Sometimes, I feel like my life is an internet MEME, so for my “About Page” I have decided to do this in the following format:
100 Things You Didn’t Know About HART – The Hugely Inappropriate Extended Version – in Chronological Order
1) 1963 – I was born July 11th (7/11) and that currently makes me .. (lessee, carry the one, minus the nine, divide by the square root of 63) um … Experienced! I used to like drinking coffee at 7-Eleven all the time. I used to think I was permanently destined to do so for the rest of my life, until I stopped working next to a 7-Eleven and well, moved close to a Tim Horton’s coffee shop.
2) 1976 – I was just 13 years old when our family moved from “the City” of Winnipeg out to the “Rural Country” north of Oakbank, just south of the East Gate of Bird’s Hill Park. There wasn’t much to do out in the country except cut grass, except learn accounting. Our family had side businesses going on around that time, in particular a company my mother was running selling giftware and acrylic products. My father had setup some accounting and bookkeeping systems to record the sales, keep track of accounts receivable and all other aspects of the business, and I was interested in doing the books. My father was a C.A. (Chartered Accountant) and I was a Chip Off The Old Block! I remember vividly wanting to be the first one on the block to get a computer and I could do the books of the company for my mom!
3) 1977 – The Apple II computer was invented. Another FLY-BY-NIGHT company if I ever seen one! There was Atari and Commodore computers that were out. I don’t really know if these were really computers, but a few of my friends had them. It was like the playstation of Xbox of today where you connect it to your TV screen. My father thought that these Atari and Commodore were just to play games, there was no reason to buy that for a business. I remember randomly mentioning “cool stuff” like .. “Hey! Did you know that you can play Strip Poker in your home on a computer now?”
4) 1979 – I finally convinced my folks to buy me a computer .. the Apple II+ .. I was 16 and now had my own computer. I did computerize my mom’s business with the help of my dad and this has been the way it has been with all businesses our family has ever been involved with. While I can’t recall which accounting program I actually used on this Apple II+ (was it Dac-Easy?) .. I certainly can recall that I had the coolest games for the Apple II+ on floppy. It was Strip Poker and Strip Poker-X.
5) 1970/1980’s – I consider myself to be a musician – even today some odd 40 years later. I grew up playing the piano, and currently attribute all my typing speed and skills to my ability of playing the piano. If memory serves me correctly .. I went as far as grade 8 with the Royal Conservatory of Music in piano and Grade 9 with Theory. For some reason this morning, I can’t recall exactly .. that was in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. When I purchased a few synthesisers (Roland Juno 2 and Korg DW) .. I became quite popular and asked to join several bands .. because I was the only keyboard player they knew. I did it more for basement/beer bash reasons .. and actually only did 2 gigs in my life. One gig was as a keyboard player at the Tyndall Motor Inn on Halloween Weekend (which, I’ve got on DVD). I also happened to play bass guitar and had a Rickenbacher .. and played a gig at the New West Hotel for a week with a band. In addition, I was backup keyboardist on 2 songs of a heavy metal band (that disbanded long ago) on a Record Demo produced by one of the original Guess Who members. Since I met with wife, who goes to sleep early every night, and have been living in a Condo since November 1997 .. it’s been hard but, I rarely even bother to set it up and jam anymore. Sad, but another story and moving on!
6) 1980’s – I was a career student, enrolled in the Bachelor of Commerce (honours) program at University of Manitoba, but I didn’t graduate. I had taken all of the courses except I failed the last course in the program called “Administrative Policy”. The reasons were, in my opinion, unfair and unreasonable and while I detested immensely and appealed the grade. I should have graduated in 1985. but was placed on academic suspension for taking too long. You see, in my second year I suffered a blinding eye injury due to faulty contact solution, and was failing everything by midterm. I managed to work my butt off the second term and brought all of my failing grades up to “C” final scores. When I found out at the end of 3rd year that The Institute of Chartered Accountants “upped” the requirements of equivalent course grades from “C” to “C+” I went back and improved my grades with extra courses – using up too many credit hours in the end. The ‘rules’ to allow me to get back into the program, was to take a full 1-1/2 year session or 27 credit hours of non-accounting related ART courses before I could repeat the course. I did not choose that option.
to this date, I am NOT a Chartered Accountant, nor do I have any university degrees.
