Neo-Nomad Banking

April 12, 2013 by  
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Found a great bank account this week for neo-nomads:  The Charles Schwab Investment Checking Account.

Why is it great?  Because it provided FREE International ATM withdraws world-wide!  They also use the “spot” exchange rate for the day for withdraws of other currencies.. rather than the rip-off rate used by most banks.

During the last few years, I’ve been severely ripped off by ATM fees whenever traveling abroad.  Likewise, most banks charge international fees whenever you use a debit card to buy something.   Most (American) credit cards do this too.

So avoiding bank fees and unfair exchange rates is a big deal for neo-nomads.

The Schwab account now allows me to withdraw money from any ATM in the world, using the official international exchange rate, and with no ATM fees.

And I do mean NO FEES because they even refund the fees charged by the local international bank that runs the ATM.

This checking account is a great deal for American neo-nomads.  Neo-nomads from other countries should research similar accounts in their own countries.

 

Never Stop Learning

February 18, 2013 by  
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I just finished a 2.5 month trip to Australia and SE Asia– my normal Winter “walkabout”.  I find this is a great way each year to rejuvenate my mind.  This trip gave me time to think about what I’d done in 2012 and what I want to do in 2013.

Mentally rejuvenated, I’m ready to tackle a lot of new learning.  My goal remains the same– to continue improving my coaching/teaching/creative skills in order to do a better job of fulfilling my mission.

I have identified several new areas in which I want to improve.  One is psychology– specifically the psychology of peak performance and happiness.  I want to do a better job of helping people achieve the life of their dreams (and be happy)!   So, next month I will attend ~ 3 week Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) training with Richard Bandler.

I have also identified storytelling as an area I need to improve.  My teaching technique relies heavily on storytelling, and frankly, my skill is mediocre.  So I am reading books about scriptwriting and storytelling.  Most of all, I will be writing a big new project to use with my lessons.  The best way to improve as a writer is to do a lot of it! (especially re-writes).

Finally, I have identified performance as a key area to improve.  I not only write the lessons and stories, I perform them (on stage or on camera).  I want to add more emotion (especially more emotional range) to my performances.  I plan to take some voice acting classes first, and then maybe a stage acting class… in order to improve my ability.

With all of these skills, I know I’m likely to fail first– to be awful.  Thats always the first step.  The key to mastery is to just keep going.

With each year that passes, I become more and more convinced that PERSISTENCE is perhaps the most important secret to success in anything.  Persistence plus Passion/Enjoyment really is the magic formula.

Just keep learning.

Kyoto Apartment

November 16, 2012 by  
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We’re settling in to our tiny Kyoto apartment… which is a 10 minute walk from Kyoto Station. It’s a modern section of the city, and honestly, an ugly part of the city.  But it’s very convenient… with fast rail access to all of Kyoto and to all of Japan.

We chose Kyoto because it’s a more artistic and more international city than Osaka… and has a slower pace of life.  The crushing crowds of Osaka were too much for us after spending the last several months relaxing on Maui!

Kyoto is known for it’s still preserved old quarter… and it’s many ancient temples.  It’s also a mecca for high-quality Japanese food.   There are more Michelin starred restaurants in Kyoto than in all of the San Francisco Bay Area!  A LOT more!   One of our new hobbies will be eating our way through the Kyoto section of the book!

Kyoto is also famous for high-quality Ryokan… the traditional Japanese Inns that I absolutely love!  Staying in a Ryokan feels like being transported to a Kurosawa or Mifune movie.  I especially love the Ryokan that have an attached Onsen (natural hot spring spa).  Most Ryokan also serve set menus of traditional Japanese food (traditional.. as in HUNDREDS of years old).

For vegetarians & vegans, Kyoto is probably the only city in Japan where you can eat well.  There are a plethora of small family-owned veg restaurants all over town.  The food is excellent and creative.  Check out HappyCow.net and do a search for Kyoto… lots of places to choose from.

The only downside to Kyoto.. at the moment… is the weather.  It’s cold.  Winter has arrived!

Luckily, I have only two more weeks here in Kyoto and then we are off to Sydney, Australia.  After Australia… it’s Bali! I’ll be in the tropics soon… eating spicy food, scuba diving in warm waters,.. maybe even kite-surfing if the wind is right.

