormholes of doom and gloom. To keep myself occupied and not glued to the news or to the markets (which feel increasingly tied to the news), I’ve been focusing on three new habits:

  1. [MIND] Learning, just completed a course on real estate syndication. Syndication is an industry-term for raising money from friends, family, and other investors and being the custodian of that capital. More to come soon here, so let me know if you’d be interested in hearing about opportunities to invest alongside me.

  2. [BODY] Exercise, as simple as it sounds, joining my local gym has been one of the best investments I’ve made during COVID.

  3. [SOUL] Reading, specifically starting each day by reading an excerpt from my new favorite book, Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferriss. Late to the party here, but so glad I joined.

Stay safe out there!


This newsletter is my attempt at (a) sharing learnings with friends and family (b) becoming more vulnerable through transparency and (c) improving my writing. Thanks for reading, and please reply with your thoughts.

❤️ Armand

Make BIG Art!

Not small scribbles.

“Try to draw a circle so huge that there is no way we can finish it while we are alive. All we see is an arch; the rest is beyond our vision, but it is there in the distance.”

- Shigeaki Hinohara, Doctor who lived to 105 (read his longevity tips here)

Are we thinking big enough? Am I thinking big enough? It’s a concept that I can’t seem to shake during the past few months.

It’s nice to be working for a prestigious company, while learning more about real estate and renovations, but can I scale my efforts? By nature of working for someone else that’s almost always not the case, but perhaps my non-9 to 5 interests can scale in a way that fulfills me.

Regardless, I’ve been inspired by learning more about contemporaries like Ryan Begelman, who co-founded Summit Series conference, sold vacation homes on the side of a mountain, and is now acquiring profitable SMBs for long-term growth… all before the age of 35.

How does he do? Well you can listen to him on My First Million (podcast) or you can simply take his Summit Series motto and make it your own:

“Make No Small Plans”

As simple as that, and that’s not to say that comparison to others will get us/me there, but friendly competition and better yet, inspiration can open a narrowed mind.


More info on Ryan Begelmen:

  • BisNow profile on Crain’s

  • Summit Series explained

  • Powder Mountain WSJ article

  • Ryan on Twitter, this thread on equity waterfalls is interesting

  • Ryan’s first episode on My First Million podcast


So where were we?

If we’re thinking bigger now, the question is where do we want to go? Not to turn this entire issue into quotes, but this is one my favorites:

If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable.

- Seneca

We need a destination, and not just a familiar place we’ve traveled to many times before. We’re thinking big. We’re expanding our horizons. After all 2020 has been full of new experiences that most of us never wished upon ourselves, so how can we plot a path for our future selves.

The only problem is that getting there will take time, perhaps an entire lifetime. Again, we’re thinking big… So how do we we stay on course?

We need a GPS.

  • First we define our destination.

  • Next our starting point. Perhaps we have already started on our path years ago or a few hours ago, either way the chances are that some of your life experiences will contribute to your desired future-state

  • Now, some math. We must calculate how far along we are from start to destination. Perhaps we’re 15% there, perhaps 60%, either way, the best way to revert back to the impatience of our childhood “are we there yet?” mentality is having the guide post of knowing progress is being made.

  • Lastly, we must celebrate small wins. If a goal truly takes more than a lifetime to accomplish, you’ll never see it through on your own, so it’s important to designate specific moments as checkpoints and treat them as special as they are.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be taking this GPS-framework and applying it towards my life and my ambitions. While this can be understood across many area of life (health, social, wealth, etc), I’ll be focusing, and I recommend you do to, on whichever area presents the most uneasiness in your present self.

Thank you for reading, if you enjoyed this, please consider sharing and/or subscribing.

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🤳 Personal Updates

It took way longer than expected, but I finally rejoined Instagram @TheArmand, and while I thought I could “hack the algorithm” with my first post after 2 years, I’m not quite sure if IG works that way now. Nonetheless, if you’re feeling generous, I urge you to donate to my good friend Dominic who’s battling stage 4 small intestine cancer and, while showing positive signs, has not reached his fundraising goal. You can donate here.

Lastly, if you cannot donate dollars, but are interested in paying forward some love, please check out Zappos for Good; they’re sponsoring cost of shipping for up to 50 lbs per printed label to donate to the following causes:

Zappos has always been an incredible company and when I recently found 40 brand new left-foot shoes in my building’s garbage room, I reached out to Sole4Souls, and not surprisingly they welcomed the “singles” donation with open arms. I was prepared to pay for shipping, but they let me know that they’re partnership with Zappos makes it that much easier to send good their way.

