Hello Little Maverick,
Today is your birthday. You turn the big “two one.” That means you’re old enough to drink. Congratulations! But there are more important issues at hand that I want to discuss with you today.
First of all, you can say that your life begins now. Anything that happened before, like your teenage years don’t really count because you were busy wasting time hanging out with your friends and doing stupid shit. In a year, you’ll graduate from college and your real life begins. That’s when you have to join the real world and, you know, get a job and, you know, make a living.
Now, look, Little Maverick, the job market is tricky. Depending on your skills and luck, you may find a job quickly or you may not find one for a couple of years and would need to switch jobs into a more lucrative field.
Most of your classmates and peers will follow a traditional path. They will graduate university, get a job, meet a woman, buy an expensive wedding ring, get married and have kids. Years later, many will divorce, but many will also stay together.
All of that is the standard path, and that’s available to you. But I want you to think differently. You see, because you’re so young, you’re in a unique position to carve a different path—your own path.
But that’s not the point. The point is that you don’t necessarily need to take this path and do what everyone else is doing. You can do something completely different. Think of it as a canvas with nothing on it. A blank canvas. Take a brush and draw on it anyway you want.
So, what should you do? That’s a great question. Actually, anything you want. First things first: let’s talk location. You may have been born and raised in the richest country on the planet (USA), but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should remain there. This may or may not surprise you, but there are countries around the world where you can live for a fraction of the price and enjoy the same (or even better) amenities. They also have much nicer weather and very friendly people.
For instance, let’s talk about Thailand. You can fly to Chiang Mai, rent a spacious studio apartment for only $250 per month. Then rent your own motorbike for only $50 per month. Co-working is like $50-100 per month. Food is super cheap. That’s it. Compare that to a place like San Francisco, where for $2,000/month, the only thing you’d be able to rent would be a small closet.
Thailand is just one example; pretty much anywhere outside the West you can have a very nice lifestyle while figuring out what you should do.
The beauty of living abroad is that you’ll get to experience a world that few people do—a world outside America and learn how the rest of the world works. Again, this may or may not surprise you, but many developing countries are growing like mushrooms and China will eclipse US soon. Even the countries with smaller economies are rapidly expanding and growing. While America will always be your home, it doesn’t mean you should always stay there.
Live in a new country, learn the local language and expand your horizons. This will only help you out.
Now that we covered the geographical aspects of this (geoarbitrage), let’s talk about what you should do in Thailand, Bali, Argentina, Lithuania or some other low cost country. The answer is simple: anything. Whatever you want. This is your chance to network, learn everything about making money, how businesses work (e.g., figuring out your niche, unique value proposition, marketing, sales, monetization).
Now, I have good news and bad news. First, the bad news. The bad news is that this takes time. Building a business is like learning how to ride a bike (or that 125cc scooter you just rented), and you’ll definitely fall of the thing and fail many times. The good news is that there’s no rush: you have plenty of time to test stuff out, so it’s only a matter of time before things “click” and you succeed.
Remember, you’re only 21-years-old. And there’s really no difference between a 21-year-old who failed a bunch of businesses, a 24-year-old and a 29-year-old. It doesn’t really matter if you need to start completely over, at say, 30-years-old or even 33 years old. None of that matters.
You may not understand this now, but later in life things will get tougher. Perhaps you’ll have other commitments, a family of your own, aging parents, health issues, or other things. As you get older, you’ll realize that you’ll lose some of that edge you have when you’re young and fearless. Pulling all nighters would be out of question. You’ll also become less tolerant to risk. Even something that’s as mundane as a startup would seem foreign to you as you get older.
That means now is the time to start, to learn, to fuck up, fuck up some more, and then rinse and repeat. Banish words like stability and security from your lexicon. They shouldn’t mean anything to you. If you take my advice and live abroad, then saving something like $2,000-$3,000 should last you at least six months while you’re trying to figure things out and testing different business ideas.
Maybe you’ll end up building something great, or maybe you’ll decide that this whole location-independent lifestyle isn’t for you and you’d rather build a traditional career in a large company. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the latter, it’s just you need to know what you want and what you’re good at.
There’s a couple of other things to keep in mind. First of all, no one knows what they’re doing. Business is not a science. It’s more of an art. That means there’s no “certain” and “right” way of doing things. It’s all about experimenting and iterating. You must become comfortable with uncertainty.
Fortunately, it’ll get easier over time. After some experience, you’ll discover a certain pattern that’s applicable to all businesses whether you’re selling mattresses or SaaS (software as a service) products. That’s why it’s true what they say, “The first dollar is the hardest.” Making the first buck is hard, but going from $100 to $1000 and $10,000 is much, much easier.
Secondly, and most importantly, stop caring what others think. It doesn’t matter. Everyone has their personal opinion on pretty much anything and everything, and there’s not enough bandwidth and energy in the world to be concerned what everyone thinks about a particular topic. Like I said, it doesn’t matter. What matters is what you think and whether it’ll help the bottom line.
So, there you have it. Embrace risk. Embrace a more unconventional path. Experiment. If it works, iterate. If it doesn’t, do something else. Fail. Get up and try again. Do it now before you’re too old and less risk-averse.
Now, you have all the advice you need. If you need anything else from me, you know where to find me.
Best of luck to you,
Big “Bro” Maverick
After traveling around the world for the past ten years, I’ve gotten pretty good at picking up foreign languages very quickly. This Friday, I’m releasing my complete video course on language hacking. The goal isn’t fluency, but accelerated learning so that you can become conversational very quickly. Stay tuned for more information.
James Maverick used to work in a cubicle as a code monkey in Silicon Valley. Then, in 2007, he quit his job and a one-way ticket to Brazil. Ever since, he continued to travel, visiting over 85 countries and living in more than a dozen of them. He loved his location-independent lifestyle and has no plans to live in America.
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