Until then… I’ll be eating my way around Kyoto… and indulging in a few hot springs to fight the chill…..

 

 

Neo-Nomad

October 13, 2012 by  
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Neo-nomad. Neo-Bedouin. Hobopoet.  4-Hour Workweek Wanderer. There are lots of ways of describing the modern version of living a free and nomadic lifestyle.

After a wonderful recharge on the island of Maui, Tomoe and I are nomads again!  In fact, we are finally making this “official”.  We’re giving up on the idea of having one “permanent” home base, and are instead opting to base ourselves in Osaka, Japan about half the year; and split the remaining time between international travel and the west coast of the USA.

Our travels have already begun.  Currently visiting family in Indiana, we head to San Francisco next week.  A week later we are on to Osaka, Japan.

I’ve been watching a lot of Anthony Bourdain recently, so I am very excited about exploring the food of Japan (and of Osaka and Kyoto in particular).  We even bought the Michelin guide to this region– I’m becoming a Japanese foodie 😉

Osaka will be the only place that we’ll have a “permanent” residence– in other words, the only place we’ll rent a place year-round.  We plan to get a small cheap place in central Osaka City and to keep things simple.

We won’t, however, be spending too much time in the apartment… with our usual SE Asia Winter Tour planned, plus many more travels on the horizon, including:  Hanoi, Vietnam (November), Sydney, Australia (December), Bali, Indonesia (December), Singapore (Dec/Jan), Thailand (January), Japan again (Feb),  Vietnam & Bali again for work (Mar), Reno, San Francisco & Hawaii (April), Spain (May), Japan again (June-July), Reno & SF & Hawaii (August-Oct)…..

I now it’s not for everyone, but I’m very excited about our travels.  For me, there is nothing like being on the road.  “Going from, towards…” as Thoreau put it, is the central process of living.  Nothing awakens my senses like traveling.  Nothing provokes growth like traveling.  Nothing meets my need for variety like traveling.

I’m blessed that Tomoe shares this love of travel… and blessed that she’s also happy to live a nomadic international lifestyle (that perfectly matches our international marriage).  I’m also fortunate that she manages to remain calm and centered in the midst of all this motion and change (one of us needs to be!).

Which just goes to prove, to me anyway, that Thoreau was correct on another point:

When you advance confidently towards your dreams, doors unimagined open for you.

[Not an exact quote, but this the spirit of it].  Too many worry about the consequences of living an unconventional life and truly living exactly the kind of life they most deeply enjoy.  Yet I have found that the details all seem to work out when you have faith and push forward towards your own vision and your own unique “genius”.

May you discover the same truth….

The 100 Thing Challenge

October 13, 2012 by  
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The 100 Thing Challenge- a book a just read with a great central idea (though the book itself is not great). This is a challenge to simplify your life by reducing your personal possessions to only 100 things.

With my mobile & nomadic lifestyle, I found the idea immediately appealing.

Over the past few years I’ve managed to accumulate quite a few things.  Gradually, when traveling, my suitcases have gotten bigger and fuller.

Lately, Thoreau’s words have echoed in my head:  the things you own end up owning you.

The word “Simplify” has been repeatedly in my mind.

And so I’ve decided to take the “100 Thing Challenge”, with modifications.

First modification:  changing it to the 150 Thing Challenge.  I’ve decided to include both my personal and our business possessions and reduce the combined total to 150 things or less.

I find this is a nice game for imposing discipline on the practice of simplifying.

Here are the “rules” I’m following for this game:

1. MY Possessions Only

I’m not imposing this challenge on my wife or on business partners. Therefore certain shared items will not count, for example:  bed & bedding, pot, table, 2 chairs.  I WILL count my own bowl, plate, and utensils in the list.

2. THINGS Only

This challenge applies only to physical things… not to “digital” possessions nor to abstract possessions (ie. money, ideas, copyrights, etc.).

3. Certain Sets Counted as One

Certain sets of things will be counted as one.  For example, a pair of sox will count as one possession, not two.  Likewise, an ipod with headphones and charging cables will count as one, not as three things.

4. Food Items Exempt

I’m not counting food, vitamins, or drinks… as these are consumable and I prefer not to fret about how many food items I have in my fridge at one time!