Talk to neighbors, friends and family, put a box of goods together and print a shipping label here.


This newsletter is my attempt at (a) sharing learnings with friends and family (b) becoming more vulnerable through transparency and (c) improving my writing. Thanks for reading, and please reply with your thoughts.

❤️ Armand

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All life is an experiment.

The more experiments you make the better.

“Don't be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Two years ago I deleted Instagram, soon I’ll reinstall it.

Paris. Beyonce & Jay-Z’s Stade de France performance, only to be followed by a live viewing of Les Bleus defeating Croatia for the World Cup. The city was electrified, intoxicated, and unabashed in its victory. To this day, the only sporting event I’ve experienced that was more exciting than a Bills home game. Go Bills!

So what does this have to do with Instagram?

Those were the final moments captured by my stories before thinking about what value was being created by this movement of bits and bytes and deciding to furlough my sharing while traveling back to the States.

Now, like other vices in which I temporarily abstain (namely sugar, alcohol, and deep-fried food), I can come back to the table with a fresh perspective and decide whether or not it’s worth consuming.

As the quote suggests, this past month I’ve been thinking a lot about experiments.

As we age, fewer surprises are welcomed, and less of life is unplanned. While there’s definitely some solace in that, there’s also the compacting of similar days which gives the illusion of time passing by too quickly.

Think about this moment of sheltering-in-place. How slow was March/April vs May/June? And like others, I’ve been asking myself how can I come out of this moment in time stronger, less ignorant, more prepared for the rest of my life.

The answer is scientific.

Specifically, the scientific method. You remember it, we learned about it in grade school…

The scientific method and idea of creating a life of miniature experiments can help us not only live a more reflective, measured, and thoughtful life but also turn otherwise mundane periods of time into delightful opportunities to learn something about ourselves and our loved ones.

So where do you start?

While that’s up to you, here are a few areas I’ve focused on:

Health & Wellness

  • If I sleep 8+ hours every night, how will I perform at work? At the gym?

  • If I give up alcohol/sugar/meat for the month/year how will I feel?

Professional

  • If I stack rank the aspects of my job that I like/dislike, where should I push my career towards?

  • If I rearrange my day to start with A/B/C vs X/Y/Z how will that impact my happiness and fulfillment at work?

Social

  • If I give up Instagram/Snap/etc, what can I accomplish instead?

While it’s hard to say whether it was related or not, my giving up of Instagram coincided with renovating and renting my first and second investment properties, onboarding into my new role at Pinterest, playing brain games via Elevate daily, and so much more, but most importantly reminding myself that it’s okay to not be in the loop of a super-extended network of friends, instead you can always just call someone and catch up with them in a more meaningful way.

So why rejoin?

A few reasons, but I’ll speak to two of them:

  1. A personal reason | COVID-19, perhaps not for the reason you would imagine of keeping up with friends, but instead to use IG to see how other cities around the world are recovering. One of my favorite features of IG has always been the ability to arm-chair travel through geo-tags and now that I’m craving travel the most, this will be entertaining and educational should I decide to get back on a plane anytime soon.

  2. A professional reason | Real Estate, as I get further along with real estate investing, I’m already starting to take some things I’ve learned along the way for granted. In the span of two years, I’ve learned more about myself and how I learn than I did in all my years of traditional schooling. While my camera-roll is quickly becoming overwrought with photos and videos, IG can serve as a place to house and share what I’ve learned and hopefully make the idea of investing that much more palatable to my friends who are still on the sidelines.

Thank you for reading, if you enjoyed this, please consider sharing and/or subscribing.

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🤳 Personal Updates

We’re over halfway through the year, and despite it being a very weird year, wanted to remind everyone to check in on their annual goals. If you missed it in my first issue, the OPEN GOALS workbook is here. While that’s a blank version, here’s my progress to date:

In some capacities, I’m quite behind, in others, very much so ahead. All in all, I’m right where I need to be.

If you haven’t been tracking your progress for this year, I’d encourage you to start now. If life is best lived as a series of experiments, you’ll need the data to go along with them to ensure that you’re making progress.


This newsletter is my attempt at (a) sharing learnings with friends and family (b) becoming more vulnerable through transparency and (c) improving my writing. Thanks for reading, and be sure to reply with your thoughts.

❤️ Armand

📸 PS: Want to follow along with my IG adventures? I’m at @TheArmand

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