One of the secrets to the success of my business– one of the ways in which it is remarkable– is that I have consciously, from the beginning, made Community a vital part of it.
My goal has always been to connect people, to foster understanding and growth, to promote enthusiastic lifelong learning, and to forge a strong supportive international community.
That goal is coming to fruition. We now have a core membership of extremely enthusiastic learners. Our members are connecting, supporting each other, encouraging each other, and making friends with each other.
We aren’t just a business, we’re an international tribe dedicated to learning and growth.
When considering your own micro-business, be sure to consider this vital part of it: How will you create meaning and connection as part of your business? How will you add greater significance and inspiration to people’s lives? How will you make people happier, stronger, and more connected?
Nobody gives a damn about “good” products or services. Those are a dime a dozen… and you’ll never survive if that’s all you provide (unless you have very deep pockets).
As a micro-business owner, your number one “competitive advantage” is your humanity. You can be what the big corporate monsters cannot– human, sincere, caring, meaningful, emotional, authentic.
As a micro-business entrepreneur, you should constantly be asking yourself, “how can I add more humanity to my business?” I can think of no more important question.
That question will force you to go against normal, soulless business practices.
Your answers to that question will guarantee your success. Because the big monster companies simply cannot compete with your humanity– its the one trait none of them have and none of them will ever have.
You want a guaranteed formula for micro-business success? Here it is:
Love + Passion + Humanity (with a dash of Prudent Cast Flow Management) = Success
Don’t “create a business”. Instead, build tribes, build communities, and foster humanity…. that’s the Hobopoet way of doing business.
Health = Energy. That’s my definition. Vital energy for the body to defend itself against disease. Vital energy to power a vibrant, active life… including a vibrant, active mind.
I take a lot of potshots at “fat Americans”– mainly because I understand just how devastating that fatness is. Without the power of vibrant health and energy, life is a perpetual struggle and it becomes extremely difficult to achieve any kind of creative dream.
Most people, I believe, are simply too damn tired to pursue their dreams. They are physically and emotionally drained and just don’t have the energy to do it.
I believe that the horrid state of health in the US is the root of many of our ills. The body effects the mind.. and especially the emotions.. in extremely powerful ways. Indeed, the body and brain are one.. the brain is a physical, biological organ.
One key to the success I’ve had pursuing my own dreams is the state of my health– a state that has recently improved exponentially. For the last 15 years or so, I have been a vegetarian and have been active. That has given me a baseline energy far above my fellow Americans (a rather poor standard, I know).
But recently, my energy level has EXPLODED! I’m healthier and more energetic than I was when I was 18 years old. I’m getting up earlier, going to bed later, and feeling energized and focused all day long. In the past, I always suffered from extreme mood & energy swings. Now I have steady energy throughout the day and my moods are much more positive and much more stable.
In short, at 40 years old I feel absolutely fantastic!
What has caused this burst of energy and health?
Well, a few things…..
1. Strict Green Vegan Diet
I have been a strict vegan for over a month now (and a cheating vegan for about 3 months). That means I no longer eat cheese, milk, eggs, or any other kind of animal product. Of course, I’m still not eating meat either.
But what do I mean by “green” vegan? Well, I’m also following an alkalizing diet very heavy in green vegetables. I’m now a freakin rabbit– eating 2-4 salads a day. I also drink 2-5 green drinks every day. These drinks contain barely grass, wheatgrass, spinach, and various other dried & powdered green goodies.
Its been quite a journey from being a McDonalds-addicted, pizza loving, chocolate munching teenager… to a Green Vegan.
Some may think its a tough price to pay– to give up all animal products and eat green stuff all day. But as I heard once, “You don’t pay the price for great health… you thoroughly enjoy the price of great health”. When it comes to green vegan eating– I’m Lovin It!
2. No More Sugar
I was a sugar-fiend most of my life.. right up until a few months ago. But sugar is POISON– plain and simple. It creates a huge amount of acid in your body, destroys your emotional stability, and wrecks your metabolism.
I finally went cold-turkey. No more sweets. Drastically reduced rice and bread.
The result– A huge increase in energy that is sustained all day long.
3. Slow Burn Aerobic Activity
Read Stu Mittleman’s book “Slow Burn”. Stu is an ultra-marathoner. He runs 100 mile races for fun. For his 50th birthday he ran from San Diego to New York… at a pace of 2 marathons a day. He’s got serious energy.
Stu advocates “slow” aerobic exercise. By slow, he means operating in your “fat burning zone”… which for me means staying in a heart rate range between 110 – 130 beats per minute.
