Portable Empire Bangkok Begins

December 29, 2008 by  
Filed under Independent Travel

I arrived in Bangkok this morning, and am now trying hard to stay awake until this evening (in order to adjust to the time difference faster).

The Portable Empire experiment has begun!

Good news– I’ve already found a place near my guest house that has cheap wireless internet.  I also know of a place in the center of town (where I’ll be re-locating in a few days) that has free wireless.   So the basic essential of the Portable Empire is taken care of!

As a quick start, I recorded a short video for my new Video “Master Member” site in my hotel.   For the business, I’ll be doing a number of activities while based here in Thailand, including:  recording videos and uploading them to the new site,  writing blog posts & articles (Hobopoet & my biz blog), coordinating with my admin assistant & with other biz team members, recording & uploading podcasts, and overseeing the completion of my new lesson pack.

I’ll also be planning, preparing, and doing seminars here in Bangkok (and possibly elsewhere)…   and will be researching details for  a) a school in Bangkok, and b) a learning resort in the south of Thailand.

And while all this sounds quite serious– and like a lot of work…  I’ll be indulging in plenty of hedonism along the way.

I’m looking forward to that too!  But right now, I need to rest and recover from jet lag.

So, more reports on the Portable Empire experiment will be coming soon…..

I Want You To Suffer

December 24, 2008 by  
Filed under Freedom, Self-Reliance



Why do I, at times, seem to gloat about my wonderfully free and happy life?


Because I want you to suffer.   I want you to read about my wonderful life and feel like shit.  I want you to feel absolutely miserable when you compare your horrible job, boring routine, and shitty compromises to my passionate, fun, exciting adventures.

There it is– naked and honest:  My Motivation.

And why do I want you to feel massive pain?  Because I want to goad you into an emotional crisis (see previous post)–  I want to push you, suddenly or slowly, past an emotional threshold.

I want you to become so angry, so sad, so upset… that you finally say, “Enough! No Fucking More! I Will Never Live Like This Again!”

Because I know if you are comfortable and numb, you’ll do nothing.  I know that if your life is “OK”, you’ll do nothing.   Lukewarm “OK” lives suck!   Because what they really are are bored, frustrated, failed lives.

Pain can be your ticket to the most extraordinary life you ever imagined–  if you focus on all of the pain caused by your failure to act, your failure to go for it, your fear of failing–  if you focus on that pain and amplify it and wallow in it, and hold on to it and strengthen it every day.

That is your ticket to the freedom you have always dreamed of.   Read my previous post… and then put yourself through the Dickens process everyday.   As a ritual, examine the part of your life you know you must change– to be passionate, alive, and totally fulfilled.    See and feel all the pain caused by not doing what you must do.  Feel it physically (I hunch my shoulders and tighten everything and create so much tension and misery in my body that I gag and almost vomit)– and link that physical pain to your current situation.

Feel the pain.   Suffer horribly.  Every day until you reach your limit and scream, “Enough!  No More!”

Then do what you must do.  Reclaim your life.

I’ll see you on the other side of that pain–  to celebrate your freedom!

An Instant

December 24, 2008 by  
Filed under Self-Reliance

(Left) My Mom Breaks Through

(Left) My Mom Breaks Through

Change can happen in an instant.   You finally reach a threshold and you say, “Enough.  No Fucking More!”  Do it with your whole body, mind, and spirit…  and everything changes after that.

It happened to me just over two years ago.    I was working a “good” job– where I had a great deal of freedom.  For a year and a half, everything went well.  But then the inevitable bullshit crept in.  My boss started catching heat from the Korean management of our school…  who pushed him to regiment things more.. to “take more control”.

A growing list of bullshit rules followed.  I became more and more frustrated– yet another job going down the tubes.  Finally, one day after another horrible meeting, I hit my threshold.   Years of frustration poured out. I came home and went berserk… I yelled, and I said, “Fucking Enough!  No fucking more!”.

That’s when I decided to start my own business. It took 9 more months of experimenting, working, etc…  but that next summer I had my Independence Day– I quit the last job I would every have!  It was one of the best experiences of my life– I still feel giddy when I think about it.

But it was made possible by pain.  Massive frustration and pain.