7) 1985 – I began to work in PUBLIC PRACTICE along side my father, AARON SINGER, Chartered Accountant (C.A.), since the summer of 1985. Between the summer of 1985 to June 30, 1989 the firm name was Singer Lazer + Grant, Chartered Accountants. In July 1989 my father, one of the senior partners, retroactively left with a junior partner and they formed their own accounting firm. The name was Singer & Johnson, Chartered Accountants. Prior to his decision, I chose to leave public practice and future University of Manitoba continued education to become controller with our family business STI Merchanding Corporation, along with my two brothers. I created HBS MANAGEMENT CONSULTANTS and was also doing monthly accounting for a few individual lawyers, a few restaurants, my cousin’s screen printing business, and a few local businesses who found out what I was doing and was impressed, and wanted in!
8) 1990’s – Throughout the 1980’s and mostly into the Late 1980’s, I was fortunate to attend the comdex or the electronic shows in either Toronto, Las Vegas or Chicago. I went in 1991 (for me) and in 1992 and 1993 (for my work) to the Comdex shows in Toronto. Because of my opting out of University, I began to widen my knowledge in the computers and networking areas and tried to attend as many trade shows and events that I could afford to go. For the first time in my life, my “Computer Tech” magazine subscriptions (like DOS and PCWORLD etc) started to out number my comic collection!
9) 1992 – I learned from my mom during the seasonal holidays of 1991 about my dad’s rapid growth problems and high turnover of accountant technician problems, and everyone thought (including myself) that I could make a difference – but, my dad never said anything to me. However, February 1st I did return in a consultant/sub-contract mode and helped the firm grown and get back on course, helping to train the accounting technicians as well as doing work with the firm’s clients, and a few of my own clients. I became a trainer, a worker, accounting tech, the “network guy”, the “computer hardware” guy and ultimately the Efile co-ordinator (remember modems?)
10) Tax Season 1994 – I enrolled in the Certified General Accountants (C.G.A.) program but, mostly concentrated on Income Tax courses, to help make me become a better tax accountant. This was a good idea at the time, but had proved to be a bad timing decision. The course was intense and I barely finished it. I shouldn’t have enrolled during tax time. When the 3rd level courses came I jut put the courses on hold. I never did get around to re-enrolling into the CGA or CA program and I really don’t want to go back either. I know my experience and what I am capable of doing.
Of course, in my business, you have to keep up to date with the latest changes to accounting practices, income tax legislation, and technology. I do participate in many accounting forums, I do research all the time with regards to income tax and other matters, and I do subscribe to many newsletters and other sources of information that might occasionally give me a “heads up” to help me give me direction for future research. For the more complex tax issues, I do engage the services of a tax specialist to assist me and provide consultation, but for the most part I can hold my own.
11) Fall 1994 – I was quite disappointed when 40 days before the show was to begin and I was booking my airline tickets, (and event already paid for) one of the Partners changed his mind, and didn’t want me to go. I was quite taken aback from this decision, because not only was I the ‘computer’ guy for the firm, I was also the ‘network’ guy, and the one who everyone relied on for advice and direction every time we needed an upgrade or reinvestment in computers. The other two partners didn’t care to see the positive influence this show always had on me, so I had to take matters in my own hand, and researched. This had a profound effect on me. Instead of being the “hardware” guy anymore, I then became the “Software and Systems Consulting” guy. If someone or a client wanted me to recommend them a “good computer system” for their business or home, I would just refer them to one of our computer clients and just apologize, and say that I do not do that anymore!
12) Winter 1994/1995 – This was around when my parents began vacationing in Hemet California, on an annual basis, for at least two months a year. Their plan was to increase it to six months each year away on vacation and away from the Chartered Accountant Firm. I took a greater role in managing my father’s client base and dealing with the clients and maintaining client satisfaction.
13) 1995 – In January 1995 I finally created an account to go ‘online’ with CompuServe. If you recall at those times and in the first half of the 1990’s there was no internet. Well, there was the military internet if you do your homework, but really, no internet as we know it. There were modems around. You were able to communicate with other machines using programs like PcANYWHERE, where you can access another computer remotely using the telephone line and modem. There were also Bulletin Boards that you were able to dial up and retrieve data or obtain news and other stuff. I was more into the remote access instead of the Bulletin Boards. In March 1995, when I began to read about the The history of the WWW and started to notice all of the reports of how many internet users has been growing at an exponential rate, I was pleased that I was ‘Got In’ at the ground floor. I wasn’t too pleased with my April 1995 Visa Statement however. HOLY CRAP! (to quote Frank Barone aka Peter Boyle from Everybody Loves Raymond) did Compuserve screw me! AOL eventually bought out Compuserve in 1997, but I had to get out. It was silly. The only way I can communicate with their billing department, was to log on and get billed. It took me a few months to finally get my own service provider.