I started using a heart rate monitor while running to keep myself in that zone and have been surprised at how slow I must run to stay there. Its a very slow jog for me. And when I go uphill, I usually have to walk.
At first, this was a tough adjustment, as I’m used to running faster to “push myself”.
But now I’m really enjoying it. Exercise is now pleasant, relaxing, and energizing… rather than a grueling ordeal. And after exercise, the real benefits kick in. My energy levels are high.
And I’m burning fat. I’ve lost 17 pounds and am almost to my high school graduation weight.
Another exercise I’m doing is rebounding. The rebounder (or “jumper”, as I like to call it) is a mini-trampoline. Its a great, easy exercise that has some nice benefits.
One benefit is that its damn fun. I feel like a kid jumping on my bed! Typically I put in some energetic music and jump for 5-25 minutes. I feel great while I’m doing it and I feel great afterwards.
Another great thing about the “jumper” is that its so compact. I stash it in a corner of our tiny apartment when not using it,.. and roll it out whenever I need an energizing break from the computer.
Finally, the “jumper” has great health benefits. Its a light and easy aerobic exercise.. perfect for the “slow burn” approach. Also, the mild G-forces produced by bouncing help to stimulate the circulation of lymph and thus boost the immune system.
All in all, its a great little exercise.
5. No Stinkin Car
I haven’t had a car in 3 years. I do have a motorcycle now, but use it sparingly. Mostly, I walk. I walk to the store. I walk to restaurants. I walk to movies. I’m a walkin fool.
Walking is a great “slow burn” activity that energizes the entire body. Do it as much as possible.
In conclusion, we have been sold a load of crap by the main stream media. Accepted beliefs about aging and health are lies– pure and simple.
We do not have to lose energy as we get older. We do not have to become fatter and more lethargic. We do not have to lose enthusiasm. We do not have to reduce our activity level.
How many times have you heard someone say something like, “Well, I’m getting older. I just can’t do everything I used to do”. Everytime I hear something like that, I want to scream and throttle the person.
I want to yell, “It’s not because you’re getting older. It’s because you have been eating shit and sitting on your ass for 20 years!”
And so, just to walk my talk… I’m dedicating myself to doing an ultra-marathon– a 50 miler.
My hope is to be a small example for people– to show that you don’t have to become a fat, tired, old-fart– whatever your age.
Rather, we can all age like Paul Bragg, Jack Lalanne, and Gary Null. We can remain vibrant, energetic, and healthy to 100 and beyond. All that is required is to break the cultural hypnosis- and Decide.
Decide to choose health over fitting in. Decide that your life and your dreams are more important than being normal.
Decide and do it.
I have been very fortunate in my life.
I am especially grateful for the wonderful friends I am blessed with– friends who are nomadic and loyal and who share my Hobopoet lifestyle.
We now have, in fact, quite a little nomadic tribe– which grows every year.
My first travel-buddy was my best friend Kristin. We have shared a lot of adventures… and have wandered all over the world together. We met in Georgia (USA), moved to South Carolina (USA) together, lived in Korea & taught English together, travelled in Thailand & India…..
Later, Todd/Sky joined us in our wanderings. As longtime readers know, the three of us (the “3 Amigos” pictured above) moved to Thailand together and lived there for 2 years.
In Thailand, our good friend Wat joined us. The four of us moved to San Francisco a few years ago. We joined another friend (from South Carolina)– Todd’s best friend Lewis. All five of us live in SF now.
Recently, Todd, Wat, Lewis,… and two other friends (Zach and Rinny) bought land on an island in Thailand (Koh Payam… near Ranong). They are building a little Hobopoet Sanctuary there– a tropical island retreat for the Winter.
Why am I writing about this? To show that a Hobopoet life does not have to be a solo or lonely affair. Mainstream people used to criticize this free life by claiming it was lonely. But my life is full of incredible friends… who have not only traveled with me… they have joined me living abroad in Korea, Thailand, Japan, and San Francisco (SF is a little like “living abroad” 😉
To paraphrase Thoreau,: When you advance confidently towards your dreams… the world/universe/tao/god opens up to you. You are blessed with incredible abundance. You meet like-minded people who are on a similar path to their dreams.
That has been, for me, the most rewarding part of this journey– the incredible friends I’ve made along the way.
Just how portable will my “empire” (business) be?
Well, I plan to fit everything into a small carry-on bag. By everything, I mean not only what’s necessary to run the business, but also all clothes, toiletries, and random stuff I’ll be using to live for 4 months in Thailand/Asia.