Because I had an advantage over most bored & suffering workers–  I didn’t push the boredom and frustration away– I wallowed in it.  I amplified it.   I put myself into a state where the pain and boredom finally became unbearable-  so unbearable that I HAD TO act.

Too many people do the opposite.  They are not excited, fulfilled, and passionate about their job…  (or any job).   But they MINIMIZE the pain of that.   They minimize the boredom.  They make excuses.  They distract themselves.   They think about other things.  They tell themselves easy lies such as, “This is just life.  This is normal.  It’s too late to change.”

They avoid, minimize, and numb the pain–  and so they never take action.  They never reach that emotional and physical threshold..  As a result, they waste their entire lives doing something that does not fulfill them at the deepest level.  This is what Thoreau was talking about when he wrote, “The mass of men live lives of quiet desperation.”

But it can change– everything– in an instant…  if you just build and amplify the pain until you hit your threshold.

Two months ago, my mother did this.  After 40+ years of lethargy and obesity and depression, she changed in an instant!

What happened?  She finally felt all of the pain.  She did an exercise at a seminar called “The Dickens Process”.  In this exercise, you focus on all of the pain that your action (or lack of action) has caused you in the past.   You don’t just focus on it… you use your body to actually FEEL it.  Then you amplify those feelings of emotional and physical pain.  (When I did it, I nearly vomited!).

After going through this extremely painful process focused on past consequences, you do it again while focusing on the present– all the ways your action (or lack of) is currently destroying you and your life.  Then you do this whole process again… imagining the increasingly horrible consequences and pain your action (or lack of) will cause 1, 5, 10, and 20 years from now.. if you continue.

It’s a gut-wrenching, very uncomfortable process– but it’s damn powerful.  Because for the first time, many people fully feel the total pain they are creating in their life.  They stop minimizing it.  They stop ignoring it.  They stop making excuses.. and they feel it all… the totality of failure, futility, ugliness, lies, boredom, frustration…….

My Mom hit her threshold during this exercise.  She finally felt all the pain caused by her lethargy and obesity and she said, “No Fucking More”.

Since that time, 2 months ago, she has:

  • been a vegetarian
  • eaten organic & green
  • drank green veggie drinks every day
  • exercised 4-7 times a week
  • lost 42 pounds
  • eliminated depression
  • inspired my entire family

No one in my family ever thought my Mom would do it.  After 40+ years of excuses, everyone had given up on my Mom (because she had given up on herself).

But she changed it all in an instant– by purposely pushing herself to an emotional threshold and beyond.

The point is this:  Stop avoiding the pain–  do the opposite.  Whatever bullshit you have accepted in your life… stop making excuses for it.  Stop pretending its OK.   Focus on the pain it’s causing, has caused, and will cause.   Amplify that pain… feel it in your body… and do this every damn day until you reach your own emotional threshold. Increase the pain until you can’t take it anymore and shout, “No Fucking More!”

Disciplined Hedonism

December 24, 2008 by  
Filed under Independent Travel, Voluntary Simplicity

(Disciplined) Hedonism

(Disciplined) Hedonism

Tropical beaches.  Riotous Asian cities boiling with energy. Fiery spicy food.  Massages 4 days a week.

Voluntary Simplicity has it’s benefits!

Unfortunately, when most people hear the phrase “voluntary simplicity”- they think of hardship….   they imagine eating instant ramen noodles and living a boring hard life.

But that’s exactly the opposite of the Hobopoet Way.  Voluntary Simplicity is a means– a means to greater security, greater enjoyment, greater freedom, greater opportunity.

My good friend Chris has another term for it– he calls it “Disciplined Hedonism”… and that, I think, captures the spirit of it.   We are disciplined in order to enjoy a great deal of hedonistic pleasure in our lives (whatever that means to you).

In fact, what led me to adopt a very simple life were some questions.  I asked myself:

What really gives my life passion, happiness, excitement, and meaning?

Given a certain amount of money, what is the best way to use it to maximize the excitement, passion, happiness, learning, and meaning in my life?

After asking myself these questions for many years– I came to some obvious conclusions.  I concluded that while a big opulent house might be “nice”, I’d much rather spend that 100,000 dollars (or, in SF, $600.000) on travel, seminars, books, gifts, coaching programs, journeys, adventures, etc…

I also realized that 10,000 in savings, for example, gave me a much better feeling (of comfort, security) than 10,000 worth of gadgets and furniture.