5. This is a Process

At the moment we have things stored on the Mainland USA.  I’ll be starting my simplification process without access to these things.  So for the next 9 months or so, the 150 Thing list will apply only to possessions I have access to in Japan and during travels (both counted).  Eventually I’ll go through our storage and apply the game rules to my personal stored possessions too.

As we hit the road, I’m looking forward to this game.  I find that travel, for example, is MUCH more enjoyable when done lightly and simply.  The more stuff I have to carry, the more stressed I get when flying and moving around.  Likewise, the airport security theater-of-the-absurd is a lot easier when traveling very light.

Initial Strategies

A. Digitize

Whenever possible I’ll be using the digital version of things… especially books (Kindle).  I now prefer to buy books on the kindle, which allows me to carry an entire library with only one physical thing- the kindle.  Likewise, I can carry pictures of family and friends in digital version on my laptop… counting as only one thing (and therefore much lighter and more mobile).

B. Rent Instead of Buying

Renting is much more mobile than buying.  This is the main reason I don’t own a house.  By renting I’m able to take up and go anytime I want.  Likewise, most of the places we go don’t require us to have a car… so when we do need a car it’s much easier (and much cheaper) to just rent one when needed.  This is also true of certain kinds of gear (ie. snowboarding, wetsuits, scuba gear etc.) that are bulky and only needed/used sporadically.

C. Wash Dishes Nightly

I only need one bowl, one plate, one spork, one cup and one knife personally.  I do quite nicely with this (or less) when backpacking, so no need for an entire kitchen set at home either.  This makes washing dishes very simple… just wash one set (per person) immediately after each meal!  For cooking, one good cook knife is enough for most pro chefs, so it’s certainly enough for me!

 

 

 

 

 

Mission

July 28, 2012 by  
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Once you have achieved financial independence, what happens next?

I’ll be honest.  During all those years dreaming about financial independence… freedom from work… I never thought much about what would happen AFTER I achieved it.

I suppose I had the usual culturally programmed ideas– retire to a tropical island and do nothing….

Turns out that is nice for a while.. and then it becomes quite boring!  I’ve lived as a traveling tourists.  I’ve semi-retired on a tropical island.  And I’ve had my share of lazy doing nothing.

It was fun.  It was energizing.

But once energized, I found myself itching to channel that energy into meaningful activity…. A Mission!

What most people deeply crave, I believe, is not laziness but purpose.  The reason we hate our jobs is that they have no meaning for us.  Most jobs are monotonous forms of wage-slavery.  You put in your time- doing work for someone else’s mission (which usually means you are working to make someone else rich).

Of course that is demoralizing.  Of course it is boring.  Of course we hate it (those of us who still have at least a shred of dignity and self-respect left).

Of course all we dream of is freedom.  That’s what (wage) slaves dream about.  They dream about escape.  For a slave, it’s hard to imagine what will come AFTER freedom… because freedom feels so far away.

I have found, however, that the real work begins after achieving freedom.  That’s when you really have to figure out what you want to do, what you want to contribute, what kind of life you want to live, who you want to spend time with, where you want to channel your energy.

After freedom, you usually have to seek out and CHOOSE your challenges. You realize that challenge and difficulty were never the problem.. that in fact they are vital and necessary and energizing– WHEN THEY ARE MEANINGFUL.

At this point in my life, a whole lot of my energy is directed towards deliberately seeking out difficult challenges that are interesting and/or meaningful.

My focus is on choosing and living a mission,…  rather than on a life of ease.

 

 

 

Do Nothing Do Everything

June 29, 2012 by  
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Tomorrow, my “VIP ” English students and I will discuss the topic of “letting go”.

As I mentally prepare for this topic, I realize that I have, perhaps, emphasized action and drive and motivation a bit too much with them…   and neglected the equally important practices of letting go and doing nothing.

I have been reading a fantastic book on Taoism titled “Do Nothing, Do Everything” by Qiguang Zhao… and it has gotten me to thinking about “letting go and doing nothing”

In fact, when I look at the path I have taken since finishing school and embarking on this “hobopoet” path to freedom… I realize that letting go was a very important part of that path.

I had to learn to let go of my fears of criticism and others’ opinions.  I had to let go of a lot of conventional beliefs about respectability, security, finances, career, etc.

I had to let go of a lot of guilt– about past mistakes, about pursuing my own path when others can’t/don’t, about creating a free and abundant life for myself (and family & friends).

