Maverick Traveler

Location Independence, Geo Arbitrage, Individual Freedom

Life Is Easier And Simpler Outside The West

When it comes to a decision to alive abroad, it all comes down to whether you want to live in the West or live outside the West. It isn’t really about a certain country or city, it’s more about a particular lifestyle.

That has been my philosophy in a nutshell. And, for me, my whole living abroad experience has been about the “rawness” of living outside the West, away from its hyper-organized rules and regulations.

It all started in Brazil around ten years ago. I had just finished toiling away the best years of my life for a string of companies in Silicon Valley. I knew I needed a change. I knew I needed to do something. And I knew it had to be a drastic change, and not one where I would merely move to another city in the great US of A.

Brazil did the trick. While the country somewhat resembles a Western country: it’s populated by mostly European descedents who use iPhones and shop in huge shopping malls, Brazil is light years away from the tightly organized and boring feel you mostly find in places like the US and Western Europe.

After Brazil, I spent a bit of time in more organized—and boring—countries such as Spain and Denmark, before heading east to Lithuania and ultimately to Ukraine, a country where I was born and where I’ve been living on and off for the last four years.

I have a love and hate relationship with my former homeland. As an entitled Westerner who’s used to things like smiles and handholding—with a bit of humanity thrown in—it’s a place that at times frustrates me. But as someone who hates all the fakeness and bullshit that comes with the former, living in some ex-Soviet shithole of Ukraine has been somewhat refreshing.

Hit the ground running

One of the biggest differences between a comfortable Western country like US and a non-Western country like Ukraine is that it’s a lot easier to get settled in the latter than the former. 

Everything is simple without the run around. Once I landed and passed passport control, it took me all but ten minutes to secure a 4G sim card. No long term contracts or hidden fees.

Another ten minutes to rent an apartment in the center, in my favorite neighborhood. Again, no long-term contracts or hidden fees.

After settling into my new pad, I walked five minutes into my favorite gym. I had two choices for membership: pay for a visit or signup for a month. Knowing that I will be staying in this city for a while, I paid the monthly fee ($10) and walked into the lock room.

This applies to everything, all kinds of services, whether you’re looking to secure some sort of accommodation or join a great Brazilian Jiu Jitsu academy.

No long term commitments, no hidden fees, no exorbitant cancellation charges that American companies (and other Western countries) have gotten so good at extracting out of you.

Landed at JFK and need a cellular plan? That would be $75/mo from AT&T Wireless in Terminal 7, thank you very much. Fuck that.

Tired of paying $100/mo for cable you never watch and want to cancel it and just have wifi service from the same provider? Good luck with that, because your friendly cable company won’t just let you take the $100, so you can pay $10 for wifi; you’ll have to pay a bit more for wifi instead.

Want to join a gym? That would be at least $25/mo and good luck cancelling it because they’ll make your life a living hell once you decide to stop giving them money.

Same goes for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training, a sport I’ve been practicing for around ten years all over the world. There’s an unspoken custom of the free visit to be free that’s honored by every academy I’ve been too. But only in America will you be “reminded” to signup for weeks on end a week after checking out a new school.

My family lives in New York, but I can’t picture myself living there even if someone put a gun to my head. Don’t get me wrong; I love the Big Apple. But I’d rather swallow nails then rent a long-term apartment there. Like, paying 3x monthly rent as a deposit, making sure the contract doesn’t have any hidden clauses that would wipe out my savings when I decide to move out and other nuisances. 

I can keep going, but you get the point. America is a business. Its religion is money. Great for making money, not so great when you’re the one others are hellbent making money from.

Now, of course, this isn’t applicable to every city in USA and heck, it isn’t even applicable to every country in the West, but it has been my unambiguous experience that no matter where you are, from Bali to Thailand, from Mexico City to Ukraine, from Rio de Janeiro to Lithuania, things are just simple and easy compared to its Western counterparts.

I remembered how difficult it was to rent an apartment in Copenhagen, Denmark. I couldn’t just rent any apartment; I had to sign a brand new lease in order to be “registered” there. (If you’re not registered with the city, you don’t exist.), but then I went to Lithuania and rented a beautiful apartment right in the middle of the old town within a week. No fuss. No muss. No problems.

Few places are easier to live than Lithuania. During my sojourn there, I enjoyed one of the fastest wifi connections in the world—a whopping 50MBit. The cost? $10/month. (That was three years ago, I think you can get 100mbit for like $15/mo now).

Once again, no hidden fees, no contracts, nothing at all to make your life even more miserable.

What makes the West “The West”? For one, it’s the standard of living. You get paid more cash in Las Vegas than in Chiang Mai and you get access to more shit.

Second, the government is stronger and more present. You’ll have a higher chance of getting a speeding ticket in northern California than in northern Thailand.

When the government is stronger, things are more organized. Taxes are collected. Roads are paved. Trains run on time. And more money is taken out of your pocket should you break some silly contract with your telco or your landlord. Lawyers gotta eat, too.