I realized that I needed to evaluate my economic choices based on the longterm emotional, mental, and spiritual impact they would have on me.    That evaluation led to a radically more simple life (in terms of material possessions), a radically more hedonistic life (in terms of experiences), and a radically more social life.

The problem with most people is that they are trying to buy their happiness with things.   But happiness grows out of experiences and connections.   We grow and learn from experiences, not from things.  We grow and learn from people, not from things.

Longterm, we are most thrilled and excited by new experiences and new people.. not by new things.  We are most stimulated by experiences and people.. not things.

When you buy a new thing, you feel interest and excitement for a day… MAYBE a week.   But the memories of a great experience last years.  Learning experiences last a lifetime.  Friends can last forever.

These aren’t just platitudes–  they are basic psychological truths.

So doesn’t it make sense to develop a personal economic plan that is designed for maximum happiness, learning, excitement, passion, and growth?

If these were your guiding principles, how would you spend (or invest) your money differently?  How would you alter your work schedule and habits?

Ask these questions repeatedly, every day.  Record your answers in a journal, repeatedly and daily.

See what answers come to you.

(Warning– this simple exercise could totally change your life).

Hobopoets On The Move

December 21, 2008 by  
Filed under Freedom, Independent Travel

Hobopoets On Payam (Last Year)

It’s an exciting time of year!

For most in the US, this is the Christmas season and with that comes vacation, commercialism, family, etc.

But for our Hobopoet tribe, this is a time of movement.

Most of my close friends are preparing for travels.  This week, for example, Tomoe and are frantically preparing for our four month trip to SE Asia.  I’m heading straight to Bangkok, while Tomoe is going to Osaka and will be joining me in Bangkok a month later.

I’ve decided to add another wrinkle to my trip… a bit more adventure.   I’m now planning to rent a motorcycle in Bangkok and then hit the road to Katchanaburi…  a solo easy rider trip.  My original plan was to do this in the north of Thailand, but my friend (and fellow biker) Wat recommended staying farther south as the northern mountains will be quite cold this time of year (and I’m going to Thailand to escape the cold!)

Meanwhile, my best friend Kristin… and her boyfriend Joe… are heading to East Africa.  They’re going to a music festival in Mali, then will explore the country more… and from there wing it– eventually ending up in Morocco.

The rest of my Hobopoet friends are coming to SE Asia a month after I am.

Wat, who is Thai, will be arriving in Bangkok at the end of January.  He’ll be coming with Todd and Lewis, two more good friends from San Francisco.   These three now own land on a small island in southern Thailand, called Koh Payam–  it now serves as our unofficial Hobopoet sanctuary.   We’ll all be there in February through the beginning of March.  Come join us at the South Star Bar, on Ao Yai beach, most any night!

In addition to this crew of good friends, other San Francisco Hobopoets will be joining us on Koh Payam during the same time, including Zac, Renny, and Gabby.

So, as you can imagine, things are buzzing with anticipation here in the city.  While others shop, we’re all busily preparing our backpacks, passports, and tickets.

Finally, I’m happy to add one more Hobopoet to our list of nomads.  My good friend Chris will be joining us from North Carolina.   I helped him start a website this year and he’s now working towards economic freedom.  He still has a way to go, and has encountered obstacles along the way….  but he’ll be traveling abroad for the first time since 1997 and is excited to join us for diving and hedonism in southern Thailand.. all made possible by his gutsy move towards economic freedom!

As you might guess, my motive for sharing this with you all is to entice you.

I want to entice you to the Hobopoet way.

And I hope that some day, you too will be joining us on our tropical island sanctuary in south Thailand!

Master your doubts, master your fears, claim your life, and declare your freedom.

See you soon on Koh Payam!

Physiology & Emotion

December 21, 2008 by  
Filed under Self-Reliance

Thai Massage on the Beach

Thai Massage on the Beach

Like most people, I have big dreams and grand goals.  And like most people, I have found that my emotions are usually the biggest obstacles to reaching those dreams.

It’s easy to focus on outside forces.  It’s easy to blame the outside world for our failure to live according to our highest principles… for our highest dreams.

But the deep truth is that we are our main enemy.  Specifically, it is our lack of emotional mastery that sabotages our highest aspirations.

What prevented me from starting my own business for so many years, for example?

