It was a cold Russian winter with long and freezing nights and short days when you wouldn’t want to go out of the building unless you had to. I was sitting in the office in front of my computer. The year was 2001 and my dreams were just crushed a few months ago by 9/11 terrorist attack.

In the beginning of the year, after an intense series of interview I got a job at the US consulting bodyshop, got a job offer and obtained H1B visa for me and an accompanying visa for my wife. We were going to go to the land of free and build a new life for ourselves. Until we weren’t.

The company informed me that due to the 9/11 events they won’t be sponsoring my relocation to the USA and that my services were no longer required.

At the age of 25 I was slowly but steadily developing my career as software engineer and just joined a consulting company that had solid contracts in the public sector. I was an early adopter of what will become a mainstream years later – agile methodology. I was earning a professional respect of my boss and my peers and, as a result, I was first to be put on a research projects for new and upcoming technologies.

On this cold winter day, I was online, reading somewhat outlandish stuff on a website called The Programmer Stone. It was dedicated to exploring the ideas on why some programmers suck while others don’t. On one of the pages, and I don’t quite recall the context, the author of this site posted a link to the place where “sad people use NLP to trigger female mating instinct”. It was Ross Jeffries’ Speed Seduction website.

I think he was selling it at a time but with my hacker skills I pirated it in no time. Magnum opus “How to Get the Women You Desire into Bed.” The only woman I desired to get into bed was my wife. I spent the rest of the afternoon devouring the book anyway. Although I thought it was an interesting read, I quickly dismissed it as bullshit. But the seed was planted.

Between 2012 and 2014 I kept working on my business but Google’s algorithm changes named after various animals (Panda and Penguin specifically) made my work really hard. It mostly hurt sales because customers were freaking out by the possibility of “Google penalties.” I shifted most of my focus on a software project we started with T. and, unsurprisingly, SEO business soon took a nosedive.

I was pumping all revenue back into business and, dumb-dumb-dumb, started to use credit cards to pay for some living expenses. It didn’t take long for me to find myself in the corner. I swallowed my pride, went on a job market and, in the middle of 2014, I had a steady contact with a good daily rate and a weekly paycheck. I kept running SEO business in the background, hoping for a miracle.

My and my wife’s relatives were pestering us for years to come and visit them in Russia but I was still full of hope I could recover my business. So, at around October 2014 I sent my wife and my daughter to Russia while I stayed at Sydney and worked. They stayed till November so my daughter could see the real snow.

Then, at around February 2015, my wife dropped the ultimate shit test of our marriage. She insisted I go to Cebu City for a holiday. Alone.

And alone I went. This time I was prepared.

To be continued…