Have your cake and eat it, too

Now, of course, it’s not all peaches and cream in Brazil or Ukraine. When our refrigerator broke in Rio de Janeiro, my roommates and I waited four days for a repairman to fix it. When you have a disagreement with your landlord in Odessa, Ukraine, it’s you against your landlord; there’s no “small claims” court to hear your case.

Piss someone off in New York City and they may send you a “cease and desist” letter. Piss someone off in Kiev, Ukraine and they may send a burly man to your apartment or office.

In the West, everything is official. Everything needs to be done “by the book.” But outside the West, everything is personal. Relationships are established between people, not corporations. It’s not some nameless court who’ll hear your case; it’s Ivan, your next door neighbor.

In many ways, living in Ukraine still has this “rawness” to it that America had during the first part of the 20th century. Granted, I’m not in the capital—which is rapidly becoming more and more “developed”—but where I am, a man can simply live and be free, and if he doesn’t bother anyone, no one is going to bother him.

I experienced something similar in rural areas in places like Thailand, Indonesia and Colombia.

When I was living in Chiang Mai few years ago, I rented a car and spent a week driving around Northern Thailand. I didn’t break any speed limits, but I throughout the entire week, I didn’t see a single patrol car anywhere.

As someone who grew up in Brooklyn, it was refreshing not seeing a single police car for miles and miles, something that you will never see in New York City. I liked it. After all, I’m an adult, and I’ll take full responsibility for my driving.

But that’s not to say you can’t have your cake and eat it too. Cities like Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Tbilisi, Georgia are rapidly becoming go-to cities for all kinds of expats, especially those who’re tired of the West, with all of its rules and regulations, but also those who still seek the comfort and predictability of their former homelands.

Life Is What Happens When You’re Making Other Plans

Dateline: Eastern Ukraine

I’ve been on a bit of an unofficial hiatus lately. While I’ve been judiciously making premium content (there are now 33 podcast episodes spanning a diverse range of topics such as travel, location-independence, ecommerce, marketing and mindset and new ones are added weekly; you must be a member to see the play widget), I haven’t really had the time to write long articles.

Most likely that’s because many of my thoughts and ideas are a natural fit for a podcast episode. But also because it’s summer here in Eastern Europe and, along with my other business obligations that are growing day by day, working through one of my typical long-form posts is proving harder than it seems.

I should have some new content up soon, but in the meantime you should follow me over on: Instagram (most active), Twitter and Facebook where I share various ideas and/or travel photos.

An Update From Sunny And Warm Eastern Europe

I recently arrived in Eastern Europe after a long layover in Qatar (a smaller version of Dubai) and now writing this from Kiev, Ukraine.

Kiev, Ukraine is one my favorite cities in the world — especially in the summer and not during the winter when it’s -20C out.

I expect to be in or about Eastern Europe for the rest of the summer. Once the fall rolls around, it’s anyone’s guess.

Moreover, it’s been an interesting year so far. Earlier this year, I began working on a new project, one that I see real potential in the months and years ahead.

In any case, I wanted to use this opportunity to give you a quick update as to what I’m working on right now.

Daily Email Newsletter

I started a daily newsletter where I discuss business, hustle, travel, location-independence, mindset and similar topics.

For the past couple of weeks or so, I’ve been sending an email almost every day.

So far, the response has been really great, so I will continue to do this in the foreseeable future.

There are several themes encompassing these emails: business, hustle, travel, location-independence. The unifying theme is freedom. The objective is to help you become a free man.

Here are some recent emails:

  • The happiest man in Thailand
  • Is college worth it?
  • $2K or $2 Billion?
  • Sell 1, Sell 10,000

Whereas I consider a blog as a more formal style of communication, and a typical blog post usually takes me 2-3 days (if not weeks) to craft, an email lets me share my thoughts much quicker and easier in a more informal fashion (but still in a way that gets my point across). I view it as a friendly conversation with my readers.

Each email is relatively short (500-800 words), but is packed with value. It references my experience and drives a point that you hopefully can apply to your own life as well.

If you’re a frequent reader and love this blog, but still somehow haven’t subscribed, you can do so here:

The Maverick Insider’s Club

A few weeks ago, I launched The Maverick Insider’s Club (IC). Some have coined it Maverick Traveler on steroids. Essentially, it’s for those who want more.

It comes with lots of perks including a 2-3X  weekly podcast, special content, regular Q&A’s and AMA’s. It will also include a mini-course that I’m finishing up right now.

In the weekly podcast, I discuss lots of things that only get a passing mention elsewhere. For instance, in one of the episodes I discussed exactly what I’ve been working on since January (ie, that I was too busy to blog), my lessons and experience as well as my successes and failures. It’s an episode where I shared everything and held back nothing.

In another episode, I explained how to validate an idea and take it to market.

In yet another episode, I talked about my earlier business failures and reflected on the lessons learned.

Unlike my previous (free) podcasts that were produced on a random schedule (or not at all), this one will be produced every single week with exciting, interesting and actionable content.