I dont know why, but I really love the challenge of simplifying. I think of it as a game. In fact, I heartily recommend this mindset. When faced with scary economic news and warnings of doom– why not see simplifying as a fun challenge rather than something horrible that will be forced upon you.
My first simplification challenge happened prior to living in my car the first time. I’ve always been nomadic, and I REALLY hated moving all my stuff from one apartment to another. I’d rent a truck, haul a bunch of heavy furniture and junk, and feel exhausted.
So one day I decided to reduce my possessions to the point that everything would fit in my Nissan Sentra. I sold or gave away almost everything. I decided to use only free or near free furniture- so I could just leave it behind whenever I moved. And happily, I accomplished my goal after only a few months. I felt light and free.
Of course, the car and van living experiments created even greater challenges for simplifying.
Now, I’ve given myself the task of not only living out of a small carryon bag for 4 months.. but of also running my company from it. Ill be doing demonstrations and seminars in Thailand, launching new lessons, launching a new website, creating & editing videos, and continuing my usual writing and podcast recording.
Here’s the basic packlist so far:
* A Macbook Air laptop with wifi…. and a webcam for making videos
* A Blue Snowflake microphone for podcasting and other recording
* Final Cut Express video editing software. Garageband software for podcast editing.
* Cheap Thai cell phone for most local and international calls.
* iPhone with international plan for a few select business calls.
* Small headset for Skype (free international calls to friends & family.. and to my singing teacher)
* Hiking/Backpacking Clothes made from quick-drying synthetic materials… easy to wash and dry,.. and they pack up very small & tight.
* Dark, very lightweight running/hiking shoes. Also a pair of Teva sandals.
* Toothbrush, contacts, glasses.
And that’s about it.
Most of you probably can or do travel with a similarly light load. But here’s a powerful idea– if you can and do happily live from a small suitcase or backpack when on “vacation” or “camping”… why can’t you continue to happily live from that same small suitcase or backpack once back home?
Why is it we are perfectly happy to live so simply when traveling, but at home this is considered a terrible hardship? The shift is merely mental and attitudinal.
This is a powerful antidote to fear. Realize that you could lose or sell 90% of your “stuff” and yet continue to be warm, healthy, and happy.
Living in the car… and later in a van… taught me just how fun and free a very simple life could be. It taught me that most of our ideas of “poor” and “poverty” are just that– ideas. Poverty is mostly mental, emotional, and spiritual,… not economic.
When I moved to San Francisco, I learned a similar lesson. I was very nearly homeless- having come with a small amount of money and no job lined up. At the last minute, I found a part-time job and a tiny little apartment (one room and super cheap).
Was I “poor”? I didn’t think so. I had an apartment near the center of town.. within walking distance of everything I needed (quite a novelty in the US). I only worked 16 hours a week… and I loved teaching at the school. I had enough money for food… and I had a lot of free time.
So everyday I went on long walks through the city. I relaxed in coffee shops and read books and wrote. I met friends. I started and built my business. I was “poor” in money-terms… but rich in time and rich in freedom.
Ironically, that freedom and time gave me the energy and opportunity to develop my tiny business– which has since grown and given me financial security too.
So, the point is– don’t believe the fear-mongering bastards on TV. Don’t succumb to fear or panic or worry. Simplify your life voluntarily as a GIFT to yourself– a gift of freedom, a gift of time, a gift of energy.
This is an opportunity, not a problem!
“Your Portable Empire” is the title of a book by Pat O’Bryan. The book is an excellent primer on the nomadic entrepreneurial lifestyle… And the title is cool too.
In fact, that title has inspired my next travel adventure. I’ve decided to spend 4 months in Asia while continuing to run my little “portable empire” as I travel.
I’m always fond of experimenting with my life, so I’ve decided to push the limits and see just how much I can accomplish while living on the opposite side of the world.
Specifically, I want to see if I can achieve a number of important things while traveling, including:
- Continue Singing Lessons. I love my voice teacher and missing 4 months of lessons with her was really depressing me. So I talked to her and we are going to continue my voice lessons using Skype! I’ll be annoying my hotel neighbors with scales and songs
- Continue Improving and Growing My Business. I’ll continue to work with designers, contractors, mentors, coaches, and team members and will continue the projects we have started. My ultimate goal– the business improves and thrives while I travel and enjoy my “vacation” abroad.
- Continue Coaching & Mentoring. Again, using Skype I’ll continue talking to the mentors and coaches who are helping me with finances, marketing, and teaching.