I had to let go of a lot of worries– about failure, about possible problems, about actual problems,…

I had to learn to forgive… and let go of resentments about the past (forgiving both myself and others).

I had to let go of people who left my life,… by my choice or theirs or tragedy…

And the process never ends.

Currently we’re in the process of expanding our business again, and planning more adventures abroad, and helping family members build their own businesses to achieve freedom….  All of this has required me to let go of a lot of old identities and beliefs… and assume new roles that I’d never felt comfortable in before.

In fact, I think that letting go is a fundamental key to remaining passionate, alert, happy, and alive as you age.  I think a lot of people suffer not because they failed to achieve their goals,… but because they failed to let go of their disappointment.  They failed to learn, let go, and move forward to something even more engaging.

In the end, its the process of living fully that is important.

“The reason we act is for the bliss of the intention and the beauty of the process.  The intention is nobler than the result; the process is more beautiful than the goal.” -Qiguang Zhao

To which I can only say, “Amen!”

Summer

June 22, 2012 by  
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It’s the beginning of Summer.  For many that’s vacation time, but for us it’s our time of most intense work/play.

We’re currently on Maui and will be through the Summer.  I’ve learned to kite-board and am finally an independent rider.  It’s great fun!

During this summer we’ve started a number of very big projects for our businesses… and Tomoe is working with her sister to start a new business– providing Japanese lessons.  I suppose I’ll have to become a semi-serious students of Japanese… or at least make the attempt!!

A pleasant side-effect of being on Maui is that suddenly lots of people want to visit us!  We’ll have visitors throughout the summer.  Tomoe’s sister (and her baby) are here with us until July.  My best friends Kristin and Joe will be spending the month of July here (and possibly renting a place full-time on Maui).  My Mom is spending 2.5 weeks here starting in mid-July.  My Dad will come for a couple of weeks in August.  And Tomoe’s Mom and youngest sister may come in September!  A full house through the whole summer!

In Fall, we’re planning our usual trip to Asia.  This year we will spend a month in Japan, then another 1.5 months in SE Asia…  with probably visits to Nepal, Thailand, Singapore, and Bali.

We’ll be back in the States for Winter… and then are planning a trip to South America in the Spring.  In fact, we’re planning to take 2 big trips a year from now on… one in Fall and one in Spring!  What can I say, we love the nomadic life!

At some point we hope to visit Barcelona to have a convention with our European students (who are fabulous)… though no idea what the possible dates would be.

All of which is to say that life is very very good!  We are, to quote Will Ferrell, “living the dream”.

And each day I am more appreciative and grateful for that.

Developing Addiction

April 13, 2012 by  
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It seems I’m developing a new addiction:  kite-boarding!

Despite the fact that I have yet to actually ride for any length of time, I find that I am beginning to love kiting.  I love getting out in the water, love being active outdoors, and love the physical/mental challenge of it… including the challenge of staying calm while attached to a VERY powerful kite (more of a parachute really) while in the ocean.

I find that in the evenings I scan the wind forecasts to see if  I’ll be able to kite-board the next day!  And I am upset when the conditions are bad (as they were today).

Now if I can just get up and riding… I may develop a real addiction!!

Meanwhile, it’s great to be back in a place where I’m active and outdoors almost every day.  Big city life just isn’t for me (save for occasional visits)!

When I finally get up and running, I’ll have my wife shoot a short video and post it :)  Gotta celebrate those small successes!

Future Pacing

March 5, 2012 by  
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A vital requirement for getting healthier is the ability to “future pace”.

This is an NLP term.  It means to see, feel and experience the (desired) future as if it is real and happening right now.

I believe that the reason that people choose normalcy over health is that they really don’t know how AMAZINGLY GREAT health feels!  They can’t put themselves (psychologically) into that future state.

Instead, most people focus on the discomfort of the getting healthier– the inconvenience of eating differently, the social challenges of eating differently, the physical discomfort of exercising.  They focus on these because they are more immediate.

Compared to the ease of being normal, these challenges feel very unpleasant.

Future pacing can bypass this.  The more you can imagine FEELING AWESOME, the more motivated you are to achieve that result.  Health isn’t about looking great.. it’s about feeling great:  energized, happy, passionate, vibrant and alive!

Helping people imagine that… and then see it and feel it vividly… is the challenge of the coach.  The more we can do that, the more we will help people!

 

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