I won’t try to sell the membership too hard, but let’s just say that if you enjoy Maverick Traveler, you’re going to love The Maverick Insider’s Club. Join here.

Blog

I have always viewed the blog as my main outlet for deep thinking and reflection.  I take my writing seriously and have typically spent anywhere from few days to few weeks crafting a blog post. Nowadays, most of these ideas are sent to my readers in an email form.

Nevertheless, I will still write about interesting and thought-provoking topics. So, definitely expect to see more amazing content in the future.

Or maybe I will make my blog articles less “formal” so that I can write more often.

I’m open to suggestions. So, if you have any ideas, let me know in the comments below.

Next steps

For the time being, you should subscribe to my daily newsletter here:

If you’re ready to go to the next level, you can also join the Maverick Insider’s Club and get even more amazing content including my coveted “Boots on the ground” Maverick Radio podcast.

The Maverick Insider’s Club: Supercharge And Take Your Life To The Next Level

At the beginning of this year, I was at a serious crossroads. I had just started a new business in a very different area as compared to my previous experience. The business model looked very promising, and, so, as often is the case with all my projects, I jumped into it 100%.

Since I suck at multitasking, this meant that most of my time was devoted to the new business venture. That left me with little time for this blog; I simply had no bandwidth to create several high-quality articles per week that you’re used to and expect of me.

About a month into the new venture, I realized that something was missing. It was as though a part of my soul was ripped out. I was itching to return back to writing and sharing my thoughts. In many ways, Maverick Traveler is my life and will continue to be so.

At that point, I realized that if I wanted to do something right, I would need to do it 100% or not do it all.

So, I sent out a survey and asked you, my readers, what you wanted out of the site. After hundreds of responses, the message was clear: make more content and do it more consistently. More articles, more podcasts, more videos. And do it more consistently.

But it wasn’t the survey that made this abundantly clear. Many of you have been telling me this for ages. You wanted to me write more content, to do it consistently, to keep you in the loop as to what I’m thinking and what I’m working on.

Challenge accepted.

Today, I’m super excited to announce The Maverick Insider’s Club. The Maverick Insider’s Club will be a special area of Maverick Traveler filled with amazing content for those who’re ready to go to the next level.

Whether it’s specific and actionable steps to building a business from scratch, living abroad, learning a foreign language or anything else, you will find it at the Maverick Insider’s Club. Think of it as Maverick Traveler on steroids.

The Maverick Insider’s Club will have tons of perks. It will have a 2-3X weekly podcast on the topics you care about, special member-only newsletter, various guides and how-to’s, AMA’s, meetups around the world, and lots of other perks. Essentially, it will be a treasure-trove of great content and information that’s much deeper and actionable than I’ve ever done before.

The Maverick Insider’s Club is something I wanted to do for a long time (I started thinking about the concept back in 2014-5). It represents absolutely the best in terms of what this site stands for. After all, your time is valuable and you deserve nothing less.

Click here to learn more and join the Maverick Insider’s Club

Hope to see you inside!

90 Days Of Sweat, Grind and Hustle In New Hustle City

New York is shit. New York is paradise. New York is a place I know all too well; I spent by far the biggest chunk of my life in this city (San Francisco/Bay Area is second), and my feelings about this city have changed throughout the years. There was a time when I absolutely loved everything about it, to the point of even being a proud New Yorker. Then, I began to hate it with a passion. Now, I’m kind of “meh” about the city. I don’t see myself living here anytime soon, but no matter how you slice it, it’s a city you just can’t ignore.

I’ve been all over the world, but if there’s a city where I feel the most productive, New York would win that contest by a landslide. I always get a ton of work done whenever I’m back — whether it’s for a quick trip to see the family and play with my sister’s baby daughter or a longer sojourn to clinch some deals and embark on new projects.

I spent most of last year in Ukraine. Ukraine is not an easy place to live in; the winters are rough and depressing, a poignant reflection of the stoic people and the Soviet-era architecture. But once the summer rolls around, the country transforms into one of the happiest in the world. Case in point: I rented a great apartment smack in the middle of Kiev. I was enjoying myself so much that I did absolutely zero work during the summer; walking around the parks and coffee shops was so much more rewarding and nourishing to the soul.

And why should I have worked? I didn’t see anyone else working either.

New York is different. There’s a certain air in the city. This air permeates everything in sight. People behave differently. They’re running everywhere and talking about nothing but money and work. That feeling is hustle. New York is all about hustle. In fact, I can’t think of another city on this planet that’s so entrenched with hustle. Whereas socialistic Western Europe has 6-week vacations and two-hour lunch breaks and Eastern Europeans are still trying to understand capitalism (yes, you have to work. No, Lenin isn’t going to return from his grave and pay your bills), America and New York specifically live and breathe money. The word hustle must’ve been invented by a New Yorker.