I told myself it was lack of money, lack of experience, etc.  But the obstacles were fear and doubt.

I couldn’t manage my fear.   I focused on my doubts.

Eventually, I reached an emotional threshhold and learned how to master my emotions.  After that, everything unfolded almost effortlessly.

Of course, it wasn’t effortless…  but it felt effortless because the negative emotions had drained away– such that work no longer felt like work, effort felt like play.

So this is a very serious subject– emotional mastery.   We absolutely must learn to master our emotional states, or we will forever be slaves.

But how?

I’ve found that the easiest way to master my emotional states is by mastering my physiology.  In other words, the body gives us a fast and easy means of instantly altering any debilitating emotion.

Depression, for example, requires a certain physiology.   I have found it almost impossible to feel severely depressed while simultaneously holding my shoulders back, my chin up, my eyes wide open.  To that I add a huge fake grin.  After a minute or more of holding my body in this way, the emotion of depression lessens considerably or disappears altogether.   I’m then in a much more resourceful state to actually deal with my problems, rather than wallow in self-pity.

Exercise is another well-known way to alter physiology, and thus emotion.  In fact, sedentary friends and family are often confused about my addiction to exercise.  They think I’m obsessed with being thin and fit.  I like those benefits, but to be totally honest– I’m most deeply addicted to the emotional lift that exercise gives me:   greater optimism, greater emotional energy, euphoria, etc….

Lately, I’ve been much more conscious of mastering my emotions.  I’ve learned some methods from Tony Robbins’ seminars.  I’ve read a lot on this subject and have been experimenting with myself.

So now, every day, I consciously trigger empowering emotions– and condition them more deeply.  I consciously put myself in an energized, grateful, happy emotional state.   First and foremost, I do this by changing my posture–  as I sit, as I walk, as I go about my day.  I keep my shoulders back, my chest up, my eyes open.

I also remain conscious of my breathing–  being sure to take long deep breaths from the gut throughout the day.

It seems too simple, doesn’t it?   And yet, the emotional transformation has been outstanding.   My daily emotional experience is far more positive.  As a result, I’m far more energized and motivated…. and as a result of that, my actions are more congruent with my highest principles, dreams, and aspirations.

I therefore encourage you to experiment with this.  Focus on your own physiology for 30 days.   Be constantly aware of your posture, facial expressions, and breathing.  Specifically:

  • Keep your shoulders back and chest up (especially when feeling bad)
  • Keep your eyes up and open
  • Keep your chin up (literally)
  • Take deep breaths from the gut
  • Exercise aerobically (walk, jump, run, swim, whatever… :)

Do this for 30 days, and then notice the transformation in your EMOTIONAL PATTERNS.  I know you’ll find a very positive change.

The Emotional Cure All

December 6, 2008 by  
Filed under Independent Travel

How I love that giddy anticipation prior to a big trip!

I love the heightened awareness– the realization that I’ll soon be leaving my current place and my current routine.  I find that this awareness of coming change produces a deep appreciation for all I now have.  I become more aware of how wonderful my friends are, how much I love this city, and how much I love my life here.

At the same time, there is a building excitement as I dream of the heat, the spices, the smells, the food, the people, and the energy of SE Asia.   And I’m excited by the knowledge that all my routines and patterns will soon be shattered.  It’s the thrill of the unknown… for even though I have lived in Thailand before– I find that my life is far more unpredictable and spontaneous there.

There is also the excitement of new life experiments.  There’s the Portable Empire experiment– the attempt to run my company successfully using Tim Ferriss’ “4-Hour Workweek” nomadic approach.  There’s the experiment of learning Thai. There’s the excitement of training for a 50 mile race.

And finally, there’s the giddy anticipation of hedonism:  chilled out nights at the South Star bar on Koh Payam island with the Hobopoet tribe…    a live-aboard dive trip to the Similan & Surin Islands….  spicy Som-Tam (papaya salad) at Lumpini Park in Bangkok….   a culinary tour of Kuala Lumpur with my friends Kenny & Geetha.

I absolutely love San Francisco and I love my life here.  But travel, for me, is an absolute necessity.  It awakens and inspires me.   It feeds my soul.  It fires my creativity and imagination.