14) Summer 1995 – Believe it or not – I was a Beta Tester for Win95. Sorry .. this is just a lie that I used to tell people in 1996. I wasn’t actually an official beta tester, but my cousin ACTUALLY was and at the beginning of June 1995 I ‘borrowed’ his beta win95 CD and installed it and felt superior over everyone! Of course, the official release was August 24, 1995 I believe, so it was pretty much in its final stages and I had no suggestions or comments or any input to its development. Although, I do recall asking my cousin to put in a “chit” comment that asked why that BLUE screen kept popping up periodically. (I don’t think they ever fixed that really, did they? unless they changed that to the WHITE screen of death!) Bottom line for internet, all things Windows/Win95 and software related, my experience and abilities recognized got boosted!
15) Rest of 1995 – On August 16th (yes! I remember it vividly) I was free from CompuServe and and officially had my own website and provider. It was Gatewest Communications. I’d still be with them today, however our M.T.S. phone company took over their DSL portion of their business. Today, my internet access is still based on high speed internet from M.T.S. I still have 100% of all my websites ever created online at this very moment. The stuff since 1995 is mostly sitting at http://HARTandYVONNE.com/gatewest.net/ folder … but I’m afraid I haven’t really spent much time making some of the useful stuff into part of my current sites, nor have I found the time or desire to edit all the pages to fix the links. I did try to go down memory lane in my call HART crazy blog (those Get-Rich-Quick pages are a hoot!). Back in 1999 I was planning on writing my memoirs .. *cough,cough* but got writer’s block or something .. you can read HART’s STORY by clicking on the link, but .. perhaps you should be reading it with a shot of whiskey or a glass of beer .. because it’s quite pitiful. My brand was basically this: Hi. My name is HART. Please send me a Dollar!
16) 1996 – Well, not going to many tradeshows anymore, and playing LOTS on the internet, in late 1996 I flew to London, UK and Stockholm, Sweden for an internet party meeting about 30 great people and 3-week vacation! I have a great story for my trip. As you know, it is a 6 hour flight ahead of CST zone and I pretty much working all night thinking I would get to sleep on the airplane, but it was with TRANSAT airlines and, for tall people like me it was a nightmare seat with no leg room! I didn’t sleep at all. I arrived in London, UK and partied all night with friends and then took a Train or Tram out to the country where my Bed and Breakfast was located. Unfortunately, I passed out on the train and apparently, ended up going back and forth down the line 3 times before the Conductor found me and work me up. And, my briefcase was stolen. Everything. Passports, directions, addresses and phone numbers of all my friends and the Bed & Breakfast I was supposed to stay. It was awful. However, I did have my money in my front pocket. I walked about 3 hours trying to find internet access and fortunately for me I put everything I needed online in a secret page on my website, and only had to take a taxi 2 towns over. When I finally met up with some friends 2 days later, (we traveled to Stonehenge and we were in the middle of all the monuments, before the fence was put up around it late 1990’s/early 2000’s from new excavations) and I jokingly (although being totally serious) was praying to the Stonehenge Aliens or Gods to return my passport back to me. And, believe it or not 3 days later I received an email from a Train Conductor 3 towns over informing me that someone anonymously returned my briefcase along with all my documents and passorts into the loss and found. Inside was a note from the thief (I still have it), who apologized for stealing my briefcase, and drinking a bottle of orange juice I had inside and just wanted to say that he had a lot of respect for CANADIANS and when he learned that I was Canadian from my passport, was “terribly concerned” that he inadvertently ruined one a vacation of one of his cousins from Canada. Everything was there in my suitcase, except for my calendar and all the papers with people’s phone numbers and addresses – but, I was the happiest Canadian in the UK at that moment.