Whenever I’m in New York, I feel invincible. I feel like I can create any business, scale the fuck out of it and make a ton of money. And that has less to do with my ability and experience (that plays a role too) but is more rooted in psychology. In New York, I feel encouraged to hustle. I feel encouraged to create and sell stuff. I don’t feel ashamed of asking someone for money for a product or service that people can’t even touch, smell or taste. In the most of the world, people would roll their eyes at digital entrepreneurs like me who create products/services out of thin air and sell them. But not here. In New York, such products are the foundation of its massive economy.

In New York, you will be hustled if you don’t hustle first. Seemingly everyone is out to get a piece of you. There is the police that give out tickets for seemingly small infractions, insurance companies that deny claims unless you threaten to sue, supermarkets that promise discounts only to casually “forget” them during checkout and lots of other day-to-day hassles to keep you on your toes.

I don’t blame any of them. That’s just the nature of the beast. Either you hustle or you get hustled.

Another thing I realized is that you can’t really fail in New York. No, I don’t mean that you can’t fail if you’re originally from New York. I’m talking about being physically in New York. If you’re in New York, you can’t fail.

The world has gotten flatter, but you have a massive advantage building a business if you’re in a rich country. If you’re from Ukraine, Bangladesh or East Timor, you’ll be automatically looked up with suspicion when using the services that Americans take for granted. Good luck getting approved for Stripe, a popular credit card processor, building your store on the super popular Shopify (non-Americans can’t use their convenient payment processor), and countless other services where you’ll be treated as a second-class citizen and must jump through hoops to have a chance.

A few years ago, I was having a great time in Ukraine. That is until I tried opening a new bank account. It was my second bank account at the bank. The bank already had me as a customer. They knew who I was. Nevertheless, they refused. Told me I needed to appear in person with my passport — in New York City. Nobody trusts Ukraine. Can you really blame them? I’m sure the same thing would’ve happened if I was in Bali, India or Nepal.

But if you’re in New York, you’re fine. You’re protected. You’re taken care of. You’re as legit as they come. I mean who the heck is going to give you hard time if they see that you’re in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens or Bronx (and even Staten Island). That your phone has the 212, 347 (mine), 646 or 917 (old school) area code. If you’re in New York, you mean business. You don’t take any prisoners. You’re out to make money and make everyone around you filthy rich.

When in Rome, do as Romans do. When in New York, do as New Yorkers do: hustle. And who am I to disagree? What else am I supposed to do? Sightsee? Soul-search? Not in New York.

So, I did the only thing I knew. I registered a new business. Opened new bank accounts. Got several new company credit cards. Set up new business accounts on Stripe and PayPal. Registered with Facebook and Google as an advertiser. Opened up accounts at a bunch of marketing and remarketing sites. Created a couple of new sites. Some stores, too. E-commerce, leads, and digital products. The whole fucking enchilada. Began running ads to them. A few days later, thousands and thousands of people saw ads for my products and services. I felt like I conquered a good chunk of the globe from the comfort of my living room couch.

Money started flowing in. Dollars. Motherfucking dollars. Into my US bank account. Denominated in dollars. No transaction fees. No foreign exchange fees. No transfer delays. Dollars are motherfucking dollars. Not some worthless third world piece of paper masquerading as a national currency that loses most of its value by the time you spend it. I’m an American working with American companies. I’m in motherfucking New York.

After 90 days of non-ending hustle where I learned an array of new skills from complete scratch and felt like I entered a completely new world, but also where I barely stepped outside, I’m burned out. I’m ready for a break. I’m ready for some soul-searching and getting lost somewhere. I’m ready for a place where people are lazier, things are slower and the word hustle doesn’t exist. It’s the beginning of summer in Eastern Europe. Hope that place doesn’t make me too soft.

One Man’s Escape From American Corporate Bullshit For A Happy And Meaningful Life in Eastern Europe

There’s nothing I enjoy more than to connect with other like-minded people. Those who were never content with the status quo, the corporate drone bullshit, the whole “work until you retire at 65” crap that our society happily shoves down our throats from the time when we’re born until, well…, it’s too late to do anything. I admire people who’ve managed to carve out their own path in life and do something meaningful.

Meet Kyle, a young former-corporate wage slave who escaped his comfortable but super boring life in California for a much more meaningful and satisfied life in Eastern Europe.

To be honest, this is easily one of my favorite podcasts that I’ve ever done. In this podcast, we covered pretty much everything: location-independence, travel, favorite countries and cities, business, dropshipping/ecommerce, building products and services and much more.

There’s definitely something for everyone.

