Happily Busy In Bangkok

January 13, 2009 by  
Filed under Freedom, Independent Travel

Life In Bangkok

Life In Bangkok

“Disciplined Hedonism” is one of my favorite phrases– one I first heard from my friend Chris.

In fact, I do think we need a healthy dose of both self-discipline AND hedonism in our life.

This month, the first month of the “Portable Empire” experiment in Bangkok, has mostly been about discipline.  I have been working steadily and successfully on the “empire” since arriving here.

In fact, as I noted previously, I’ve had an explosion of productivity since arriving.  The new environment has stimulated and energized me.  In the last two weeks, I’ve launched a new (and quite effective) marketing campaign for the business…  created several new videos for our upcoming video site…  wrote several articles and press releases… and have planned and scheduled our first seminar in Bangkok (Sunday, January 25th).

I have also kicked ass with running.  Despite the heat and pollution, I’m running like a fool.  My weekly long run is now up to 90 minutes (two days ago).  Each week, I add another 10 minutes to the long run.  My regular “maintainence runs” are also going very well– I’m doing them 3-4 times a week at 40 to 60 minutes each.

All in all, I’m feeling super-energized!

And I’ve been disciplined with singing too– practing (almost) every morning.  And today, I had my first singing lesson by phone– with my teacher in San Francisco.  Too cool!

All of this made possible by a laptop, the internet, and a cheap Thai cell phone!

This discipline phase will continue for another two weeks.   Next week, I’m off to Singapore for a few days.  I’ll be meeting one of our members there (hopefully)– and doing my 100 minute long run.  Should be nice to run in clean air for a change!

Then I’m back to Bangkok for our seminar– a 5 hour seminar to introduce more Thai people to my teaching system and English lessons.

After that,.. it’ll finally be time for some hedonism!  My wife Tomoe arrives on the 26th of January.  Then my friends Wat and Lewis arrive on the 28th.  We’ll be heading down to the south (Koh Payam Island) for a big party, followed by a few days of snorkeling, diving, running on the beach, etc…   Then Tomoe and I plan to visit Cambodia,…  then dive some more…  then Laos…  then Fiji…  etc…….

So the Portable Empire has thus far been ideal at fostering both self-Discipline and Hedonistic opportunities!

Running The Empire

January 2, 2009 by  
Filed under Freedom, Independent Travel

The “Portable Empire” experiment is going very well.   In fact, I’ve been far more productive here in Thailand than I was in San Francisco!

Not sure why this is–  I think it’s probably a result of increased energy and inspiration as a result of a dramatic change of environment.   It’s so easy to get in a rut at home.  Mental and emotional ruts are the bane of the Hobopoet life.

Another factor is that I have much more time here.  This is also a strange phenomenon.   Why should I have more time in Thailand?  All I can say is that life just seems to move more slowly here.   In SF, I’m constantly bombarded by phone calls, appointments, and projects.

Moving to another continent has a way of weeding out all that’s non-essential.  Nobody is going to call me here unless it’s VERY important.   Also, because I must go to a coffee shop or internet cafe to do email…  I do it less often for less time.  In SF, I’ve got 24 hour access in my apartment and it’s just too damn easy to jump on the internet anytime I feel the least bit bored or restless.   Here in Thailand, I go for a walk, or get a massage, or sing, or go for a run.

And when I work, I do productive work-play rather than waste time surfing the web.   Today, for example, I wrote two articles, recorded two podcasts, recorded & edited two videos, and wrote a marketing email & published it.  All that in just a few hours.

Today I also went for a run, sang for an hour, played guitar, wrote in my journal, listened to music, and emailed friends.   And I’ve still got plenty of time on my hands and in no way feel rushed.

In fact, this is one of the most marvelous things about The Portable Empire experiment:  I’m “on vacation” in Thailand, yet I’m doing far more “work” (business and personal) than I ever did in SF–  for both my business and my personal projects I’m doing as much in one day as I did in one week back in the States.

On top of that, despite still paying rent on my SF apartment… I’m spending FAR less money while here in Thailand.  I’m “on vacation” and yet am saving a lot more money.

It’s hard to think of a cooler system!  Especially compared to the usual wage slavery way of making an income.  As a wage slave, I worked much harder, I had 2 paltry weeks of vacation a year, I was MUCH LESS productive (slaves aren’t usually very productive), and I almost never saved money (because I spent every available penny in a futile attempt to compensate for the boredom of work).

So The Portable Empire works from both the Hedonistic perspective, and the Productivity perspective…   a perfect system for both the slacker and the capitalist!   More time. More energy. More inspiration.  More fun. More created.  More accomplished.   All with less work, in less time, with less money.

The experiment, so far, is a remarkable success!

I Want You To Suffer

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

Suffer!

Suffer!

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

Why?

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!

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!

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:

http://goldsilver.com/crash_course.php?video_id=29&cat_id=6

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

Tribal Business

November 30, 2008 by  
Filed under Freedom, Loving-Kindness

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.

Making The Empire Portable

November 22, 2008 by  
Filed under Freedom, Independent Travel, Voluntary Simplicity

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!

My Portable Empire

November 22, 2008 by  
Filed under Freedom, Independent Travel

“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…..

Financial Freedom Recommend Reading

October 11, 2008 by  
Filed under Freedom, Self-Reliance

Here’s a short list of books I highly recommend, on the topic of financial freedom.

Be practical when reading these books.  I often don’t agree with the authors’ worldview or motivations, and honestly, I don’t care about them.   I’m focused on getting practical knowledge that I can use for my own purposes.

With that said, here are some great books for starting your journey to financial freedom:

Walden by Henry D. Thoreau

(Read the section on “Economy”)!