17) 1997 – My European vacation was fun – but, now I was pretty much grounded trying to pay for this venture mostly financed by my newly MBNA Mastercard! I still was chatting online, and was jointly using ICQ (ps my ICQ number was 100965 and they started at 100,000), mIRC and PowWow chat software. I was meeting people all around the world still – but, from my cozy chair and in the comfort of my own house. One night in late February, I was happy when someone nice and cute (my future-wife) messaged me out of the blue on Powwow, based on my geographical location, and we type/chatted for a long while. She was great and we had a lot of things in common, including it being a local call to each other! I met her in person on March 12, 1997 (a day before her birthday) and I practically moved in before the end of June 1997. I think she thought I moved in around September 1997 though 🙂 We purchased our condo in November 1997
18) 1998 – While putting in extra hours over the years, and increasing my billings .. I officially started to bank my hours worked over and above a specified limit each month, in the hopes to eventually “buy in” or, become a minor partner in either the operating or landlord company related to the current Chartered Accountant business (even though I wasn’t a C.A.)
19) 2000 – On the eve of Y2K, my father suffered several minor strokes. I can’t remember if it was 2000 or 2001 but eventually he broke his hip, while vacationing almost 5-1/2 months per year now in Hemet, California. Immediate doctor care was super! After patient care – not so super. After that the insurance cost to just to visit his 2nd home was getting too costly, and even then I believe he would have to fly back to Canada every 30-45 days during the interim? I would have loved to go visit that place and buy it off of him, but it was for a 55+ community and, eventually he sold the property.
20) 2002 – and got married on August 31, 2002 in a medieval theme styled wedding. It’s boring, but if you are interested in more than the readers’ digest version that I just gave you .. you can read how we met According to HART and According to YVONNE. If you are interested in lots of dumb and boring stuff (to other people that is) of our Medieval themed wedding .. feel free to check out our wedding? life? site aka HARTandYVONNE.com starting with the video of Max at Yvonne and Hartley’s wedding!
21) March 2003 – My father finally retired. Everything that I have been working for, since 1998 and my “Banked Hours” was lost and even a sham and never paid or available to join ventures with my father’s ex-partners and, for VERY personal reasons I officially left Public Practice for good and began to work full time under my own business name HBS Management Consultants. I maintained all of the relationships with the existing client base and still maintain them (for the most part) even today! It was an easy way to build a practice – or rather “business” (since I do not have any designations or part of any associations) – with all the clients that I have been doing most of the work and dealing with them in person anyway since 1995. I probably have been working on most of them since 1985 as well and quite familiar with their businesses.
22) 2004 – Now, I have been online and using the internet since February 1994 when Compushare was around (then Gatewest.net dial-up and then MTS high-speed). I registered my HBSMC.com domain in 2001 and pretty much started creating a bunch of domains and websites and doing other things in addition to accounting. I had a few eBay stores, I was buying products, selling products, earning commissions, and the like. In January 2004 I noticed that my “PapillonLvr.com” pet site – which homage to our two papillon dogs Maxxie and Sophie – was about 8 times more popular than my accounting website! I also noticed that I seemed to have been accumulating more and more unsold inventory in my basement. I talked myself into doing one last ditch effort to sell everything in my basement by New Year’s Eve. Well, that didn’t happen. What’s worse, the accountant in me was keeping very close tabs and for all the sales I did .. between the cost of product and delivery shipping costs .. It was almost a break-even for me. All the remaining inventory in my basement was my profit, but basically products nobody would want to buy. Junk. Useless paper weights. Etc.
23) 2005 – From January to May I was doing all kinds of research into this new thing happening called “blogging” and decided to capitalize on the strengths of the popularity of my PapillonLvr.com site! I decided to create a site for every dog breed, and every cat breed .. and then suddenly realized that if I were to register domains for every breed of cat or dog I would go bankrupt! So, I just decided to go general animal types instead, and on May 31, 2005 my first blog PetLvr.com was born. And also other LVR Series of pet related blogs were born as well .. like, CatLvr, DogLvr, HorseLvr, FishLvr, BirdLvr and so on and so on. In October 2005, after creating a bunch of different sites the HART-Empire Network of sites is what I called myself for the online ventures. Even today, everything is operating under the HBS Management Consultants umbrella .. 75% of my time is spent on the offline (1800HART) and accounting business, and the other 75% of my time is spent on my online (HART-Empire) activities! Yep. Sleep is overrated.