Here are some of the things we discussed:

  • (1:24) Kyle’s background, where he’s from and where he’s now.
  • (3:30) Why Kyle moved to Czech Republic over other countries
  • (5:05) Pros and Cons of living in Eastern Europe over West
  • (6:13) The lack of “hustle mentality” in Eastern Europe; The New York City hustle mentality
  • (10:13) The challenges of working hard in during the Eastern Europe summers
  • (11:00) My friend’s weird 5-12 work schedule
  • (12:05) Kyle’s typical day routine
  • (13:33) The “truth” about the Location-Independent lifestyle
  • (14:30) Kyle’s future travel plans
  • (16:05) The challenges of traveling and working at the same time
  • (19:09) How I booked location accommodation in Bali and Thailand
  • (19:45) The cost of renting an apartment in Kiev, Ukraine
  • (21:48) Kiev vs. Odessa vs. Other Ukrainian cities
  • (24:00) Why Kyle is not interested in moving around too much
  • (25:00) The importance of building solid relationships vs. random friends here and there
  • (27:40) Comfortable salary for living in Eastern Europe
  • (28:00) $2-3/mo vs. $1M vs. $1B
  • (29:10) The importance of time – enjoying your life during your 20s, 30s, and beyond
  • (29:45) Going to Brazil at 29 vs. Going to Brazil at 55. Does it matter?
  • (30:22) Club in Rio de Janeiro where you’ll have fun whether you’re 25 years old or 55 years old.
  • (37:15) The myth of “overnight success.”
  • (40:44) The challenges of writing a book
  • (42:35) How to validate an idea
  • (44:45) The power of building a strong brand
  • (47:00) What’s better: blog or twitter?
  • (48:30) Ecommerce/Dropshipping
  • (52:25) Making free money with drop shipping (Credit card points)
  • (58:40) The biggest business epiphanies/failures
  • (1:03:00) The parallels of business / personal relationships
  • (1:04:00) How to start from nothing
  • (1:07:10) Starting a business on the side vs. Quitting your job and terrorizing yourself
  • (1:08:45) Final thoughts

For more information about Kyle and what he’s doing now, visit Kyle’s website.

Enjoy!

How To Build Your Own Tribe

Regardless if you want to build a business, start a blog, create a video channel or even build a popular podcast, your goal is one and the same: build a tribe. Anything that’s successful, whether it’s a small ecommerce store or a huge multi-billion dollar brand is successful because of an army of passionate fans that support it.

In this new podcast episode, I discuss how I built a tribe around this very site and how you can apply these lessons when building a tribe in whatever area you choose.

To Succeed At Anything, You Must Treat It As A Job

Entrepreneurship is inherently tough. It’s full of ups and downs. It will tax every little ounce of your mind and body. One day you’re making a killing and planning to buy that Ferrari (or that Villa). The next day, you’re questioning the meaning of life and searching for your resume to send out to recruiters. I’ve been in this game for well over a decade and even with all my experience, knowledge and wisdom, I still have sleepless nights when a product launch doesn’t go as expected.

The last few months have been especially challenging. It all started out with a simple idea: create a new product and sell more for it. That jumpstarted the process of building a new business in an entirely different market with an entirely new business model, very different than the business models that I’m used to. The biggest difference is that, unlike my previous businesses where I sold or promoted digital products or helped others build their online brands, this is an actual physical product that gets manufactured in China and exported worldwide.

Fortunately, one thing that made it easier was joining a private mastermind. Actually, “mastermind” is a fancy word for what is essentially a group of guys who I’ve known for many years. Like myself, they’ve been hustling online for more than a decade and bring massive value and experience in different areas.

There’s the e-commerce guy who’s been selling products online since 2000 and knows what works and what doesn’t. There’s the copyrighting guy who’s an expert at choosing just the right words to emotionally connect with you and get you to buy the product. There’s also the fulfillment guy who knows how to find amazing and trustworthy suppliers for just about any product.

But my favorite guy is probably Mark, the marketing guru. Mark has been building and running marketing campaigns for well over ten years on all kinds of networks for all kinds of products and services, targeting all kinds of people from all over the world. Marketing is his life. There’s nothing else he’d rather do than launch and test campaigns all day long.

Mark’s mindset

Mark seems to care about marketing and only marketing. In our private slack channel, we like to shoot the shit and talk about all kinds of topics such as current events, politics and best countries to visit. Everyone seems to have an opinion, but the only person who doesn’t contribute is Mark. The only time you see his words appear in the chat window is when the topics turn back on things like campaign targeting, split testing and performance.

As someone who’s been marketing for many years, I’m certainly not a rookie. I know how to quickly and efficiently find customers for a product or service. I know how to connect and reach people, the exact people that are desperate to be reached.

Nevertheless, marketing is inherently tough and unpredictable. It’s one of those disciplines where success is contingent on constant testing. It requires you to be comfortable with uncertainty. In a way, it’s the complete opposite of sanity and comfort. Imagine living your life where you’re not sure what tomorrow will bring. That’s marketing in a nutshell. When it comes to marketing new products, the only thing that’s predictable is unpredictability. It’s certainly not for the faint of heart.

Mark has a very different approach. He approaches marketing in a very calm and collected, even a methodical way. He views himself as an expert and marketing as his job. He doesn’t experience emotional rollercoasters when campaigns flop and thousands of dollars go down the drain. He simply follows a system that he has built over the years. And his system just works.

Mark has turned something that I consider as very unpredictable and erratic into something that’s very stable and predictable. As far as I’m concerned, that’s an incredible feat. And the reason he was able to do is that is because he views this particular discipline (marketing) as his job. Marketing is his profession. He’s a professional.