- Continue Getting Healthier. I’ll be training for a marathon and then an ultra marathon (a 50 miler) during my time in Asia. I’ll continue eating a “Green Vegan” diet (the alkalizing vegan diet that has given me an absolutely incredible boost in energy).
When I first began planning a trip, I was thinking of just backpacking around as usual. But something about that wasn’t inspiring me. Just hopping from guesthouse to guesthouse didnt feel like a challenge– felt like a repeat of what I’ve already done for many years.
Also, I realized that I really love my life right now. I love what I’m doing. I don’t need to “work” for money and I don’t. I “work” (actually, play) doing things I love doing and I thoroughly enjoy them.
When I was miserable at various McJobs, I desperately craved “vacations”. I absolutely needed to just escape.
But when you’re life is fun and interesting and inspired, you don’t want a vacation from it!
So, I realized that while I was craving a change of location (that nomadic Hobopoet instinct)– I was craving it for different reasons. I’m not craving escape– I’m craving inspiration, energy, and new input.
Also, I simply miss SE Asia (mainly Thailand)– my second home.
So that was the inspiration– to combine the best of both my worlds: what I love about my life at home… and what I love about Asia. Take my “empire” with me.
As a final note, its amazing how easy this really is. Technically, to run my entire company I need only: a laptop with wifi & webcam, a cell phone, and a good microphone. Using these tools, I’ll record lessons, record podcasts, create videos, communicate with team members/teacher/mentors, and run my entire business.
Of course, I’ll also be posting the results of the “Portable Empire” experiment here.
Hobopoet “Portable Empire” updates coming soon…..
I’ve been learning a lot about financial literacy since I started my micro-business. And, as usual, I’ve plunged in all the way… reading everything I can get my hands on.
What I’ve been reading lately, from conservative practically minded investment types, is truly frightening.
Most are predicting not just a “recession”… but a Depression that will far exceed the Great Depression.
I’m not particulary worried about this for myself… as I now have plenty of cash flow and still live very simply (there’s always van living, after all
But its truly frightening for the average Americans I know. They’ve lived all of their lives focused on comfort and more, more, more. They are soft, undisciplined, emotionally weak, and totally unprepared for the tough challenges ahead.
I’ve ranted about the “fatness” of the American body and mind for years now… and this is why– it has produced a nation of spoiled brats.. utterly devoid of self-discipline. And now that nation will be forced into poverty and austerity and simplicity. Most Americans, I fear, will crumble emotionally in the process.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
This blog offers hope for a fun, adventurous, free, amazing life… no matter how little money you have. My car living and van living experiments, for example, were fantastic points in my life.
As Thoreau said, when you voluntarily simplify your life, poverty is no longer poverty. Poverty in the US is mostly a mental, emotional, and spiritual deprivation.
What I’m saying is this– don’t fear. There’s nothing to fear.
Simplicity is a blessing when you embrace it. It frees you. Frees you from compulsive desires. Frees your time for more enriching activities. Frees your mind to focus on more enlightening thoughts and ideas.
Losing a few doodads is not the end of the world. Moving to a much smaller and cheaper home (apartment or house) is not the end of the world.
Tomoe and I still live in a 12 x 12 room without a kitchen or a bathroom. We cook on a hotplate. We use the shared bathroom in our apartment building. I built a loft for our bed, and have a small “office” under the bed from which I run my “Portable Empire” (ie. my web business). We have the cheapest rent in San Francisco and get to live right downtown. No car necessary, so we don’t have one.
This is all that’s necessary– a safe, dry, warm place to sleep,… a place to bathe,… food and a place to cook a meal,… warm functional clothing,… friends/community.
That’s all. None of the rest is necessary (nice perhaps. fun perhaps. but not necessary for happiness or health).
When living in my car & van, I had a safe, dry, warm (enough) place to sleep. I bathed in rivers in the summer, in public restrooms or gyms at other times (or at friends’ places). I cooked food on a small camping stove… and made just enough money from a 10 hour a week part-time job (food stamps are always an option of last resort). I had simple functional clothing that kept me dry and warm.
And most of all, I had friends. I relaxed with them in coffee shops. I visited them at their homes.
I also enjoyed my solitude– walking at nature centers or parks, meditating, doing yoga, working out at the gym, writing….
That’s why I still live the way I do… even though I could afford a nice McMansion at this point. Happiness is found in connections. Its found in learning. Its found in creativity. Its found in exploration and adventure.
So…. do not fear, no matter how bad the economics get.
Your humanity is not dependent upon money or doodads.