24) 2006/2007/2008 – “Upsize” – I bumped up the activities of my online ventures. I consolidated the handful of shared and VPS servers into a dedicated server for all my online websites and blogs. I was hiring contract writers and part-time writers to contribute to my blog content. I was blogging and maintaining everything myself. I was earning affiliate commissions, and ad revenue from hosting links or banners on my sites. I was selling a few products, but not much. By mid-2007 I was receiving and earning 5-figures of revenues going through my paypal account. But, running pretty close to that was just shy of 5-figures of expenses going through my paypal account. I did as formal budget as I could prepare for myself and came to the conclusion that it was highly feasible to reach 6 figures .. but nothing really would change – being that the costs would soon follow upwards. That meant having employees, commitments and such on the cost side, when in reality, all the revenues coming in were on the “flakey” and “iffey” side! It’s all hypothetical! I can’t control the income. I decided to go stop after tax season of 2008 and close the online business. But, guess what happened? Doing nothing – I actually earned more revenue than ever before (from the long-tail i.y.k.w.i.m.) and had no expenses except for a dedicated server cost and domain renewals. It was great!
25) 2009 – “Downsize” – Okay .. Not so great. Without new content being posted (where previously posting 1-5 times a day changed to 0 postings a day) by the end of 2009 I was back to a break even once again. I decided to Down-Size all my ventures for 2010 back to individually shared hosting units. Where I was paying almost $400 USD per month for a dedicated server, I was able to downsize to 3-5 single shared hosting plans, for about $120 CDN per year! And, on each account I could have maybe 20 domains or more websites. So I did that. Although, after I started to blog again I realized that I needed more shared hosting sites because you really shouldn’t have more than 1 site on a shared hosting plan, yet along 20 .. because if there are CPU overages the hosting company shuts you down before you shut down all the other sites and people who are also sharing their server. So I did have to put half the sites into maintenance mode.
26) 2010 – Was not a good year for my father, who’s health had been declining over the years. Among other diabetes related health issues such as taking insulin, and vision problems .. his kidneys failed and he was require to start Dialysis early May 2010, Eventually it was just too much on his body, and he passed away on Christmas morning December 25, 2010.
27) 2011 – “Resize” – I have to say the death of my father affected me, being the “accountant’s son” and such .. just like it affected my entire family in various of different ways. For me, however, I decided to pull back on the blogging because my mind just wasn’t into it .. and push more for the offline accounting work. Instead of working 75% of my time on the offline work, and 75% of my other time on the online work .. I would just work “Anything” that was making money 100% of the time. If some blogs were getting some action, or maybe the Westminster Kennel dog show was happening, that’s what I would do to maximize my earnings. When a client job came in, I would focus on that and get it done, instead of scheduling bits and pieces of everything around everything else. It’s all the same Proprietorship .. and me.
28) 2013/2014 – On January 7, 2013 I slipped on ice and the back of my head hit cement and I received a brain trauma injury that caused me to have Fourth Nerve Palsy. Basically, that’s a condition where the oblique muscles and nerve endings that wrap around your head and attach to your eyes that make your eyes move in the same direction broke – causing me to have double vision. Well, worse than double vision because it’s not like you just ‘put on a funny face’ and make your eyes go inward at the same time .. instead, imagine one of your eyes is pointing downwards as well. As an accountant, and person who works on the computer all day and for his business it was devastating for me. And, it wasn’t until Mid February that a proper diagnosis was actually made about my vision. In the meantime, I was diagnosed with Type II Diabetes and put on pill (metformin) medication. To date I still keep track of my personal health updates on a Facebook page. Fortunately for me, with Fourth Nerve Palsy, my body was able to heal itself in about 9 months although during the healing process created some issues with my spine and for 14 months I had been sleeping on the hard floor to aid in my recovery.
29) In January 2015 Hartley B. Singer was selected by Intuit Canada as 1 of 9 members for Intuit’s 2015 Canadian Accountant Council, that has brought about great opportunities and insights to new directions in future business proceeding forward (as I hope it has also provided to Intuit :D). From 2003 history. almost 80% of my offline earnings was from Year Ends and income tax preparation, and 20% towards monthly accounting and consulting. By 2014 I am closer to about 50% Year ends and income tax preparation and 50% monthly accounting and consulting. However, I keep in mind that I am in a rebuilding stage since downsize and injury of 2013 but, I find myself wanting to move more to a monthly and cloud based model than most year end and desktop solutions.
30) 2016 – The future looks promising
/// Here’s the shorter version here: About HART