Seeing Mark work his magic allowed me to notice something interesting. Most people approach a new challenge like building a business, marketing or anything else from a very casual perspective. Almost like a hobby. They will “try it.” They will “give it a shot.” And, if it doesn’t work out, that’s not a problem because they have their day job to fall back to. You know, a real job.

The problem with this approach is that it lacks seriousness. Nobody is taking responsibility and putting a stake in the ground and treating it as a profession. Naturally, when things get tough — and they always will — people simply bail and quit. And why shouldn’t they? They never viewed their work as serious anyway. It was only a “hobby” after all.

I’ll talk about a profession I’m intimately familiar with: software development. Unlike marketing, software development is a science. The zeroes and ones that represent the instructions to the computer will always appear in the exact same way that you want. There’s no randomness and no need to test multiple things until you get something that’s working. Learn it once and you know it forever.

In my previous life, I was a software engineer. I worked for all kinds of companies in Silicon Valley, big and small, doing nothing but making computers do amazing things and making lots of people very rich in the process.

The way of the professional

I was a professional software engineer. It wasn’t my hobby. People hired me and I performed work in exchange. The work that I needed to perform needed to be solid or I wouldn’t get paid. It needed to work. Fortunately, I was fairly good at my job. I had no choice; it was my job.

But even something that I view as a very predictable science that can be learned, implemented and put into practice is viewed as something that’s very confusing to many others.

Every year, countless people try to learn programming. They enroll in all kinds of bootcamps, take all kinds of classes and courses but ultimately drop out of this journey more confused than when they started. To them, programming and software development is a dark art, kind of like marketing was to me when I was starting out. They’re not professionals. They’re just hobbyists that are ready to quit at the first sign of trouble.

The biggest difference between professionals and everyone else (e.g., hobbyists and amateurs) is that a professional doesn’t feel fantastic when things are going good and questions the meaning of life when things are shitty. A professional doesn’t experience emotional highs and lows (at least wild swings). They don’t question the meaning of life when shit doesn’t work out. They simply build something and put it out there.

As a professional software engineer, I don’t start thinking of an exit plan as soon as I realize my code has massive bugs and it’s not working the way it should. I don’t give up the moment I realize I need to write a new app using API (application programming interfaces) that I haven’t used before.

As a professional, I always make it work. I’m confident that it will work. There’s simply no other way.

On the other hand, if you’re a hobbyist who’s “dabbling” in a skill in your spare time, you don’t have the luxury of having this mindset. After all, it’s just a hobby that you do because you enjoy it—as long as it doesn’t give you any problems or trouble. And it ceases to be a hobby as soon as things get tough and you’re forced to work a bit harder out of your comfort zone.

When you get a job at a company, they’re hiring you because you’re a professional with varying levels of experience. They’re hiring you because you know what you’re doing and when you’re given a task, you will complete that task in the allotted time. They’re not hiring you because you can sorta, kinda, do that work on a good day if all the stars are aligned.

In fact, any successful entrepreneur is highly skilled in different areas that he or she can easily hold senior positions in a large company. For instance, someone who’s a marketing wiz and making a killing selling eCommerce products can easily be a “head of marketing” at a startup or a bigger company.

A professional will have the same high-quality output whether they’re living in Chiang Mai and building their business from a coffee shop or working in Silicon Valley for a promising startup.

That’s precisely why guys like Mark succeed in an area where so many fail. He succeeds because he views what he’s doing as a job above else. He views it as his profession. He knows that as a marketing guy, he needs to continue to endlessly test different variables. He knows that everything is a numbers game and that he’ll eventually find the audience he’s looking for. And he definitely wouldn’t quit if one or two campaigns ended up failing. That’s all part of his job. This is what he does. There’s no “plan B” for him if he fails.

Professionals view the world and their place in it differently. A professional programmer doesn’t quit when he realizes his code has massive bugs and nothing works. A professional marketer doesn’t quit when his campaigns flop, costing him tons of money. A professional salesman doesn’t quit when he can’t close a few deals with prospective customers. A professional videographer doesn’t quit when he realizes the footage he shot doesn’t fit the script and needs to be reshot again.

To be successful, you must treat whatever you’re doing as a profession. It has to feel like a job. It has to be a job. Because if you treat something that’s so crucial to your success as a mere hobby, then that’s exactly what you’ll get: hobby-like, inconsistent results.

How To Surround Yourself With Winners and Hustlers

I believe it’s important to know your strengths as well as weaknesses; in fact, the latter is probably more important than the former. 

While I have many strengths, one of my major weaknesses is that I’m just a terrible multitasker. I can’t work on more than two projects simultaneously. I would start one project, work on it for a bit, then, once I found something else, I would start working on a new project and abandon the previous one.

There are tons of projects I started, worked on, but, unfortunately, never fully built on because of something else that came along.

Case in point: for the past couple of weeks, I’ve been working on several important projects. And because I’m super obsessed with seeing results and instantly develop tunnel vision, I don’t have the bandwidth to write long, well thought-out posts that you’re used to.