Travel is the cure-all for whatever ails your spirit.  If you’re down.  If you’re scared.  If you’re lonely and miserable–  buy a ticket to a far off land.  I promise you’ll immediately start to feel better!


December 4, 2008 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

Some goals call for drastic action and innovation.  Others require constant and neverending small improvements.

My ultra-marathon goal falls in the latter category.  Quite obviously, working up to a run of 50 miles is something that requires a long and steady approach… considering I just started to run again.

The last couple of weeks, I have run only once a week, and walked on other days.  Each run was 50 minutes.. or between 4-5 miles.

This week, I’m increasing the frequency, but dropping the length.  I ran 50 minutes yesterday… and ran again today, but only 30 minutes.

I plan to keep most of my runs in the 30 minute time range for a while… with one LSD day.  The LSD day is quite important.  (LSD, of course, means “Long Slow Day”–  though I’m partial to the other meaning too 😉

I estimate that it’ll take a year or slightly more to build up to running in a 50 mile race.   The general rule I follow is to increase my LSD day by one mile each week…  with my other runs slowly working up from 30 minutes to 60 minutes to a maximum of 90 minutes each.

Another important point about this training–  ALL runs are done extremely slowly, following the “slow burn” principle I wrote about earlier.

Running very slowly is the most important part of this system.  By running slowly, the body is spared stress.  It is not torn down.  It can, therefore, steadily adapt to greater and greater aerobic loads…   quickly increasing energy and endurance.

This method runs contrary to the “no pain no gain” mindset typical in most gyms…  yet it is a much saner and much healthier way to exercise.

I’ll post more updates on my progress in later posts.  For now, I’m near the starting point:

“Regular” runs of 30 minutes each.

1 Long Slow Run a week of 50 minutes.

…All done at very low speeds :)

Crash Course

December 3, 2008 by  
Filed under Freedom, Voluntary Simplicity

Want to understand the dramatic and unprecendented changes happening in our world today?

Watch the video slide shows at:


This video series is an excellent primer on the economics, energy, and ecological changes that are coming to a head.

Movement Creates Energy

December 2, 2008 by  
Filed under Self-Reliance

Most sedentary people, when they feel tired, rest.   It seems like a logical solution.  But, in fact, energy is not created by rest.

Energy is created by movement– both physical movement and emotional “movement”.

I got a great taste of this truth today.  I stayed up very late working last night– much too late because this morning I had to get up and go to the recording studio ALL DAY to record new lessons for my members.

As you might imagine, I felt tired when I woke up.  And I continued to feel tired as I walked to the studio.  Even worse, I felt grumpy– and in no mood at all to record lessons… especially because my members now expect super high-energy lessons from me.

I shuffled along down the street… waking up a little but still feeling bad.

When I got to the studio, I was still feeling tired and irritable.  I thought, “today’s lessons are going to suck!”

I shuffled into the recording booth.

And then something amazing happened.  I started jumping up and down to break my miserable emotional pattern.   I pumped my fist.  I said, “Yes!” loudly.   I bobbed and bounced like a boxer.  And then I launched into the first lesson.. conjuring all of my energy and passion.

As I spoke, I stood on my toes and continued bobbing.   I raised my voice.  I shouted.  Then I whispered.  I moved my face– making exaggerated facial expressions as I told a story.

By the end of the first 20 minute lesson, I was pumped full of energy.  I felt fantastic.  I was smiling and laughing.

This feeling lasted the entire 6 hours I was in the recording studio….  and continued for the rest of the evening and night.

Today I showed myself that I was totally in control of my emotional and physical energy.   I quickly transformed my energy level by moving–  I moved my face:  huge smile, rapid and exaggerated expressions.  I moved my body:  jumping, bobbing, bouncing, pumping my fist.  I moved my voice:  yelling, whispering, booming with my voice.

I changed my posture, my tone, my gestures, my expressions, and my breathing completely. And in an instant, I went from tired and grumpy to energized and excited.

When we are tired, what we usually need is MORE, not less, movement.  Our bodies are not usually tired from activity… rather, they are drained of vitality as a result of a sedentary life.

Movement is the key to energy.  Movement is the key to passion, enthusiasm, and excitement.

So, next time you feel tired– don’t rest.  Instead:  Jump, shout, run, laugh, grin from ear to ear, and act like a wild crazy person.  Try it for 20 minutes– it will completely transform your day.