The 4-Hour Workweek  by Tim Ferris

(The title provides you with a worthy goal :)

Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki

Cash Flow Quadrant by Robert Kiyosaki

(Will teach you financial literacy and how to gain financial freedom)

The E-Myth

(Great general overview of how to own a business instead of it owning you)

Web Copy That Sells

(Great if you’re going to do a web-based business (which I highly recommend))

Permission Marketing by Seth Godin

(Learn how to market in an ethical way that people will love)

Purple Cow by Seth Godin

(Learn how to be remarkable with your business)

Your Portable Empire by Pat O’Bryan

(Learn how to create passive income and live a mobile lifestyle)

Those are good places to start your education.   Of course, just reading isn’t enough.  You have to take action.   I think the best way to start is online because the cost of starting is so incredibly low.

My business started with $200.  I could have done it for nearly free if I had wanted to.

The beauty of online business is that you can start them as “Beta” prototypes.   In other words, you put them together quickly and cheaply and start fast.    Then you endlessly test, improve, get feedback, and evolve your business over time.

My first site was butt ugly… and I had a paltry few lessons to start with.  And the lessons had sketchy audio and were very limited.

But no worries–  I clearly labeled it a “Beta” site and explained that it was in “testing” mode.  I charged only $7 for membership at first.   To my utter astonishment, I got customers.  I added more lessons, and raised the price to $17.

I started a Google Ad campaign with a budget of $1 a day.  I tested the ads and compared ad cost to money made each day.   When I was making more than I was spending, I raised the ad budget to $5 a day…  waited a week.  I was still making more than I was spending on ads… so I increased the budget to $10 a day.  (I now spend nearly $400 a day).

The product (my lessons) likewise evolved.  I experimented with different lesson types and discovered the ones that students liked best.  Over time, I developed a very powerful teaching system.

Finally, the site and the business itself evolved.   I eventually changed from a membership site to a straight product sales site.   I hired a company to (still cheaply) design a custom website for me.   That helped to boost income.   Just recently, I had the whole site re-designed again  (for a higher… but still reasonable price).

All the while I have learned a tremendous amount–  from trial and error, from experiments, from customers’ feedback,  from business books and CDs, from other website owners, from blogs and podcasts.

So what’s the point I’m making?

The point is:   Just start.

I was totally clueless and nearly broke when I started.  I had NO idea how to build a successful business.  I just had a burning desire to be free,.. and I loved teaching English.  The rest, I learned along the way.

You can do this too.  Start a BETA website this month….    using a cheap or free website template…  and PayPal for accepting credit cards.    Make your cheap, fast, raw product or service.

You don’t need to be perfect when you start.  You don’t even need to be good.   Hell, if you really feel bad about it–  charge just $1 in the beginning.    Decide to learn everything as you go.

This is the Hobopoet way–  the opposite of the “Business Plan” approach.

Start cheap.  Start ugly.  Start clueless. Start micro.

Then evolve.

Freedom & Integrity

October 11, 2008 by  
Filed under Freedom

Now that I have achieved my goal of personal freedom, I want to contribute and help other people achieve the same.

I know what its like to suffer for years as a wage slave– always yearning for freedom.   I understand the horrible emotional toll it takes on those who long to live free.

At an intimate level, I have already helped one friend start a business and gain financial freedom–  and am in the process of partnering with my best friend and her boyfriend in order to help them also gain financial freedom.    Our joint venture business launches at the end of next week.

I’m very excited for them.  I feel incredibly happy whenever someone gains their freedom and leaves wage slavery!   (Of course I do have a selfish motivation–   I want more of my friends to have the time and resources to play with me :)

At a public level, I hope to use this blog to help people gain their freedom.  Its more difficult, because I can’t be there to guide you step by step.   Since I can’t do that, I try to motivate and inspire– because if you have strong enough reasons and strong enough motivation, you’ll succeed.  I also hope to point you to the sources I used to learn how to gain my own freedom.

The greatest resource you can develop is your knowledge.   You must learn voraciously–  in all fields of life– including finances and money.

One problem a lot of bohemians & hobopoets have is that they choose to remain willfully ignorant of finances and the way they work.   I understand.  I hate the big corporate capitalist system and what its done to our society and planet.

On the other hand, I’m not stupid and I don’t believe in denial.   Closing your eyes and refusing to learn how things actually work is stupid.   Ignoring your finances is stupid.

Refusing to start your own business is likewise stupid.  I laugh every time I hear of a self-styled hipster who cynically criticizes the idea of starting a business (ie. business = evil).  Yet this same fool thinks nothing of being a wage slave to other people’s businesses-  often other people who are totally amoral (or worse).

Slavery isn’t noble.  Working for peanuts for another person’s business doesn’t make you an anti-capitalist. Even if you work for a non-profit (as I did for many years) you are still perpetuating systems of control and authority in most cases– and you yourself are still a dependent, child-like wage slave.

Starting your own business means taking responsibility for your life, your principles, your actions.  It means being TOTALLY responsible– being the decision maker and accepting the consequences.

It also means FREEDOM…. including the freedom to make a stand based on principle.   As a wage slave, you labor for a company which reflects another person’s values (which, in most cases, is driven mostly by greed).

As a business owner, you can:  promote favorite causes with your profits, give any percentage you want to charities or political organizations,  and make decisions with integrity.

As a dependent wage slave, you usually (be honest):   deny responsibility for the company’s evils,  complain but do nothing,  or sheepishly do nothing because “you need the paycheck”.

Stop being a child.   Stop being a slave.  Stop making excuses.

Take responsibility– full responsibility– for your life.   Stop pretending that your financial life can be segregated off from the rest of your life.  It can’t.   How you make money is as important to your spirit as which religious rituals you observe.

Will you choose it–  or remain passive?

For you, is it freedom….   or is it dependence and slavery?

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