But this site is my life and you—the reader—is like family to me. So, to fix the problem, I decided to create a community. It’s going to be a place where you can connect with one another and, hopefully, exchange lots of value.

In fact, I went further and created two communities instead of just one.

The first is called “Maverick Mindset.” It’s going to be open to everyone. The discussion will be centered on just about anything that’s on your mind: location-independence, hustle, life, dating, whatever else.

Click here to join the new Maverick Mindset community.

The second community has already been launched. It’s focused on one thing and one thing only: hustle and business. In many ways, it’s our mastermind where we strategize about different approaches and strategies to building different businesses. It’s composed of various entrepreneurs with various business experience under their belt.

It’s nice to connect with readers and tackle various problems associated with the confusing world of entrepreneurship. Always a pleasure to be surrounded with other hustlers and go-getters.

Unlike the first community, the second community is open only to students of my programs and courses (e.g., Maverick Bootcamp, Blueprint or Mentorship). If that’s you, you should have received an invitation already. If not, shoot me an email to james at [this site] and I’ll set you up. (I will also be soon launching a new, more advanced and comprehensive course that will include the best material and concepts from all courses plus mentorship).

I plan to actively participate in both communities. It will be a way to connect with all of you while I’m busy slaying various off-site commitments and taking a temporary break from posting.

Hope to see you inside!

How To Go From Zero To Infinity

One of the most interesting books I’ve read so far this year was Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel. Peter Thiel is one of the founders of PayPal and is now a multi-billionaire who runs his own investment bank.

After cofounding PayPal and then selling it for billions to eBay, Peter is on a mission to find and invest in companies that have the potential to become really big. He also wants to understand what forces are responsible for the growth of some companies from nothing to billions of dollars.

He asks two questions throughout the book: why do some companies create value and grow so rapidly? And how do you build more of these kinds of companies?

Many of us take for granted companies like PayPal, eBay or Airbnb. But even with all their faults, they became mega-successful because they allowed us to do things that we couldn’t do before.

Before eBay, it wasn’t easy to sell something you owned to someone who wanted to buy it at a discount. Before PayPal, sending money to another person was a tedious and confusing task. Today, selling anything to anyone and securely collecting money for it is done with a few mouse clicks.

eBay, PayPal, Airbnb and similar companies became “overnight” successes for one reason only: they built a marketplace that enabled many people around the world to connect and transact things in ways they couldn’t do before.

When a company transforms from essentially nothing to a service that people can’t imagine living without, that company goes from “zero to one.”

One day, booking an apartment in Moscow from your San Francisco house is a tedious and confusing process, the next day it’s as easy as ordering from your local Domino’s Pizza.

One day, you’re dreading a trip to Bogota, Colombia because you’re afraid of taking a random taxi from the airport to your hotel. The next day, hailing a taxi in a foreign country is as simple and secure as as ordering a Big Mac at your local McDonalds.

I remember how nervous I was ten years ago when I was boarding a flight from Mexico City to Bogota, Colombia. Back then Colombia wasn’t a country many people visited so I was nervous about the visit. But the most frightful thing was needing to trust some random taxi driver to deliver me safely to my hostel.

That’s no longer an issue thanks to companies like Uber. Taking a taxi in Bogota, Bali or Kuala Lumpur is as simple as taking one to your home in San Francisco or New York.

As a result of commoditizing taxi services around the world and instilling trust with it, Uber grew from zero to one of the most valuable private companies in the world.

Going from zero to infinity

This “zero to one” is one of the most powerful forces in the universe. It’s also not just applicable to a few lucky startups. It automatically comes into play the moment you begin interacting with lots and lots of people, like selling a products or services to a large market.

This law is also one of the biggest—if not the biggest—perks of being an entrepreneur and doesn’t apply when you’re creating fixed value for someone else as an employee.

As many of you know, I was a software developer in my former life. I spent around a decade in Silicon Valley, where I worked for all kinds of companies, big and small.

My daily routine was to come into an office, sit at my desk and punch different symbols on the keyboard. These instructions were later interpreted and processed by the computer to hopefully do meaningful things.

Sure, I built all kinds of apps that were used by millions of people. It felt great being able to affect so many people’s lives.

The problem was that I wasn’t compensated in direct proportion to how many people were using this software. I was only compensated by the number of hours I was working — and not by how many people were getting value from my work.

I was not going from “zero to one.” I was simply stuck at “zero.”

All of that changed when began building businesses. While I enjoy wearing lots of hats, one of the most enjoyable parts of my work is marketing. I run different campaigns on a daily basis. These campaigns promote different products and services. Each campaign also has a clearly defined objective.

Although each campaign has lots of different numbers associated with it, I only pay attention to one number in one column. It’s the only number that signifies whether this particular campaign will make me rich or will bankrupt me if I don’t turn it off quickly.

It’s a number that has a direct influence on my happiness and well-being. If the number is high, it means I’m making good money and life is good. If the number is low, it means I’m doing something wrong and would need to fix it before I go completely broke.

It’s a number that forced me to become a numbers guy for the first time in my life—and I’ve always hated and sucked at math. It’s the first number that I look at in the morning and the last number that I check before going to sleep.

It’s the only number that really matters because it’s the only number that signifies if I’m on track to go from zero to one.

That number is called ROI, which stands for return on investment.

ROI is everything. If it’s reasonably high, it means I’m making more money than I’m putting in. If it’s low, it means I’m making less money than I’m putting in. It’s a simple process of money in, money out.

Life is a series of campaigns

In many ways, this little number is above and beyond money or campaigns or marketing. At the core, it’s a representation of value.

First, it immediately tells you the relationship between the value you’re putting in and the value you’re getting back in return. It quantifies your time and energy.

Second—and this is very important—it’s a number that can be controlled and optimized. It’s not a variable that’s edged in stone; you can tweak and improve it. Imagine having the ability to fine-tune your own engine for maximum performance. If you properly tune it, you will create wealth and enjoy a much higher standard of living. If you neglect it, then all of your time and energy on that particular endeavor is wasted.

Not everyone has access to this powerful number. In fact, most people don’t even know it exists. For the 99% of the people on this planet who have regular 9-5 jobs, there’s a 1:1 relationship between their work and compensation, between their input and output. Their ROI is fixed and will remain fixed for the rest of their lives.

A typical person goes to work, does a bunch of tasks and then goes home. In exchange, they receive a compensation in the form of money. This compensation is static; it’s the same regardless if they shuffled a bunch of papers for three hours or built a product or service that improved the lives of billions of people.

When I worked at a software company, I worked for eight hours (usually more during product launches) and received a fix compensation. It didn’t matter that the software I built was used by hundreds of people in one city or millions of people in over 100+ countries, the salary that was deposited into my bank account was always the same.

That’s because a job has a static return on your time invested: hours worked = money made.

On the other hand, a business has variable returns on your time invested: hours worked = money made x variable (ROI).

A jobs have a direct relationship with value. A business have an exponential relationship with value.

Risk and reward

Entrepreneurship is not without risk. Most businesses fail. That’s a fact of life. It happens because the world is always busy optimizing for maximum returns.

Can you imagine living in a world if everything everyone did automatically resulted in exponential growth? If you started selling a product tomorrow and immediately began making $100 for every $10 spent? If you started an online business and made $100,000 in the first hour? Regardless if your product sucked and you had no idea how to build a business?

That’s precisely why it’s completely normal to fail when you first start. When you start, you don’t know what you’re doing. You’re entering an uncharted terrain and you don’t have the data and knowledge to know what works and what doesn’t. And without this data and knowledge, you can’t optimize that special number for anything, much less for exponential, life-changing returns.

After you do things for a while, you obtain valuable data that tells you what’s working and what isn’t. That allows you can make proper adjustments and just focus on what’s working. That’s how you isolate, optimize and ultimately figure out what truly works and  what doesn’t.

That’s also why starting a business comes with a steep learning curve. The steep part represents the time spent learning when you have zero previous knowledge and experience. It’s there because when you’re starting out, you’re operating blind and learning what works and what doesn’t. It’s very painful and frustrating.

Then, once you climb it, the process reverses: you’re putting in increasingly less effort and enjoying more and more positive returns. In fact, the steeper the learning curve, the greater the potential for amazing returns.

That explains why people who can make $100/mo can easily make $1,000/mo and beyond. They’ve already gone through the frustrating period of learning what works and doesn’t. Once there, they threw out what didn’t work. The rest is about careful optimizing and scaling.

Choosing the right path

Entrepreneurship is a fancy word, but what it really boils down to is choosing a path in life that has the greatest potential to give you life-changing returns. It’s a contract you make with yourself where you give up a bit of stability and comfort for risk and unknown and possible high returns down the road.

Companies like eBay, PayPal, Uber, Dropbox just to name a few didn’t start out successful. In the initial stages, they underwent periods of experimentation where they learned what worked and didn’t. Then, once they figured out what kind of services people needed, they built and sold them and the rest is history.

The same applies to regular entrepreneurs and hustlers. Once you embark on the path of building and selling your own products and services, you will have a new arsenal of tools at your disposal. One of these will be ROI. It will be like a pulse, representing the how your value is affecting the people you’re trying to reach. Congrats, you now have a lever that you can ruthlessly optimize and get many times more output than you’re putting in.

The only other alternative is having a stable drip of income deposited into your bank account on a set schedule. There’s no experimentation, no optimization and no hustle. Indeed, that’s a preferred path for the overwhelming majority of the population.

But for those who want a bit more out of life and don’t mind tinkering with how their value is created, consumed and leveraged, there exists a different path. This is the path where large fortunes are made every hour of every day. That is, if one is willing to take their own life into their hands and ruthlessly optimize it for maximum performance instead of mindlessly cruising their entire lives on meaningless autopilot.

« Older posts

© 2018 Maverick Traveler

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